We found ourselves positioned in Raudfjorden this morning (Thursday, July 2) on the very north-west corner of Spitzbergen. We have clearly given up trying to circumnavigate this island group because the sea ice is simply too thick. Two other ships have tried and been turned back by the Norwegian Coast Guard. It looks as though this is simply a late spring. Some of the birds which should be nesting by now have not even started yet.
At about 8.30 am this morning, we went for a zodiac cruise in the fjord. We were right near some very impressive peaks and the glacier was on a steep slope and as a result, it had quite a series of very picturesque crevasses. We followed along the face of the glacier as far as we could. There were five or six little bays that we could pull into and in each of these, we could see various tracks in the fresh snow on the ice. Most were bird tracks, probably Eider Ducks and some were reindeer. We had seen bear tracks along the shoreline, but unfortunately, we couldn’t see one.
We photographed birds, rocks and ice before returning to the ship for lunch. We were back on board at 12.00 noon and by then most of us were feeling rather cold. It was probably only about 1 degree on the water. We had tacos for lunch today, which was very different from the Italian buffet that we had yesterday.
We repositioned a little way along the fjord over lunch and by 2.00 pm, we were back in our zodiacs for a shore landing. We were on a long curving pebbly beach. The ice on the shore was about ¾ of a metre thick and it had been undercut by the waves for a couple of metres. It was interesting to see. We walked along the beach for almost a kilometre but didn’t find too much that was interesting other than some driftwood. Near we landed was a rough trappers hut and on the hill behind the hut was the grave of the trapper. He had died of advanced years and was buried at this location by his family. We had a good 360 degree view from the top of this 70 metre hill and I took some panorama photos that I will stitch together when I get home.
It’s just before dinner now and the ship is doing circles in some soggy sea ice in front of a large glacier. It is a spectacular sight outside the window. Big dark hills with a streaky snow cover, soggy sea ice that is safe for the ship to penetrate into and wonderful reflections in the still water.