|Moving around Wrangel Island on Land
For the land tour, we were a party of five plus our three guides. Jackie and me, Gunther Riehl from Germany, and Jean Pierre
and Nelly from France. We had a non-English speaking ranger who drove the five of us plus Julia around the island in this six
wheel drive vehicle over the tundra. The island is 2,900 square miles, a big island, and this vehicle averaged at best around
five miles an hour.
Alexander usually rode ahead of us scouting the route on his ATV.
In this picture, one can see Dragi Harbour where the survivors of the Karluck which was crushed by ice were rescued in 1914.
Our trip across the island began here because there was too much ice on the south side of Wrangel Island to make our
scheduled landing there.
In addition to our ten day land trip, there were supposed to be two day trips for two other groups of five. Those trips were
cancelled on the first voyage because there was so much ice around the island and we faced the possibility that our land trip
might be cancelled because of the ice.
While our vehicle could move almost anywhere, mostly it followed the gravel river beds to get around the island. It was a slow
process and we had several very long days in the vehicle.
One might not note it in the landscape photos, but the wild flowers were outrageous. You will see glimpses of these flowers in
some of our wildlife pictures. Unfortunately, I did not bring macro lenses. Besides, the wind was usually very strong which would
interfere with close up flower pictures.
While we only got glimpses of reindeer, their antlers littered the landscape.
The temperature was never below freezing and it was sunny our ten days on the island. It was often very windy and we usually
wore jackets. However, there were two or three fairly balmy days.
The last wooly mammoths survived on Wrangel Island until 4,000 years ago. Their tusks are still evident in various locations
around the island.
Our lodging on Wrangel Island was fairly primitive. Most of the huts are very old and small. Alexander is currently in the process
of building three new more modern huts.
This is inside the cabin where we slept our first night. We had to collapse the dining table to pull out the fifth bed for the night.
When we walked to the cabin, we could not find a door way, only this room. Turns out we had to walk through the darkened
doorway to find the way to that little room where we ate and slept.
Alexander and the ranger shuttered each cabin when we left.
|Alexander seated in the kitchen/bedroom of our first cabin.
|Our driver and ranger Vladamir was very good at spotting wildlife for us.
On our last day, the hill was so steep that we got out of the vehicle and walked down to the bottom.
Mostly the island was snow free. The arctic only gets five to ten inches of precipitation a year and the snow melts quickly with
the 24 hours of sunshine. However, along the shore with steep banks, the snow piled up very deep.
With the high winds, lenticular clouds are common in the Arctic and around Wrangel Island.
Below is a map of our trip on Wrangel Island which was prepared by Jean Pierre with pictures of all five of our cabins. The last
two cabins, five and four on the left, were the modern cabins in an incomplete state.
Boards with nails to keep polar bears from entering a window.
We had mostly sunny days crossing the island, but from the ship we had a lot of clouds and fog on the coast of the island.