Sunday 19 September 2010

A beary good morning

Myggbukta, not the most tempting of all names. And in fact, the summers here must be hell on Earth, this place is situated on a beach that sits at the end of enormous swamps. The plains open wide, and only by the tiny little dots in the distance that turn out to be more than 20 musk oxen we can guess the mountain range to be as far away as about 40-50 kilometers…sometimes size does matter. Today we do not have to suffer from the black blood-thirsty clouds, it's freezing cold and the ground is solid. At least, that is what we assume from the distance. There is also another thing we notice on approach: It is medium-sized, of a yellowish white and seems to be moving. Yep, indeed, we have our first polar bear! Unfortunately it is sitting just a bit above our landing beach, e.g. a mere three-minute stroll from us. So we have to restructure the landing a little: Keep a vigilant eye on the bear all the time and always have enough boats ready to get everyone evacuated if needed. The guides with the flares (and rifles) build a perimeter around the whole area et voilá! - we can proceed.
Unnecessary? Too much? Just keep a few things in mind: This is the time when bears are usually pretty hungry, cause all the other food is difficult to get. Do not ever think you can predict what a bear is going to do! They do not show any sign before an attack, and when they do they can run faster than 50 km/h over a short distance. And yes, they do eat people. So nobody here finds their kicks in carrying a gun or calling anyone back from the stroll. It is for safety, as simple as that.
 After a while, our bear retreats a few paces out of sight. Not good, better to know where he is. So two of us follow and find him just behind the first ridge, chewing on the miserable remains of a dead musk ox. Fortunately, he does not change his diet towards blue or orange jackets but decides to disappear for good in the steep riverbed behind the ridge. And that was the last we saw of him. But now we know it's not a joke: They are around.
The hut itself is a really big one, several rooms, two floors, good shape. Even our new constant chaperon, the "Einar Mikkelson", seems to agree. Easy to imagine staying here for a summer. If it weren't for the mosquitoes...