|2004-12-13 - We´re closing in
We´re closing in on Srednekolymsk!
12 Dec, 04 - 17:35
GPS-pos: N67°11´ | E153°41´ | Alt: 11 M
-49°F, incredibly cold, we´re at N 67°11´62.0 and E 153°41´09.4 and we´ve set a new record today, we´ve skied 25 km;s today.
We´re extremely tired and cold right now. We´re just advancing one step at a time. Focusing a few meters ahead. We´re freezing pretty much all the time. But we´re at least coping with the cold now and don´t suffer too much from freezing all the time. Day and night. We don´t seem to get any worrisome frostbites any more as I did in the beginning, when the skin was totally unprepared for this extreme cold. We do get the odd light frostbite. On fingers, cheeks and noses. It´s just like getting burned, a small sore, where you temporarily loose your feeling on this particular spot, until the new skin grows out and you´re ok again. It seems to take a couple of weeks to cure. It doesn´t bother us at all. However, this extreme cold bothers us a lot. It is no easy thing to handle. Right now, we seem to be able to tolerate it relatively well, live with it, but we will never like it. There´s very little joy in freezing basically 24 hours a day. The main problem as I see it, is that we´ve chosen to travel during the darkest and coldest time of the year, the dark winter. This means, it doesn´t matter what time of the day it is, it is always -45°F. There´s no sun and very little light to make a difference. It is just downright freezing cold all the time!
There´s no doubt it is a demanding way to travel. Still, we do see plenty of light at the end of the tunnel. We´re closing in on Srednekolymsk! This yakut settlement is only 3-4 days away.
As it seems like right now, our planning have been almost perfect. We´ve planned it as I´ve always done before embarking on a particularly difficult stretch of a long Expedition. Eat like there´s no tomorrow a couple of weeks before departure, live on this built up energy the first part of the trip until reaching the second leg, where there´s just food enough to survive, but where your willpower makes the difference. When this comes close to an end, it is time for the last chapter. Double rations. Which for us means these last two weeks. We eat half a kilo of porridge every morning, soup with lots of butter for lunch and than we eat two rations of freeze dried food for dinner. All these together with lots of bread. And, of course, double rations of chocolate bars in between! We eat 5 kg;s of additional butter during this 14 days. This is the reason we can do an average 20 km;s a day and we´ve done 12 days with no rest so far.
Unfortunately, as you well have noticed, our dispatches since we left Zyryanka, have been dominated by a self centered drama. Very macho. But, the fact is, there´s basically only one way to live in this extreme cold, pure survival from one day to the other. If, that is, if one choose to travel by skis and sleep in a tent. There´s absolutely no joy at all, in itself, to continuously freeze. The act of sleeping in a tent in -47°F is just one long uncomfortable nightmare.
But, a big BUT, the positive aspects far outweighs the negative parts of this great highlight of our life! Especially these few, but utterly great folks we´ve come across. They´re worth every frostbite, no sweat! We would never be able to document these unique peoples life´s, if we didn´t travel the way we do at this particular time. That´s a fact. And that´s why we are here and why we´re doing this. (I will write at length about these people once we´ve reached Srednekolymsk. Don´t miss this!) On top of this, naturally, the sense of skiing in this majestic, naked wilderness gives me a totally inhibited sense of freedom. The only company we have out here is wolves, hares, foxes, ptarmigans and sobels. Last night two wolves gave us a spectacular howling concert for an hour, not far from our tent. Awesome to say the least. Another highlight is the comradeship between young Johan and myself. Even though I could be his father, we get along extremely well. There´s no quarrels, no hard words, only perfect cooperation and friendship. Johan is a truly nice young man. He spoils me, with his unselfish hard work. A true explorer. There´s few of them around today. Another subject which creates a lot of joy, is writing these dispatches. A better way to create bridges between cultures cannot be found, I think. We creep far down into the inner depths of the sleeping bad every other day and write. It´s really relaxing and gives a perspective on things. But there´s a lot that there´s just not enough energy to tell. Not enough battery power and we write double dispatches. One in Swedish and one in English. But as they say here along the Kolyma: