August 18th - Poolepynten - St. Jonsfjord - Polar Plunge

We had a late breakfast with the Archers, having heard that the expedition crew had not seen any walruses at Poolepynten, so they had decided to reverse the itinerary of the day. We were now going to land at St. Jonsfjord and take a two hour strenuous walk up to the glacier. We had to leave by 9.30am and took a Zodiac driven by Juan to the landing site.

Another Zodiac about to land.

The group was spilt into two with some taking a more leisurely walk along the shore while we walked up a fairly steep hill. We got hot very quickly and had to shed some of our clothes. High up above us were ptarmigan. They were too far away to take photos.

We walked up over the lateral moraine of the glacier. It was quite rough and very stony. The view of the glacier was quite dramatic.

We saw two reindeer some way below us and watched them walk over the moraine and then climb up the hill.

As one of the reindeer crested the hill, it was silhouetted against the skyline for a few moments and I managed to take this photo before it disappeared over the ridge.

The ground was dotted with small plants and a few flowers. It is a very harsh environment for plants and their growing season is for a very limited period in the brief summer.

Someone pointed out a bearded seal lying on one of the small icebergs in the bay at the foot of the glacier. It was so far away that my telephoto zoom on the camera could not pick it out clearly.

Juan gave a brief explanation of how the glacier was receding and explained that the left side was receding more slowly than the right as it was shaded by the mountains from the sun. We spent about half an hour overlooking the glacier before we started the walk back down to the ship.

It took us about 45 minutes to get back to the Zodiacs. We put on our life jackets and went back to the ship.

As soon as we were all back on board, the Polar Plunge started. It turned out that thirty-one people took part. It was far too cold for us! We stood on the top deck and looked down on the passengers and crew jumping into the freezing water. The Chinese seemed to think it was an endurance event and swam quite a way from the boat!

Finally, Robin West and Carolina, the Polar Bear guide, dived in together. We then went and had lunch.  The expedition crew went out in the Zodiacs to scout the area for walruses, but came back after about half an hour having had no success.

The boat then headed off due south to go back to Poolepynten to see if there were any walruses there. Whilst we sailed, there were two more lectures, which we watched on the TV in our cabin.

In the evening, we had dinner with Eugene and Lucille. Chilean sea bass was on the menu and it was excellent. It was a very enjoyable evening.

Following dinner, we went up on deck, but sadly we were not to have any luck in sighting walruses. We scanned the beaches where the walruses haul themselves out of the water, but there were none to be seen. It was very disappointing.

While we were at anchor, a small motor boat went round the ship and then headed off up the fjord.

Enjoying the evening sun on the aft decks.

The 'setting' sun that never sets!

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