Sunday, July 8, 2018

Heading Back

We spent most of an entire day in Franz Josef Land, but it would take much longer if someone wanted to visit the entire archipelago.  It is only accessible by icebreaker, and tourism is severely limited.  It is the northern-most point of the Eastern Hemisphere and 85% is covered in ice.  Most of the islands have never been explored.

Massive glaciers dominate the islands of Franz Josef Land
Early on, conditions were windy, creating fairly large waves that drenched us during near-shore excursions.  We learned long ago to use rain covers on our gear when riding in zodiacs, because salt water and electronics are a bad combination.  But we wanted to get a closer look at some of the features of these islands, including spectacular glaciers, bird colonies, lichen and mosses.  We did get close to a pair of walrus and saw a large pod of whales off in the distance.  In the afternoon, the weather cleared and for the first time since early in the trip, we had some blue sky and sun, which made the scenery even more impressive.
We spotted two walrus and a pod of whales in this bay
In the evening we reached open water, free of ice, and were looking forward to the prospect of smooth sailing ahead.

Blue sky for the first time in ten days!