Hiking to the top of Sarkofagen mountain

Hiking to the top of Sarkofagen mountain

I love it when a day starts with going outside on a hike; you can only assume that it will be a good one when the fresh arctic air starts to flow through your lungs soon after breakfast. My company on this morning hike was an italian guide who moved to Svalbard after visiting it and falling in love with the wilderness it is known for, a huge middle aged dog from the tour company’s large kennel suffering from endocrine related issues, and a norwegian couple who thrive outside – a botanist and a teacher. Needless to say that the conversation and the exchange in general went very dynamic and we had tons of fun while walking towards the top of the mountain.

Sarkofagen mountain is a nearby almost sculpture-esque ridge southwards from Longyearbyen. The trail consists of beautiful steep paths over moraines; each step I have made had opened a new scenery and had desperately screamed to be documented. I take tons of photos whenever and wherever I go, this hike was not an exception.

Svalbardian scenery is otherworldly and going through it is incredibly rewarding. And this is not even some extreme distant expedition level trail; it was just a couple of hours long hike up the mountain.

This nature exceeded all my expectations. I mean, I like to do a heavy research of the places I am going to, and I swipe through hundreds of pictures of trails in order to know where I am going, but each time I venture outside, I get all overloaded by its beauty.

The top of the Sarkofagen mountain is quite flat and it turns into a ridge. This is one of the photos from Platåfjellet hike which was done a few days earlier, here you can see how it looks from a distance.

And this is how the view from Sarkofagen looks like.

We did not rush back, so I took time to enjoy the moment. The weather was outstanding so the view was excellent.

Descending the Sarkofagen was an experience for itself and I loved every minute of it. We passed and observed Larshjertebreen and Longyearbreen glaciers, and then transversed the Longyear glacier on crampons.

We stopped at a few glacier rivers, drank some water straight from the stream and continued downwards while enjoying the cracking sound which the crampons make when we walked over ancient ice.

The hike was an outstanding move itself, but the true highlight was stopping on the edge of the glacier to observe fossilized plants. 400 000 000 years ago the Svalbard archipelago, a synonym for barren ice-bound and glacier-covered seemingly lifeless arctic wilderness, was located in a place with completely opposite conditions and environment. There are numerous examples which testify this – all along the islands it is easy to find numerous fossilized plants which were once parts of large tropical forests of the equatorial region. Just think of the idea of Svalbard islands shifting on their tectonic plate from 0 degrees to 80 degrees north, to their current position. Quite crazy, right?

The details are very well preserved and intricate, reminding us that nature is the only true artist.

The edge of the Longyearbreen has a small area in which it is allowed to actually pick and take the fossils. Primarily I was extremely against that, because it felt so wrong to take any of these beautiful stones, but I could not resist and I took a tiny one and made a pendant out of it. Up until now it is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.