A historic site

Published 25.07 in category In the Footsteps of Nansen

We’re happily installed at Cape Flora, in our cosy little tent. And we are going to be here for quite some time, while the SS “Athene” is riding the wind and waves in our direction. We don’t expect much to happen while we’re camped here, but we’ll report in every two or three days, or when there is something worth mentioning.

The only exciting thing that happened today was a polar bear visit – yes, yet another polar bear! It had decided to relax on the headland here, out by the remnants of the expedition hut built by Fredrick Jackson. He was a huge beast – the bear, that is – and he stood there looking sceptically at us for some time, before he sauntered off. That’s what most of the bears have done, with a few exciting exceptions.

Cape Flora is a painterly place with beautiful flowers and incredible colours. And as mentioned, it is the site of Jackson’s cabin. Fate would have it that he was here to provide rescue for Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen. In addition there are remnants and debris after Russian activity.

There is a stone monument on Cape Flora, commemorating three adventurers who died aboard “Stella Polaris”, near Rudolf Island. They took part in an Italian expedition in 1900 or 1902. One of the trio was from the town of Sandefjord, in Southeastern Norway, and the stone monument was raised by his father, who returned here the year after that tragedy. It is a potent reminder that we are on historic ground, and that it is risky to venture into these far northern waters. Thomas and I are relieved and happy that our journey went as well as it did.

We’ve sent you some photographs. Some are flowers, there is the huge round boulder we found day before yesterday, me loading equipment into our kayaks, tied together to form a catamaran, a shot taken while we make our way through choppy seas toward Cape Flora, and another taken by the plaque that tells the story of Nansen, Johansen and Jackson – at least a few words of what happened here then, more than a hundred years ago.

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