Gerhard Hampel narrates:
– I bought my own dogs six years ago. Now
I have thirty dogs. Every winter I carry out three – four
short training expeditions on my dog sled. When I plan my
expedition I try to choose a route which would be also interesting
for my dogs. The dogs are like children and they want to have
fun. When they have fun they also give me pleasure by their
fast speed en route.
My dogs are Siberian huskies. The age of
this breed is about 100 years. Originally these dogs were
bred at Alaska, but their ancestors were brought from Chukotka.
I like these dogs more than the Inuit huskies, which are bigger
and can run with sleds for a day without any food. But they
can not run so fast as my dogs.
objective of my expedition was to see Siberia. I have never
before been in the inner lands of Russia. I had a lot of prejudices,
which are popular in Europe. I was afraid that there were
many contaminated areas in Siberia and wild nature had completely
vanished. I would also try to raise awareness in Germany about
the actual state of things in Russia and to facilitate a process
of giving up all existing prejudices.
I am more than satisfied with my expedition.
All my expectations came true. The route we took was changing
very much in landscape so we had many different aspects of
a country we were travelling through. We covered 1800 kilometres.
This sounds a lot but compared to the size of Yukutia it is
very little. We started near the sea, then followed along
the ice of the Yana River, crossed the mountains and travelled
over the Lena River. We had seen very many very impressive
– I have only one disappointment – I
did not experience my -50°C. The lowest temperature, indicated
by our thermometer was -38°C. I experienced such temperature
in the course of my previous expeditions.
My dogs did not have any difficulty in adjusting
to the new conditions. I think they liked this trip. They
like snow and running in snow. For running such long distances
they need temperatures around -20 degrees. A change of a landscape
is very important not only for people but for dogs too. We
had some very long stretch on the river Yana, which was easy
going but that does not change very much. So the dogs sometimes
got a bit bored. You could feel it as soon as they smelt animals
like horses or reindeers they would triple their speed all
of a sudden. I had some young dogs in my team. When the daily
distance covered more than seventy or eighty kilometres especially
the young dogs got tired, they start to move slower and to
complain. In order to give them some rest I was hauling them
in the sleds. Some stage we had to carry up three dogs on
The problems started when we left the smooth
ice of rivers and had to follow winter roads, that were made
by trucks. The sleds constantly get stuck in snow and we had
to take out all load to allow the dogs to run further. Sometimes
we could cover only 13 km per day.
– We in Germany have very little information
about Russia and Russian people. Especially my generation
brought up during the Cold War. We had a lot of negative information
about your country. What I saw in Russia was much more than
I had expected. I did not expect that in small villages we
would see so many local citizens. These meetings were always
extremely interesting. I could feel warm hospitality and their
basic interest in somebody who came from far away. No matter
what small villages we visited, the local citizens greeted
us warmly and did their best to make us feel quite comfortable.
And what really surprised me that people leaving under harsh
conditions are so easy going and so friendly to anybody coming
to their house and asking to stay for a night. This really
was very impressive. And I think this is something very important
to take home.
I found out that in small Yakutian villages
children study German at schools. Which I am sure nobody would
know in Germany. I spoke to one teacher and she said: "Well
this is because we have at school only German text books of
old times". I promised that I send her books and videos
I definitely want to come back. I do not
know in what part of Russia I would like to come because this
is a very large and interesting country. But I am sure that
I come back.