Sunday, 29 July 2012

Exploring Bellsund

Why would ‘Bellsund’ be the name of this third largest fjord-system of Spitsbergen? The answer springs to our minds when the bell-formed mountain formation ‘Klokkefjellet’ passes our sight while entering the southern entrance of the sound. We explore the ‘Vårsolbukta’ and the adjacent buildings of ‘Camp Millar’ (which used to belong to the Northern Exploring Company once upon a time venturing on a futile quest for minerals) at the 'Van Mijenfjord'.  We can enjoy a fantastic view towards the vast expand of this impressive fjord.
What a geological oddity, one would think!: The nearby ‘Van Mijenfjord’ has to deal with the cantancerous eight kilometer long island ‘Akseløya’. This island obstructs the fjord’s entrance almost entirely. Its hardnosed millionyears old flintstones could not be rubbed off by the power of a glacier. Good to know that there is some resistance in this - as some would argue - ‘spineless’ world.
This day, indeed, is a blessing and one could think of the Danish Poet Piet Hein’s saying: “Living is a thing you do either now or never which do you?! And living we did! We continued with our second landing at Van Keulenfjorden to explore the trapper station ‘Bamsebu’, the old trapper and white whale (Beluga) hunting station. Our lungs, like the lungs of Ingvald Svendsen, the old trapper from Tromsø who hunted here Beluga wahles in the 1930s, were filled with the cold arctic air in this magnificient labyrinth of fjords. The majestic ice and snow covered mountain ridge of the adjacent ‘Berzeliustinden’ made us feel humble when walking over its low lying and long-stretched plain. It consisted of soft exposed sedimentary layers hinting at the existence of a prehistoric sea-bottom that had risen above the surface due to the age-old melting of Svalbard’s ice sheet.
We explored further this area with our guides. Few troops of barnacle geese set the scene as they fly at a distance between the glittering mountains and our bespoke travellers on this day. A single reindeer unexpectedly ‘shows off’ and somewhat unimpressed displays some delicate ‘dancing steps’ as if it had waited for our applause throughout the previous icy winter. Now and again an eerie sound from foraging ‘Common Eider’ at a distance break the silence and gives us a feeling of ‘civilised’ comfort. At least we are not alone.
We have seen a lot of arctic fauna and flora today and can retire for the day with a feeling of satisfaction. We settle back to the cosy MS FRAM.