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Mike Horn

YEP 7 Exp Kamchatka Day 7

An alarm chimes. Saraya, our Australian YEP, sits up in her sleeping bag and says “But I’ve only just fallen asleep!” Feeling the same way I open one eye to look at my watch in the dark, 2:30am it reads. Back to sleep someone else says, false alarm! A short 3 hours later however, the real alarm goes off and we peel ourselves out of our sleeping bags and stumble through the darkness and the rest of our sleeping team to get kitted up for a morning team exercise and the start of a bitter-sweet day.

Today we had an amazing cultural learning experience in which we entered a traditional ‘jaranga,’ a house of the native people of Kamchatka. We were shown the real way to keep warm-in a reindeer skin-and treated to a mesmerizing traditional dance performance by little Anya.

The highlight of the day was still to come however as we got introduced to the dogs who are going to be our driving force for the next few days. I quickly befriended Dansoor, a blue-eyed sled dog with a talent for dancing (hence the name) and it wasn’t long before we were harnessing up the frantically excited dogs to the sleds for our first sledding experience. I can hardly describe it! With one of us sitting in the sled and another standing and breaking behind, the dogs tore off into the woods and we hung on for dear life. I have never seen such energy and we tried hard to keep up, steering the sled to avoid crashing into piles of snow as we rounded corners and went up and down hills. As I sat on the front of my sled I watched the powerful legs of the dogs in front and marveled at willing and happy they were to use all their energy just to pull us. The sky turned purple and red above the isolated, snowy, tree-scattered landscape and I was struck by how lucky I am to be in this incredible wilderness that is Kamchatka.

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