Melfjord is a beautiful fjord system in Nordland, the large central county of Norway. During the morning, we followed the curving waterway inland until turning north into a branch called Nordfjord. The skies cleared, the wind went still, and a magical morning of hikes and Zodiac cruising commenced. We explored the mossy understory of the birch forest and the intertidal zone of the long flat beach. Returning to the ship for an excellent lunch, our captain and the bridge team navigated to an immense waterfall in the main arm of Melfjord. During the afternoon, we cruised the islands on the seaward side of the fjord, dodging back and forth across the Arctic Circle at 66° 33’. After dinner, we docked alongside the island of Træna, one of the smallest municipalities in Norway with 452 residents. We visited the monument to the Arctic Circle, which runs through the island. The locals graciously opened their historic church and museum for us to enjoy, and the hotel team even met us in town with hot Nordic glögg, a Scandinavian spiced wine. A truly special way to bid farewell to the Subarctic and turn north.
National Geographic Endurance
It’s hard to believe that our amazing journey together is coming to an end. Today’s expedition in Bamsebu in Bellsund treaded an oddly comfortable line between the utterly foreign wilds of the High Arctic, and the now familiar embrace of a landscape we have fallen in love with. The wind was brisk, but explorers of all interests set out to absorb the scenery with new flames of intrigue, ignited by our two weeks of exploration. Discarded reindeer antlers, whalebones left behind from human activities of the past, old ships, ancient fossils, lichens, mosses, fresh buds of spring plants: we were surrounded by a plethora of curios set amongst stunning scenery and snow topped mountains. As we took time to talk about what we had seen in the morning during our afternoon “recap,” we were interrupted by a radio call from our captain. The folks on the bridge had spotted something white and fluffy on the ice ahead! Our time in Svalbard concluded, stunningly, with one last solitary polar bear ambling along the last remaining fast ice of the season. How lucky we have been on this incredible expedition!