Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Not quite sure yet when a plane will be able to push through.
Taking into consideration that internet access here is quasi-impossible, I have decided that I will wait until I return home to share pictures and stories on the slice of life I am currently experiencing and sharing here with fellow Markovians...
On this christmas eve, let me just finish with a quote I read a few days ago by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche that very much illustrates what I currently aspire to:
"The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions, and to all people, experiencing everything totally without mental reservations and blockages, so that one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself."
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
1. Equipment failure
The sled that I have been using ever since I started trekking in Uelen, Chukotka in early 2007 is very much "à bout de souffle", running out of life.
The last section between Krasneno and Vayegi in Spring 2008 definitely took its toll.
In deed, my sled endured a serious amount of beatings and deep scratches while going up and down on mud bogs, log jams, ice shelves and the rocky bottoms of streams and rivers
This happened while I was trying to progress the best I could with my sled in a region where the snow had melted very quickly and where an air lift would have been quite complex and prohibitively expensive...
As a direct result my sled has now become very difficult to pull, barely able to glide anymore on the snow and instead collecting large lumps of snow on its bottom which prevents any efficient and fast progress.
On Dec 7th, on my 7th and last day of pulling on the trail, the abnormal amount of traction exerted by my sled led me to tear and break my main harness. I had a spare harness with me but easily came to the conclusion that the same would probably happen to this second harness very soon as well, taking into consideration the current situation.
This was the first matter influencing my decision to stop the expedition until I could find a better solution.
Back in June, prior to leaving my sled in Vayegi to return to my home in the US for the summer months, I had some concerns on what shape my sled was in but it was hard for me to confirm the extent of the damages without any snow left to glide on and test prior to my departure out of Vayegi.
Taking into consideration the complexity involved with having to ship a new sled to the remote village of Vayegi, I made the regrettable mistake to think that I could still get 660 miles out of my old sled "fatso" without having to either replace it or repair it extensively.
2. Health and safety related matters
During the 12/1-7/08 week of trekking/skiing and while experiencing temperatures varying from approximately -25 to -39 celsius degrees, I started feeling again the serious frostbites I endured in some of my fingers in Alaska in January 2006,(some of you might recall some graphic shots I posted at the time).
This resurgence happened despite the fact that I was trying to handle my battered fingers with great care, wearing up to 4 pair of gloves and using chemical hand warmers while trekking.
Knowing the risks involved with pursuing the next few sections in a remote region where the temperatures could drop to -50 celsius degrees over the next few months, I took this matter into consideration as well when I decided to stop my progress.
This mean that if I choose to return and progress forward, I would have to continue in Vayegi in spring weather (April-May time frame) when the temperatures rarely drop below -20c.
So....consequently, as one can easily imagine, now just 3 days after my early withdrawal, I am obviously going through an heavy self-evaluation phase and I am going to need some time to process through it.
The most immediate question that I have while still in Chukotka for the next few days is:
if I do choose to continue in Spring 2008, would I want to continue to travel alone or would I rather partner with an experienced "Putischestvinik" /"traveller"/expeditionist to potentially enhance the level of safety and the experience, as I have done in some sections in the past.
I am currently evaluating Russian candidates and if you are aware of experienced Russian or international adequate candidates, please ask them to contact me directly at:
In any event, I will share over the next few days on this site some amusing and touching stories that I have experienced over the last few weeks in Chukotka as well as some of the more recent pictures and potentially some of the film I shot.
I definitely was once again able to meet and connect with amazing people on the later phase of this journey and I want to thank all of them for having come my way and welcomed me. I also want to take the opportunity to thank my supporting team and sponsors !
Finally, I was able to fly yesterday with an administrative helicopter carrying the mail from Vayegi to Markova and I am now waiting for flights to return home via Markova-Anadyr-Nome-Achorage-Seattle which should happen over the next few days.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Everything good! Current location N64deg20.284 E171deg16.033.
Making progress, just very slowly. I am now going up the Mayn river. I guess I just need time to get acclimated again. Had a "heatwave" today to -20C!
Trying to drop some weight from my sled. I left a partly broken air mattress and some other extra gear at the only cabin I know between my start and Vayegi, . The gear might become useful for someone else stopping at the cabin. I will tell Viktor about it.
Interesting note: because of the cold, I need to reset my pday/computer every day.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I am trying to stay as warm as I can. I can tell, when I make it to Omsukchan this winter, it would be the last one for me in very cold weather. I am ready to be done with the cold weather.
Bad news. Both of my cameras are currently refusing to work in -30F and there is too much condensation in the tent.
Trying to get food and supplies forwarded to Evensk. I should be there by mid January.
To resume the expedition from his last position along the Algan river Dimitri had himself and his sled transported by snowmobile from Vayegi to within 9 miles of his Algan river position. He then towed his sled on foot to his Algan river position and promptly resumed his trek from that position, back tracking the 9 miles and continuing to complete the 37 total miles in to Vayegi, and then on from there. The following are his last transmissions.
11/29: I departed Vayegi Saturday morning at 11:30am with Viktor’s friend. He pulled my sled on a trailer and me sitting on top all the way to N64deg19min and E171deg21min, where I am now. I camp here and plan to go further up the Algan river for about 9 miles where I was picked up at the end of the last section late spring 2008. I have to do these last 9 miles by foot because there was some open water in the river which was to hard to maneuver around with a snowmobile.
Starting position 37 miles northeast of Vayegi on the Algan river, N64deg17min and E171deg21min.
12/1- Day 1: Made it to place where I got picked up last year by Viktor. I am camping here and turning around tomorrow to make my way back to the Mayn river and then on to Vayegi. My exact location is N64deg17min and E171deg21min
12/2- Day 2: I made it back to the place where I was dropped of by snow mobile on Sunday night by Viktor’s friend. I am camping here and will continue tomorrow on the Algan river and then on to the Mayn river towards Vayegi. My exact location is N64deg19min and E171deg21min