Category Archives: Hiking

Nature can Help

I suppose that I can consider myself a writer or at least a blogger and with that comes occasional encounters that motivate you to write an opinion or post. On my recent flight from London to Dallas (10 hours) I sat next to a young woman whom appeared to be exhausted but a few hours into the flight she wanted to talk. She was from Santa Rosa, CA, returning from a trip to Portugal with her Yoga Class. The experience was supposed to be for renewal and relaxation, however, it sounded like personalities got in the way. I was able to relate to her through my experiences in California. And she was inspired by the story of my sister who bailed out of her life in Los Angeles and returned to our hometown of Lafayette, IN. I told her that it was my sense that Californians have a lot of anxiety and she agreed. She wants out of that world, but how does that translate for her.

Back home in McMinnville, OR, I needed to visit my favorite watering hole, The Bitter Monk, where I could select a pint of IPA on draft for about $5 which would have cost me $15 in Norway. So I sit down with this man and woman who appeared to be somewhat connected to the hiking community. When I asked, they replied that they were adventurers, which was a good segue for me. Mike was a real adventurer or wonderer and it appeared that he had lived a tough life. Erin was a different kind of adventurer, one who combined mind, body and spirit. She owns a nearby Yoga Studio. Over my next 2 IPA’s I learned about the 8 Limbs of Yoga and about Forest Bathing. All of this seemed like ways of defining what I already knew as one who feels at home in the wilderness. I was impressed that Erin was passionate enough to help others learn of the health benefits that nature provides.

And the kicker that caused me to write this post was an article I just read from the Dihedral “Adventure Heals the Soul“. The post promoted the Blog Adventure Heals the Soul and a new video that the author, Natalie Rhea, produced:

The video deals with aspects of mental health and how nature healed her soul. A quote from Natalie resonated with what I have found as well, “There is no competition in nature, nature is a disruptor of inequality”. Again I am impressed that people like Natalie are communicating the value that nature has provided.

This sense of healing or health obtained from nature was a significant take-away I had from my adventure in Norway. Nature was at the forefront of Norwegian lives and they seemed to be reaping the benefits of that healthy life. How could you not be healthy living a village like this.

Village of Å

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Andstabben Above Lake Ågvatnet

We came out from the Munkebu trek in the morning, got some supplies, and headed toward what would be our last trek on the Lofoten Islands, Andstabben. The trail looked great although we were warned that it had a few difficult sections.

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Searching for Andstabben

We were also warned that the trail was difficult to find. And since we did not download a GPX file and were just relying on following a line on a map, we never did find the route to Andstabben.

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View from our Campsite above Lake Ågvatnet

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Tough Trail

However, we did have fun trying and our campsite over Lake Ågvatnet was pretty nice. The trailhead is the large tourist parking lot in the village of Å. We took the high trail to the south of the Lake trying to assume where it must cut up the mountain but we failed. We followed a potential trail up to a rock wall but somehow we just couldn’t find it. We also talked to another serious hiker who did not find it either. So we found the only flat area about the Lake and setup our campsite. The clouds were engulfing the Andstabben summit so we probably would not have completed the trek even if we had found the trail.

The morning brought a beautiful sunrise complete with a mirror lake.

The hike out took us past the Stock Fish wooden racks near the village of Å.

Finishing up our adventure in Å was appropriate for the ultimate Lofoten fishing village experience.

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View of the Island of Værøy to the South

To the Summit of Munkebu

IMG_7193Coming out from Selfjord in the morning allowed us to resupply and start our trek to  Munkebu, (Munkan),  which offered one of the most spectacular 360 views of the islands. This trek was not part of the Great Crossing but it probably should be. This is a great hike with some of the most spectacular views of the Lofoten Islands. Our plan was to hike in far enough to setup for summiting Munkebu the following day with day packs and then return to our campsite for the second night. This worked out really well so that we could thoroughly enjoy the all that Munkebu offered.

The crowded trailhead is out of Sørvågen where the area offers nice lakeside park options for picnics. The beginning of the trail features a beautiful cascading waterfall. You have to climb some rock faces with the help of chains and then you pass by Lake Stuvdalsvatnet before you come to a rocky promontory.

We decided to camp just past where the trail veers to the right and begins its climb to Djupfjordheia at 510 m. We got an early start the next day so we were ahead of the other day hikers.

You then drop into a saddle area where there is a beautiful chalet that is used by the local hiking club.IMG_7231

The final climb to the summit begins right behind the chalet. This final climb up to 2513′ or 766 m is fairly straight up but the rewarding views are to die for.

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We were the first to the summit but were joined by probably 20 hikers before we left.IMG_7265

We did take the high alternate route on our way down to rejoin the trail at Djupfjordheia on the way down.

Selfjord Bay to Horseid Beach

Road to Selfjord Bay Trailhead

Road to Selfjord Bay Trailhead

The Great Crossing recommends Selfjord Bay over to a ferry boat on Kjerkfjorden but we opted for a two day trek over to Horseid Beach with a night at the beach and one on the saddle near the pass. IMG_6953We did some scouting of the area and determined that the more popular  Kvalvika Beach was a bit too popular so we opted for the more remote Horseid Beach which after comparing with others determined that we made the right choice. This multi-day trek over to Horseid was a highlight of the entire trip.

The climb up to the pass took us around the bay and past Fageravatnet lake.

Looking back on Fageravatnet lake

Looking back on Fageravatnet lake

The trail had about everything with plenty of wet bogs to navigate. The route over the pass between Kråkhammar and Markan was just gorgeous.

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Pass next to Kråkhammar

We planned to camp on the saddle just before the pass on our return.

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The Saddle

The hike from the pass to Horseid was a bit wet but then you reach the sands of the extended beach.

Plenty of campsites but we chose one right above the ocean rocks since the weather did not appear to be a risk.

The location was awesome and I even got a glimpse of the midnight sun when I woke myself up around midnight.

The next morning I spent a couple of hours just wandering along the rocks near the ocean taking in the magical beauty of this special place.

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Horseid Beach

Here is a video that I try to capture the moment with.

We hung around for awhile the next day before we had to climb back up to the pass.

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Cloud in the Bay

When we got to the saddle we could see that we had clear skies while the other side of the mountain toward Selfjord Bay was engulfed in a cloud.

The cloud was gone for our hike out the next morning but we still had plenty of wet and challenging trail to deal with.

Now on to Sørvågen where we headed up to the Munkebu Summit trail.

Vikjorda/Lake Store Krenggårsvatnet

Jakob needed more time to rest his foot so I set out to complete the Great Crossing segments 4-5 which is Vikjorda connecting with Lake Store Krenggårsvatnet and on to Leknes. VikjordvatnetThis was a 2 day trek which I was giving myself 3 days before meeting Jakob in Leknes. The trail starts our at Rebecca’s Cafe on highway 815 which unfortunately does not appear to be in operation any longer. The early kilometers presented a gentle climb around a lake before you are presented with the task to reach the ridge above, however, there is no trail so you choose your own route.

This was not difficult which is probably why no trail has evolved, however, a GPX route was important.

Once up on the ridge you rediscover a trail and work your way toward the peak of Dalstuva which is 534 m. I was prepared to crossover, however the peak was in a cloud so I opted to setup camp before the ascent. There were not many flat spots to setup a tent but the ground cover was a lush mossy bed which made for a really comfortable bed. All was good, the weather was not great but no rain.

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These guys were wondering why I was there

I could hear the sheep bells in the distance but the next morning about 15 of them were perched on a ridge nearby wondering what the heck I was doing on their mountain.

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Looking back as I Climbed Dalstuva

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Trail up Dalstuva Looked Good for a While

The morning brought clearing of the cloud over Dalstuva so I headed up the peak. I was close to the top at about 10:00 am when the clouds came back and I found myself in a bit of a whiteout.

The trail was narrow and rather dangerous so I really could not proceed without visibility especially with an even steeper descent. So here I am about 50 m from the summit and I am stuck waiting for the cloud to clear. And it never did, so after a few hours of hoping and hopping up and down to stay warm I decided to be smart and just turn around.

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Returning to Highway 815

This meant I would have to hitch hike to somewhere but it was better to be safe then sorry.

Haugen to Svolvær

After doing Matmora Jakob realized that something was wrong with his foot/heel. There should not have been a problem, his boots were fine and he did not remember a misstep. But he needed to figure out what was wrong so we got a cabin at the Sandsletta campground. Jakob decided to go into Svolvær the next day and I would take on the Haugen to Svolvær segment which is basically a crossing of the the island of Austvågøya. I took Jakob’s Garmin which could provide me a GPX route, so I felt confident that I could handle this segment. The actual trailhead is located down a dirt road past some farm houses, but I was having trouble with the Garmin. Finally a farmer across his field figured out that I was lost and waved me over to the other side of his farm. He said just walk through his farm. Actually he had a border collie who was extremely friendly so it was a nice mistake having to cross through this farm.

Once I got on the trail I was feeling good. A lot of the initial climb required navigating through wet bogs and plenty of mud. You hate to get your dry boots wet but once you do it doesn’t matter if they get wetter. Once I got to the first lake, I got a bit confused as to which side of the lake I was suppose to take. Actually the Garmin was giving me a lot of trouble and we later figured out that it really did have issues. So I did head up the wrong side only to finally determine that I was not on the correct trail so I think I wasted a few km and probably 70 meters. I think it was the Norwegian Mobile App “OUTTT” that finally showed me where I was at and suppose to be.

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I think this is when I started to question just what I had gotten myself into. I always backpack alone so there was no reason to be concerned except I was starting to realize that I did not have all of my typical data support plus I was on some island out in the North Atlantic. As I approached the second lake, know as Ice Lake, it was apparent why. This area had the most snow that I would experience the entire trip. Helpfully a day hiker had come from the other direction so I was able to track his footprints.

Heading Down to Svolvær

Heading Down to Svolvær

Nothing tough about getting through the snow, but the descent into Svolvær was not so easy.

I had just taken this selfie before the final descent. The trail was just OK going down and I was probably going a bit to fast when my left foot did not hit trail and I went into a double roll down the mountain. The small birch trees cushioned my fall.

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Nina & Erik

Whoa, I was surprised that nothing was hurt other than the backs of my hands were all gashed up and bleeding profusely and I snapped a trekking pole in half. I was a bit shaken trying to figure out how to deal with all of the blood when a couple of Norwegian hikers happened by. Nina & Erik helped me bandage my hands and allowed me to finish the descent with them.

 

 

Matmora Summit – Lofoten Islands

Our first segment or day corresponded to the Great Crossing’s first day which was to cross over Matmora Mountain from Delp to Sandsletta. We did have to add a few km due to hiking to the Delp Trailhead from Laukvika but the trail was well marked and my Lofoten Adventure had begun. I quickly realized that the trail tended toward difficult since it essentially went straight up, no concept of switchbacks in Norway. Soon we were greeted by the local free range sheep who had deposited many poop landmines along the trail.

The trail started out in a steep climb up to about 400 m where the first summit flattened out with fantastic views to the South, West and North.

A large cairn marked this first plateau where we signed the log book. The trail then stretched out over ridges and shoulders before the final accent to Matmora.

At the summit we got our first 360 view out over Austvågøya Island. Overall the weather was excellent but we did need to pull out our backpack covers for a short rain storm.

The trail down was steep but dependable and the lower areas were drier then we expected.

The hike to Sandsletta was not bad at all.

Backpacking the Lofoten Islands

I can’t believe I did it. Many years ago I saw photos of this amazingly beautiful place called the Lofoten Islands in Norway. I then found a website that talked more to the backpacking opportunities. Then an opportunity arose to join a group that was to backpack the Long Crossing of Lofoten, but that fell apart. However, out of the process I did hook up with another senior backpacker from Switzerland who was interested in taking on this Long Crossing so the commitment was made. My earlier post Outside My Comfort Zone detailed some of the hopes and fears I had leading up to the actual adventure. In this post I will give an overview of the entire journey and then add specific trip reports for the various 1-2 day treks that comprised the overall adventure.

My Deuter Backpack

My Luggage

The adventure really began when travel commenced. In fact, I was probably most concerned about the travel. The three flights from Portland, OR to Oslo, Norway did not go as I would have hoped. My glitch occurred when my backpack did not make the connection in London to Oslo. In Oslo after diagnosing the problem I felt good about my backpack catching up to me that evening so that I would be fine for my flight the next morning to Bodø and then on to the Lofoten’s via ferry. That assumption was based on how lost baggage is handled in the US, but this was Saturday night in Oslo and nobody was actually concerned about my lost bag. So on Sunday morning when I realized that the process was not going to deliver me my backpack in time for my flight, I decided to find my backpack myself. I believed that my pack was on a late flight from London but no confirmation had been issued. The airport started waking up around 6:00 am but nobody could let me into the International baggage claim area until 8:00. My flight was at 9:30. Once I finally was able to speak with a baggage claim representative I was running out of time and they were not motivated to help, instead it was easier for them to assure me that my bag would be sent to me. Of course that was not going to work for my wilderness address on the Lofoten Islands.

Lofotens from my Ferry

So I resorted to serious begging and was finally able to motivate a handler to go search for my backpack. Thankfully, they did find my pack and I was just able to make my flight to Bodø and then catch the ferry to Svolvær. A lot of stress, but all part of the adventure.

I met up with my new backpacking partner, Jakob, Sunday night June 30th and we set forth our plans to hitch hike to the beginning trailhead at Delp. Hitchhiking didn’t really work, but we met a kayaking group who were headed in the right direction. We then got lucky where they let us off by catching a ride from a Swiss freelance writer who was working his way through the islands.

View Waking Up in Laudvika

However, the weather was not cooperating so we decide to rent a cabin in the town of Laukvika and start the trek on Tuesday. We were basically trying to follow the stages laid out in what was referred to as the Great Crossing of Lofoten.

Matmora Summit Trip Report

Stage 1 was a hike from the hamlet of Delp to the hamlet of Sandsletta over Matmora mountain.  This would be about 15 km and 1000 m vertical with the high point at 766 m (2546′). The trail was rated medium/difficult. The day’s trek was great, some rain and some sun and amazing views. This trek helped to define what hiking would be like in the Lofotens. Difficult typically meant more difficult than a trail in the US. And if the listing was medium/difficult then it meant half of the trail was difficult.

View from Matmora Summit

It was difficult because the trails are laid out for the shortest path, as in, straight up a mountain, the concept of trail switchbacks does not exist. Unfortunately Jakob developed a problem with his foot on this first day and the injury would influence his participation throughout the rest of the Crossing. After spending a night in Sandsletta Jakob decided to seek medical advice in Svolvær and I set out to conquer stage 2 by myself.

Leaving Sandsletta with Matmora Behind

Haugen to Svolvær Trip Report

Stage 2 Haugen to Svolvær takes you from one side of the island of Austvågøya to the other over a snowy mountain pass. I was not concerned about taking on this segment alone, however, I did borrow, Jakob’s Garmin which could utilize a GPX file. Unfortunately his Garmin was starting to whack out which did cause me trail confusion. The weather was good and the trail was decent but the scenery was stunning which totally motivated my tiring body.

Navigating by Ice Lake over to Svolvær

Hiking in the Lofoten’s is a lot about avoiding muddy wet trail sections which probably contributed to what could have been a very serious tumble that I took on my descent into Svolvær. A misstep caused me to take a couple of somersaults ending up without anything broken except my trekking pole. The backs of my hands were scraped and bleeding, but a couple of Norwegian hikers, Nina & Erik, happened by to help me compose and bandage myself. Now I was a bit more concerned about my ability to backpack in the Lofotens, plus I was hitting that second day exhaustion. Thank God, Jakob decided to rent a car and was able to pick me up at the end of the trail. We regrouped in Svolvaer to plan out the next few segments. Jakob needed a few more days to rest his foot so I decided to head out on my own again.

Vikjorda/Lake Store Krenggårsvatnet Trip Report

Campsite near Storvatnet

We decided I should skip segment 3 which entailed way too much road hiking so Jakob drove me to the start of Segment 4 Vikjorda which would connect with Lake Store Krenggarsvatnet and on to Leknes. This segment was referred to as a mountain crossing connecting with a more tame segment 5. I was planning on taking 3 days to complete these 2 segments so I felt good about the progress I made on the first day. However, this was a strange trail because it stated that there was no trail to get you to a ridge and that was accurate. It was critical to have a GPX route to follow. I found a good campsite which would set me up to go over the mountains the next day since the clouds were not going to allow that on this day. All seemed good the next morning when the clouds lifted but that changed quickly as I neared the peak of Dalstuva. I was only a 50 m from the first highpoint but a cloud was totally blinding me.

Too Dangerous to Continue

Combining poor visibility with a very narrow ridge to navigate, not to mention a steep descent on the back side I succumbed to fear and wisdom and decided to turn around. I ended up back on the lightly used highway 815 hoping to hitch a ride to Leknes. I finally got a hitch after walking about 6 km and was eventually able to meet up with Jakob in Leknes on that Friday afternoon.

On the Trail to Justadtinden near Leknes

Jakob was feeling up for an easy hike out of Leknes so we headed to Justadtinden for an overnight. We did not intend to go all the way to the summit so this simple trek worked out well with a great view and time to come out before rain was due on the next day. As the weather deteriorated the next day we did our reconnaissance work to plan for our next 2 day segment. We did explore the trail options around Nusfjord but were not impressed with what we found or were told about. However, we did manage to give a number or rides to very grateful backpackers on that rainy day.

Selfjord Bay to Horseid Beach Trip Report

We decided to spend the night in Remsberg and then modify Segment 9 by going from Selfjord Bay to the Lofoten’s most remote Horseid Beach and then return. We were entering our second week and the weather forecast was finally cooperating. We had also totally abandoned the idea of completing the Great Crossing at least as it was laid out. Instead we used it as a guide to hit the most impressive hiking areas of the Lofoten’s typically by choosing 2-3 day routes and this next trek was definitely a highlight.

We got an early start with the goal to go from Selfjord Bay over to Horseid Beach for the night. The climb over the pass was tough but the beach reward was worth it. We ended up camping on an ocean overlook with an opportunity to view the midnight sun. The location was magical and my hours of private time on the rocks the next morning totally validated why I wanted to explore the Lofoten Islands. We spent the second night on the mountain saddle before descending back down to Selfjord Bay.

To the Summit of Munkebu Trip Report

Coming out on the third day allowed us time to drive to our next trek which was to be summiting Munkebu which offered one of the most spectacular 360 views of the islands. We ventured down to Sørvågen where we headed up to the Munkebu Summit trail. We decided to camp at about 250 m and then summit the peak the following day with day packs. This worked out well for the 766 m (2510′) summit on this popular trail which did not disappoint us.

Greg & Jakob on Munkebu

The view was fantastic. We had some chats with other hikers on top and I believe this was the first place that I ran into others from the US. We hiked back down to our campsite for a relaxing evening.

Andstabben Above Lake Ågvatnet Trip Report

After hiking out the next day we ventured down to Å to take on the Andstabben hike. Unfortunately we did not have a GPX file for this hike and we never did find the trail up and over the mountain so we settled on camping above Lake Ågvatnet.

Lake Ågvatnet

The following day we relaxed in the village of Å by renting a cabin and having a great meal at Maren Anna.

Village of Å

This brought a close to our Great Crossing of Lofoten. I took the Moskenes Ferry to Bodø where I wanted to do some backpacking but the weather did not cooperate. There were definitely some excellent backpacking options on the coast north of Bodø where I was able to do some hiking on my last day before catching my flight to Oslo. However, I did squeeze in a day of golf above the arctic circle at Bodø Golf Park. I then spent 3 days visiting Oslo where I totally enjoyed that energetic city.

Cape Lookout

I have hiked the Cape Lookout Trail many times so I suppose it is time to actually do a trip report.

Cape Lookout Trailhead

I was in Neskowin and had a free day to hike and I am so glad I opted for a return to one of my favorite hikes, Cape Lookout. You may notice the Cougar warning at the trailhead. Yes Cougars have become a problem along the Oregon coast but I would not be overly concerned about a cougar encounter on this trail. However, this does tend to spook tourists not familiar with Oregon hiking.

 

Here is the trip report as I recorded it with Natural Atlas.

 

This is a very popular coastal hike that epitomizes the beautiful Oregon Coast. The sign says this is a 4.7 round trip but it is really a 5.2 mile out and back with enough vertical to make the hike back a bit challenging. The other trail issue can be a muddy root slippery trail that will get your pretty shoes dirty and requires attention not to slip and fall.

One of your first great views South of Sand Beach and Cape Kiwanda

Otherwise the trail condition is as good as it gets on the coast. A beautiful thoroughfare with breath taking views up and down the Oregon Coast.

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Early on in the hike if you as you are walking along the south side you may spot a plaque on the north side of the trail that serves as a memorial to the crew of a WWII plane that crashed into the side of Cape Lookout.

The trail does have a few spots that will challenge those afraid of heights and you definitely want to keep you dogs on a leash so they don’t chase a chipmunk over a cliff. I completed this hike on May 30, 2019 but I below are a few photos from previous hikes to show what you might see.

After the hike the Pelican Pub is a great way to finish the day.

BayOcean Spit

I finally backpacked the Bayocean Spit that is known as “the town that fell into the sea“. After researching the history of Bayocean I was amazed that I camped in solitude on ground that once hosted a significant resort community in the early 1900s.BeachGrassBayocean is a small stretch of land that forms one wall of Tillamook Bay which I have neglected for many years as a backpacking option. The Bayocean trailhead offers a large parking lot which mostly accommodates day hikers. What I found was one of the most beautiful coastal backpacking option available on the Central Coast. TrailSign

The name defines the the route either on the bay side or the ocean side. I started out on the ocean side mostly by accident but had no issues with the ease on walking on the wet sand. As CampsiteMapI checked the map I realized that trails were coming off the bayside trail and I was not sure if these trails connected to the ocean or ended up on the various hilltops. However, I did find that the trails connected and were very well marked. I decided to hike to the furthest trail cutover and look for a good campsite. Hiking in the bayside tide was low but beautiful. LowBayWhat I found at my destination was an awesome sand dune beach with many great campsite options. This was ridiculously nice. The weather was perfect and I was the only person here on a little slice of land surrounded by many coastal communities.

TentBrookI setup camp and Brook and I settled in for a beautiful evening waiting for a possible sunset. Brook had plenty of fun chasing sticks and digging in the sand.BrookDune

This video captures some of the experience showing Cape Mears in the distance.

Sunset was not going to be great due to the distant offshore cloud bank, but it was still pretty amazing.Campsite

Temperature got down to 45 making for a great night for sleep. Brook slept out in the grass and looked wet and sandy in the morning. FreshWaterWe took our time hiking out. I checked out the other trails knowing that I will definitely backpack this spit again. I even found some fresh water which would probably only be available in Spring or Fall. Each time I ventured back out to the beach I had to snap more beach photos.

Beach

The tide was up on my hike out which made for beautiful bay side photos.

Scotch Broom dominates the fauna of the start of the spit but it probably provides good soil stability and it is rather attractive.BirdOnScotchBroom

The overall loop is 7 plus miles long and for not having much vertical I still got a really good workout.

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