Another 3-4am anchor watch. But again, truth be told: the peace and quiet (snoring from throughout the boat notwithstanding) of an anchor watch is worth it.
I went for my longed-for hike yesterday afternoon. It was great to stretch my legs and the scenery on shore was lovely (and again, very Alaska-esque). Spongy bog and muskeg terrain made for a slog, and between the countless watercourses wending their way down from the high country above and the rain-laden trees and undergrowth, I was soaked through in very short order. My hiking sneakers and socks were inundated so that every step was like walking on a sponge — while wearing sponges on your feet. The volume of water contained by the Earth in this habitat — in the streams, the bogs, the swampy areas, beneath the hummocks of grass — is just inconceivable. How much fresh water is there on the planet if all similar terrain at similar latitudes holds similar amounts of water? It staggers the mind.
The flowing water in the area made its way to the sea in many thin cascades that bounded down smoothed-rock mountain slopes of a glacial cirque. Beneath the slate-colored ramparts, the streams gathered into one fast- and clear-flowing torrent in a green plateau of small bushes and thin stands of trees. This creek launched off the ledge and down the final few hundred feet of elevation in a series of loud waterfalls, eventually entering the saltwater at the head of the fjord in a broad fan. While waiting for Boogie to pick me up in Polar Bear’s dinghy, I watched several sea trout feed on the detritus carried down from the high country, including one fish that launched itself a good foot-and-a-half clear of the surface in a tail-wagging feeding frenzy.
As Boy Wonder had said, there were several moose-hunting stands in the area. From down low, near the sea’s edge, to midway up the cirque, I must have seen half a dozen in just a short time. All were well-built and commanded great views of the terrain before them; I climbed one and found a plastic chair and a .30-06 casing. Unfortunately, the evidence I saw of the moose themselves was limited to tracks along the shore and one pile of moose nuggets.
Later this morning, we’ll fire up Polar Bear’s engines and head out of this fjord complex and down the coastline back to Bodø. The weather remains truly crappy, with low skies, high winds and periodic sheets of rain, despite a rapidly rising barometer. I suspect that unless things finally clear, we’ll find strong winds and potentially lumpy conditions out in the open water. We’ll tie up to the public dock in Bodø for the evening and the guests (along with Boy Wonder with his puppy dog, Mr. KIA Crewman, in tow) will depart on the afternoon flight on Friday. Boogie and Marlies and I will have a short time to get Polar Bear cleaned, provisioned and ready before the next set of guests arrive late morning on Saturday for the second of our two cruises here in northern Norway. I’m told these guests are two Polish families, with kids as young as 10, so a more conservative approach to the week of travel will likely be in order, especially if the weather remains this challenging.