Monday 6 May 2019

2019 Arrival

A few days ago Bill Drury and myself arrived in Murmansk and busied ourselves with the annual "shopping". Most things are gathered by our good friends Sasha and Sergei but there are always bits and pieces that need to be found and for the most part this was again very straight forward but as ever punctuated with very good lunches.
A warm welcome
The rest of the forward party arrived on Saturday and this year we were away on the road by 9:30am. It was a very smooth journey mainly bathed in sunshine. There was quite a bit of snow lying in the tundra and many lakes were still a little frozen. The unmade part of the road was smoother than ever and we made it to the village in good time.
Dennis preparing to pilot the team through the ice
We then loaded our bags, basic provisions and a bottle of mulled wine into the waiting boats and Dennis and Feorde eased us out through the ice flow coming down from the village. Once free of the ice we motored down river at good speed and tucked in just by the steps to lower camp. 
Heading up to come down
We said goodbye to our boat drivers and then Holly, Bryony and Claire produced a fantastic supper whilst we started sorting what was to go where and to which camp. By 9pm it was getting cold again and whilst the sun dipped it got pretty cold putting a crust on the snow around camp.
First sight of the Lower Camp for 2019
Whilst I've not seen the most openings here I'm certainly happy to see boats collecting us and not snowmobiles. There are still large amounts of snow and ice to get off the banks and out to see. There are also areas that are still yet to break but we have more time ahead of us and I'm relieved it's not as cold and frozen as 2017... The forecast is for both increased temperatures and heavy rain both of which melt the recent surface snow and consequently lift the water level and get things moving. 
The daily inspections begin
More excitements tomorrow as people join the throng and we start the process of bringing in dry supplies. Right now Sasha and Bill are up at the village inspecting everything in store. I think the river is rising!

Jack Selby