`Hold on tight’ shouts Maricella but it was too late- as the 8 dogs scramble over the top of my face, just as I thought the pain was over, the sled tied to the back of the dogs skied straight over my head. The dogs sprinted off into the distance and I was left flattened like a pancake over the solid ice.
Suddenly I registered to the sound of my name as I quickly stood up and ran to Maricella who had grabbed the dogs on their way past. We leapt onto the wooden sled and powered forward through the thick snow, as I was hanging on for dear life we swerved to the right and then to the left through the forest, branches and snow flew in every different direction. Later on we swapped positions and it was my turn in the driver’s seat, I clenched onto the handle bars and slowly released my foot off the brake and the force of the wind rushed against my face, it`s only then it hits me where I am and what I am doing and the incredible speeds at which these dogs reach.
The remainder of the day was spent working with the dogs and learning about their characteristics and behavioral manners, which will help us to understand them better for the following days.
The main rule for mushing (dog sledding) is to hold on tight and don`t fall off, this was constantly reinforced and as we learnt from previous experiences that day it was very important ,the dogs do not stop for anything or anyone.
We had to get used to these conditions as the dog sledding was going to be our main form of transport for the next 2 days.
Over supper we discussed the plans for the following days this involved an in depth analysis of the planned route that the dogs would take us and the dangers that our journey involved it was only at this point that the risks became a reality. These dangers included crossing ice topped rivers, encounters with bears, sledding over narrow bridges and reaching incredibly high speeds downhill.
As Young Explorers, it is our responsibility to set up and organize conservation and environmental projects; to give back to the Earth what we take out. We have been given the perfect opportunity to work together to develop and fund programs in Kamchatka. This evening we discussed and gave ideas as a team towards an eco-tourism project that can help to have a positive effect on sustainable tourism on the Kamchatka Peninsula. This project will continue to develop as we as Young Explorers gain more knowledge and information about the place from the local people.
We finished the day off with a traditional game; a great experience to appreciate the place that we are in and the people we are with. Then we all fall asleep in a long line of sleeping bags one team, one mate next to another in the yurt for the last night before heading out and up the volcanoes tomorrow for the next leg of our Kamchatka adventure.
Getting the ideas flowing about how we will make a positive impact here is very exciting. We have learnt a lot about the region and it is at a critical turning point in many ways. We have realized that if we don’t get it right in Kamchatka there will be no more chances.