Normally, we are awoken for breakfast by the dulcet tones of our fearless leader, Bud Lehnhausen, around 7:30 a.m. When you are stirred from your slumber at 6:00 in the morning, you know there must be something good outside. As always, life on board National Geographic Resolution is peppered with surprises, and this morning in Hornsund did not disappoint! We arose from our beds to find the soft blows of humpback whales surrounding our ship. Later, fluke identification through “Happy Whale” (happywhale.com) showed that we had spotted six humpback whales never before identified! New whales to science! What a magnificent start to the day.
Breakfast was enjoyed among the visually stunning peaks of Samarinvågen, the beautiful fjord in which we spent our morning. Morning operations included kayaking and Zodiac cruises under crisp, blue skies and over flat, calm water near the glacier face. Many guests lucky enough to have explored both poles commented that the peaks of this fantastic locale rival the peaks of the famed Lemaire Channel in Antarctica. The bright sunshine set off multiple avalanches down the steep slopes – an exciting highlight of the morning!
Morning operations were followed by our famed polar plunge! For anyone who has never taken this thrilling plunge, I can assure you – you’ve never felt so alive! It’s incredible! Several birthdays were celebrated on board today, and a few birthday plungers were encouraged by boisterous singing from all outer decks on the starboard side! It was spectacular.
The afternoon’s adventure had us landing at Gåshamna, where we offered a few different walks. Some guests chose to saunter through the fairly young glacial valley, where we were humbled by the grandeur of our surroundings. Those who wandered to the old whaling station were humbled once again in the graveyard of giants. Several whale skulls were left on the landscape, and their size alone left many of us emotional – in sadness for our human past but also in reverence of the amazing mammals that call these waters their home.
The longer hikers were treated to geological delights as many fossils, geodes, crystals, and rock formations were found atop the low cliffs on the western shore. With several days left in our voyage, who knows what adventures await us as we head north along the western coast of Spitsbergen tonight.