Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ship's Log: Day 7

Liefdefjorden Beach

October 12th

[click images to enlarge]

I woke up with only minutes till the breakfast bell. Anna, our amazing cook, is very strict regarding attendance at meals and enforces the "don't touch it till the bell has rung" rule with deadly looks. We all live in fear of pissing off Anna and missing out on her amazing culinary skills

Polar Bear PawRight after breakfast we took the Zodiac back to the same location where we were the day before to try and film Katja's performance ... this time minus the ice on the lens. The piece of land that we had crossed yesterday to get to the cove with all the bitty bergs was thigh deep in snow. We had trampled a path across the day before so the going was much easier today. As we were retracing out steps we noticed some yellow snow. Thinking it was probably an artist who had just had to go the day before, I didn't think much about it until Jan came striding up and said that it was from a polar bear, marking his territory. A little farther along we found HUGE tracks in the snow, complete with claw marks. A polar bear had checked out all the locations where artists were working yesterday. It was eerie knowing that our movements had been seen and explored by a bear. I spent the whole time looking over my shoulder as I was filming.

Liefdefjorden and Noorderlicht

We went back to the ship for lunch. After lunch I joined the group heading out for a walk on shore. We landed at another location where we had spotted bear tracks from the ship. We all hoped that the tracks were old. Jan and David Rothenberg (a musician and composer who was recording the sounds of the Arctic) both had snow shoes so they struck out first. The rest of us without snowshoes slogged through knee deep snow. Hiking up and down steep slopes in knee deep snow was pretty tough. Occasionally we would just drop to our knees and just crawl. One of the scientists -- Dr. Yi-Ching Chung -- was short enough that we worried that we would lose her in the deep snow.

Texas Bar
The going was tough, we were all sweating in no time. We hiked to a cabin called "Texas Bar" on the northern coast of Liefdefjorden. The hut was build by the Norwegian hunter Hilmar Nøis in 1927. It was in amazing shape and is still used by hunters, explorers, and recently, a BBC film crew. We had decided to heed the name and had brought a bottle of whiskey with us.

Katja with Frozen Twix BarAfter passing around the bottle we scrambled up a few hills to see the view. It's hard to keep describing views -- adjectives like beautiful, amazing, and awe inspiring are starting to feel inadequate. We celebrated the amazing view with frozen Twix candybars! We spotted what Jan and Audun thought might be a bear on an island nearby that seemed to be tracking us so they decided to head back to the ship.

Guards Spotting Bear
The going was much easier on the way home as we had already cut a path through the snow. We stopped for Leigh and Yi-Ching, two scientists on board, to collect samples. Once back on the Noorderlicht I just had time to warm up my cameras before heading out to film Tomislav Brajnovic's (from Croatia) performance. We have all become each others assistants on this trip. Tomislav is representing man's ego by wearing a custom made bodygear with lights that light up his face. Katja and I joined Sebastian in the Zodiac and circled the ship for the next half an hour, with both of us filming Tomislav's performance onboard.

Night Sky over Noorderlicht

Dinner was just being served as we returned to the ship. The sky was clear and the new moon was out. Katja is also working on a night sky piece so we loaded up new batteries and storage cards in all our cameras and hit the deck. The sky was full of stars with faint northern lights. Unfortunately, the cameras had a hard time picking up any detail in the night sky. We kept filming with my new Canon SLR (which doubles as a high-def video camera, and showed the most promise in catching detail). After about a half an hour or longer, the Canon shut down. I changed the battery and tried to take a picture. I heard sounds coming out of that poor camera no one should ever hear from a camera. With a great deal of panic, I put the camera to bed, under my covers and vowed to let it sleep till the morning ... desperately hoping that it would be OK tomorrow!

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