June 10, 2021: What a day!
The evening before, Terry and I arrived to his new cabin at the end of Fram Fiord, 50km east of Grise Fiord. First guests ever! The place is beautiful, the purple saxifrages are in bloom, our snowmobiles (big machines!) are parked a few meters away on still thick sea ice... peaceful spring time.
The sun eclipse begins as expected, the stars play with the fog and offer us a nice show as early as 6am. A great start.
A few hours later, despite the fog and the numerous warnings about possible thin ice areas around Jakeman glacier, we are drilling through 136cm of good sea ice at the foot of the ice wall to send the probe to the bottom and then to take seawater samples at different depths. Over a long day of field work, we are doing 7 oceanographic stations gradually moving away from the glacier. A success. In two months, during the summer cruise, we will repeat these measurements from Vagabond, there will be no more sea ice and we will have to deal with swell, wind, current, drifting ice... Let's enjoy spring!
On our way, we climb on an iceberg to watch around and to collect ice that will give us excellent water for tea and cooking. Terry brought us some delicious country food from his hunting and fishing. Before our trip he made some dried and smoked caribou, dried and smoked arctic char, and grounded muskox! It's so much better that what we find in the store in town. We see an amazing fox like wearing black panty near the cabin, muskox and their young ones, still ptarmigans, geese arriving after their migration, eider ducks flying in formation, polar bear fresh tracks... and many ring seals, lying on the ice, next to their holes. Terry is very happy when he discovers that it is a young seal that I managed to shoot, his family has been craving for it since Christmas. I will be invited to share the uyuq (seal stew) with them in a few days, once back in Grise Fiord. The skin is really nice, I'm happy to keep it.
This day offers us a concentrate of the Arctic life we love, intense, just for my 52 years, unforgettable. The satellite receiver has rang many times today, bringing full of good wishes. Back on Vagabond in Grise Fiord, I will have to open the gifts prepared by my daughters before my departure from Brittany last April.