|2004-08-28 - Gnats and molded bread.
35 km:s paddled, (650 km:s in total during 21 days of paddling),
extremely hot day, 15-32 degrees Celsius, no wind at all, we´re pitched our cot on a stony sandbank at N 62 degrees 46´24,5 E 152 degrees 33´37,4, 15 km:s southeast of the settlement of Seimchan.
It´s an art to know how to cook dinner in Gnatland in 30 degrees heat.
(Celsius). I will explain how we do it, but first I want to give you
Today, we left the mountainous region for awhile. The snow-covered and most spectacular of them, forever, since we have entered a new ecological region today. The flat, sometimes rolling, but alway gigantic Siberian forest, the taiga. When we leave the settlement of Seimchan, we will head for an area which is even more remote, untouched and unknown than the one we´ve just left. The area we´ve entered now is presently dominated by swampland, leaf forests and an enormous amount of gnats (or no-see-ums as they´re called in Canada and Alaska). Mosquitoes are still with us, but they seem have slowed down, finally. But, the gnats have arrived instead, millions in numbers, attacking us fiercely as quick as we get out of the canoe, ready to set camp. We can´t even get away from them inside our cot! Those specially made bug shirts we have are useless in this case and the repellent we´ve brought, well, they seem to like the taste! The only thing we can do, as always, is to
accept reality and show patience. Which is not easy. Especially whilst trying to enjoy dinner during a heat wave like the one we´ve been hit with these last two days.
When we do the fire, we always place so that the wind goes in the
direction of the cot, gnats don´t appreciate too much smoke, but then of course, you need a wind. Which we haven´t had these last three days. So, these last two days of dinners, we´ve stood very close to the fire, we two, very close to be able to use the smoke to avoid the gnats. Almost like Siamese twins, sweating tremendously. I have to add, the we try to avoid putting up camp in the forest, since that is half suicide, so we choose barren and stony sandbank. But by doing this, we don´t have a shadow to hide from the blazing sun, therefore we perspire even more.
Still, we stay there next to the fire as long as possible. In general
until we feel close to fainting or fell the smell burning clothes! Or
until we have to go into the forest next to us and look for more wet firewood to be able to generate more smoke. This we do try avoid as far as possible, since one gets eaten alive in there! For this reason, mainly we just stand there, tightly together in front of the fire, in the smoke, coughing with burning eyes, waiting for the dinner to get ready. Which takes time, one only using wet firewood. When, eventually, the dinner is ready, we finish it off far too quickly, and then we dash of down to the river to do the washing up, then quickly back and inside the tent. Sweat continues to pour down. The gnats are there also, see finally, we can´t handle there presence and get forced inside our winter sleeping bags. During a heat wave. The art, folks, is just accept things the way they are.
What kind of dinner have we had these last two days? Well, since we´re forced to pick up speed to reach the settlement of Zyryanka, 540 km:s north of here, before the winter ice settles on the river in the beginning of October, we haven´t had any time to put out our fishing nets overnight and for this reason, our diet consists of tinned Russian pork and cow. All parts of the animals are squeezed in to these tins.
Fur, eyes, intestines, well, the lot. It keeps for 8 years. It tastes
fairly good and it gives us plenty of fat and energy. We eat it together with mashed potato or pasta. And bread which gets molder by the day. We don´t through anything away, even though we know the civilization arrives tomorrow in Seimchan. We know harder times will eventually arrive, and then it is good to have disciplined oneself to eat everything. In any case, we cut the worst parts off!
No reports for the coming three days. We look forward to enjoying the civilization for a few days again and we don´t want to offend people in Seimchan with our technical equipment. We´ll be back any day with in-depth reports from the Siberian civilization in Seimchan! And our quest to reach Zyryanka in time!