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2 October, 2001

A Fond Farewell

I left my porthole open when I went to bed last night, and as a result the morning light awakened me. When I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was a snow-covered peak. I could hardly believe my eyes! I jumped out of bed to make sure it wasn't an ice floe or a cloud and looked out to see majestic peaks sticking out of the water all around. We were in the infamous fjords of Norway.

The fjords were a spectacular sight. As we neared our port they became more beautiful. Soon houses, barns, and green grass appeared at their bases. I had never seen a more pristine, wonderful, or welcomed sight. We all spent several hours on the deck just looking at the scenery as we sailed in the narrow passage between the fjords.

After docking, we anxiously left the ship to step on land. We were taken into town where we celebrated our final evening together over a nice dinner and sad farewells. It was hard to believe that 70 days had passed since we had met. It was difficult to part company with such great people.

Reflecting back on the many days at sea, it is obvious that our hard work over the last 2 months paid off. We learned much about Gakkel Ridge-- the slowest spreading mid-ocean ridge on our planet. We have learned that there is an astronomical amount of hydrothermal activity where many thought there would be none. We mapped 1,100 km of the ocean floor where many thought we wouldn't be able to map at all. We did 101 dredges in the ice where many thought we would be lucky to do 15. We learned that the tectonics-the movement of the plates here-is unlike any other place ever explored. We collected rocks never seen before, and we broke through the ice to the North Pole unaided on a new icebreaker. Truly remarkable things happen on our expedition!

Gakkel Ridge was the last unexplored mid-ocean ridge on Earth. Our scientific journey to study and sample it made us pioneers. With the successful completion of our mission, the planet's vast surface has now been sampled. My final thoughts are of awe and gratitude for having been a part of this unique journey to the ridge at the top of the world!

A spectacular view of the fjords from my porthole.

The excitement built as we neared land. We had been at sea for over 2 months and were thrilled to see new scenery.

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