Everybody wants to go out to explore the next day. The first hike takes us to the north, along the „road“ to the northern lagoon. There is a number of interesting places in that area. Everybody is, to some degree, following his own pace and interest. There have not been any polar bears on Jan Mayen for more than 25 years, so we can take a slightly more liberal approach than in high-arctic Spitsbergen.
One of the first places on my list is Maria Muschbukta. This is where the Austrians built there station in 1882 for the First International Polar Year, this great idea of Karl Weyprecht, who did not live long enough to see it being realized, unfortunately. Otherwise he would certainly have been the leader of the Austrian station here. Nevertheless, they lived and worked altogether well here, the Austrians. One sailor from the ship died from tuberculosis during unloading, his grave is on a slope behind the station. Everybody else returned home in good health the following year.
There is, unfortunately, not much left to be seen from the station. The building materials have been used freely elsewhere during the 20th century. But you can still see where it was, especially if you know the old photos.
In contrast to earlier visits, I have got plenty of time now and pretty good weather and I enjoy the place and taking photos.
There is a short valley, Wilczekdalen, leading from Maria Muschbukta to Nordlagune (the northern lagoon). This valley plays a role in some nice stories from the Austrian wintering. It is just a few hundred metres long, but it could take half a day in severe conditions to get water from the lagoon.
The northern lagoon is separated from the sea by a wide beach ridge. A nice piece of natural landscape architecture! There are still some remains of old huts on this beach ridge: remains of trappers’ huts and from various Norwegian and American stations that where built in this area during the second world war.
A bit higher up, there is Gamle Metten, nicely located on a moss-green plateau. The „old weather station“ was built and used for some time after the war. For Jan Mayen veterans, it stands for the best period in the history of the island: the station was well built, quite comfortable, and nicely located between the sea, the northern lagoon and Beerenberg. Storms could be extreme, though: a simple memorial marks the place, just 35 metres from the nearest house, where station leader Aksel Liberg was blown by an extreme gust during a heavy storm. He did not manage to return against the wind. Just 35 metres! They found him two days later, frozen solid.
Gallery – Jan Mayen – Nordlagune – 16th June 2017
Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.
Today, the weather is far from extreme. I can make good use of my time to enjoy the place and its surroundings, before I start the long way back. In Jøssingdalen, I see a Whooper’s swan, a rare discovery on Jan Mayen and something I had really not exepcted at all. Whooper’s swans live for example in Iceland. There are almost annual sightings of non-breeding individuals here on Jan Mayen, but they do not belong here and have to be considered a local rarity. Let’s hope he makes it back to his fellows.