Our day began shortly after 7am with gusty winds and a moderate swell at our landing site on the western side of Fortuna Bay. Once we scrambled ashore we had a walk along the beach through 100’s of playful juvenile Fur Seals and occasional King Penguins. Our walk took us to the immense King Penguin colony at the end of the bay. Here we were in the midst of 10’s of thousands of King Penguins. The birds were in all stages of life from eggs to downy brown chicks to molting juveniles getting their waterproof feathers to regal adults to molting adults.
The afternoon was split into several activities. About 60 of us went over to the eastern side of Fortuna Bay where we bypassed a large elephant seal on the way to our gathering spot to begin our climb to re-trace the Shackleton hike. This 6.5km or 4 mile hike replicates the last leg of the cross-South Georgia trek that Shackleton, Worsley and Crean accomplished after they landed their small boat the James Caird on the western side of South Georgia Island. The hike starts with a steep climb mostly over frost-fractured sharp shale then traverses a central hilly section before beginning the down-slope zip-zag trail down the long talus slope to the riverbed below. The hike reaches only about 300m or 900ft so elevation and oxygen are not the problem, it is the sharp and loose footing that requires caution. The snow has melted by this time, the late in the summer, and the shallow braided meandering riverbed is easily crossed and re-crossed until we reached the lounging fur seals near the rear of the ruins of the Stromness whaling station.
The other major activity was a series of Polarcirkle boat cruises from the FRAM that motored along just off the beaches in front of the ruins of the whaling stations at Leith, Husvik and Stromness. As the day ended the FRAM lifted the anchor and we headed for the Falkland Islands.