Circumnavigating the world through Human Power while connecting different societies, civilizations and landscapes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In Uelkal, and now bound for Anadyr...

Day 5: 4/19
I spent the morning working on sending and typing my first dispatch and waiting for the storm to die down.
Temperature varied from 25 F with a 20 mph wind to 9 F at night.

Sea ice landscape while crossing the bay

Started walking at 15:00 and stopped at 24:30, having completed the last few hours under a beautiful moon, lighting the sea ice ahead of me.

On a side note, I learned on that day that I should definitely not mess around with video equipment in a storm... It just does not respond very well...
On the other side of the spectrum, I have started to use more and more a good old compass strapped around my neck when I have zero visibility instead of constantly checking my GPS, which is not always easy to extract from my coat with 3 pairs of gloves.

Camped at 65.493N, 179.348W.
Covered 7.5 miles, total : 38.2 miles

Day 6: 4/20

12:30-21:30, 9 hrs / 10 miles
Moving on the sea ice for the first 5.7 miles, and then landing on the coast after having passed a few ice surges.

On the coast, as I was approaching the land, I saw in the distant a wezdehod passing by and was consequently able to reconnect with the wezdehod tracks, taking me South towards Uelkal. I continued for another 4.3 miles, bringing it to 10 miles for the day in 9 hrs.

Around 19:30, a major Purga started to come through, hindering my progress.
I ended up setting up camp in a little dip, sheltered behind an old oil barrel and my sled.

Temp: 25F, 10 miles covered, 48.3 total
Camped at 65.416 N, 179.315 W

Day 7: 4/21
Over the last week, the weather has alternated between a few hours of sunshine and April type "purgas" (snow storms), hindering my progress, especially when the the 20-40 mph wind is directly facing me !

So, that morning, the storm was still blowing and I was really debating on whether it made any sense to get on the road...
Was I better off to wait in the tent or go.... then again, I had no clue how long the storm might last and I could not afford to wait too long.

So I decided to go, knowing that I will not be able to follow any wezdehod tracks in the snow . Wezdehod actually don't travel in purgas, quite afraid to be stucked in the middle of the storm, as I learned last year, when I had to wait for a week for a wezdehod to depart from Lavrentiya to Uelen to get to my starting point with Karl Bushby.

I struggled all day in the storm, stupidly barely ever stopping to grab some beef jerky or a Larabar nor rehydrating with some of my favorite NUUN based water, (as I usually methodically do).
Having walked from 12:30 til 19:30, and only covered 5 miles in the blowing storm, I decided to stop.

Having wet and cold hands, turning into "iced claws" that I could not warm up, I realized that I could not operate efficiently enough to go through the entire process of setting up my tent.

So, to avoid the risk of getting frost bites or hypothermia, I decided to bury myself quickly behind my sled wrapped into my sleeping bag + a bivouac bag + my tent wrapped around me as an additional bivouac bag.
I spent the night getting progressively covered with more and more snow, pinning me against the sled... Not the most pleasant night, but at least I was able to sleep in warmth, sheltered from the storm by my sled and a pinning wall of snow.

Covered 5 miles, total 53.3 miles, camped or should I say bivouaced at 65.373N, 179.315W

Day 8: 4/22
Woke up the next morning, all energized and ready to face the Purga which by then had somewhat decreased.

Covered 9 miles in 12.5 hrs (11:00-23:30) on rolling hills, going eastbound to Uelkal, after having to rectify my direction from the stormy day before where I could not move straight towards Uelkal.

In deed, unable to completely face the storm, on the day before I had to go straight South instead of South East where was located Uelkal .

Most of the day, in the fog, I was aiming at old listening antennas in the horizon, left over from the cold war.

I started to the see lights of the eskimo village Uelkal (170 habitants) in the horizon at 22:00 and entered the village at 23H30, after having passed multiple trenches of snow surrounding the village, as a result of the storm.

I knocked at the door of Gamza, whom I met the previous week on my way up from Anadyr to Egvekinot in the Wezdehod.
He and his pregnant wife Sonia were kind enough to let me crash on a sofa for the next two nights.
In exchange, I gave him most of my cold medicine as well as a few other items which are not easy to get in Uelkal since he and his daughter had a bad cold...

Uelkal: 65.3227N, 179.1740W

Day 9: 4/23
Spent the day in Uelkal, working on my gear, attaching new skins on my skis, resuplly, accessing the internet to catch up at the local school and even attended a practice of traditional eskimo dancing performed by some of the students, very similar to what I had the pleasure to see in similar inupiyak villages on the other side of the "pond" in Alaska such as Wales.

I always feel priviledged that I have been exposed to both eskimo and inupiyak cultures on the two contingent continents and try to "nexus"/ connect them through my own story telling.

Day 10: 4/24
Made a presentation at the school in the morning on Nexus expedition in front of most of the students (48 total) with the help of the English teacher acting as a translator .
I always love to see the students excitement when I share my story, and hear the various types of questions they bring to my attention in Russian and today even in English.
Some day, I will compile all of these questions and post a FAQ (Frequently and not so frequently asked questions ) on the website.

I arrived in the village of Uelkal after having only completed 63 miles since Egvekinot and having to face a few storms.
I have been able to reduce my cargo (fuel, food) and worked on setting up new skins on my skis which should allow me to move faster , weather permitting...
Now, I am, ready to depart with my sled for Anadyr !


DARTvg said...

Nice work Dimitri! Great to see you in front of kids getting them excited about adventure.

Michmas said...

Fantastic updates Dimitri! We are sending you lots of warm thoughts.


pamela said...

Dimitri, thank you so much for punching a virtual window and allowing the rest of us to follow in your amazing adventure in this manner (from a much safer and warmer vantage point!). And thank you 'Ilima and Erik for supporting him and being the communication bridge when he is out of range. Please let him know he is not really alone out there as so many of us are there with him in thought.


"Be the change you wish to see in the world", Gandhi