A historic stone hut!

Published 28.06 in category In the Footsteps of Nansen

It’s the 28th of June now, the 59th day of our expedition: “In the Footsteps of Fridtjof Nansen”. Our position is N81˚12’, E55˚33’.

We had a rather exciting start to our day. A polar bear came visiting, expecting breakfast – a huge beast, with a tint of grey in his old beard. We brought out the pepper spray, which of course is designed for human troublemakers; but it was clearly effective on the polar bear, too. He didn’t want anything to do with us after that. He found out that his close encounter with these strange, two-legged creatures was too painful.

It’s been a good day for us. Since the ice was pushed all the way against the shore, it was impossible to continue by sea, which is the easiest way around these steep crags. Luckily we managed to find a route across the glaciers. When we came down to an ice-covered bay, we continued for a while along the shore. When the ice stopped, and the walkable shore narrowed and finally disappeared, we were still a few kilometres away from the destination we had our mind set on. Thomas and I put the boats on the water, and in the absence of floating ice we paddled on along Jackson Island. Soon I recognised these remarkable rock formations!

Just around a promontory, we spotted the stone hut built by Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen – it’s still here. That’s our camp. It feels incredibly good and very exciting to finally have reached this historic destination. I have read about it many times, this simple stone hut in Franz Josef’s Land where they dug in and spent the winter, enduring the long months from August 1895 to May 1896.

Many thoughts are going through my mind. I’ve never ceased to wonder what they must have thought and felt, their longings and deprivations, and their hopes. They showed us a remarkable ability to never lose hope, to never give up! I think that is the greatest thing of all about the legendary expedition of Nansen and Johansen.

The stone hut seems almost submerged in the terrain. The log they used as lodgepole is still here, right above our heads. I tell you – it’s a very special feeling to stand here in wonder, 112 years after those great Arctic explorers were standing on the same spot.


Remnants of the stone hut where Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen spent a demanding winter.

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