Thursday, 25 September 2014

...from one of our trainees

Today’s blog is written by Johannes C. Apon, Arctic Nature Guide and owner of Outdoorlife Norway.

I feel lucky to have gotten the opportunity to join the M/S Fram, as a trainee, on her expedition from Longyearbyen on Svalbard to Bergen on mainland Norway. Being new on this vessel, and having grown up in the flat Netherlands, I feel grateful to participate in the many logistical processes on board, work together with inspiring colleagues, interact with our lovely guests from all around the world, and visit all these beautiful places on Svalbard and along the Norwegian coast. Blue glaciers and ice bergs, rugged mountains, breathtaking fjords, dancing Northern Lights and majestic creatures like the polar bear, fin whales and eagles: this expedition has it all.

Today’s landing took place at the village of Oppeid, on the island of Hamarøy in Northern Norway. Hamarøy is best known for being home to Knut Hamsun (1859-1952), a famous Norwegian author, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920. In Oppeid, the guests got the opportunity to visit the Hamsun Centre, devoted to Hamsun’s life and writing, and famous for its architecture.

Landings (going on shore) provide a very nice opportunity to stretch your legs, explore and interact with nature from a different perspective. While our guests were enjoying the architecture and scenery, Expedition Team members Stian and Thomas – who together with me, for reasons we can only speculate on, go under the nick-name “Backstreet Boys”, given to us by the crew and rapidly adopted by the passengers – took a little group of enthusiasts on an extended hike to a hill top. From here, they enjoyed some very scenic views.

I was invited to join our Danish (living on Greenland) kayak guide Jimmy as second guide and of course I said yes. Together with nine guests, we made a three hour long easy-going paddling excursion along the shore, following the inlets and bays around Hamarøy. The guests were paddling in pairs in tandem kayaks. After they had figured out how to coordinate the paddling and steering, I noticed how silent the group became. We didn’t say much. We didn’t think much. We just enjoyed the beauty around us and interacted with nature. Noticed the bright autumn colors of the forest on shore. Felt the clear cold Arctic water running through our fingers. Pointed at starfish and other small creatures on the sea bottom. Sensed the absence of noise. Ate delicious chocolate while resting on a desolate beach in a small bay. We simply seized the moment, without any concerns or distractions. That must be one of the highest commodities in our modern society. After the trip, the guests thanked Jimmy and me for the trip. But we hadn’t done much more than let nature speak for itself.

Back at what after just a week already feels like home, the M/S Fram set its “sails” for Kjerringøy, a small peninsula, to enjoy white sand beaches and sharp mountain peaks plunging straight into the sea. And I was ready to create and share another memorable nature experience. Being an Expedition Team member is a tough job, but somebody has to do it.