Three morning guests – and a symphony

Published 10.07 in category In the Footsteps of Nansen

It’s the 10th of July and Day 70 of “In the Footsteps of Nansen”. Our position here is N80˚23’, E43˚00’. Today has been a very exciting and different day. We don’t often have polar bears at our doorstep, but this morning three of them came to visit. Fortunately, they retreated when they were satisfied, without us having to take action. It’s really interesting to notice how different the behaviour of individual bears is.

We’ve had to say goodbye to the safe, flat ice that rested along the shore. When we climbed a hill to scout ahead this morning, we saw all the ice moving. It’s all broken up by the northwesterly winds we’ve had the last few days. Now we’re once again facing this detestable pack ice, where we need to jump from floe to floe. …and the ice is moving fast through this sound, probably 400–500 metres per hour. …open leads and carry on. …incredible how quickly it’s coming. …you wouldn’t think we had ever done anything but move through pack ice. Actually, that’s one thing we’re really good at. It’s almost just exciting…

Yes, we’re camped very close to a mountain here, and so it easily cuts our mobile link to the satellite. That’s why my last message probably got rather amputated, I suspect. Well, here’s the continuation.

We had to enter the pack ice today, but it didn’t take long to find our rhythm, jumping from floe to floe like we did in the Arctic Sea. And we crossed six or seven of them by kayak, in our usual manner. What we do is simply climb on and sit on top of it, without putting our drysuits on, because it saves so much time. Besides, these were narrow lead. But we did get a fright when a walrus stuck its head up just as we were sticking our paddles in the water. There’s no chance to get bored up here!

Thomas and I managed to reach our goal for the day: the northwestern promontory of Hooke Island. That’s where we’re camped now, at the foot of this amazing mountain! If there Frans Josef Land has a distinguishing trait, it has to be all these birds!! From every steep mountain we come, there is a resounding symphony… There must be thousands of birds right nearby. It’s wonderful to lie in our tent and listen to it, especially while we’re falling asleep. Because that tells us we’re camped at a good, safe spot of land.

As mentioned, we had to bid farewell to the nice, flat ice that we had been walking on along the shore. I’m sure that’s a sign of things to come. Now that it’s summer, we’re reaching more open waters, or the ice we meet is broken up or pushed into pack ice. So we might as well preparing ourselves for rougher conditions ahead than we’ve seen the last few days.

That’s all for today.

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