Hiking the Arctic Desert
It is hard not to mark this day with lasts: Oh, this is our last hike, our last lunch, our last reindeer, etc...But it is a fact that this is our last full day in Svalbard. And I am not ready to leave. This windy morning, the ship entered Bellsund and was finally able to find a suitable anchoring spot so we could go ashore. The staff reported not often landing in this particular place, but I think it was a happy accident. The scenery was breathtaking. Ellen, Aimee, and I had a good long hike in this Arctic desert, and for a last hike, it was amazing.
Guests were piling into Zodiacs and heading back to the ship. As Karen kept watch on the hill for bears, Brian finally got his interviews with Aimee and myself. We had to duck down to get out of the whipping wind. Before he could complete Ellen's interview, Karen announced we had better get going. I think Ellen was relieved!
Below is the segment of the VER about the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship that Brian filmed today. It was difficult to be articulate in a spontaneous interview out in the cold, but I was excited to share my appreciation for the program!
Last night on the Explorer...
In some ways, Svalbard is exactly as I had pictured and imagined, but my experience has no doubt been full of lovely surprises. Over 60% of the archipelago is glacier-covered, and I certainly have seen plenty of ice in various forms. However, I have also hiked on the spongy green tundra dotted with colorful wildflowers. Svalbard's geology is also quite varied and has rich occurrences of fossils; in fact, there is bedrock from almost every geologic period present here. I was prepared for the cold temperatures but taken aback by the dryness of this climate. People generally associate deserts with heat, but this region is technically an Arctic desert due to lack of precipitation. Arctic deserts are defined as being located above 75 degrees north latitude and receiving less that 10 inches of precipitation annually, an amount comparable to the Sahara.
Tonight was also the last nightly recap in the lounge. Lucio explained the disembarkation procedures in detail before our last delicious sit down dinner. People used the shared computers to upload photos from yesterday's polar plunge and share photos for a guest slideshow.
Tonight, we enjoyed a bit of social time in the lounge with crew and guests. Aimee, Ellen and I spent time packing and reviewing our journals and photos. Tomorrow our voyage ends where it begins back in Longyearbyen, where the ship will dock and we will disembark. My Lindblad-National Geographic expedition is coming to an end. However, my missions of incorporating all my new learning into my curriculum and of sharing my Arctic story with as wide an audience as possible is just beginning.
All photographs by Cristina Veresan unless otherwise indicated.
Read the Lindblad Naturalist Daily Expedition Report (DER) here.