It was late July, and in this uninhabited part of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, high above the Arctic Circle and just 600 miles from the North Pole, much of the drift ice had melted. This made hunting for seals—a polar bear’s favorite meal—nearly impossible. Although huge, the bear was desperately hungry.
With a westerly wind at its back, the male bear continued to patrol the shore. Then, perhaps catching the scent of something unusual, it stopped dead in its tracks. It sniffed the air, and steam billowed out of its bright black snout. Following its nose, so sensitive that some say it can smell a decaying whale carcass from 20 miles away, the bear suddenly turned downwind and inland. Its paddle like paws dragged, leaving deep tracks in the sand. The predator was closing in on its prey.
It was to be the adventure of a lifetime. For almost two years, longtime friends Sebastian Plur Nilssen and Ludvig Fjeld, both 22, had been training for this two-month-long kayak expedition. Hoping to follow in the footsteps of other Norwegian explorers such as Roald Amundsen and Thor Heyerdahl, the two were attempting to become the first kayakers to paddle around the entire Svalbard archipelago, a trip of more than 1,100 miles through one of the world’s most remote regions.
To get fit, they had donned dry suits and kayaked through the ice-filled rivers near their hometowns outside Oslo, pulled heavy kayaks over ice floes, and jumped into the freezing waters to toughen themselves.
Lifelong hunters, they honed their marksmanship by sprinting up hills, loading their rifles, and pulling the triggers. As many Arctic experts had told them, if they needed to defend themselves from a polar bear, they’d have little time to think. Each carried a rifle in a waterproof bag lashed to their kayaks. Holding steady, controlling their breathing, aiming, shooting: It all had to be second nature.
Some people like to travel by train because it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of an airplane.
I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”
“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” —Everyone following you on Instagram
A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.
Comedian Greg Davies
Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.
Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.
My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me everything you know.”
“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” —Alcohol
@yoyoha (Josh Hara)
My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.
Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?
A: A mechanic.
More About Survival Stories
What You’re Sharing
- This Middle School English Teacher Became This Student’s Pen Pal and Lifelong Friend
- Memory Loss Patients Find Joy in Nursing Ailing Kittens Back to Health
- Internet Strangers Help Widowed Dad Hear His Late Wife’s Voice Again
- This Navy Sailor Was Put in the Brig for Not Reporting for Duty on December 6, 1941. It Saved His Life.
- This Man Witnessed the Official Entry of the United States into World War II