This morning National Geographic Explorer approached its intended morning landing at Prion Island only to find a plethora of feisty fur seals lining the beach. Unable to come ashore, we instead opted for Plan B and made our way towards Fortuna Bay where the ship dropped off 47 walkers for the long Shackleton hike. It’s not very often that we have an opportunity for the ship to drop us off at one end of a hike and pick us up at the other end. The Shackleton hike covers the last four miles of Shackleton, Worsely, and Crean’s epic 32-mile traverse of South Georgia. While we had epic, sunny weather, those three set off to cross the island at the beginning of winter after their epic 16-day, 800-mile journey across the Southern Ocean in their lifeboat. It was truly extraordinary to know the story of the Endurance expedition and to be able to walk in their footsteps to the Stromness whaling station.
Meanwhile, the ship positioned to Stromness Bay and the rest of the group hiked up the valley to the waterfall which Shackleton and his men descended as one of their last obstacles before finding help at the station. As the valley hikers approached the falls, the walkers who went on the Shackleton hike descended from the pass and the group was reunited.
Back on the beach the captain did an incredible job of parking the ship right on the shoreline, making for a very short trip back to the ship for lunch. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to do another great walk from the Stromness whaling station to the Leith Harbor whaling station. The size of the Stromness and Leith stations helped paint a clearer picture of the island’s past and the grim history of the 175,000 whales harvested and processed at the six whaling stations along the east coast of the island between 1904 and 1964. After doing a ship cruise along the Leith Harbor waterfront, we went over to Husvik Harbor and dropped the hook for the night. Sun-kissed and exhausted, we celebrated another incredible day on this sub-Antarctic island!