Saturday, 28 August 2010
Old Road of Bones (Old Summer Rd.) Part 2
I’m coming!! That little spot headlight down the road, is slow Sherri Jo!
I’m slow, but I get there.. There are times where I can speed up, but I don’t get too crazy about it, as this road is completely un-maintained and unpredictable… There are serious hazards everywhere – and they love to surprise me! Sometimes they have these little creeks, with wood laid out as a make shift bridge. You don’t see it coming and when you pass over it, look down and it’s broken with this massive deep hole! Plenty big enough for the bike forks to go down.
I was lucky to miss most of them.. I don’t know how honestly.. As each move I make on those roads is all over the place. Trying to get the best traction on one side, or avoiding ruts on another side, etc etc. The one big sink hole I did eventually hit, was an “Oh SH_ _” moment as it happened, but it was a rare moment in time that I was going rather fast, and bounced right over it.. Close call!!
Interestingly enough, they do have caution signs out there. This road used to be maintained, but they built a new road around this stretch 3 years ago. It appears it’s been longer than that since they did any upkeep.
I am grateful for the little warning about the road taking a turn.. but why don’t they warn me about super size sink holes, or broken bridges!!
Walter says that once this last wooden bridge shown below goes, there won’t be anyone getting through the Old Road of Bones… and it’s not looking too happy at the moment, it’s only a matter of time.. Only makes the trip and the struggle more special knowing that very few people in the world go there, particularly on a motorcycle.. and a kind of cool little knotch on the belt in personal history, knowing not many more will ever travel this road in the future…
I can not tell you how scared I was crossing this bridge. It was much farther down than it looks on film, and if there’s one thing I know, it hasn’t been checked by a safety officer recently!! You can see from the icy blue/green color, that water is deep! And moving seriously fast!! I go slowly, having kiniptions all the way.. I think Walter is enjoying my panic.. In my mind, I wouldn’t dare speed up because like I said before, there could be broken bits and holes pop up, and if I fell over, I could go over the edge!! This would look good in the movies, but we don’t have a camera crew and rescue helicopter on stand by….
Well I made it.. I was able to breathe again…
Along the road I came across a special treat, a little Road of Bones Reward.. Look at these gorgeous wild horses..!!
What I should’ve done was take a photo of their poo.. Traveling along, I saw these massive mounds of poo.. Looked like horse poo shapes, but little mountains of the stuff along the way.. I wondered, is that Elk poo? Reindeer poo? Moose poo? I never considered it was horse poo due to the massive size of the mounds! But then when we came across the horses and you see how fat and happy they are, I now understand..
In all of the wilderness we have been travelling, I have been surprised not to see any wildlife.. only birds. I know our motorcycles make a noise enough to scare anything away, but when I have a little stop and look into a large valley, I have my eyes peeled out for any movement at all – nothing!!
So the horses made my day…
And then… to the next deep muddy puddle, Walter spots something..
Bear tracks!! So they ARE here! Where?? Can I see one? Everyone says, I don't want to see one. But I do. I can add that I don't want to see one up too close and ready to attack me, but that is just so unlikely... I think the sound of the motor as well as the horn would send it running.
Walter says he worries about bears all the time, particularly when he gets off the bike to take a photo.. He feels he is always looking over his shoulder.
I have to admit it is in my mind when I take a pit stop behind a bush, but in general, it’s not like a bear is going to be standing by the road waiting for a motorcycle to pass by so he can “SWAT!!” you down!
We are seeing lots of interesting tracks now. Definitely large dog if not wolf tracks.. mud can be good for some things like seeing tracks, but I can’t say I like riding through it much..
We were even perplexed to see pushbike tracks!! We saw them a couple times, but the road conditions change a lot and they were not consistent.
They looked fairly fresh, but we have definitely not passed any cyclists on this track, I think we would notice.
Road conditions start to improve considerably... and then we start to see proper vehicle tracks. We’ve turned into such trackers, I think we could give Daniel Boone a run for his money!
Then we come up to a truck.. and people!! What a sight it was to see people after all we had been through! It hadn’t been but a day and a half since we started the Old Road of Bones, but it felt like we had been on it for at least a week!
What a good looking family! I was surprised at their appearance. Walter explains to me later that these are Yakut people.. not completely sure of their origin, but theory suggests their ancestors were pushed north from the Genghis Khan era.
Walter has a good chat to them.. I notice the older boy is standing on 2 rifles, as if to hide them from us. I ask Walter to ask them what they are hunting. He said they denied they are hunting..
Hmmm, a family on a deserted road dressed in camoflauge.. just a weekend getaway?? Then we see Grandpa in the front seat, he has a large rifle too. Maybe its protection to keep bears… away…?? ;-/
Car tracks become more and more frequent. We must be getting closer to the village, the one and only village on the Old Road of Bones, Tomtor.
The road becomes pure loose gravel. I’m not a fan of the slippery thick gravel. And as cars begin to pass by, loose gravel coupled with not being able to see through the dust.. after such a long day, I am very ready to see a village, and hopefully we can stop.
Yes, first stop, fuel! Then into town, we find a kind man who points us to a shop. We wanted a café to get a nice cooked meal, but not going to happen. Next to the shop was the café, but it has clearly been shut for quite a while.
The man comes into the shop with us, and is so friendly and curious!
Outside we are being watched by the local children..
They don’t get many visitors at all, let alone strange looking ones on motorcycles. This village is the ONLY village on the Old Road of Bones. Especially not visited since the new road goes around it.
We had no hope for hot food, but when Walter enquired about finding accommodation, the old man had the 2 boys on a bike take us to a house, where a lady had a key for another house we could stay in.
And, wouldn’t you know, she was expecting us!!
She spoke of her call from Bolot, Walter’s friend in Yakutsk, hundreds of kilometres away. He has been following the SPOT tracking service on my website and could tell we were getting close to Tomtor.
And then for Bolot to know this lady and tell her to expect a couple motorcycles to pull into town soon.
We were so lucky, we have a large house to stay in with a kitchen and bathroom! We bought some packet noodles, carrots and bread from the shop, I got an apple – an APPLE !! In a northern Siberian village where there are no fruit trees to be found, and it was my favorite - Pink Lady!
The same kind man showed up at the front door, bearing fresh vegetables from his garden.: Tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and chives.
The first job however was to get clean before I could consider making a meal..
There is a bath tub here, but no hot water. So I got every pot out of the cupboard I could find and filled them with water and started heating on the stove. As well as the electric kettle.
One by one, I filled a large bucket in the bathroom that I set in the tub. Finally got enough hot water and another little pot with a handle to scoop it over my head.
This is my first wash since starting the Old Road of Bones after all the dirt from the bush fire, falling into mud puddles, long dusty roads…
I can tell you that bucket of water was very brown once I finished with it.. But I was clean (somewhat)!! Hallelujah!!
Now, let’s make a meal!
My warmed the carrots and threw them into the packet noodle mix with fresh parsley, and chopped up the tomatoes and cucumbers onto my bread.
AND a nice big cup of tea.
Sorry not to be social, but all I want now is to go to bed.
I had a nice little bed in a girls room.
Fell asleep immediately as you can imagine.. but later on something woke me up..
The bed was shaking!! Takes me a while to really wake up and determine it’s not a dream.. it kept shaking! I started to get scared, then my brain started working and I figured out it was a small earthquake. We are in quite a mountainous area, so when I worked all that out in my head, I just laid back down. The shaking lasted quite a while, I was surprised. But I did end up back to sleep.
Had a crazy dream.. I was in that room as is.. A young girl came in, and it was her shaking the bed!! I remember she had short hair, glasses, and a cream covered childrens coat. She said this was HER room and she had died here in 2001. Hmmm, a ghost!
When I woke up the next morning, I had to think back and forth about that night.. Did I experience an earthquake or a ghost? Ha! Doesn’t matter, either one is fine, I was just happy to have a bed and a wonderful home to stay in.
Walter says we have a big day ahead of us.. rest time is over.
He arranged to meet the lady who gave us the key at 9 AM. And they want to show us their town museum.
No worries, it would be an honor to learn about the region I am travelling through!
Here’s a bear!! They are a bit larger than I imagined…
This town holds a world record for lowest temperature recorded.. -71.2 degrees Celcius.
That’s pretty darn cold, but they say winter generally hangs around – 40 to -50..
So what surprised me was a list of people in the museum and the long lives they have here! Sorry for the dreadfully dodgy photos, I was in a hallway and couldn’t get an angle..
I know that's a bit boring, but I just find it incredible that they have so many people in this little village that live in the Pole of Cold; who live off the land with very few modern conveniences, and they manage to live that long. Whereas in our western world, we have so many amenities, making life warm and easy; as well as advanced modern medicine, and still most people struggle to get to their 70’s or 80’s. I am really impressed with this culture!
We surely must hit the road.. but I do love this town!
It’s like no place I have ever seen. I have never been this far north on the planet before, and a chance to experience how these people live is fascinating to me. When I look at this village I imagine what it must look like in the deep snow..
On the way out of town, we take a quick photo opportunity by the monument of their very low record.
I just noticed that in relation to the globe on top, my bike is parked directly under Australia.. how did it know?? After a very nice morning, it is now time to begin the day…. And keep in mind, I am still not asking questions, and I have NO CLUE what sort of day is ahead of me…. it turned out to be one of the toughest days of my life…