How do you relate to The Arctic

Friday, April 15, 2011

April 15th from Elagin

We got a good night of sleep in and the weather conditions improved, as well. Visibility is decent. First few hundred meters of traveling along the floe we spend the night on were deceivingly easy and had settle in rather a worry free disposition, considering that the shores of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago were some short 17 km away. These 17 kilometers however proved to be anything but short or easy. Heavy ridges with practically no flat spaces in between them, covered with freshly blown over deep fluffy snow. Vehicles, despite of their light weight and off-road prowess, could travel no more than a 100 meters at a time without needing assistance from the men, who then themselves had to put quite a bit of effort to cover these 100 meters on foot to catch up to the vehicles. The snow cover was so deep that each step of the way could come with a surprise sinking into the deep snow sometime knee deep, sometimes all the way to the armpits. Obihod did just that, and only remained afloat by spreading his arms wide to his sides to keep himself from going further down. Both Isaev and Zaitcev had to resort to “all—wheel drive” climbing snow banks on all fours. While yours truly, would climb on top of Yemelya’s roof every 100 meters with the hope partaking of the one Lenin must have cherished long before him – of seeing the way to the brighter and better future ahead. The vehicles with the caravan of trailers in tow twist like snakes between creations of ice and winds, their shapes reminiscent of pagan idol statues of Easter Islands standing on guard of this seemingly endless, silent grandeur.
By midday we made our way through to the area of lesser density of ridges, drove for several kilometers and just as we began to relax, the Kara Sea did not fail to surprise us with a large crack in the ice right across the direction of our path. It stretched as far as we could see in both directions. We were at this point exhausted and bewildered by the previous few hours of battling the ridges and could almost smell the land so closely ahead that we decided to risk crossing afloat. One hour later we were driving again. Two hours later we raised a toast to reaching the Land.
Vasily Elagin
P.S. Odometer reading: 2754 km, Wind: easterly and quite fresh -25C, Disposition – positive.

Translated from Russian by Ilya Kovalev 

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