Category Archives: Norway

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.

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