2004-12-02 – Fatigue
2 december, in the tent at N 66°25´45.8 E 151°50´57.6, 15 km;s, 9 hours hard slogging. One of Johans skiboots is on its way to break up and my coughing is getting worse. Snowing and overcast, almost whiteout.
We´ve passed the half way mark now. According to plan. And we´ve also reached the first stage of feeling utterly run down. Also expected. I´ve experienced this nasty fatigue on all of my Expeditions. This moment when all energy- and fat deposits are emptied and one has to find other means to continue forward.
This is when we start eating the extra rations of food that we´ve specifically brought with us, additional fat (5 kg;s of butter), think about the beloved ones at home, understand the privilege one is encountering by being here on the Kolyma during winter, generally daydream about positive things and look forward to the next exiting meeting with one of these fantastic Siberians, which on and off turns up along the Kolyma!
This issue with emptied energy- and fat deposits is a less enjoyable experience. All physical problems one has experienced earlier in life, suddenly springs to life. All of them at once. For me, this means a touch of lumbago, pains in a left knee, hernia and painful kidneys. Johan is faring better, though. He is strong and young and haven´t had time to attract physical problems yet. Still, he says he feels like he´s been run over by a train, twice, and only wants to sleep. We´re both experiencing mouth sores, painful gums, headaches and, unfortunately, for me, also a real tiring cough. A result of these three times that we slept inside when visiting people during the first days after leaving Zyryanka. The indoor heating is on sauna level and everybody are chain-smoking, day and night, it´s like sleeping inside a smoking room. Terrible! Next time we come across people, probably in three days time in the Even village Uraba, no matter how cold it is, we´ll sleep outdoors in the tent!
Naturally this is a mentally tiring time. It is now you ask yourself why on earth do one put oneself through this freezingly, almost dangerous, hard slog. One definitely doubts once a day! In fact, there´s in reality very little you see during the skiing. It is to dark and the cold makes you cover your face thoroughly and you can´t see anything sidewise and your facemask makes it impossible to look down. Worst, though, is that your eyelids are continuously frozen together, so one almost gets a feeling of being inside a prison cell. So, the only thing you really see during a day of skiing, is the tracks made by the local fauna, one passes. Which, amazingly enough, isn´t to often. There´s no traces of people around. The only tracks we see are mainly left by hares, but also fox and wolf.
Physical and mental fatigue was expected at this stage, but it is worse than I thought. The reason is not only the cold, which already has gone below -40°F, but also these far too heavy pulkas/sledges (100 kg;s per person), the grainy and heavy snow and these, sometimes 2 meters high, barriers of broken up ice. We´re therefore, a week earlier than hoped, been forced to use the extra rations of fat ( 50 grams of butter/person/day) and that also forces us from now on, to ski nonstop for 14 days to reach Srednekolymsk before we run out on food. It feels totally impossible right now.
Those still alive, will soon be aware.