Woke up and got in the cars for a 45 minute drive. We started driving north, so we had a decent idea where we’d be going – Hamningberg is the end of the road north though none of us know anything about the town.

The drive to Hamningberg, like the drive to Vardø, was amazing, though the weather wasn’t quite as nice. Parts of the drive felt like we were going through a martian landscape, with forests of massive rocks all angled the same direction away from the water. The further we drove, the less protected the coast was from the water by the fjord. The road itself continued to narrow – down to just over one late for the last 15 minutes. (In the case of an oncoming car, both parties had to come to a crawl.)

We arrived in Hamningberg, and the place is a ghost town. There are houses and a few cards, but the place is by any other measure, barren.

As we film our intro walking into town from the rocks, someone dressed as a witch (we later learn it to be Petter the reporter) briskly walks by with a rake and a broomstick. It genuinely caught us off guard the first time we filmed it. We then talked through the “graveyard” (kudos to the prop deparment for the foam headstones and wooden cross). Lastly, they have us enter a room (led by Kelsey who’s a bit scared) where we find a skeleton version of Fridtjof, and a not talking about the black plague (there were rats and lots of black plague paintings in the room too.) We had read about witches in Vardø, and the plague doesn’t come as a huge surprise, it’s certainly the “dark” week Fridtjof promised as the end of episode 4.

We grab lunch and then learn about part one of the team competition (which gains then winning team an advantage that has thus far helped propel the team to victory in 0 of 2 challenges thus far.) The competition will consist of bringing 15 villagers from their point of origin to either the hospital (if they have the black plague and can be cured) or the graveyard (if they have the pneumonic plague and cannot be cure). If the teams tie on correct diagnosis, it will come down to time. The teams are:

Red: Richard, Kelsey, Thomas, and Kate

Blue: Johnny, Joni, Jeff, and Lauren

Troll: Me!

I’m sitting things out this week with the troll for the sake of even teams, and don’t care at all who wins, but in a human carrying contest if I’m betting in Vegas my money is on Richard’s team.

Rather than have to sit in solitude with the non participating team, I’m given freedom to roam for 1.75 hours as long as I stay away from the competition and don’t get in the cameraman’s shot! Sweet!!!

I grab my camera , and try to slowly approach the herd of ~17 reindeer there were near us, along with an arctic fox which are apparently quite rare to see! I got a few pictures but they spook easily and bail en masse if one of them is frightened.

I then proceed to make my way up the rock hill / mountain above down for a killer panoramic look at where we were. The view was great, but the biggest surprise was finding a fireholes, barbed wire, and what seemed to be the base of an AA gun from the Nazi’s occupation of Hamningberg during WWII. There was even spools of rusty unused barbed wire that is almost certainly 70 years old.

From this vantage point I watched blue complete the last 20 minutes of their competition and get interviewed. It looks physically grueling to say the least.

When results came back, the red team gained the advantage – apparently Richard carried 8 people on his own which is preposterous. I’m excited to watch it on TV in September or November. With that said, Blue put a kid in the graveyard who had a hidden black plague welt, which ended up being the difference maker (though I’m guessing red was substantially faster too.)

We had a group dinner, and then filmed a few more scenes, one of us walking up to a witch being burned at the stake where we’re greeted by one of the local experts from the Vardø museum. The next scene has us around a campfire asking her questions and learning more about local tales of witchcraft and witch burning.

We’re all staying together in an awesome little cabin in town. Almost everyone is asleep and I will be soon – we leave at 9:00 tomorrow back to Vardø for the team competition, but I’ll only be there for results, so it should be a super low key day. Hopefully I’ll have a bit of free reign to explore more of Vardø!