Originally, we had planned a hiking trip on the arctic archipelago Svalbard. Equipped with a tent, sleeping bags, warm cloth and all the food for one whole week we took a flight to Longyearbyen, with a change in Oslo and a stop in Tromsø.
Longyearbyen is a town of about 2000 people and considered as the most northern town in the world at 78º 15’. To us, it appeared to be the most expensive place in the world, despite alcohol and cigarettes which are tax free, but of no use for us hikers anyways. However, we put up our tent in the most northern campground in the world and prepared our week-long hike.
The next day, we rented a rifle (which is a necessity when going out into the wilderness on Svalbard) which put another 4 kg on our gear. While the polar bear protection works with signal pens and rifles during the day, one needs to protect his tent during the night with trip wire. Unfortunately, we were not able to get such a trip wire in Longyearbyen. The only means to notify a polar bear in the night would be a bear watch – which is quite hard if the group consists of only the two of us. Another problem we faced was the melting water, which forms dangerous rapids that are difficult to cross. People around us started to warn us and recommended not to do such a hike.
The second day we changed our plans and spontaneously booked a three day cruse to the northern part of Spitsbergen. An hour later we left the little harbour of Longyearbyen with a small ship called Nordstjernen. With only 40 passengers on board, the ship was not crowded and the atmosphere pleasant.
In the first night, I noticed that we were heading towards CP 79N 10E. I ran up to the command bridge and asked if it would be possible to go right through this confluence. Unfortunately, my request came too late and we missed the confluence by 1.5 km. But I was promised that we would go through another one.
On the second day, after viewing polar bears in Liefdefjorden and a hike to hot springs in Bockfjorden, the ship took heading for a small island called Moffen. This confluence lay a little off our course between Bockfjorden and Moffen, but I was promised that the ship would pass through CP 80N 15E as exactly as possible.
Usually, confluence hunting involves hiking or driving or steering. This time, all I had to do was to wait and passively see what would happen. When approaching the confluence, I got quite excited. I put the GPS receiver on the floor in the stern of the ship and counted down. With 26 km/h speed of the ship, there was not much time to waste while being within the 100m proximity. But roughly 30 seconds were enough to take the pictures.
I pretty much concentrated on the cardinal directions and in between I shot the picture of the GPS while showing a distance of only 10.5m from the CP. Unfortunately, I forgot that I had zoomed in, in order to get good close-ups of the icy mountains in roughly 10km distance. Thus, the actually evidence picture (#8) came out blurry. According Murphys law, the test picture came out brilliant (316m distance), the 10.5m proximity picture totally blurry and another picture taken after the event in 74m distance came out partially readable.
Anyway, the area around the confluence was very interesting. With the sea being flat as a pancake and calm as a mirror, we approached the Island Moffen, where about approximately 200 walruses were taking their sun-bath (#6). Then, we headed back, actually quite close to the confluence, because we had spotted an unusual iceberg. A giant of 50 by 50 meters and approximately 5m in height above the water looked like a piece of ocean ice (#4 and #5). But actually, it was a large piece of glacier ice.
In the confluence picture, you can see the Reinsdyrflya area with the Woodfjorden in about 20 km distance. The second picture captures the view to the east with the Krosshaugen Mountains.
CP visit details:
- Time at CP: 21:01 p.m.
- Duration: 3 days (from and to Longyearbyen)
- Speed while passing through the confluence: 26 km/h
- GPS height: 8 m
- Distance to a road or town: approximately 80 km (in Ny Alesund)
- Distance while taking picture of GPS: 10.5 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 5 m
- Description: Located in the arctic ocean north of Svalbards biggest island Spitsbergen. There is the small island Moffen in less then 10km distance. Moffen covers (by my estimation) about 5 square km and has a height of less then 2m. It is a ring-shaped pebble island with a lagoon in the middle and a home to a walrus reserve.
- Given Name: The Walrus Confluence