Entertaining polar bears while we wait

Published 19.07 in category In the Footsteps of Nansen

It’s 19 July, Day 79. I am sure it comes as no surprise that we’re camped exactly where we were yesterday and the day before. It has been raining non-stop the last 24 hours, and we’ve scarcely set our feet outside the tent. The wind has abated somewhat, but the seas are still rough, the waves coming straight in against the unprotected shore here.

For now we have no choice but to stay put. Thomas and I are just making the time pass. We have a deck of cards and four or five books. I’ve brought four mp3-players full of audio books, music and what have you. And we talk. So making the time pass is scarcely a problem.

We’re far more comfortable than Nansen and Johansen were as they made their way south from Jackson Island more than 110 years ago. They didn’t even have a tent! Instead, they slept under their sail in their woollen clothes, soaked if it had rained. But we’re nice and dry here in our little tent, and have no reason to complain.

When we’re not playing cards or reading or listening to music, we’re busy chasing off the polar bears. Three of them have come to visit since my last report. Last night, as we were about to go to bed, a young male triggered the tripwire right outside our tent. It took some doing to scare it off – finally we had to pull out the .44 Magnum and fire into the snow right in front of its paws. Only then did he retreat, but even so he circled our campsite for some time before disappearing altogether.

Today I heard a strange voice of complaint outside the tent. When I looked out, there was a she-bear with a large cub – standing there, squinting and smelling the air. But the two of them retreated without any problems, fortunately. It’s strange, really, that there are so many polar bears here, where there are no ice floes. Their hunting ground is usually the edge of the ice, so I can’t for the life of me imagine how they’re feeding themselves here. Well, it just drives home the point that you can meet polar bears anywhere and anytime up here, and so you always have to be cautious and prepared.

We are hoping the weather soon changes for the better, but we have no expectation of being able to leave tomorrow.

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