Hike to Platafjellet...
Trip Start Jun 13, 2006
15Trip End Jul 07, 2006
It took about an hour and a half to reach the summit as we stopped for breathers, and the guide gave us information about the area. It seems that everywhere you go there is a polar bear anecdote to be heard, and sure enough the guide described how two Swedish girls were trapped at the top of this mountain in the summer of 1996 by a young polar bear. Now if polar bears are in this region in summer, they are basically lost because they should be further north where the ice and seals are. This one was particularly hungry and one of the girls suffered as a result, while the other one jumped over the edge and escaped with a few broken bones
At the summit we had coffee and biscuits, though I was amazed at how quickly my coffee went cold! We then proceeded to head back down the steep track, and were back at the van a mere 3 hours after we'd started. It was a nice short walk and the breeze certainly put some colour in my cheeks.
For the first time since my arrival I had a free afternoon, so I spent a couple of hours in the superb museum near the harbour. It featured interesting sections on such things as glaciers, mining, and the events in Svalbard during World War 2. I timed it to perfection in truth, as I was just finishing when a bus load of old English codgers arrived fresh off the cruise ship. I've nothing against cruises of this kind, but some of the comments I heard were ridiculous. "Are we in Spitsbergen now?" asked one old woman. "Where is Svalbard?" asked another, as she browsed through the postcards. I think a bit of research could be in order for future trips...
I couldn't resist a walk to the edge of town after visiting the museum, as I really wanted to get a photograph of the polar bear road sign before I left. I'd not seen a real one during my short stay, but just knowing that there was a possibility was exciting enough, and I definitely want to return within the next 4 or 5 years to experience the winter here...then I'll have more chance of meeting the great isbjorn.
I browsed through the souvenir shops on my way back to the guesthouse and bought a few little mementos, before getting an early night ahead of a busy day that will see me return to the altogether warmer climate of Oslo in the south of Norway...