On May 20 we crossed 80° North and that evening during the day's recap, the plan for the next day was to travel north north north, possibly to 81°. We buzzed with excitement at the novelty, the wonder of it all, the Facebook post we'd ultimately write. And then the sobering truth was illuminated - the sea ice concentration in the Arctic is low. NASA reported, "Every year, the sea ice cover blanketing the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas thickens and expands during the fall and winter, reaching its maximum yearly extent sometime between late February and early April. The ice then thins and shrinks during the spring and summer until it reaches its annual minimum extent in September. Arctic sea ice has been declining both during the growing and melting seasons in recent decades."
The ice that should be there - it's not there.
So while I am astounded and grateful and pretty-damned giddy that we crossed this arbitrary yet potent invisible line, I know - we know - that we should not be on a ship in the third week of May in that part of the Arctic.
Read more about the low sea ice in the Arctic this year at
As a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, I traveled to Svalbard in May 2018! Thanks to Linblad Expeditions and National Geographic for supporting teachers and encouraging us to be explorers.
Learn more about the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship!
This blog is dedicated to my aunt, Tina Chavez, who is always my biggest fan and supporter. When I told her about my expedition to the Arctic, she asked, "So, when do you go on the Polar Bear Express?"
She also told me to run fast from the polar bears, but naming this blog "Run, Jen, Run!" isn't as charming as calling it "The Polar Bear Express."