Explorer Mikael Strandberg

The Hunter´s reflex, 11 days to go, hardly any gear have arrived, but we all have the visas now

Malmö 2 degrees C (36 F)

Yakutsk -48 degrees C (-55 F)

Verkhoyansk -50 degrees C (-58 F)

Extra kg:s I have put on  18 kg (42 pounds)

My friend Ken Kamler, with whom I am going to dwell into the subject extreme cold, write me these lines the other day about the Hunter´s Reflex, which you can see in this little clip above: (In Swedish, taken by me 2004)

The Even, and many other Arctic ethnic groups, have a well-developed protective mechanism called the hunter reflex. When their hands start to suffer from cold water immersion, and frostbite is about to set in due to vasoconstriction, their blood vessels begin to periodically relax and open up – allowing just enough blood flow to keep their tissues alive. The rest of us don’t have this reflex or have it only to a limited extent. Don’t try putting your hands in -55 degree water!

The Hunter´s Reflex is of course something I am totally lacking! It will be interesting to see if Bolot Bochkarev, our translator, who´s a city dude, if he has this reflex genetically. I am sure Jegor and Yura does, and of course the reindeer herders coming with us. I still don´t know who they are. The Republic of Sakha and the rest of Russia (except Bolot who always answers) have been on holidays and just came back today. A reality which makes me even more stressed, since there´s only 11 days left and very little kit have arrived. However, we all have our visas now, which is a relief.


I am getting real fat, even though I train 2-3 times a week -I am afraid of infections which I get when over training, so no more days a week than this amount- almost 18 kg:s (around 42 pounds) and look pregnant, bit fit! My main source of fat is olive oil, 6 cl every morning, butter, big lunches with my Yemen editor Ulrika Rang like the one above, kebab with lot´s of chips and a fat tasty garlic sauce. Very enjoyable, but gives me indigestion,more amounts of air than normal and the odd burps.

My mum is on my mind 24 hours a day. She is stable, but not getting much better. My dad died when I was 12, so when my mum is gone, I will be out there in the world without parents. Such is the road of life. Tragedy and sorrow intermixed with joy and happiness. I am fortunate to have had, so far, more of the latter. I think the higher consequences that I have two little todller girls in my life, gee, how utterly meaningless life would be otherwise.


Oh yes, no more kit will arrive this week. Maybe from ExWeb. That is real drama, which will keep me awake and give me little sleep until on the plane to Yakutsk. And, yes, we all have visas!

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