The morning is overcast, with strong wind about 14m/s. The travellers at a well set breakfast table are rather quiet, maybe they all are hoping silently that the weather will improve, and the day will be nice and sunny.
The plan for the day is to go by snowmobiles to Tempelfjorden. Before the trip the Arctic Adventures company gives us detailed safety instructions, dresses us up in special suits and boots. Of course the helmet, the goggles and the gloves are provided. A short instruction on how to drive a snowmobile and … let’s go … The journey has started. At the beginning everyone very cautiously tries out the accelerator, then the brake, and in a couple of minutes woohoo … the pedal to the metal as much as that’s possible when going in a line one after the other.
We start the drive to Tempelfjorden. On the way we stop several times and take some photos and videos. The drivers switch and the relaxing/chill-out has started. That’s because when driving the snowmobile you concentrate on the road but when sitting at the back you can enjoy the nature by observing the leisurely reindeer.
One of the stops was at a frozen waterfall. Cool. Turns out we have driven on a frozen river rather than it seemed to me – along a valley between hills! When Tempelfjorden has been reached a wonderful view to Tuna and Von Post glaciers and the bay can be seen. We don’t see any seals or bears, but the view is nevertheless lovely.
We stop for the lunch in Fredheim where Hilmar Nous spent 26 out of his 38 winters in Svalbard. It is also possible to see the only ship hotel which is frozen in the ice – Noordenlicht. The lunch is rather tasty taking into account that it’s in a pouch, and require addition of water, something similar to Rollton instant noodles!When we have eaten and drank some tea or syrup-water which is very popular here, we leave for the return trip. The wind is already much stronger, the snow is falling thoroughly and it is blown right into our faces. At some moments it is not even possible to see anything. Every minute I need to clean the snow from my goggles to be able to see the lights of the snowmobile driving in front of us and it would be possible to see where I should drive. With the other hand I need to hold the straight course and the accelerator! We cannot lag behind the snowmobile driving in front of us as then you can be left alone who knows where, as everything around is white and it is not possible to understand where the ground ends and the sky starts!
Approaching the town of Longyearbyen the blizzard calms down but instead it starts raining as the temperature is above zero. Where it was not possible to suspect a river in the morning, now the water already starts to accumulate in some places.
We have successfully finished the route of today. But do you think that the adventures of today have finished?! No! While preparing dinner in the evening (it will be vegetarian dinner this time, pasta with cheese), we notice that the wind is whistling behind the window. And then suddenly, puff – there is no electricity! A silence; the first idea – the fuses have been blown out as there were several kettles on. But no, turns out there is no electricity in the entire village! We find different torches, which happen to be taken along by some of us, we turn them on, pour the hot water in flasks, we also pour the cold water in some empty bottles as we realise that the water is not being renewed in the tap.
We are sitting around the table and playing the board game Uno. From time to time somebody tells some black joke, like about the last text message which we could send since the phones also will stop working soon. From time to time someone goes to get something warmer to put on as the warmth gets blown out of the house gradually. Whoops, the electricity is back for a moment, everyone is happy, but that’s just for a moment…
It’s quite late, somebody is rumouring that this is not a normal situation and, if the electricity won’t be renewed for too long, we will need to evacuate the island! Hmm… just it’s not really clear in which way as in this wind (around 24m/s excluding gusts and blizzard) it cannot be believed that any plane will lift off! But we are calm and a we have a thought of a brighter tomorrow, so we go to sleep with woollen socks on as that’s safer!
Will see what tomorrow will bring!