99 kilometers until Omsukchan!
Tuesday April 19, 2011 - 62.15751° N, 157.02484° E
N 62° 15.751
E 157° 02.484
483kms, 99 to go!
45th day since Paren, including stops.
5th day and 81 kms since last stop at the Shirokaya bear hunting outpost.
I spent the last 5 days mostly going up the Shirokaya river until I got to the mountain pass (74kms) where the river starts and then proceeded 7 more kms on the other side towards Omsukchan!
The first two days after leaving Shirokaya bear hunting outpost, I had to progress through heavy slushy snow and under the rain.
On the third day, the weather got sunnier and the snow firmer to travel on as I was progressively gaining elevation. A real pleasure!
However, I had to be careful and could not travel much at night because they were deep crevasses in the river that I needed to see and avoid!
On my third day I start seeing bear tracks and even saw some in the morning around my campsite and on my 5th day, I had the pleasure to be woken up by a cute fox whisteling very near my tent!
On my 4th day, after having pushed through 7 kms, I met 4 snowmobilers [the only humans I have seen on this section so far...] coming down the pass from Omsukchan on their way to the Shirokaya hunting camp and further! Very exciting news because they were giving me some fresh snowmobile tracks to follow and if the weather continues to hold for a while, I should be able to follow their fresh tracks, making my travel much easier and potentially faster!
They told me at the time that it took them 10 hrs in powerful skidoos and artic cat snowmobiles to cover the 107 kms since Galimiy [a coal mine located between here and Omsukchan] and that I should expect further up the pass, some real steep sections going up the pass and 3 river/ water crossings on the other side where I will probably have to use my dry suit.
They also kindly gave me some sausage and CHEESE after we ate some bread, sala and drank some vodka mixed with medved jir...
They told me as well that they were planning to come back the same route in 3 days when I might see them again and give them then some of my extra weight (food, fuel)!
Going over the shirokaya pass was a challenge as I had predicted... Long and getting steeper and steeper!
For the last 5kms, I switched from skis to snowshoes so that I could get a better grip on the steeper icy incline, while pulling my sled!
I couldn't also jump two meters down, or sideways with Omsukchan express over a crevasse like intense Russian snowmobilers apparently can!
Omsukchan express and I had to crawl and grind through those sections!
In addition, as I was progressing through a steep icy ravine and frozen cascade, I saw there some relatively fresh bigger bear prints!
Surely not a place where I wanted to meet one!
Gun-less but armed with flares and pepper spray, I have not seen any live bear this year so far, and would be very contented to not seen any!
I got to the pass (884 meters) at 21h30 and since it was windy and snowy, while the moon was trying to pierce through the clouds, I went 6 kms further down a beautiful wide, white valley until I could get a good unexposed site to camp behind pine trees!
Yes, I am surrounded by christmas trees!
On the other side of the pass, the trees were different, more like poplar trees and shrubs. It's probably because I am at a higher elevation! (728 meters) and I like it!
It should be easier now for Omsukchan Express and I to travel the next and FINAL 99kms, except for the coming up 3 water/river crossings (where once again, I may have to use my dry suit), the potential bear encounters and the potential annoying rain!