Today we traversed the Arctic Desert within the Palanderbukta fjord. When one envisions the desert you think hot, dry, and arid, but in contrast the Arctic desert is frigid and rocky, yet teeming with life trying to eke out an existence. The hills were steep and rocky which made climbing challenging at times, but provided a great physical workout along with the breathtaking scenery. We discovered plant life such as lichen and my favorite purple saxifrage. The most exciting part of the walk was when one of our youngest explorers said she had found an ammonite. My eyes got big as quarters as I rushed over to see her discovery, an authentic ammonite. This was so incredible to me because at the beginning of each school year I start with a geology unit and we talk about fossils and I always show my students pictures of ammonites, but they never get to hold an authentic one. This year when I mention fossils they will get to see their teacher holding an authentic ammonite. Too bad I couldn’t bring it back with me for them to touch, but at least I know it will be there in the Arctic Desert for future explorers to find and enjoy. After our long hike the group took advantage of belly sliding on a snowy slope, instigated by the children but enjoyed by all ages. This was the perfect end to an unforgettable day or so I thought. By the end of dinner we had reached 80° N latitude, just 10 degrees of latitude and 600 nautical miles from the North Pole!, then it hit me, this is the farthest north I have ever been and probably will ever go in my life. Truly an amazing day full of once in a lifetime experiences.
Rocky slopes of Palanderbukta fjord
Ammonites first appeared about 240 million years ago. They went extinct with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.