Find Your Direction Magnetically?
There is a polar bear in this shot. Never underestimate the magnitude of your surroundings.
It has been some time since my last post and for that I apologize. Life seems to have a way of getting the priority and placing a pause on talking about amazing places.
A refresher! We spent an overcast evening surrounding ourselves with glaciers, mountains, a bonfire, and friends.
We stayed in Alicehamna overnight, sleeping off a our Midsummer for the ages. Our morning landing was on the same beach we anchored at the night before. A short walk up a small ridge gave us a 360 degree view of the fjord and the open ocean. On the top of the hill was a large cairn and an old grave. The grave was marked by a wood cross and was a large pile of rocks. All of the land in Svalbard is permafrost. The rocks are necessary in order to keep the grave intact.
This was a superb exposed rockface and made for a perfect late morning nap. Nemo agreed.
I have been mulling over the focused palette of these landscapes. The cool blue ocean, deep grey rock and a spectrum of chartreuse and ochre flora. I have never been one to add a lot of color into my prints and I feel Svalbard is naturally the color scheme I long for in my work.
Throughout the afternoon we headed to Smeerenburg. Along the way we encountered our one and only polar bear. The bear was walking along the coast of a sheer cliff-faced island. He looked terribly thin and it was difficult to simply pass by when the thought that this bear just is not going to make it was in the back of your mind. We anchored at Smeerenburg for our afternoon landing. This area is rich with history and was the epicenter for the Spitsbergen whale fishery. It was set up as a permanent location by the Dutch in 1619. There are still remnants of the old foundations and wood buildings as well as the many blubber stoves. The whole beach area, littered with whale bones, is a cultural heritage site.
We were lucky enough to visit while two walruses were also lounging on the beach. They were unconcerned with our presence. The same could not be said for the arctic terns which nest on the beach as well. The birds are incredibly aggressive in keeping intruders a safe distance from their eggs. They continually dive-bombed us, pecking at the highest point on our person. To prevent them getting too close to our faces, it was recommended we raise our hands, giving the birds a safer place to snip at.