ARKTOS EXPEDITION / MIKE HORN
After his abandon on Arctic Icepack last spring (2002), South-African Mike Horn
goes on with his
longterm adventure around Arctic Polar Circle
Here are the press communiqués published during the spring 2002
27th of May 2004 - Mike arrives at Volochanka - N70°57.845 - E94°30.652
"It's beautiful here! The trees make such a nice change. It's incredible though - there's still loads of snow out in the countryside but as soon as I get into civilisation everything turns to mud!"
"I've now arrived at a small village called Volochanka. It is situated on the Kheta river and the inhabitants are either fishermen, herders or hunters. Now is the time of year that most of the inhabitants go out on the land to hunt geese so the village is very quiet. Once again it amazes me to see all the buildings and cars in complete ruins. I cannot imagine this village being around for much longer. It looks as though it'll topple over with the first strong wind."
"During this last week a small Siberian husky decided to follow me over the tundra. I have no idea where he came from but all of a sudden, there he was, curled up beside my tent one morning, 200 kms away from any village. I nicknamed him Arktos - not very original I know, but all I could think of at the time. Arktos somehow managed to get separated from his owner while out on a hunting trip. He's been following me now for 6 days. Luckily I was given some bread by some herders that I met so I was able to give him some. Otherwise my own rations are getting very short and I was hoping to pick up some supplies in Volochanka."
"On arriving in the village early this morning, I was met by the owner of the dog. He was very surprised to see his dog turn up and of course very thankful to see that he survived such a long voyage. So there we go - alone again. I must admit it was great to have the company for a change."
"I'll sleep today and will head off again late this evening. I've changed my hours. I now walk throughout the night and sleep during the day. Temperatures are colder at night so progression is faster."
"I'm still trying to assess how to progress from here. It looks a though I can get to Dudinka before the ice melt and perhaps even further. My logistics team are preparing my Prijon kayak and Trek bike. I might need either one at any time. In the meantime I'll continue on skis for as long as I can." / Better get some rest - another big day tomorrow! / Best regards, / Mike
16th of May 2004 - Mike arrives at Khatanga - N71°57.457 - E102°15.491
"I'm looking forward to a rest day", says Mike...not at all surprising after seeing the distance he has made in the last few weeks. Mike has averaged a modest 88kms a day since leaving Tiksi on the 4th of May.
"I'm very glad I managed to get to Khatanga and to cross the three large rivers before the ice melt. Temperatures still seem very cold out there on the terrain, but surprising enough, the village of Khatanga is no longer blanketed in snow and ice, just mud. It's amazing to see the changes of the seasons. I can now feel the heat of the sun and have 24hrs daylight. Not long now and my skis will be submersed in water!"
"I had some interesting moments on my way to Khatanga, but contrary to what the locals were telling me, I didn't meet any polar bears. I did however see their tracks (that is quite close enough!)"
"When I use the kite, I get to speeds of up to 30 or sometimes even, 40 kms an hour. It's a wonderful sensation. The only problem, is that at these speeds, you are unable to stop yourself or react quickly. One day, I went hurtling over a cornice and low and behold, my sledge was airborne, and came down on me at full speed, literally pummelling me into the ground. I thought I would never be able to stand again. I was lucky. No broken bones - just a packet of bruises to remind me to try and be a little more careful in future."
"The day after this, I was stopped in my tracks because I saw some black dots move across the white terrain. I got quite a shock because I'm not used to seeing any movement apart from my own. The dots slowly got closer then I realised that they were reindeer herders and they were coming towards me. What a great meeting! They invited me back to their cabin and explained about their lives, how they herd reindeer and move with the herd every two to three weeks, once they start running scarce of food. The reindeer literally pull their house, kids, wives, kitchen, and the works!! ..and then, they asked me about my life and asked what I was doing. They examined and touched everything I owned, looking at the material, food, and eventually pulled everything out of my sledge. They had never seen anything like it before!! They pleaded with me to stay with them the night but I was eager to continue on my way. With that, they filled my sledge up with fresh bread, and in exchange, all I was able to give them, was my small measly, one-day ration of chocolate. It didn't seem enough for such an memorable moment."
"Another very interesting thing, is that I have now descended into the tree line, which is strange, because I am probably the more north I have ever been throughout the entire expedition. It’s great to see trees again but it’s a nightmare for pulling the sledge. The best thing now is that I continue on the frozen Kheta river for as long as I can. It's still a race against the ice melt. Next stop is Volochanka, 360kms away."
"Send my best wishes to everyone." / Mike
10th of May 2004 - Mike arrives at Ust Olenek - N72°58.838 - E119°50.110
"Wooh! It's been a great week. I've been going like a rocket. I've done almost 250kms in the last three days! I was hoping to move like this because I know the ice melt will start soon and if I don't get to Khatanga before this starts I'll be in big trouble. I've been using my kite and have been skimming across the flat tundra over the Lena Delta. The temperatures with windchill have been around -25°C which is good but at my speeds I must still be careful of frostbite."
"Yesterday I arrived at Ust Olenek. Seems to me that there are only 4 people in this village. Like most of the northern Arctic villages in Siberia, it was bigger once, but graduallly the people are all leaving, heading down south in search of a better life."
"My next concern are the bears. I am once again in the wrong place at the wrong time, and will be crossing tracks with the polar bears that are heading to the northern coast, to wait for the ice to melt. The local people are constantly warning me and have kindly provided me with flares."
"Not to worry, I'll be careful. I think at my speeds I might even be able to outrace them!" laughs Mike
4th of May 2004 - Leaving Tiksi - N71°54.246 - E128°43.493 Mike checking his kite Campina caught in the ice The main street of Tiksi
Tiksi is a small Arctic village known as the 'sea gate of the Yakutia Republic'. It is home to about 6 thousand people and is situated on the northern Siberian coast.
" I had a great time in Tiksi. I rushed to get there as I knew that Cathy, and my two girls, Annika and Jessica, were there waiting for me. What a surprise to see them again after 7 months. I know I say this every time but my goodness, how the children have grown! It did me a lot of good to see them again and to know that even through my long absence nothing has changed. Our 5 days together were just like old times. They passed too quickly and my family have now returned to Switzerland to continue on with their lives there."
"Surprisingly for the inhabitants of Tiksi, we were not the only foreigners in town. In september of 2003, a friendly Dutch man, Henk de Velde, sailed into the port on a 17 meter steel reinforced sailboat, called Campina. Henk wintered his boat at this small village and now, 9 months later, is getting ready for the ice melt. Once freed from its icy grasp, he will continue to sail his boat around the world via the northern seaway, sailing his boat home to Holland via Murmansk and Norway. Check out his site at www.henkdevelde.nl"
"I too, am also on my way home, or at least I can say, that home is getting closer. As usual, I'm heading westward, towards Khatanga, just over one thousand kilometres away. Never without one or two hitches mind you! It's been two days now that I have been stuck in my tent somewhere out on the Lena Delta. I am unable to move due to a big storm. Along with the very strong winds there is a lot of wind-blown snow. I need to get out of the tent frequently to get the snow off the tent. I'll soon be buried!! It's full moon tomorrow so I'm hoping the weather will change again and I'll be able to move. I am also hoping that the snow will stop. Deep snow makes my progression very difficult!"
"Right at the beginning of the expedition, one of my main goals was to reach Khatanga before the ice melt. This is important because on the route to Khatanga there are three large rivers that I must traverse. If I wait too long, the ice starts melting and these river basins start flooding. This entire region becomes swampland and is then impossible for me to pass."
"Once in Khatanga, I will need to change my equipment. My logistics team will bring me a Prijon kayak, lighter clothing and equipment. It will be great to change my locomotion. My legs need a rest. They certainly aren't like they used to be, but after walking one and a half times around the world, I guess that's to be expected!! I see they have put a countdown on the web site. That's rather encouraging. I try and give you more regular news and photos from now on. After all this time it's great to see my goal in site." / "Thanks for your continued support!" / Mike
18th of April 2004 - Mike calls from N71°30.577 - E134°41.791
"Getting closer to Tiksi!! Only another 200kms to go! I'm heading directly west and am back on the sea ice again. Lots of wind blown snow today which makes progression harder but I still managed to do around 35kms."
"Was concerned about my eyes this week. I left my glasses off one cloudy day and became snow blinded. Progression over the next few days was difficult. I was rather concerned about my eyes but of course there was not much I could do. I couldn't see 1 meter in front of me! Luckily, a few days later I passed the small village of Nizhneyansk and a doctor there gave me some drops to put in my eyes. Now they are slowly improving - thank goodness! Julbo, my sunglass sponsors, who have kitted me out with the best glasses, of course weren’t too happy with me when Cathy told them the news!!!"
"Temperatures are warming slowly. I'm rushing now to get to Khatanga as there are three large rivers to traverse and I must do this before the ice melts. The first is the Lena which is about 55kms away from Tiksi."
"I'll have a few days rest in Tiksi. Cathy and (I hope) the girls will come to visit me there along with four representatives from Groupama Assistance and Philippe Varrin (logistics). The visit will be short but good. Imagine, I haven't seen my wife and children for seven months now!!"
"Seems that all the Russians know about me in these parts. They all know what I'm doing and are waiting for me to pass their village. The word certainly gets around! I haven't seen a lot of people until now but those I have met have been very kind and helpful. The further west I go the more populated it will become." / "Best get some sleep! A busy day ahead of me tomorrow." / Kind regards to you all!
7th of April 2004 - Mike calls from N70°56.317' - E145°04.549
"It was a sad day when I said goodbye to my logistics team. We spent 5 great days together. I think I rather baffled them with all my stories but what a pleasure to be able to share my experiences with somebody that could actually speak the same language as me. The Russians we met at the village of Chokurdakh showed a lot of kindness and hospitality to myself and the team. They too, were fascinated to hear about what I was doing and of course it wasn't long before the vodka was flowing!"
"With a new set of Eider clothing, new skis on my feet, and smelling like a daisy, I set off again, this time heading northwest over the tundra towards Tiksi. Once again the snow is thick and I'm battling to get through it, especially with my new stock of supplies and a heavier load in my sledge."
"The weather is good. Blue skies and cold temperatures - a few degrees warmer than before, but still around -30°C. Ideal conditions for me to progress but I must still be very careful not to get any more frostbite!!"
"Next stop is Tiksi where I hope to meet my wife and daughters. It's almost 7 months since I seen them - a good motivation to continue. With a new supply of chocolate, I'll be there in no time!" / "Happy Easter to you all!" / Mike
29th of March 2004 - Mike arrives at Chodurdakh (N70°39' - E147°52')
"The last time I was in a village was in Pevek and that was almost two months ago!! It was a long trek to get here and I'm happy I made it. I'm proud of myself. The constant head on winds made it very tough - perhaps the most difficult time I've had since I've been on expedition...but here I am... back in the warmth and waiting for my logistics team to arrive."
"It's been 6 months since I've seen my team or had a re-supply of equipment. I am in desperate need on new gear. I hope they bring chocolate. I am longing to indulge myself on chocolate as I finished my extra chocolate supplies one month ago. Believe it or not I have even been dreaming of eating chocolate eclairs - I wonder if you can get them here in this remote northern village of Russia?!? The team will arrive in Chokurdakh within the next few hours. I’m looking forward to seeing them again."
"My knees are sore. This last week I have been struggling through very deep powder snow, which has caused a lot of stress on my knees. One thing is for sure, and that is my body needs a good rest. We won't rest long in Chokurdakh however. I'm rushing to get to Khatanga before the ice melts so I cannot hang around in Chokurdakh for too long. The team and myself will spend a few days getting the equipment organised and then we will head out, on the terrain, away from the village. I hope they can get some photo and film images of the surrounding countryside. Seems that the weather conditions should start improving from here on. That doesn't always mean that progression will become easier - in fact - it gets harder as I can no longer use my skis and pull my sledge. I will need to start thinking of other forms of transport such as my Trek bicycle or Prijon kayak. "
"I'll pull this sledge as far as I can. Just hope my knees will hang in there for a little longer. I've a few more kilometers to go yet!" / "Best wishes to all my friends." / Mike
16th of March 2004 - N71°03.318 E156°53 579
Mike called in good spirits to say that everything was going well. He met some people a few days ago in a small cabin.
"I was surprised to see the cabin in the middle of nowhere and went closer to have a look. I was hoping it would be open so I could take refuge inside for the night rather than setting up my tent. What a surprise when I opened the door and found people inside. I had some quick explaining to do (which is difficult with my Russian!!) but to my surprise they were very friendly and invited me to stay with them. It was wonderful to be with people again and we swapped stories all night long. They were intrigued to find out what I was doing there and I was just as intrigued to find out more about them. They explained that they were hunters and lived there all year round. It's difficult to imagine why somebody would chose to live in that small cabin all year round, but then again, I guess some people find it just a difficult to imagine doing an expedition around the Arctic Circle - takes all types doesn't it!?!?"
"I loved being with people again. It gave me a real boost. I was able to dry out my clothes and sleeping bag, eat a good meal and the next day I headed off again."
"Everything is going well at the moment and I am doing about 30kms a day. My only problem is that the skins on my skis are old. They have already travelled 2'000kms so no longer work as they should. All of a sudden the weight of my sledge seems to have doubled overnight and my legs are suffering under the strain. They just don't want to move!!! It would be a good idea to stop for a few days and rest but because the temperatures seem to be once again down into the minus fifties I would rather get to a village first and rest in the warmth."
"In 12 more days I should get to Chokurdakh and at this stage it is looking good for a re-supply point. From what we have been told the permits and visa invitations are coming through for the logistics team so hopefully they will be able to meet me there."
"Big news also is that I have now been issued with all the necessary permits for the rest of Russia. Only thing left to do now is to advance westwards and get myself through the coldest month of the year." / “Please send my regards to everyone.” / Mike
7th of March 2004 - N69°46.696 E161°48.381- Mike in the region of Yakutia - stage 8 begins!
On the 6th of March 2004 Mike set off on foot from the weather base in Ambarchik, which borders the frontiers of both Chukotka and Yakutia, the two most eastern administrative regions of Siberia.
For Mike this represents the beginning of the 8th leg of Expedition ‘Arktos’, and brings him one step closer to completing the tour of the Arctic Circle.
18 months ago now, Mike left the North Cape of Norway and ever since has been advancing progressively westward above the latitude N66.5°. Today he has covered a total of 16’000kms and has only another 4’000kms to go until he loops the loop and becomes the first man to travel (un-motorised and without the aide of any animals) around the entire Arctic Circle.
“It hasn’t been easy,” exclaims Mike. “I am now going through the second Arctic winter, experiencing average temperatures of –50°C. I had pretty bad frostbite on my face but after a few days of warmth in Ambarchik, it improved quite a bit. I arrived there just in time to shelter from a bad storm.”
“Since the last week I have noticed a change in the temperature. The days are getting longer and the sun is finally beginning to warm up the earth. The last few days have been around –35°C. Less threat of frostbite with these temperatures but because my body temperature is warmer, I sweat more and there is more ice build-up in my clothing. I'll need to change my clothing at the next re-supply and Eider (my clothing sponsor) are currently looking into this .”
“I’m once again on the sea and am crossing over a large bay. The ice conditions are good. There are no clouds here so not so much risk of coming across open water, but unfortunately, because I’m on the sea, I’m battling once again in the ice pack with bad winds and a lot of snowdrift. This makes progress difficult and slower than normal. I’m hauling 160kgs of equipment and sledge behind me and averaging around 20-25kms a day.”
“It’s once again the season when the polar bears come out with their newly born cubs so it’s at this time of year I must be very careful about the company I keep. Once I cross the bay I will then be crossing overland in a direct line towards Chokurdakh where there is little chance of meeting any bears.”
“In Chokurdakh I hope to meet up again with my logistics crew and my family. It’s been almost 6 months since I’ve seen any of my team. I hope this time they will be able to get their permits in good time as I desperately need new supplies of food and equipment.”
Mike continues to progress well and remains enraptured by the beauty of the Arctic, the bareness and the isolation that surrounds him each day.
“It’s amazing out here and I wish you could all see it with me. At the same time, the fact that I am alone enhances the beauty, making it almost overwhelming at times.”
24th of February 2004 - N69°42'529 E163°55'890
Mike has been back on the road since the 15th of February. It is a shame the logistics team could not meet up with him in Pevek because now Mike has limited battery supply and communication is now restricted to minimal usage. The team will not get out to him before another month and only then will Mike be able to appreciate a fresh supply of clothes and new equipment.
"The conditions out here have been quite rough. Once again the wind is blowing straight into my face and I am frozen through. It's cold - very cold!" says Mike. "Not a soul out here, just the odd polar bear tracks and ice as far as the eye can see. It's beautiful, but man - it's cold."
"The light hours are increasing gradually. I have light from 10am through to 5 pm. Conditions are improving and I am beginning to feel the warmth of the sun (I sometimes wonder if that is not my imagination running away with me!)"
"I'll soon be in the Yakutia region. I have been told that my permit for Yakutia will be waiting for me in the first village that I come to, Chokurdakh. I hope that along with my permit I might also see my logistics team and will get a new supply of clothes, equipment and more daily food rations. I will not be able to go any further until I get a resupply. It'll be a relief to get to Chokurdakh but I have quite a way to go yet. I need to protect my face against frostbite. At -50°C and head on winds that's a difficult task."
I'll be in touch soon. Send me some heat!!!
13th of February 2004 - Mike in Pevek!
Mike arrived in Pevek on the 7th of February. He was anxious to get into the warmth again and to avoid the hard windchill conditions he has been experiencing out on the terrain. His nose is now recovering slowly and he hopes to be moving again soon.
Pevek is the biggest seaport in the Chukotka region and the main supply port for the Northern Sea Route. With a population of 5'383, it is home to a major meteorological station, a supply centre for road transport and building resources and has other industries such as a building-material plants and food-processing plants.
Mike says, "I could see the pollution hanging over the city long before I arrived. There is a lot of industry here. It seems strange to see so many people for a change. As soon as I arrived guards and police surrounded me and checked my papers. Only three hours later did they say that everything seemed to be in order and that I was free to move around the city. To be honest I don't really want to stay here. I would prefer to be out on the land. I must stay a few days however and take the time to decide what happens from here on."
"Nikolai, my escort has now returned to Anadyr and will try and see what has happened about my Rasporyazhenie permit for the Yakutia region. This is the second administrative region that I must pass in my trek over Russia. Of course, I am remaining optimistic, and hoping that everything is in order and that I can move into the Yakutia region in a few weeks time without any problems."
"My logistics crew were trying to meet me in Pevek but they still haven't seen or heard anything about their permits and invitations that were applied for about two months ago. I don't fancy hanging around for them here so will continue to walk as long as I can. I'm hoping they will get to me in the Yakutia region within a few weeks time, because by then, I will be in need of a re-supply of equipment and food. At this stage, we are trying to see what our options are. My Russian is coming along nicely.Not a soul speaks English in this part of Russia." / Regards to you all! / Mike
5th of February 2004 - N69°24.559 E172°01.383
"Only another 70kms and I'll arrive at Pevek!! I have been moving very well. I am now in a valley crossing inland over a low mountain range. Beautiful scenery and nothing around execpt for a few fox, rabbits and wolverine that accompany me from time to time!"
"The temperatures are gradually getting colder. It's around - 44°C today with a 6.4km/hr easterly wind which brings the temperatures down into the mid 50's. It's VERY cold and my face is covered with frostbite.There is not much sensation in my nose and top lip anymore so I will be happy to arrive in to Pevek to warm up a little. I'll might soon be looking like Cro-Magnon man if I don't!"
" Light hours are gradually increasing which makes my progression a lot easier. Everyday I get an extra 10 minutes. Today the sun rose around at 10 am and set around 4pm. ." "It won't be long now and I will be crossing into the neighbouring territory of Russia (called Yakutia) and will be saying goodbye to my escort, Nickolai. I have seen very little of Nikolai. He has always moved ahead of me, and we have met up only in the villages. " / "Will call once I get to Pevek." / "Hi to everyone!" / Mike
26th of January 2004 - N69°36.150 E177°17.416
Mikes' GPS now reads east! Another positive sign that Mike is now heading in the right direction and is on his way home. / ...and the latest news..
"I'm experiencing bad winds again - I guess around 80Km/hr. What a nice sight to find a small cabin that I could shelter in for the evening, out of the wind and away from the polar bears. Never before have I seen so many bear tracks! I must be very careful."
"My progression has been good, doing 40, 36 and 34 kms the last three days, another 40 kms today! From here on it will be a little slower because the local people have told me I should head inland and cross a mountain range to arrive at Pevek. The reason for this is that there is a lot of pack ice on the coast and progression will be extremely difficult. This will also be a better track if I wish to avoid the bears. Around 280 kms before I arrive at the village of Pevek. I'll arrive in about 8 days. We are trying to organise a re-supply from Switzerland at this point but it is quite difficult. Finding transport for the logistics team in Russia is not easy."
"I always say it's easier to travel on foot but nobody wants to believe me!!" / Best regards,Mike
18th of January 2004 - Progressing well - N68°34.664 W178°27.112
-28°C without the wind chill factor. Winds N 9m/s
"It's cold!" exclaims Mike. "Never before has my face been so badly frostbitten. I've even got bits of flesh hanging off it. The northerly winds blow straight into my face. There's not a chance of stopping. If I stop walking one second I'll immediately freeze to the spot. I am unable to eat my daily food rations as well. They are completely frozen in my jacket pocket. I've been doing 11-12 hours walking a day and averaging 36kms. I'm trying to keep this average up."
"I was lucky to see a large wolverine yesterday. It came up very close which was a little worrying as they are apparently very dangerous. A wind gust came and the wolverine obviously got a whiff of me. He immediately ran in the other direction." Mike laughs, "Guess I don't smell much like a rose these days." "There must be open water about. I've been seeing fresh bear tracks. They seem to be roaming up and down the coastline so I must be careful."
"I'll be happy to arrive in Mys Schmidt in two days time. I'll meet up again with my escort and have a few days rest. I hope that my face will heal a little. Another 526 kms until Pevek." "Not to worry about me. I'm feeling great and everything is going well."Send my regards to everyone!/ Mike
13th of January 2004 - Mike arrives in Vankarem - N67°49.258 W175°51.938
A very tired Mike rang today to say that he had finally made it to Vankarem.
The storm that hit the region kept him several days in his tent. Winds finally subsided today and he was able to travel 70kms with his kite. He arrived in Vankarem at midnight, very tired but happy to be there. He has met up once again with his escort and they will head off again after Mike has made a few minor repairs to his equipment and had a good sleep.
9th of January 2004 - N67°17.146 W174°52.565 - stopped by the storm!
"It's been a great week. After the re-supply of fuel came for my escort, Nikolay, it was decided that he should continue to Vankarem, ahead of me. He would have extra time to search for fuel (which is difficult to find) and I would meet up with him some 9 days later."
"So, here I am, alone again and I have been doing well, averaging 35 kms a day."
"Saw my first polar bear yesterday and I soon realised why. We were both heading towards open water. I changed my course, preferring to stay well out of their way and haven't seen any since."
"Today I didn't see any bears but couldn't see the front of my skis either!! A big storm came and literally blew me to a halt. I quickly pitched my tent and snuck in for shelter. The frostbite is back again, especially my checks, nose and eyelids. I may need to stay in the tent tomorrow if the storm continues. I hope not."
" A bit of my tooth fell off today. I hope it won't cause any problems. Eating my daily rations (nuts and chocolate) is like bitting into pebbles. Everything is frozen solid so it's no wonder my teeth are breaking.
4th of January 2004 / Mike calls briefly to say that he is on the move again.
The skidoo with a re-supply of fuel for Mike's escort arrived at 0900hrs this morning. The escort will have enough fuel to get his skidoo to Vankarem, a town situated on the northern Arctic coast. We received the good news that the second escort was located. Aparently, when he arrived at Yanrakynnot village, local boys stole his snowmobile and broke the skis and front suspensions. He took 3 days to repair the problem and he then decided to return to Provideniya.
In the meantime, Mike continues on foot (and without problems). Temperatures have warmed slightly and winds have reduced dramatically. Another 3 days and Mike will arrive at a large inlet and progression should be easier.
31st of December 2003 - N65°52.272 W173°44.875 / Mike rang to wish us all a Happy New Year!
He will be spending the last day of 2003 in a deserted reindeer camp. His progress until now had been very good. He had successfully crossed over the Chukotka mountain range and after just one more day of walking would arrive on the northern coast of the Chukotka, on the Arctic Ocean. From there, Mike will be able to head due west and progress should become faster and easier.
"Spending New Years Eve at a Reindeer camp is not by choice. I am here with Nikolay (my designated escort) and we are waiting for a re-supply of fuel for his skidoo. We rang the Mayor of the nearest village and he sent somebody out about 6 days ago to join us. We made camp here in the meantime and are waiting for him to turn up. He still hasn't arrived and all we can do now is wait!!"
"Because we are now down to one skidoo (the second left and never come back), Nikolay has had double the work to do. He must do two trips rather than one, so as to divide his load into two lighter loads and to prevent his skidoo being stuck in the deep snow. This means that he has doubled his fuel consumption and so now we need a re-supply."
"Lets look on the bright side. I am not alone on New Year's Eve and am protected against the terrribly strong winds that have been thrashing this region over the last few days. I've never seen winds like it before.""Normally, where there's a Russian, you'll be sure to find a bottle of vodka. But alas.... not a drop for us this evening!!
"I'll be thinking of you. Have a great time and VERY BEST WISHES FOR 2004!!"
21st of December 2003 - N64°56.040 W173°03.915
Haven't heard him so happy in a long time! Mike called at 6pm (Russian time) to tell me how he had got on during the first few days, since leaving on foot from Provideniya.
"On man, it feels great to be moving again!! Believe it or not, I left with two escorts from Provideniya. It was decided it would be safer if there were two skiddoos. If one broke down or got stuck at least there would be the second to help get the escort and skiddoo to the nearest village. After two days the second escort decided he must go to a nearby village to pick up an extra stove. We have'nt seen him since. He never came back! We are assuming he just wasn't having much fun!", says Mike laughing.
"My asigned escort (Nikolay) is great and I am confident he will make it to Pevek. He has a tough job. His skiddoo is heavy and sinks into the deep snow. He often has to make two trips with lighter loads just to get from A to B. During the day I don't see him as we move at a different pace. We meet up in the evenings. We eat together and chat. It's strange for me to have company but it seems to be working out quite well."
"Temperatures are cold and there are strong winds with blowing snow most of the time. It's pitch dark as well, so progress is difficult. I'm happy it's the shortest day - it'll start getting lighter soon!"
"I've done around 25 - 30kms a day since leaving Provideniya and am now heading eastwards into the mountains. In about another 200kms I should reach a large frozen river that will lead me to the Nothern Coast. Progression will be easier then."
17th of December 2003 - Mike Horn starts his trek over Russia – stage 7 begin s.
“I have been in Provideniya a week now, and the only nice day I have had was the day I arrived. I consider myself lucky to have arrived before the bad weather. More than a meter of snow has fallen in the past 5 days with strong winds from the north. It is snowing horizontally and there are moments when I cannot see 5 meters in front of me. These are normal conditions for the Bering Sea, which is one of the coldest, bleakest and stormiest oceans in the world.”
“I have waited three and a half months for this moment. I have learnt that patience will be rewarded - you should never give up. I ask myself, what is three months in a lifetime? There are some people that wait their whole life for nothing. I also know that what I will experience the next 12 months, while I cross the Russian arctic, will make the long wait worth my while.”
“I now have a huge task ahead of me the next couple of months. Today, I start my trek, and will head east from Provideniya (yet again in the wrong direction) to the Bering Strait. I will then make a turn and head up north overland and then try and cross the mountains in Chukotka before getting back on the Arctic ocean. Only on reaching the ocean can I finally make a left turn and head west back to the North Cape. It sounds very easy but the only problem is that I have to do it in complete darkness for the next 80 days. Added to that, the fresh, soft snow and extreme cold conditions, makes for slow progress. It is a detour of 600 km, but it is nothing in comparison with the remaining 10’000km I have to do, until I can to get back home.”
“My equipment is packed and I’m ready to leave with one goal in mind. My goal is not to get back to the North Cape, but at this moment it is to stay alive so that I can continue to do what I love doing for many years to come.”
“I would like to thank my wife and everybody that worked hard to get all the red tape cut, so that I could continue on my trip around the Arctic Circle. I would also like to thank my sponsors who have been tremendous as well as all the people that have sent e mails with words of encouragement and support.” “To Cathy, Annika and Jessica, thank you for your understanding and for giving me the freedom to do what I do. All going well, I will be back home for Christmas next year. Never forget that I love you.”
11th of December 2003 - Still not moving!
I was hoping to write and give you the good news that I was on my way again. Unfortunately, I cannot!! I arrived back in Provideniya (Russia) on Monday, the first of December, and ever since then I've been waiting for my escort to join me. He must fly from Anadyr and unfortunately all flights have been cancelled due to the bad weather. The low-pressure zone that has hit the region is expected to pass any day now, so I am hoping that he'll arrive on Friday, Russian time.
After such a long wait, a few more days shouldn't matter should they?!? Well they do!! I'm more impatient than ever to get moving again and I'm watching the days on my visa tic-toc away.
When my escort (Nicolay) does arrive, we'll head away immediately. My equipment is ready. Goodness knows, I must have checked over it a hundred times already! I have also been testing the skidoo that Nicolay will be using. One of my biggest worries now is that his skidoo will break down. What then?!? I'll probably end up pulling him on my sledge!! Best not think about that now. I'll keep you informed. Keep your fingers crossed! Best wishes to you all! Mike