Cliffs and glaciers reflected in a mirror-calm sea

Published 23.07 in category In the Footsteps of Nansen

Today is the 23rd of July, Day 84 of our expedition. We are resetting our clocks again, or rather changing our daily rhythm. Today we started later than usual, getting up at 1am. In the next few days, we’ll readjust to standard Norwegian and Swiss time – but for the time being, Thomas and I are still mostly nocturnal animals. Well, perhaps it’s inaccurate to call this night, because this is the time of the midnight sun. It is, however, slightly cooler “at night”, and the sun does hang a bit closer to the horizon.

After leaving Cape Barents this morning, we paddled 20 km westwards by kayak, along this scenic jagged coast, past glacier fronts, cliffs and rock formations. We started out in fog, but the weather soon cleared up, with sunshine and a sea so calm it formed almost a perfect mirror. There was even less excitement than we expected today. We didn’t have a single close encounter with a walrus or polar bear. That might seem a bit dull – and we had actually counted on meeting a large walrus colony that is supposed to be in this area this time of year. But we didn’t see a single walrus. So Thomas and I have had a rather undramatic day.

Now we’re camped at a splendid spot! We found a cove with a green meadow, and we just had to pitch our tent there. It’s actually the first time we’ve camped on flat earth. Most of the time, we’ve been force to set up our tent on stone or ice, and sometimes work hard to make it reasonably flat – but this meadow and cove seem perfectly designed for a campsite. We couldn’t have found a better spot.

We are only 8 km away from Cape Flora, our final destination in Franz Josef Land. It seems inevitable that we’ll reach it tomorrow. And we will be continuing by kayak – we couldn’t ski here even if we wanted to. But there is more ice than we expected along the coast here. It is, however, rather spread out, not posing any problems for our seaborne voyage. The weather is excellent, and there isn’t a single storm cloud in sight – so we’re crossing our fingers that our final few kilometres will go as smoothly as today.

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