|2004-08-24 - 500 km!
22 Aug, 04
42 km;s paddled, in total we´ve passed the 500 km mark, 4°C in the morning, 18°C in the evening, 3-5 km headwinds, we´ve raised our Moskosel cot at N 62°30´05.6 E 151°41´31.3
The Northern pineforest belt is truly poor when it regards wildlife. Which we´re well used to from back home. Even though I am well aware of the main reason for this -the climate- at times I wonder:
´´Such an enormous amount of space to live and roam, hardly any competition, but still so poor in species.´´
Even if we travel in a silent, well, almost sneaking our way down the Kolyma, we´ve seen very little wildlife. (Have in mind than, that we´re trained since birth to spot wildlife!) Except mosquitoes, gnats and flies of course. But even that nuisance have changed dramatically, for the better, over the last two weeks. Despite this vast, clearly untouched and enormous pineforest with the odd area of leafforest, we´ve passed uncountable dry trees and steep rockwalls, and we´ve only seen one eagle and a few falcons. Only feces of ptarmigan. Seagulls and ravens dominate. Ducks, geese, finks and crows turn up on and off. We´ve only spotted moose tracks once! The same applies to fox and hare. We´ve seen no traces after cat -or dogspecies.
Therefore, if I think back on what I dramatically wrote 2-3 weeks ago, that the area is incredibly inhospitable, that is in reality quite far from the truth. You can´t compare this relatively harsh landscape with, for example, all those rainforests, deserts, steppes and mountainous areas I´ve spent so much time exploring during my 16 years of continuos travelling. There´s no poisonous snakes here, no scorpions, saltwater crocodiles, spiders, no lack of drinking water, no wars, human suffering, deadly disease´s, lions, elephants, buffaloes, bandits or hassles like officialdom. In that comparison, Kolyma is a holiday.
On paper, this Expedition is by far the most difficult, dangerous and demanding one. This, due to the total isolation and the upcoming extremely cold winter. Compared to all these other extreme area´s I´ve explored, except the inner part of Patagonia, there´s never been to big a distance to get help in case of an emergency situation. That is definitely the case here! If an emergency happens, we´ve had it. Well, maybe not exactly in this little specific area of the Kolyma. During these last three days we´ve seen and met a couple of local fishermen, we´ve passed -unnoticed- two tiny settlements, we´ve heard the sound of two motorboats, seen four rundown huntingcabins and, unfortunately, encountered a grayling net at every possible little stream! Except the one where we´ve put up camp now. No doubt we´re competing for the best graylings with some invisible locals! Those two we´ve met, Caucasian Russians, they´ve all asked:
´´Have you had any problems with bears?´´
At our lunchstop today, we came across the biggest bearmarks we´ve seen so far. Bigger than Johans size 8 feet!
And, just now, I came across some fresh prints on my way sending this dispatch 50 meters behind our camp!