Lofoten Dream

Norway
01-15/08/2016

I don‘t know how, but this amazing trip ended up without a decent description. Maybe I just wanted to keep it in my heart, for myself, a bit longer. Maybe a crazy day-to-day routine prevented me of doing so. But now that we‘ve started our blog it would be a sin not to share this story even though it can‘t be written as detailed after more than a year.

Day 1

Midnight sun

It all started as a crazy dream, that didn’t seem to be real until I finally was packing my backpack. My jumbo backpack. Going two weeks in a wild somewhere above the Polar Circle requires a lot of everything: clothing, warm sleeping bag (though actually warm sleeping bag didn’t fit so I had to take a summer one…), food… We each had approx. 10kg of food!!! Pasta, all kinds of cereals, canned meat, sausages, snacks… We like to eat well and we knew there won’t be much civilization around. My starting weight of the backpack was ~26kg, Pedro’s monster was even bigger. The start with such a weight promised a challenging trip, but challenges began sooner than we expected. We arrived to Bodo around midnight with a plan to jump into a night ferry, but one of the backpacks didn’t arrive with us. And of course, it had the tent, and a lot of other important equipment that we couldn’t start without. Airport information couldn’t help us much either as they had no clue where it got lost and when it will arrive. The only thing that was left for us is wait. So we waited. The night in the airport with a bunch of other people who lost their luggage or who arrived for the early morning flights went slow…

Strategic point for defence and nice spot for breakfast

The morning didn’t bring any news either. We were offered to wait till 10 am, then till 2 pm… I left my backpack at the airport (hopping it won’t disappear too) and went out to Bodo for a short walk, which, of course, ended up being not that short. Finally, around lunch time we got the second backpack back! We cooked buckwheat with meat right in the middle of Bodo and then ran to the afternoon ferry which took us to Moskenes – a small port in the south of Lofoten archipelago. Not having had enough of walks and so excited about finally getting to Lofoten, we jump into the trail determined to reach the destination (Munkebu hut) that was planned for today. We did. Around 2 am. It was starting to get slightly darker when we were putting the tent but by the time we got inside it was getting bright again. Midnight sun is surely amazing experience. Not only because you lose track of time, but because you get some extra energy in the hours you would expect yourself to be dead sleeping.

Day route:
20.9 km in Bodo + 7.85 km Moskenes to Munkebu, ascent of 584m, almost 6 hours

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Day 2

Take it easy

The pain… I can still remember how everything was hurting after the first day with monster backpacks… We decided to take it easy and have a calm day in the area. The weather was a bit cloudy and was hiding the peek nearby (Hermannsdals-tinden, 1029m), but we set off for a day hike in case the sky clears up. The weather in Lofoten is very unpredictable, but not this time – the peek remained covered all day. We decided not to climb it if we won’t see anything and save some energy for tomorrow. The nice thing about Lofoten is that you don’t need to climb high to see magnificent views – they are waiting for you at every corner. We had a calm hiking day enjoying every view we had, eating mountain ice-cream (amazing invention!! Ice + condensed milk) and finally washing off the mud in the stream nearby our campsite. It’s only the first days you try to do that 🙂

Day route:
4.5 hours, 5.86 km, ascent 447 m

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Day 3

God bless the old Norwegian ladies.

The morning started early with a clear sky and sun shining into our tent. We finally saw the beautiful peek in front of us that we were not lucky to see and reach yesterday, admired it for a while and had to move on. We packed things back into our backpacks surprisingly finding out that not everything fits in and off we go. Today we must reach Reine and from there take a small boat to Vindstad. First steps with the backpack were quite awful. My feet were trembling and I physically couldn’t make a step on a higher rock, so we had to stop and redistribute the weight a bit. Now when I look at the photos I think we were beyond crazy to do this!

Ready for a new day

 

We went back to Moskenes road the same way and were supposed to follow the road for a few km to Reine, but I voted for hitch hiking, being afraid we might miss the boat (and that my back might actually break from the weight). After walking some on the road trying to stop a car, an old lady with a tiny car stopped to help us out. We barely fitted our backpacks inside, but couldn’t be more grateful for giving us a ride. Having some extra time left in the port we have a quick snack and enjoy the sun, then take a boat to Vindstad. Here the trail to Buneset beach starts. It is a lovely, easy and dry (for a change) trail with only a slight climb so you can reach the beach in half an hour if you don’t have a backpack to draw you back. The beach is amazing. And the most amazing part is that it is so empty!!! The white sand and sky blue water looks like in Hawaii but you must have guts to have a swim in the Atlantic above the Polar Circle even in the mid summer. The water is so cold that you just run in and run out screaming, nevertheless it’s a fun and refreshing swim.

Buneset beach

 

The sun sets (or at least tries to) in the Atlantic giving amazing colorful skies. There is a small trail on the left side of this beach for a romantic evening walk and a natural shelter to hide from the wind on a cold day. We sit down there and drink our small bottle of wine. This is the mistake you only make once, but Pedro didn’t want to listen to me when I said he is crazy to pack a glass bottle of wine!!! It weights like a rock!! Being happy to get rid of any extra weight we decide it is time to drink it (I wonder why the first evening wasn’t suitable for that???).
After enjoying the sunset and making some fun photo shooting we get back to the tent, very late. Or very early, depends on how you count. My shoulders are so painful and swollen around clavicles that we decided to stay two nights in the same place, thus losing a bit more weight (each day we consumed approximately 1,5 kg of food). I could stay the whole 2 weeks in this heaven anyway.

Day route:
Munkebu to Moskenes: 5 hours, 7.3 km
Vindstad to Buneset Beach Aprox 3 km (no track recorded)

day3

Day 4

Eat as much as you can.

The main goal of today is to eat. I choose the meals that weight more to reduce our food supplies as much as possible (yet not that desperate to simply through it away). The beach is surrounded by nice mountains and there is a trail to one of peeks so, after having lazy morning we set out for an afternoon hike without any extra weight. The trail is not difficult but once you reach the pass it gets quite exposed with steep edges facing the fiord we will be going tomorrow. After having some hot discussions about vertigo, we admire the views from a safe distance and get back to the beach. The day was quite chilly and the beach had some natural wood supplies so we tried to make a fire to warm us up. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very successful attempt – the wind was too strong and the wood too wet… We ended up hide ourselves in our tiny home and cooking right there, with “kitchen window” views for a million.

Day route:
5,5 hours (discussions included), 4 km, ascent 396m

day4

Day 5

Wet, wet, wet.

Another early start to catch the boat, but when it is bright almost 24 hours it’s not really a problem. Yet the morning was very cloudy and promising a wet day. We quickly reached the harbor to save a place in the boat and not miss it (schedules around here are not very precise to put it slightly). With every hour the day got darker and colder, clouds being so low that you couldn’t distinguish them from the fog. We reached Kjerkfjorder hiding ourselves in the cabin of the boat not to freeze, but once arrived, had to expose ourselves to the force of nature wether we want it or not. It was wet. Wet, wet, wet. Wet below, wet above, finally wet inside too. We reached Horseid beach in approximately 3 hours but didn’t take a single photo on the way. The beach itself was one of the most beautiful in Lofoten islands and probably the most empty too as other beaches are easier to reach and more famous. I wish we could have stayed two nights here too, but there was still so much to see and days were running out fast. We put our tent, get a bit warm inside and later in the afternoon go for a short walk to enjoy views and get some fresh water. You never run out of water in Lofoten. The first thing that comes to my mind when people ask to describe this archipelago is wet. You have to be ready for facing it if you set off for this trip, but the views are absolutely worth it.

Day route:
Buneset beach to Horseid beach: 5 hours and ~9 km, ascent 282m

day5

Day 6

Natural goods

The morning was cold and wet like usual, so we started packing right after breakfast. By the time we started walking the sky was getting a bit brighter and I felt sorry for leaving this amazing beach. We didn’t know how far we will be able to get today, neither we had an intension to reach a certain point. Being out in a wild gives you freedom to move on your own pace and stay where you like. The challenging part of the day was quite a steep hike up, with still heavy backpacks, and just as steep and awfully slippery and muddy descent afterwards. The challenge in Lofoten is not the height of the mountains but their wet and muddy nature. You have to be really careful with your steps, especially after the rain (which we had a lot yesterday). Today’s trail was probably the most wet and muddy from all the trip. There were many parts where you could choose to walk through the messed-up mud risking losing your shoe or walk around through a swampy field risking getting a lot of water inside. Whichever you prefer… We had our lunch on the pass (kind of a tradition already) and started a slow descent. The lake we wanted to reach seemed to be so close, but it took ages to get there.

Gone for berries

 

The valleys in Lofoten are full of gifts. If you have basic knowledge about berries and mushrooms you can easily enrich your daily menu with natural goods you find just next to your trail. My favorite ones are blueberries which you can find nearly daily. The only bad thing is that they slow down your walking dramatically because you stop to pick them up. Then stop again. And again… oh wait, these are so big!!! We were not that lucky with mushrooms though and only found a few, but made our dinner taste better anyway.
After reaching the lake we decided to go a bit further away to look for a campsite. There were so many mosquitos that you could have dinner simply talking. Not that going further away helped much… Wet and green can’t be bugs free… we reached Selfjord around dinner time and got tired to walk more so started looking for a suitable spot to put a tent. Not an easy task in a swamp!!! After half an hour or so we find a place that has a more or less flat surface and doesn’t soak too much. Besides – has nice views to the fiord. Oh, and mosquitos too, of course.

Day route:
Horseid beach to Selfjord: 7.5 hours, 9.28 km, ascent 485m

day6

Day 7

Time to wash

Another wet morning. After a week you get used to it and don’t pay much attention. Quick breakfast and off we go for quite a long walk, starting with the small trail, middle part with a long road and then up up up to go down down down to Kvalvika beach. This beach is probably the most famous in southern Lofoten, fairly easy to reach (definitely easy without big backpacks), with an amazing Ryten peek (543m) just beside it. The day gets brighter as we go and by the time we reach the Ocean I feel quite ready to have another freezing bath. Lets call it a cleanness day, both for us and our wet and muddy clothes. Just be careful doing laundry as you never know when the rain will come back!
Kvalvika beach also has one very known tourist visit object – a tiny house built between rocks with its own story. Two surfers fell in love with this Arctic beach and decided to spend the whole winter there Living with what they have and what they build. Being there with fairly warm weather and midnight sun is no doubt a pleasant experience, but staying there the whole polar night season is something that one’s mind has difficulties to comprehend. But surely is admirable.

Day route:
Selfjord to Kvalvika beach: 5 hours, 9.59 km, ascent 237m

day7

Day 8

Mission – gas

In the middle of our trip we realize, that we won’t have enough gas till the end of the trip as we cook a lot, so we start analyzing the map, trying to find a nearest possible spot to get gas and also see something new on the way. We first climb up to Ryten peek which is a must around here. We dropped the backpacks in the crossroad not to have them on ourselves all the way up and quickly enjoy the views from above. If it wasn’t for the wind and quickly coming clouds I could stay there much longer.
After getting back to our backpacks we turn our route towards Ramberg, which has a shop and a camping. The way there was very beautiful, but also very windy, cold and quite long. Last few kilometers I was only thinking “just keep walking, just keep walking” and could barely feel my frozen hands. Not sure how Pedro could still be making photos. We reached Ramberg when the sun was already setting down, but I could barely enjoy the view from the cold. We passed through camping and put our tent in the beach right next to it. I am pretty sure I fell asleep fast that evening.

Day route:
Kvalvika beach to Ramberg: 6 hours, 14.16 km, ascent 613m

day8

Day 9

Bus tourists

Amazing thing about getting back closer to civilization is the food. We went to the shop for gas but couldn’t resist all the goodies we saw there: croissants, Coca-Cola, yogurt, fruits… After a week of a strict tourist diet you get wild in the shop. Safe and calm about the gas we have breakfast right next to the shop and tourist information office, check the schedules for the busses and decide to go back to the southest village in Lofoten – Å. They are not very talky people so even the names are short. We took an easy ride and arrived there in early afternoon. Å is a nice to visit village, even though usually we avoid civilized places. There is an amazing bakery with the most delicious cannel buns, which we couldn’t resist despite their price. There is also a tiny shop, a museum, and a live “show” looking at men cleaning the codfish and cats waiting around the corner for their bite. Å is also probably the last place to remove dried codfish heads which of course is another tourist attraction around here. We don’t even notice how quickly the day goes by and go out to search for a camping spot. Officially wild camping in not allowed in Å as there is an official camping, but all the nature loves go to the lake right next to Å, passing through the “gate” of codfish heads. After putting our tent and taking advantage of a good weather, we dry all our wet clothes (not sure if there were any dry clothes left) and have an amazing dinner – salmon and beer. A fairly lazy day with some commodity in our wild trip.

Day route:
A bus tour from Ramberg to Å and lazy walks around Å, no tracks recorded.

Day 10

The cold is getting into our bones

Having humid weather with approx.. 15 degrees temperature for 10 days starts having it’s impact. There is nothing quite dry and the cold starts getting into your bones. We set out for a walk around the lake, too lazy to go up through the pass to the other side of the isle. The hike is very easy, no big ascents, but wet as always. Going quite low means going through forests which gives you a chance to pick up mushrooms and berries for your dinner. So, we do! After reaching the other side of the lake we sit down for lunch and have an unexpected guest, a seagull, very willing to pose for photos in exchange for a bite of bread. It’s nice to have company after all. Getting back to our tent we pass through the village once again, admiring beautiful fisherman’s houses. So calm… not only the village, but also the mind. We have one more delicious dinner with wild mushrooms and berries for the desert and go back to our tent. Freezing.

Day route:
5.5 hours, 7.68 km, ascent 254m.

day10

Day 11

Transition day

The only aim we have for today is to get back to Moskenes – the port where we started our wild dream. We have a calm breakfast (cannel buns included), pack and start our easy road walk. Moskenes is only a bit more than 7 km away so we take a calm walk, stopping by in the villages we pass. Well, the walk also gave us surprises when Pedro did a salto mortale with his backpack out of the blue, giving him a few bruises and an opportunity for me to exercise my nursing skills. We stayed in the official camping this single night as we were expecting a very early ferry to get to our next destination – Vaeroy island, a bit more to the south of the archipelago. The camping was quite crowded but had an option to escape a bit higher up the hill and enjoy the views of the sea. Of course, we took this option and only went to the camping for having a warm shelter during breakfast or using the bathroom.

Day route:
Å to Moskenes: 4 hours, 7,33 km

day11

Day 12

This is how paradise looks like

The cloudy morning was promising us yet another cold day. We took the morning ferry to the island, the last point in our trip. The start was quite slow and not that impressive until we reached the pass. Vaeroy island has quite a few astonishing beaches and is definitely a must visit if you come to Lofoten. On the top of the hill we could look back to the main archipelago, which we’ve been walking for over a week. The beach we chose for our night was reachable by car road to, but walking there through the top of the mountain is by far more impressive. Going down to it wasn’t easy as the trail was very steep and full of loose rocks. Not sure how but I managed to injure my knee going downhill which slowed us down significantly. By the time we reached the beach the sun started summing out. We had lunch and I fell asleep in the warm sun. this gave some rest for my knee too and after this siesta we set out for a short walk by the coast. Unfortunately my knee didn’t allow us to reach far, but nevertheless was a picturesque walk. And finally we managed to get a proper fire for our sunset views. This is how paradise looks like… except that it’s too cold to be naked.

Day route:
5 hours, 8 km, ascent 300m

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Day 13

A farewell surprise

A morning in paradise was just as it should be – silent and sunny. A bit nostalgic mood of the end of the trip was quickly dispersed by unexpectedly broken gas stove, which meant – no more hot food. Thank god it is the last day!!! We had some snacks for breakfast and set of for a walk back to the harbor, taking the car road because of my injured knee. This road is longer but easier. The backpack clearly weights much less than in the beginning and I can barely feel it on my shoulders. We walked through an old airport, through some small villages back to the main part of the island which was still quite empty on Sunday. We were hoping to get some food there, but everything, except a tiny snack shop was closed. We grabbed some Coke and gummies and sat down for lunch. We still had two pieces of canned meat left, which were supposed to be our breakfast and dinner but became lunch instead. I will not tell how bad a cold canned meat tasted! Thank god for the Coke… Wondering a bit around the village we got back to the port and sat down in the warm and tiny waiting room. The night in the ferry went slow but a chilly walk from the harbor to the airport next morning made us fresh again. Here we ended our crazy Lofoten Dream hike with now reasonably weighting backpacks. Going closer to the sky I could not stop thinking about the paradise left down in Earth.

Day route:
4:40 hours, 12.47 km

day13

 

 

 

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