On my first trip to Svalbard I had a plan to hike over the Foxfonna glacier. Several providers had it in their offers, but on the day when it was scheduled, due to the covid craze and the lack of participants, this hike was canceled. Instead, I booked the Sarkofagen hike, as I did not want to “waste” time – a hike needs to be done when you are here, no matter what.
So, when I returned the year after, the Foxfonna hike was a strict must. The guide picked us up and brought us to the kennel; this tour company offers many dog sled excursions and activities, besides this special hike. The sled dogs require activities and the guides of the companies with kennels always take them with us. They often say that the dog is the best alarm when it comes to polar bears; they spot and smell them way before they become a threat.
The entire hike takes approx 6 hours, and it begins near EISCAT, a geophysical facility equipped with two parabolic dishes which collect data and observe interactions between the Sun and the Earth’s ionosphere – they gather the aurora borealis related data and provide the basis for understanding its behavior. Besides that, the dishes track the space debris (defunct/decommissioned man made space exploration trash, orbiting around the Earth and posing threats to operating space machinery) on the altitudes up to 1 500 km and they are – prepare to smash your jaws on the floor – able to distinguish the pieces which are only 20 mm long.
The hike continued with ascending the Foxfonna glacier on crampons, traversing a few large moraines with stones of various sizes, and descending to a large Advent valley where we had a break and ate lunch.
The glacier is huge and we took time to absorb its beauty. I love the sound of the crampons cracking the ice surface.
The moraines are a place you really need to pay attention to how you walk. The stones are of various sizes and oftentimes move as you step on them. Good, excellent, the best hiking shoes you can have – are essential.
Wherever you turn to – there are extremely gorgeous sights. Walking in such places made me love even more all those open spaces of the wilderness; once you walk through such scenery, your perception of space changes significantly. I am not even saying that super-packed city centers with streets filled with people, trams and building are not nice – I am just trying to present how something incredibly different, on the other side of the spectrum, “damages” your brain with pictures of an extreme, which is neither attainable nor accessible to everyone.
We descended to Adventdalen, where the tour provider has a hytte, a hut, in which we sat down and ate, and the dog had his own chill out moment in the sun. Soon after, we continued along the Adventdalen, through this scenery.
I desperately wanted to see a polar fox in autumn fur (with grayish, brownish colors) but the colors of the ground are increasing the odds in their favor – even if there were any of them, it would be impossible to spot them in this environment. Mimicry at its finest, doing her job.
This was my last activity on Svalbard. I always get heartbroken after each of these trips, as returning to civilization after such experiences really is painful and knowing that I need to board that plane and leave the Arctic really gets me. This is why I am trying my best to utilize every single moment and I can only say that I shall return, at least once more.