We awoke this morning at Hellemobotn, meaning “at the very end of the fjord” in the native Sami language. During the early morning hours, we had sailed down the 37-mile-long Tysfjorden, the location of our morning hikes. The waters were still as a mirror, reflecting the granite sides of the fjord as a ribbon of tule fog wound its way along the edges. The only thing missing was the lonely call of the loon echoing across the waters to National Geographic Endurance.

We departed early for three levels of hikes: long, medium, and short. With permission from the local community, we made a dry landing at a floating pier, where we could wear our own hiking shoes instead of the ship’s muck boots. Upon our arrival, Erling, a local Sami, greeted us with stories and a traditional song his mother sang to him as a child. He passed the song to his own daughter, who now sings it to her infant daughter.

We followed the trail along the river through a boreal forest of juniper, birch, and scotch pines, bursting with flowers, bitter black crowberries, and ripening, sweet orange-yellow cloudberries. The medium hikers made their way to the wide, cascading waterfall. Meanwhile, the long hikers continued up the steepening mountainside to the summit along the Swedish border, which the Sami people used to help people escape occupied Norway. Guests on Zodiac cruises explored the fjord, spotting birds and even starfish in the crystal-clear waters.

We were back on board National Geographic Endurance by noon to begin our afternoon cruise back up the fjord. We enjoyed a special sushi lunch prepared by Chef Bogdan and his team. As we continued, photography specialist Dave presented “The Story of Your Voyage,” teaching us how to best tell stories with our cameras. This was followed by naturalist Tiphany, who told us all about Svalbard reindeers. Shortly before teatime, expedition leader Lucho announced over the PA that we should all go out on deck for a view of Norway’s national mountain, Stetind. The chimney-like landmark rose vertically from the fjord to an astounding 4567 feet straight up!

After dinner, we had one more activity. We gathered on the deck as Captain Oliver maneuvered the ship into narrow Trollfjord. The fjord walls were so close to the ship!