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Dimitri Kieffer update: Mother Nature ends his trek in remote Russia

Posted: May 20, 2010 09:48 pm EDT

After 63 days and 707 km walking, swimming and sledge hauling through Russia (Chukotka and Kamchatka), Dimitri Kieffer decided to end the 2010 edition of his human powered circumnavigation. He was hoping to walk further with a backpack, but a lot of exposed snowless tundra and three rivers to cross make it impossible for a snowmobile to drop his sled and remaining gear/supplies/food/fuel on the "tundra trail", he explained.

The rivers crossing points are indeed currently 1.8 meters (6 feet) deep, thanks to the large amount of melting snow pouring down neighboring mountains.

Since the previous update Dimitri left Kamenskoye and walked around 250 km to the village of Paren through rain, mud, dirt, moss, water and a few patches of snow. At times he had to swim in his drysuit through rivers and along the coast.

From Kamenskoye to Manily

Dimitri covered the very wet 55.6 km between Kamenskoye and Manily in 1.5 days, travelling mostly through the opening Penzhina River, leap frogging part of the way between ice floes, he said. In Manily he heard the last vehicle for the season that tried to use the river road, sunk and had to be salvaged by an Ural truck.

From Manily he left for Paren 200 km away. With the help of two different wezdehods that transported his sled, Dimirti was able to backpack across two sections of 25 km that had no snow. During the trek a welcomed snow storm which brought badly needed snow tore apart his new replacement tent. He also visited a second Brigade on the way.

Brigade #8

This was Dimitris first Brigade visit in Kamchatka. A much smaller one than the one I had the pleasure to spend time with in Chukotka. 500 reindeers, 5 men, 1 woman and a 6 years old boy named Vanka roofed under a single tent.

They were great hosts, said Dimitri. They gave him a warm spot in the communal tent, a warm reindeer kukul to sleep in, warm tea and pasta interestingly mixed with sweetened condensed milk. He returned the favor, gifting a bag of dry apricots which some of them have never seen/tasted, shared his satellite phone so that they could call "home" in Manily (100 km and 1 month of brigade work away) and share all the pictures on his camera where they could see the shots he took coincidentally of their family members and old dogs down in Manily and Kamenskoye.

The Brigade people killed their bi-weekly reindeer and offered Dimitri, as a guest, the prized pieces, tongue, heart and a new one for me, a Koriak special treat known as "ramlochka" which is nothing else than raw bone marrow!

Down the river and along the coast

Form Brigade #8 to Paren Dimitri had another 7 epic days adventure, where he encountered wrestling bears, geese hunters and had to navigate his way through melting rivers, ice floes, bare tundra, melting frozen swamps and an overall very edgy coastline, he stated.

Dimitri decided to change his route. He left the wezdehod trail he was following across the mountain ranges, and went amphibious, walk down/ swim down the partly frozen Mekino River down to the sea and followed the coast line on the remaining coastal ice to Paren. He described the coast line as tumultuous and beautiful with ice blocks the size of cars, piled up on top of each other for as far as my eyes could see... An icy labyrinth that I will have to maneuver through!

Dimitri made use of his drysuit when need to swim from time to time with his sled in tow. He described his route along the coast as a refreshing change after having pulled his sled through mountains, rivers and tundra over the last few winters.

Read the detailed and interesting description of Dimitris walk on his website (in the links section) also how he observed two bear playing and frolicking in the snow.

Future plans

Dimitri said he has been blessed this spring to keep meeting colorful, kind and incredibly giving Russians and it kept coming as he was pursuing his route further southwest. What a great experience I get to live this time again, despite a few physical hardships here and there...

So, for now, my only option is to stop my expedition and plan to return next winter in February 2011 so that I can continue forward towards the Magadanskaya Oblast (Verkhniy -Paren, Chaybukha, Evensk, Tavatum, Omsukchan).

Why not return any sooner in the 2010-2011 winter?

Because I need to wait until the later stage of the winter to potentially be able to benefit from stable solidly frozen rivers and consequently established zimnik-winter roads between Verkhniy-Paren and Omsukchan.

This will also give me enough time to find a way to repair my sled which took a beating over the last section of dragging and pulling through dirt, sand and rocks. The two damaged plastic covers of the rudders/fins underneath needs to be replaced if I want to make sure that I can still pull my sled efficiently in 2011.

Dimitri described Paren as a Koriak village of 62 Koriak, white Russians and Metisse inhabitants, located in a small forest of birch, poplar and mountain ash trees, near the northwestern coast of the Penzhinskaya Guba/Bay and quite isolated indeed with a very limited amount of transportation available with the outside world.

Now, in the meantime, my next big challenge is to find a way to get home, back in Seattle, USA!

Location May 17, 2010:
N 62° 25.040'; E 163° 05.160'
Paren, Northwestern Kamchatka
Total kilometers covered Spring 2010: 707.2 km
Manily to Paren 199.4 km

Dimitri Kieffer was born in France and moved to the USA when he was 17. He runs ultra-marathons and participates 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

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