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6/16 Watch Out For Medium Hikes

No Velcro...

sunny 32 °F


Elke woke us with a 7:15 announcement; breakfast was at 7:30. The day is blindingly bright even with the sun low in the sky. The snow on the side of the fjord reflects the light and sunglasses on the deck are a must. The temperature is just above freezing and there is a breeze so, for our excursion, we dress warmly—but in layers.

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We are in Mollesfjord at the glacier where the waters are calm if cold. Launching the five Zodiacs we head for a beach about a mile from the face of the glacier to hike. The 46 of us are divided into four groups: the “young people,” and easy, medium and difficult hikers. As with last time, I opt for medium.

Under foot the terrain is rocks punctuated by snow punctuated by mud at spots where melting ice creates a stream of water making its way to the sea. There are large rocks and small rocks, stable rocks and rickety ones. Nancy and Bill have advised me that only a fool would attempt this hike without a walking stick so I grabbed one as I left M/S Quest to board Zodiac #1 piloted by Malenthe for the ten minute ride to the beach.


At one point we achieved two goals by sitting on rocks to rest and being completely silent; “no talking, no Velcro, no camera shutter noise please.” Our timing was auspicious as a noise that I can only compare to a clap of thunder in the distance radiated from the glacier. There was no visual evidence of what caused that sound; I had expected to see the glacier “calving” but that was not what happened. Nothing happened. Except for whatever made that amazing sound deep inside the dense blue ice.

Back to M/S Quest, I had lunch with three Dutch passengers who accommodated me by speaking English. We discussed their recent journey to Antarctica. I sought advice about how to do that and they were happy to oblige.

There was an hour to rest and write in peace and quiet and ponder the unique place this spot occupies on our planet.

The resting hour over, at Mollerfjorden, it was time for another hike at Signehamna. Again, I opted for medium but a surprise was in store. Whether by design or accident, we embarked on the hike of my life. Over hill and down slopes, across snow fields, fording streams of icy water, through deeper snow where your foot sinks in to your thigh; it all happened on this afternoon’s “medium” hike. We all made it but just barely.

Here are a few highlights. That is Jennifer in the red jacket making a record setting time getting across. Do not fall during the fording of this stream. The rocks are not worn smooth because they are not in water for most of the year. The water is cold, very cold, as cold as water can be in a liquid form.

Want to relax? This is a fine place to do it. But then, when you least expect it, you run across something man made, left behind many years before. It turns out that this was the site, during World War II, of a German weather station, used by the Nazis to assist their navy in sailing here and in the Baltic Sea.

Watch your step. From time to time the snow underfoot gives way--up to your thigh perhaps. large_07HikeTumble1.JPGlarge_08HikeHeadedHome.JPGlarge_10ZodiacsQuestinMollesfjord.JPG

Back on board, I checked my step counter: 13,039 of the most difficult steps I can ever recall taking. But then I’ve never before trod in Kollerbreen, Signehamna and Liljehokbreen. I retired to the lounge for TWO vodka tonics and was quickly off to dinner for TWO glasses of barely passable white wine. Then, it was up to the lounge as we basked in the glory of the largest glacier face I have ever seen. The panorama doesn’t begin to do it justice; you had to be there.large_11GlacierPano.JPG

Tonight, I am beat and I’ve no clue what is happening tomorrow but M/S Quest is steaming somewhere as I write this. In the land of the midnight sun one has no sense of when to call it quits. It is 11:00 right now and a small minki whale just surfaced outside my window as I pulled down the blackout shade because it is as light outside right now as it was during our hike. The setting sun provides no signal to give up and go to sleep because it does not set.

I think that tonight I may have made a preliminary commitment with a Dutch party of three to go to Greenland on another trip with Elke in, perhaps, 2021. I’m not sure because as I said I have had, after a very strenuous day in the Arctic, two vodkas and two glasses of wine and plans made in that situation are fuzzy at best.

Let this video close out this entry to give you an idea of peace. At least it is peaceful once you have defeated the obstacles that you confront and can relax.

(The candid photo below the video was taken by Jennifer as a 'thank you' trade for the stream crossing video. She asked for a copy to share with her two young sons and I happily obliged.


Posted by paulej4 20:49 Archived in Svalbard

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Wow...have to say this adventure gets better each day! The hiking through all those terrains and the great pics/videos give the feeling of being right there. Well done!

All the Best,


by Chuck

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