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Dimitri Kieffer update: Trekking with three traveling dogs

Posted: May 03, 2010 05:30 pm EDT

Spring is in the air, reported Dimitri from Russia. Night temperatures turned at 20° and day temperatures at 0°C. Dimitri finished the sledge-hauling leg between Slautnoye and Kamenskoye without Nyurgen Efremov who went home. Big was his surprise after a few kilometers on the trail when three playful dogs followed him.

Dimitri also gave information about Kamenskoye.

The dogs

After having spent 8 days in Slautnoye Dimitri left for Kamenskoye. He was able to buy a tent after his previous one was blown away. Nyurgen Efremov, his traveling partner since the start of this leg near Vayegi, decided to return to Anadyr.

Dimitri continued alone, or so he thought. Three dogs started to follow him. On his way out of Slautnoye he came across eight White Russian and Koriak fishermen who offered him tea (and some lard, reindeer meat and smoked salmon for the road). At the time Dimitri was playing with the three dogs present and feeding them his reindeer bones and fish skins; not able to predict the future, he said.

When he continued walking again he noticed the three dogs following him; two beautiful huskies, and a smaller mutt, he said, thinking that they will turn around and go home soon enough! They didnt.

One day on the trek a wezdehod passed by Dimitri and his dogs. The Koriak driver, Gosha, popped out and exclaimed, Those are my dogs! And their names are Rice, Rex and Dunia. Dimitri asked him to take the dogs with, but he said he may not transport them in the wezdehod; they had to find their way back to Slautnoye themselves.

When arriving in Kamenskoye the dogs followed Dimitri everywhere. He launched a major PR campaign to find a new owner for the tree dogs. Eventually the Koryak immigration officer, Maria, and the sister of Gosha, the actual owner of the dogs, conceded to keep the dogs until they can be sent back to Slautnoye later on this summer by barge.

Dimitri said it was the first time he traveled with dogs and has very much enjoyed their playful company, watching how they relate to each other, and truly enjoying being on the trail. He now would consider doing it again and even potentially planning on it, despite the complexity that it might bring along!

The trail (Slautnoye and Kamenskoye)

Dimitri said for the first 55 km he and the three dogs traveled on beautiful flat frozen tundra, lakes and smaller riverbeds and on the majestic Penzhina River. During the first part of his travel to Kamenskoye Dinitri mostly following a wezdehod trail. Then he started to follow Ural/truck zimnik trails.

The winter trails made by the heavy Ural trucks needed to work with the landscape, he said. They often follow river beds, no matter how sinuous the rivers might be, and therefore often adding a great amount of mileage. However, they tend to leave great stable tracks that are most of the time easier/faster to follow on in packed hard snow.

Read more detail descriptions of Dimitris sledge-hauling days on his website in the links section.

Kamenskoye facts

Dimitri gave the following facts of Kamenskoye, [The town] has a population of about 670 inhabitants, composed of white Russians, Ukrainians, Koryaks, Evenks and Chukchis. It is the regional administrative center for the Penzhina region and is connected to Manily, an old Soviet-type port (operating obviously only in summer months!) of 1000 inhabitants with either a gravel inside road or a winter river trail.

According to the traffic police report, the town has only 5 buses, three trucks, and 20 cars!
Kamenskoye has numerous 2 floors wooden apartment buildings (with most of them operating without any running water for the last two years and obvious lack of proper garbage collection!) and a few interesting wooden structures such as the library and the local court where I have absolutely no desire to spend anytime soon!

From what I have seen so far, this northwestern forgotten corner of Kamchatka, also known as the Koryak Okrug has been heavily struggling financially since the end of the soviet regime in the early 1990's and has not been able to benefit from more glorious times ever since, to the contrary of neighboring Chukotka which saw a great amount of investment under oligarch Roman Abramovich's regime in the early 2000's.

Kamenskoye to Manily

After Dimitri discussed the route from Kamenskoye and Manily at great length with locals, wezdehod drivers and administrative representatives, he has decided to take the river/bay trail between Kamenskoye and Manily since it is still partly frozen and not the route across the mountains.

Dimitri Kieffer was born in France and moved to the USA when he was 17. He runs ultra-marathons and participate in adventure races. Since 2005, Dimitri has continued to evolve, transferring from adventure racing to full blown expeditions, like this Circumnavigation around the Globe with only using human power.

The circumnavigation started on February 26, 2005 at Knik Lake, near Anchorage, Alaska. Dimitri plans complete the entire expedition by 2016.

Stages already completed in Dimitris Nexus Expeditions around the globe using human power:

First Section: Knik Lake (near Anchorage, Alaska) - Nome (Alaska)
Feb April 2005, 37 days, 1100 miles 1770 kilometers
Completed by foot (trekking & snowshoeing) the Iditarod Trail Invitational race

Second Section: Nome (Alaska) Wales (Alaska)
Feb 2006, 9 days, 115 miles 185 kilometers
Completed by foot (Trekking & Back Country Skiing)
(with Goliath Expedition - Karl Bushby)

Third Section: Nome (Alaska) Uelen (Russia) Bering Strait Crossing
March 17-31 2006, 14 days, 5 days where swimming was required
200 miles 322 kilometers
Completed by foot (Trekking & Back Country Skiing) + Swimming
(with Goliath Expedition- Karl Bushby)

Fourth section: Uelen to Egvekinot (Chukotka, Russia)
April 12- May 16 2007, 34 days, 425 miles 684 kilometers
Completed by foot (Back Country Skiing and only trekking after Vastoshisno)
Uelen- Anguema(with Goliath Expedition - Karl Bushby)
Anguema- Uelen (solo)

Fifth section:
Egvekinot to Vayegi (Chukotka, Russia)
April 15- June 7, 2008
exact amount of trekking days still being tabulated
Approximately 600 miles / 965 km
exact amount of miles still being tabulated.

Completed by foot (Back Country Skiing, trekking with a backpack and pulling the sled simultaneously, swimming, using the sled as kayak while going down rivers).

Sixth section: Vayegi to Omsukchan (Russia)
With Russian, Nyurgen Efremov, (Vayegi to Slautnoye)
March May 2010. Total expected mileage for the route: 660 miles (1060 km). Trekking and skiing.

He plans to cover this section by skis and on foot, while pulling a sled, considering the absence of roads in the Chukotkan tundra. Once upon reaching Omsukchan, he will switch to biking and continue Westbound towards Europe, connecting the European, Asian and American continents.

Dimitri Kieffer is blogging over Contact5.

#Polar #Trek

The Koriak driver of the wezdehod popped out and exclaimed, Those are my dogs! And their names are Rice, Rex and Dunia. Image sent over Contact5 (click to enlarge)
Image by Dimitri Kieffer courtesy Dimitri Kieffer, SOURCE
"Trekking and skiing on the Penzhina River, accompanied by 3 beautiful roaming dogs for a week, covering 140kms in 8 days!"
courtesy Dimitri Kieffer, SOURCE
The driver could not take the dogs in his wezdehod and they continued traveling with Dimitri... Image sent over Contact5 (click to enlarge)
Image by Dimitri Kieffer courtesy Dimitri Kieffer, SOURCE
Over muddy roads...Image sent over Contact5 (click to enlarge)
Image by Dimitri Kieffer courtesy Dimitri Kieffer, SOURCE
Dimitri enjoying "some of the free and safe time spent alone on the trail where I could stop to camp wherever and whenever I pleased."
courtesy Dimitri Kieffer, SOURCE
and Ural roads. Image sent over Contact5 (click to enlarge)
Image by Dimitri Kieffer courtesy Dimitri Kieffer, SOURCE
The medical emergency wezdehod in Kamenskoye. Image sent over Contact5 (click to enlarge)
Image by Dimitri Kieffer courtesy Dimitri Kieffer, SOURCE
"Slautnoye: circled in Kamchtaka northwest corner. Green Line: Planned route Slautnoye-Kamenskoye-Manily-Virny Paren-Evensk" Image sent over Contact5 (click to enlarge)
courtesy Dimitri Kieffer, SOURCE