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Finnmark 2007 Diary » Blog Archive » Coast to coast…

Coast to coast…


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With the dogs to the Barents Sea (Grenze Jakobselv), our most Northerly and Easterly point. This is where we really start the expedition, at least in our minds, aiming to reach the Atlantic in a month to five weeks time. Its snowing which means the weather is quite mild (usually between plus and minus three degrees) but we don’t have time to start data collection on snowflakes, and if the truth be told the snow is icy and looks terrible under a magnifying glass ( ie not the beautiful crystal patterns we’re supposed to find). We pass a herd of frightened reindeer galloping across the lake towards the Russian border and I ask Dr Dess what happens if they slide into Russia. He’s not sure, and tells us politely that even fences don’t always work.

When we get to the coast, and a sandy incline to the sea Tom Frode and I test the waters for a celebratory swim, and indeed the water is less cold than I had imagined, ‘though still excruciatingly chilly. Russian Border guards and their Norwegian colleagues wander over to observe our insanities ( Tom tells me that he doesn’t need to swim to prove he’s cool or stupid). The guards also fall to discussing the Sami who’d wanted to cross the border after their beasts. They must have been chasing the herd we passed. On this occasion the Sami have been assisted and slid over to retrieve their herd, with chaperons of course. All was well, no tempers ruffled. The guards told us this happens increasingly - and especially in winter. A sign of changing habits, earlier spring migration for the herds, and consequently signs of climate warming?

Dr D awaits further evidence of variations, but the melting glacier we pass on our journey back to base camp suggests that climate change has many facets here, and that the reindeer are indeed searching for new pastures. We covered 60 kilometers today, sustained on the way by Roy’s (our wilderness and camera man) smoked salted lamb chops, toasted on the open fire. A Sauna before bed with our kindly hosts, whisky and schnapps watching Lars, the whizzkid Techy, roll in the snow. Tomorrow to the herders in the Pasvik Valley, a beautiful domain along the Russian border. Photos in the morning as Roy has fallen over with fatigue.

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