Day 3 - Bear Training for the Bear Dodgers
Today has been devoted to learning all we possibly can about protecting ourselves from the island’s 2500 resident bears.
We had 3 great young guides, a Swede and 2 Norwegians, who work in this environment every day and really gave us the low down on all the practicalities we need to consider and made everything feel significantly more real. They took us out to the rifle range, showed us where we have to aim, should we actually need to shoot a bear and talked us at length through the whole legal procedure that would ensue. They ran through use of flare pistols, using rubber bullets rather than real ones, how to camp, lay the trip wires around our tents and basically gave us a multitude of things we could try, before ever having to resort to shooting. We are told we have a 30% chance of seeing a bear when we are near the coast, though it is unlikely we will see any when we are inland. We will be keeping count!
After the morning’s training, we took our guides out to lunch and continued picking their brains, gathering every last bit of their invaluable local knowledge. We spent an hour with a huge map of Spitsbergen in front of us, working out our exact route, as they talked us through which glaciers we would be able to go up and those we wouldn’t. We have a slightly re-worked route! Thank you very much guys for all your advice and help, we really appreciate it.
We would also like to take a moment to mention just how incredible our Sub Zero boots are. They are keeping our feet exceedingly warm and our guides here were all wearing them too. We felt really quite the part!
We have spent the rest of the afternoon packing up all our gear, taking care of a few last minute checks, whilst we eagerly await the arrival of our skidoos. Tonight we are heading directly east of the capital, 60km inland, near the centre of the island, which will be directly into the wind. From there we will be setting off tomorrow morning on our first kiting day and heading north.
Let the adventure begin!
The BearDodging.co.uk Team
Cynan, Charlie, David & Dan