Sep 01, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer
Here in the Far North the sun seems to take a leisurely approach to mornings. More than an hour before its brilliance illuminates the sea, pastel peaches and baby blues appear stretching behind dark silhouetted landforms. Gradually the colors intensify. Soon dark blue virga fell from a navy sky as repetitive highlights contrasted with a deepening orange.
Although we have crossed the political boundary that separates Canada from neighboring Greenland, we still looked out upon the mountains of Ellesmere Island. To the east, huge blue icebergs glided along the Greenlandic shore. Like polar explorers who have gone before, we strove to see just how far north we could go, and for most of the morning open water encouraged our endeavor. Gradually, scattered floes gave way to giant icy platters patterned with turquoise pools and rivulets. By midday they had coalesced, driven by wind and currents, and we could progress no further.
The GPS stood at 78° 51.060’ N. But who is to say there was nothing more to do? Brave souls (or foolhardy?) jumped into the 30° F waters and exited just as quickly while those more timid (or wiser?) cheered from railings above. Not long after we all went out for a stroll. More than 650 feet of water lay beneath our feet but we felt safe and secure while meandering upon the drifting ice.
Somehow, amongst all the excitement of the day we managed to find educational moments to learn of the importance of polynas (open water surrounded by sea ice), the bleaching of coral reefs, and the rise and fall of Norse civilizations in Arctic Canada and Greenland.
As evening approached we danced among the loosening floes, southbound to more adventures.
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