The weather in Siberia can change quickly in May. On Sunday night, we were walking around Novosibirsk in T-shirts as it was a nice warm evening. By Monday night the wind was howling and the temperature had dropped significantly.
We left Novosibirsk on Monday morning to begin the 800km drive to Krasnoyarsk. About 4.30pm, we began looking for potential camping spots but all of the ground seemed to be water-logged with a lot of standing water. Even fields that appeared to be dry when looking at them, revealed soggy ground beneath the dry grass once we stood on them. The ground had a peat-like consistency that held water. We kept driving east, hoping that the ground-type would change. Finally, by about 6.00pm, we found a field of dry ground at the end of a dirt track, off the highway. There were a few trees that helped to hide us from view (from the highway and from a nearby village) but they were in the wrong position to protect us from the strong winds. We used the Defender to create a bit of a wind-break and staked out all of the guy-lines to keep the tent stable.
There was a semi-wild dog that clearly wasn’t happy to have us around. She had a litter of four young pups and the place we’d selected to camp appeared to be her neighbourhood. She kept returning to the area to challenge us with barks, before leading away her pups. This went on occasionally for a couple of hours. She seemed to change her attitude for a short while, after I gave her our left-overs from dinner. She quietly ate every morsel – and then went back to barking at us! Fortunately, she took the pups elsewhere at nightfall and was quiet until about 7.00am, when she returned to resume the occasional barking challenge. Interestingly, not long after we’d arrived and the dog was in full challenge mode, an eagle was circling over her pups and swooping low over them whilst their mother was distracted. Fortunately for the pups, the eagle wasn’t large enough to take one of them.
With the wind howling and the temperature dropping rapidly, we decided to prepare and cook dinner inside the closed-up tent where we had some shelter. En-route, we had stopped to buy some wild spring onions from a lady on the roadside, so we decided to include them in the pasta sauce. These ladies seem to sit by the road all day, in all weather, hoping to sell a few bunches of onions. At just over $1 per bunch, and with only a handful of bunches in view, the daily income must be meagre. We’re not sure, but we think the women pick the onions from the forest next to the road.
With food and some wine inside us, it was time for some sleep. Due to the cold, I climbed into my sleeping bag still wearing socks, T-shirt and two fleeces, as well as a wooly hat. The wind blew for much of the night and it rained briefly, but it was warm inside the sleeping bag with all of my clothes.
But in the morning, the temperature had dropped significantly. It was about 32F but the wind-chill made it finger-numbing cold (whilst wearing gloves). We packed away our gear and the tent as quickly as we could so that we could get inside the Defender and out of the cold. Then we got back to the road and resumed the drive to Krasnoyarsk. We’d covered about 500km yesterday, so only had 300 to drive today. For the most part, the roads were good (with some notable pot-holed exclusions), so we made good ground. It snowed for a good part of the journey.
We made it to the hotel by about 2.30pm but it was really 3.30pm, as we had crossed into yet another time-zone. So we are now 11-hours ahead of Bermuda and six-hours ahead of Berlin.
We have a rest day here tomorrow, so we’re hoping to brave the cold and see some of the city.