We woke to overcast skies but enjoyed a morning of splendor as we cruised through Storfjorden. After exploring the eastern coast – Edgeøya and Freemondsund – on prior days, we were ready to explore the largest island in the archipelago of Svalbard.
The morning was filled with majestic landscapes outside, and the expedition team continued with their educational presentations. Nick and Jeff collaborated on techniques and tricks for iPhones. Joe spent time sharing his experience working at the South Pole station, and he compared the similarities and differences of the Arctic and Antarctic. Prior to lunch, Doug continued on with a more in-depth look at polar bear hunting tactics and adaptations to the changing environment of the Arctic.
After a beautiful meal, we were ready to head out. The coastline of Storfjorden is heavily glaciated, and there are few places to land without being in very boggy, muddy terrain. Peter chose Boltodden, a site with a rocky sandstone coastline, usually great for hiking. There are two huts at Boltodden. One was likely built in 1927 by the Northern Exploration Company, and a newer hut was likely built in the 1970s by geologists studying in the area. The scouting party went ashore to test conditions and secure the site. However, snow conditions made the area unsuitable for safe walking, so kayaking and Zodiac cruising were proposed!
The clouds had lifted, the sun was shining, the water was glassy calm, and a mixture of both sea and glacial ice decorated the ocean scape. On the way in, we spotted several walruses hauled out on a small ice floe, and we were excited to begin exploring.
About twenty-eight of us headed out in the kayaks while the others took to the Zodiacs for a cruise. The blue glacial ice contrasted with a brilliant Arctic sky. A few little auks along with black guillemots and fulmars were out and about, and some of the cruising boats were lucky enough to catch views of walruses. Back on-board, recap and dinner awaited. Following this, the ship’s crew put on a dynamic talent show in the Ice Lounge. There was music, dancing, and, of course, the traditional conga line. The midnight sun burned on, and a wonderful time was had all around.