Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Change of Coasts

My last picture from the Norwegian Arctic
Now back on the eastern coast of North America all I can say is thank you. It has been an incredible journey with amazing people in places that reset your scale of "wow." I've traded my Norwegian coast for the Portland mail boat but the memories endure of the arctic in all its glory. Thanks for keeping up on the adventure and I've included a trailer for the full length feature: Ingoy, Dead Clams Talking: A Sea Story.

In the words of the great Dr. F. Bueller: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around for a while, you could miss it." 

Thanks for taking some time with me. 

View from Casco Bay, Portland, ME

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

8/26/2014: Sights cruising the coast of the Norwegian Arctic

This post is for everyone that sees blocks of text as a chore and knows the pictures are where it is really at. Keeping this brief, the Hurtigruten is a ship that I suggest to anyone that wants to see a coastline steeped in sheer cliffs, cirques, and fjords over blue waters. We occasionally pull into a port and the bow and stern thrusters sneak this 123 meter behemoth up to the dock as if the excavator tire bumpers were feather pillows. There are always folks waiting to get on and once in a while we get the chance to venture out and flood the locals with cameras and confusing cafe requests in English. Without delay, here are some sights on the way to Tromso...

Just setting out
The hills spring out of the water. The flatter areas are submerged by modern sea level and we only see the sheer cliffs eroded by glaciers.  
A rescue boat
Welcome to Hammerfest

Downtown park in Hammerfest 
Two shots of a local cemetery in Hammerfest

Local church in Hammerfest
Only caption for the next few: Norwegian Coastline

Our true photojournalist Randall taking in the scenery, single handedly holding up the Keck telescope
A look at where we've been 

Dr. Wanamaker enthusiastically guiding us through the scenery 

Stop #2: Oksfjord
Like in Maine, there isn't always an easy way to get from point to point. Accordingly, ferry service is quite prevalent to get across fjords and avoid long or nonexistent drives.

8/26/2014: Long Day's Journey

One last sunset at the Sjohus
In many parts of my hometown of Farmington, Maine you can't make a call with a cell phone. In Ingoya however the service is impeccable across the entire island and I am now on the Hurtigruten sailing through the Arctic Ocean with high speed wi-fi. Go figure. 

The crew sprang out of bed this morning at 5 am to catch a ride with Erland on his fishing boat. As per usual, it was also a fine time to decide to pack. I have no clue where everything is except somehow encompassed by my two bags. 
Erland's Boat
The back of Erland's boat. This thing has to be as tall as it is long.
Erland was prompt to meet us and by 5:50 we were motoring toward the windmills that supply Havoysund with electrons. Mike and I were just remarking that (so far) this has been the smoothest transition out of the field. The gear was packed, we woke up, and walked 15 steps out the door to our personal ferry complete with fish hold.

The crew aboard
Gear packed in fish tanks
The lower deck of Erland's boat
Coffee maker is bolted down. Always secure the coffee.
Captain's chair on the starship Erland. I thought there would be a big wheel but all the steering was done by the little black knob and a digital screen showing the bearing in the lowest part of the picture on the left hand side. 
Glad we're not flying with this load
 Unloading had to happen very quickly because we could see the Hurtigruten in the distance and they would be less than pleased if we were taking up the dock. The turn around time this huge boat spends on the dock is incredibly quick. I think to load gear, cars, and people all happened in under 5 minutes. Very efficient the Norwegians.
Norse boats of any size can somehow turn on a dime
Deck 7 observatory 
Interior balconies: very nice
Plenty of geology to see along the way as expert rockhound Retelle points out from the map.
 Now we motor towards Hammerfest (still the best town name) and will have a 2 hour stay before heading further south for Tromso with en ETA of 11:45 pm. If I could take this thing all the way to Portland, I would. 

If you are interested in learning more about our ship, the Polarlys, and the huge Norwegian fleet of Hurtigrutens that service the coast from Oslo to Finnmark, check the link below and explore their website. Very informative and you can track the boats progress with the second link and the interactive map.

The Polarlys

Interactive map showing the progress of each Hurtigruten

Monday, August 25, 2014

8/25/2014: Last Day on Top of the World

Gulls take flight as we approach
Today marks our last day in Ingoya. Come 5:30 tomorrow morning we will be boarding a local fishing boat to another village on the mainland to catch the Hurtigruten back to Tromso. It leaves at  
8 am and we will pull into to town around 11:30 pm meaning one long ride. From there we will be in town for roughly 6 hours before we have to depart for the airport and start the assorted flights back to the states. Bottom line, 4:45 pm on Wednesday I should have boots on the ground in Boston. I won't be good for much of anything after this epic bout of travel...

Breaking camp is always a tough job but we were able to spend the bulk of the midday out in the field completing one last survey of the pale-beaches and collecting water samples. We've been able to figure out that there are some beaches at very high elevations due to the land being depressed following glacial bull dozing this region. Our last task was to actually use a transit and get their elevations as they stair stepped their way to the modern coast. It is a complex process to reconstruct their paleoenvironments but in reality, if you see smoothed pebbles, cobbles, and boulders, you know they've been worked by water at some point in the past. You can then start to piece together the depositional environment and use the current coastlines with its various sediments of size to to help understand how it may have worked in the past. Some of the arcing former coastlines are also very prominent. If we can put these all together and some radiocarbon ages on shells from these former beaches, that will go a long way in our understanding of this dynamic coast over the past ~6,000 years.

Finally, the weather today was the best its been with hardly a cloud in the sky and temperatures between 50-55 degrees F. This made for gorgeous pictures and a very pleasant time surveying. Check out the pictures below and this may be my last post for a bit unless you really want to see me packing dirty clothes and shells into my duffel bag. It is going to be a real treat to open back in Maine...

Julie and Mike getting ready to start the survey action
You can just barely see Julie off in the distance with the stadia rod. 
The surveying perspective
Smoothed bedrock showing signs of glacial flow from right to the left. An excellent form of glacial flow indicators seen widely around Ingoya.
Mike walks the crest of the former coastline you see arcing to the right
The view from the other side of surveying
Julie at the mean high tide mark with Mike taking a measurement for the last leap frog of surveying down to the modern beach
Looking to see on the last survey
Julie stands on the upturned bedrock strata looking out to see
Higher zones of pebbles and cobbles associated with storm profiles
National Geographic eat your heart out…it takes me about ~45 pictures for every one I post to get it right so I don't feel too special. Shoot enough arrows at the target and you'll eventually hit it. Thank you digital photography.

Mike walking to a different low elevation paleo-beach

Lots of random cairns dot the landscape
Yup, still picturesque. A normal seen as we hiked out of the peat covered landscape. The ground was very, very squishy and often saturated with water. 
It's a bird, it's a plane, its…oh, Will and Al waiting for us with the van
Shells categorized, labeled, and ready to bring home
Aubrey and Maddie packing for the journey
Will and Al determining how gear should be stored for the next excursion north.