Svalbard Day 3. 28.07.2012

Posted: August 16, 2012 in Hiking
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Today was our rest day. I woke tired after our 10 hour night (with 8 hours sleep, 2 hours bear watch). It turned out I was not the only one. We rose with a different vibe. We were not going to hike for hours and hours through all different terrain. We didn’t need to leave early.  We had a slow breakfast, and got ready for a relaxing stroll to the deserted mining town of Pyramiden, about 4km south of our camp.

Our walk would take us past the czech research station with a large female contingent, which buoyed spirits of some party members. It was Lisa’s birthday, and there was talk of being invited for drinks in the evening. Already, after being away for just 2 days, some sort of civilization and socializing was attractive. It must be said that, after a lack of washing that came with being in the wild, perhaps our body odour was not as attractive as the thought of a bit of socializing.

A short stroll across some pebbly beaches and some minor ridges brought us to Pyramiden. It was deserted in 2001, and felt like a ghost town that one might pass through after a nuclear holocaust, or a disaster like in the Day of the Triffids. Buildings were left to crumble. Heavy mining machines and constructions that were part of the harbour were rusting and out of use.

We ran into a lost solitary soul in the middle of the town. He was a young, blond russian, who was very busy – so he told us. There was a lot of work to do. You can imagine. A town that used to house 1000s and now with only 8 people. We asked him what was the lot of work to do. What was its purpose? It was just a lot of work. So much work with so few people.

There was a ‘camping ground’ with a working toilet (!). It needed to be put to use. This was where the 8 inhabitants lived, I think. There were other apartment buildings that were rather spooky, being owned now by birds. Each window sill was home to one or two nests. There was a wild and unkept lawn leading up to a swimming pool and sport centre. The signs were old and wasting away. All the script was in cyrillic, giving the whole village an even more bizarre touch. This deserted town really was the end of the earth, after civilization had collapsed.

Our evening with the czechs didn’t eventuate. That would wait until another night. We voted on having a 12 hour night that night to collect our energy for our glacier adventure the following day. We all needed the sleep.

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