News from Russia - VIII

September 25, 26 & 27, 2017

The end of the trip is getting closer. While sailing back to Tiksi, we made two last stops.  Before arriving at Lyakhovskiye Island, we anchored at the deepest point in the surrounding area to make our last dive. As the swell was not too strong, our trusty rubber boats could be hoisted down. The freedivers were very excited to make their last dive in East Siberian Sea. Unfortunately, the visibility was quite poor, probably the worst of the trip, as they couldn't even see the end of their fins. Thankfully they had a line yard to stay linked to the rope and avoid being disoriented in the murky green water.

Once back on the ship, they did their usual sauna to warm themselves. Then, the Somov continued its route to Lyakhovskiye, which would be our last stop before getting to Tiksi.

We arrived on Sunday in the morning and the captain anchored the ship to supply the nearby polar station. The helicopter made at least 10 trips back and forth from the boat to carry all the barrels of fuel that the station will need, lasting them until the next summer.  That afternoon we all kept busy by packing our equipment while we made our way back to Tiksi.

It being our last evening, Elena, Galina and Nadia, 3 women of the Somov crew that have been so helpful and nice to us during the trip prepared a “tea party” for us. They cooked us a tasty cake with red berries and brought us some dark chocolate... a true treasure on a Russian ice-breaker in the middle of the Arctic. While we were having a wonderful evening, it was hard not to already become a little nostalgic at the thought of leaving the boat and the people we had come to know quite well.

We arrived in Tiksi around eleven the following morning and we organized our departure into two groups in order to accommodate not only our group but also our luggage.

And we ended right back where we started: the Tiksi polar station!  However, now the Yakutian village was covered in a beautiful plush blanket of snow, turning the barren wilderness around us into a wonderful landscape.

Aurora, Marie, Bertrand, Eric and Adrien decided to walk back from the polar station to the town. This 3km walk in the fresh thin layer of new snow was so pleasant, particularly since it was sunny day with an incredibly pure autumn light. We could clearly see all the white hills surrounding Tiksi that the fog had hidden from us before.

And it seemed like Tiksi wanted to keep us there... We learned that our flight to Yakutsk for that day had been cancelled due to an icy runway. We therefore had to spend another night in the majestic Hotel Arktika. Nonetheless this unexpected stop in Tiksi gave us the time to spend one last day all together before our adventure ended.

We were very pleased to see Tiksi in this new light, covered in white. All the local children were playing in the snow with their dogs and their smiles, their laughs and joy cutting through this desserted Northern landscape.

When looking out towards the horizon along the ocean, we could actually make out the figure of the Somov, our “home sweet home” of the Russian Arctic, slowly drifting off to sea en route to Pevec in Tchoutkokta. Watching this little dot on the sea, each of us was already thinking of the next expedition in the Arctic. Because when Arctic gets you, it gets you.