Early this morning we pass the south corner of Prins Karl Forland and turn our bow into Spitsbergen’s biggest fjord system of the ‘Isfjorden’. We eventually arrive at Alkehornet, the ancient whaler’s lookout for whales.
The expedition-team scouts the grass- and moss-covered flats in front of this impressive bird cliff. This time, no polar bears are seen, and we get a ‘go ahead’ from the expedition-leader. From here we can see the Russian helicopter station nearby Barentsburg at the entrance of the Grønfjorden. Allegedly, from this very spot where we are standing, spying was a daily reality during the era of the cold war.
Our last landing leads us to Ekmanfjorden where we discover unique Triassic sea-fauna preserved as fossils along a streamlet leading to a waterfall. For some the walk up to the waterfall is a challenging undertaking, the stones are slippery like soap. Finally, the MV FRAM turns its bow towards Longyearbyen. The journey comes to an end.
One might say that our hearts are touched by indelible memories of an unforgettable Arctic voyage. It is difficult to think about the daunting practicalities of our immanent departure.