31st of January –
Village of Yuchyugei (ok Village in yakut language) –
”This is the first time I have traveled in this area and this route” , Tonya the Eveny reindeer herder told me, when I asked him, what he felt about doing this Expedition and finished off with these true words; “For us who are nomads and roam the area freely, this is nothing extraordinary to travel 600 km:s in these low temperatures.”
I just love when somebody like the real deal takes away all the fuss created by media and by explorers like me, who often, I hope I don’t(!), forget that local people have done what we explorers claim to do as “firsts”. For the locals, this can be as a normal as a work day. This is also one reason I want to do this journey -to put emphasis on this reality. One of the four herders that will join us, I didn`t get his name in the cold, had two really bad and infected cold sores on his cheeks. He didn´t whine or complain, just said it was normal…..Damage he picked up on his way to join us for this crossing that I found out today is a historical route where local people back in the 19th Century used to ship goods from Okhotsk to the inner part of Sakha/Yakutia.
-50 degrees below zero this morning in the village of Yuchyugei!
But at first I didn´t get it, because we spent the night indoors in a heat which felt like a sauna! Probably 33-34 degrees Celsius! This is how most people have it here and you can´t do much about, since the heating is centrally controlled. For this reason, going to the outdoor loo is quite nice, at least you can breathe!
From the last dispatch, we have traveled 900 km:s east from Yakutsk to this village where our 4 members of the team, the reindeer herders have been staying. The camp is a few kilometers away where the 25 reindeer await us. And, a surprise to me, is that the herders have “demanded” that we bring one of the herders wife as a cook! See what I mean! Normal job for these fellas!
We are still in the preparation phase. Yegor Makarov is doing a great job with his great net of friends and contacts and if all goes well, we will start tomorrow midday. I look forward to that a lot! It is a true dream to come! I asked Bolot in Oymyakon today, Bolot is our translator but also a famous Yakutian blogger, what he feared the most from this trip and his answer was:
“I don´t really want to mix to much with people and staying together with the same 7 people for a month, day and night, well, I fear this more than the cold, because I think we have enough equipment to stand the extreme cold.”
This is also new to me. This time I am in front of the camera, which is so much harder than being behind it, I have never had a translator before in this capacity, and, well, I have always said more than 3 people on a trip is a crowd. And I am not doing the organizing…scary!
So there´s no doubt, this trip is probably the biggest challenge I ever had and I believe the cold will be much tougher for all of us, except for the reindeer herders.
Today we went to what is cold the Pole of Cold, Oymyakon and also did some interviews with some horse breeders of the famous, but quite unknown Yakut/Sakha horse. And when talking to local people, they say things are easier today, in the modern era, compared to earlier when school kids walked 7 kilometres to school and the same distance back in these low temperatures. They however did suffer bad cold sores. Today there are school buses. Local people just stay indoors when temperatures go below -55 degrees Celsius. Except,of course the reindeer herders!
I hope we are off tomorrow, I am eager to get out into the “real” cold world!
Map Expedition click here