Børge and Thomas send greetings after reaching their goal.
Today is the 24th of July, Day 85. Our position is N79˚56’, E50˚06’.
We’re finally here – Cape Flora! This is the end of all uncertainty, the climax of all the hour-to-hour decisions. It feels fantastic to reach our destination, after following in the footsteps of Nansen and Johansen for almost three months. Thomas and I have had the opportunity to really feel their struggle and accomplishment, which was far greater, taking into account their equipment and the more gruesome conditions they encountered. We have gained much insight into the depth of their struggle. And I must confess that our respect for those two Arctic explorers of old has grown with each day.
The two of us have journeyed through exactly the same areas – but our situation has been considerably more secure, with satellite phones and the possibility of emergency signalling, and generally far better equipment. Our hats are off for Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen and their 1896 expedition. If we have any heroes, it must be the two of them. No doubt about it!
Our day started with an exciting surprise. To our astonishment, at land’s edge we found one of those round stones that we searched so hard to locate on Champ Island. It’s the result of an exceedingly rare geological phenomenon, which has only been discovered to have taken place two or three places in the world – and Franz Josef Land is one of them. We must have been close on Champ Island, but the stones’ position that we had received, was a little inaccurate.
A very rare geological phenomenon!
But here it was! A complete spherical rock about 2 m in diameter – it seemed almost like an artefact from a distant civilization, or a capsule from another planet. And it feels amazing to discover it on the very last day of our journey!
We struggled with a harsh wind today. Granted, we only had 8 km to go after putting a good 20 km behind us on yesterday’s leg. But the entire distance was an incessant battle with a wind that threatened to sweep us out into the Barents Sea.
Fierce winds made it a struggle to reach Cape Flora.
As a matter of fact, 111 years ago, Nansen was forced to risk his life – he had to jump into the freezing sea and swim, just offshore from where we started out this morning, in order to save his life and equipment.
The important thing is that we reached Cape Flora, hauled our kayaks safely up onto the shore. It’s a fine campsite here, a mossy plateau surrounded by flowers and the thriving birdlife of the cliffs behind us. There is a good reason why it is called Cape Flora – this is probably the most fertile spot in all of Franz Josef Land, with grass and moss and colourful blossoms. A truly magnificent place!
So we’re here at last. This report may mark the end of our journey through Franz Josef Land, but the adventure is hardly over yet. At least not for me. We have to wait until the 10th of August or so, when Thorleif Thorleifsson’s sailboat arrives to pick us up. Then we’ll chart a course for the North Cape of Norway. Arrival there will signal a new leg of my expedition – bicycling all the way home, south to Oslo. My idea is to “tie together” my home and the North Pole, having made the entire journey between them only by skis, kayak, sail and bicycle.
It will, however, be a while before that final chapter, which starts perhaps on the 17th or 18th of August. I invite you join me on this continued journey, right here on this website. It’s been one great adventure – and it isn’t over yet!
Thomas and I would like to extend our gratitude and best wishes to those of you who have followed our expedition. We are in fine shape, we’re tired, but we’re filled with joy after successfully completing our mission. Each day has been incredible!View 3 comments