Blog


The Day After

46 days - nearly 7 weeks on E1. From Nordkapp to Skorovatn. Halfway across Scandinavia. 1500 kilometers, 3 countries and lots and lots of experiences. Mostly great ones, but obviously some not so great ones as well. 


While the first two days, with the combination of sea and mountains, are scenery wise a spectacle par excellence (especially with the midnight sun) the following week gets pretty flat and monotonous, not to say boring. Together with the mosquitoes, I'm not enjoying the stretch from Olderfjord to Kautekeino that much. In fact, I get somewhat dubious about the sense of my hike. Why am I going through all this trouble? As a result, I do long, hard days to get over with it quickly. Luckily the beautiful weather is somewhat keeping my hiking spirit up. 

Once past Kautokeino, together with the change of landscape, my attitude changes as well. I start to enjoy the hike and appreciate the scenery.

With rockier, more undulating terrain going gets harder, or maybe I should say more interesting. Every day is different from the other. The landscape, the country, the people. The cool, funny but taciturn Finns, the welcoming, relaxed Swedes the polite but slightly distant Norwegians. However, many days are passing by without seeing any soul at all. 

After crossing the challenging, rocky Caihnavaggi Pass, I get slightly overwhelmed by the feeling of remoteness. 300 kilometers without much civilization and possibilities to bail out of the trail in between should anything happen. A feeling that flares up when I cross sketchy bridges and am close to hypothermia while walking through an early autumn storm. Just me and my backpack. 

These experiences make me enjoy the pleasant moments of the trail even more. Be it the lovely stroll through Padjelanta National Park in beautiful weather or my two off trail days in Naurstad.

These two days make me realize how much I miss the coastline, the sea, which I haven't seen for weeks. 

The trail continues Inland though . While going gets generally easier, I feel like idling, like being stuck. Not a nice feeling that luckily vanishes once south of the polar circle. Before I realize it, I pass Umbukta and approach Bjorgefell National Park. The last big challenge - or so I thought.

It's also during these last few days, when I have the privilege to enjoy Norwegian hospitality, which boosts my trail experience even more - actually it is these experiences that are making trail life so special - adding a lot it to my addiction to this lifestyle. 


I never set a point I aim for or a distance I want to walk for this section. Yet, I have to admit, the region between Royrvik and Skorovatn struck me as a good place to finish section one already during my planning. I've had it in my mind for quite a while during the last few days. 

The next 250 kilometer stretch from Skorovatn to Meraker, again unmarked, will be interesting not to say challenging again. In combination with the unfavorable weather forecast I decide that Skorovatn is a good place to finish indeed. And a good place to start next again next summer - with a clear goal: reaching the terminal of the ferry taking me from Sweden to Denmark. Wherever exactly that might be. My planning isn't that advanced just yet. 

Hopefully, the corona panic will have eased until then, making traveling a bit easier. Even though I think I haven't broken any rules regarding quarantine restrictions, the uncertainty about border opening and closing was another unnecessary thing to deal with and it's not something I feel like discussing here too much. 


So better let me focus on the "now". I walked quicker than I thought. Much quicker. 

This leaves me another 3 weeks to explore spectacular Norway. Unlike after Te Araroa, I am not feeling an emptiness. In fact I can't wait start exploring. Especially, when hearing that you need wear face masks in public transport and in shops, I'm in no hurry at all to return home (at the moment I have no plan on how to get home anyway. Plane, train, bus? I will see.) 

As a landlocked Swiss mountain boy, I want to explore the sea. To be more specific: the coast between Bodo and Trondheim. An area that was recommended to me by several people I met on the way. 

Being away from civilization most of the time, I never really had the possibility to plan my remaining days in Scandinavia. 

That's why, after doing my first laundry in three weeks and having my first shower in two weeks, I decide to have a planning retreat. 

And more or less by chance, I find this spectacular place, where I am currently writing these lines, called Granneset. A restored farmhouse from around 1850. Not too far away from E1 in fact. Maintained by Statskog, available to use for free by everyone. Absolutely amazing. Exactly the place was looking for. How long I am going to stay? I don't know. 2 nights, maybe more. Doesn't matter. It's perfect for planning, relaxing and just being sheltered from the rain and wind. Things that were scarce on E1. 



My retreat
My retreat
Master bedroom
Master bedroom
In-room stove
In-room stove
Entry hall with an open fire place
Entry hall with an open fire place
Kitchen and dining
Kitchen and dining
What a great place
What a great place
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Day 46: Section One Complete

Hovden to Skorovatn

Distance: 42km


A wet, rainy night, a lazy start into the day. With the weather forecast not too promising, I decide to take the easy way and follow the road instead of navigating on unmarked trails again.


With this decision made, it's clear I would reach Skorovatn tonight and with the terrible weather for the coming days, it's also clear that Skorovatn will be the endpoint of section one of E1. Roughly half way through Scandinavia and roughly where I was hoping to finish this year.


However, I am not there just yet. A road marathon is still waiting for me.

After getting completely soaked after two hours, I am thankful for the sun warming me up during mid day. 

I feel good as I am thinking of the past great 7 weeks I had on the trail.

It's along backroads. Very quiet. Very pleasant to walk. As I approach Skorovatn, I'm feeling a bit sentimental. Sad it's over but also slightly relieved. Especially, because I know I will be here in 9 months time, continue my hike. Fit and motivated to tackle the next challenging section. Of course with Corona, work and my health permitting.


Weather is deteriorating quickly. With the store in Skorovatn closed (I'm 45 minutes too late...) there's no ice cream, no trumpet to celebrate. So, after taking some mandatory end-of-section-photos, I find a sheltered spot behind the church to pitch my tent. Right after attaching the rain fly to the last peg, rain starts. 

So I celebrate my last evening with some crumbled cookies and a sip of Norwegian river water with a big smile on my face. 


Happy to see the sun
Happy to see the sun
Nice views once more
Nice views once more
Happy-last-trail-day-face
Happy-last-trail-day-face
Approaching Skorovatn. The mountains in the background have to wait until 2021
Approaching Skorovatn. The mountains in the background have to wait until 2021
Skorovatn!
Skorovatn!
No ice cream tonight :(
No ice cream tonight :(
I'll see you again, Mr Bear!
I'll see you again, Mr Bear!
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Day 45: Wet, Wet, Wet

Storelva to Hovden

Distance: 30km


Yesterday evening has been another one to remember with great, interesting food (fermented fish, moose heart and a sausage with something in it they wouldn't tell) and nice talks.


While in the begging of my hike, back in Finnmark, it seemed like this long-distance hike would be mostly about scenery, rather than cultur and social interaction (which made Te Araroa so special to me). Nothing bad, just pure hiking.

This has changed, especially since Umbukta, when the Norwegians caused me all these great trails moments. Be it the lake side cabin in Umbukta, the coffee and biscuits on a farm or now this wonderful experience.


It's raining when I pack my tent. Second day in a row. Still, I can't complain about the weather. While initially along a trail, I soon go off trail, using my map to navigate around Namsvatnet and later Storgollomsvatnet. Like for the previous section to Storelva, the official trail notes are a big help. Without them I'd be somewhat screwed. I read them carefully and plotted a rough route. A route, which takes me through the swamps, even though I have to backtrack a few times as I get stuck in the forest or rocky terrain. You can find the route I walked in my 'follow me' map. Most probably there are better routes but it took me to the other side of the lake in 7 hours.

7 mentally challenging hours, requiring a lot of capacity for navigation. I am relieved once I can follow a road all the way to Royrvik, where I camp on an island right before entering the town.


A tough but rewarding day. Happy I made it through Bjorgefell, which was not as challenging as expected. After hiking all the way from Nordkapp, there wasn't anything completely new. Terrain is neither steep nor rocky. All river crossings fairly straight forward. Instead of poorly marked trails further in the north, there are no markings at all in Borgefjell. Maybe that's even an advantage as you are not constantly looking for markers. 

That said, it's no section for beginners at all. Navigational skills as well as the ability to deal with bush bashing and constantly wet feet are essential. 


Bridge from nowhere to nowhere
Bridge from nowhere to nowhere
Lots and lots of wetlands
Lots and lots of wetlands
A last look back to Namsvatnet with Storelva clearly visible in the background
A last look back to Namsvatnet with Storelva clearly visible in the background
Hard work at times
Hard work at times
A typical view today
A typical view today
Done for the day
Done for the day
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Day 44: Hang Over In Storelva

I've pitched my tent for quite some time, when the first two members of the fishing group arrived. Wonderful people. Working colleagues on a fishing trip into the wild. Pretty much the first thing they did: frying a fish for me! They than took me for a ride on the lake. My first ever fishing experience. Dispite not catching any fish, I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular scenery. 

During a great evening around a warming fire, they were spoiling me with slow cooked lamb, more fish and potatoes - in firm of liquor. Strong stuff! In fact so strong, I hardly made it back into my tent, which is 15 meters away from the fireplace.

Already then I knew: I won't make it far tomorrow. 


And that's exactly what happens today: Zero walking. I'm in no hurry so why not enjoy such a beautiful place and atmosphere for another day? Especially after checking the not very promising weather forecast. 


I fall asleep in and once I wake up and make it out of my tent I soon get offered fresh fish, potatoes and bacon for breakfast. 

Wow, Norwegian hospitality at its finest!

The remaining day I spend mostly around the fire. Not doing a lot. Just enjoying the scenery and not walking through wetlands. 

With my lazy day and all the good food, I should be fit enough for the 20 kilometers bash through wetlands and scrubs. Let's just hope the weather is not as harsh to me as predicted. 


Dinner in the making
Dinner in the making
Out on Namsvatnet
Out on Namsvatnet
My first ever fishing experience
My first ever fishing experience
"Cash"
"Cash"
Aqua Vit
Aqua Vit
Better to stay put
Better to stay put
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Day 43: Bye Bye Nice Weather

Raentserenmejkie to Storelva

Distance: 25km


Not much wind but rain overnight. Persistent rain. Also by the time I'm ready to leave. For the first time since Nordkapp, I have to leave my camp in rain. Incredible, how lucky I have been weather wise. 

Everything takes a wee bit longer, as I pack my backpack inside my tent. A bit cramped but doable.


My walking day, another one without any trail nor markings, starts with following a reindeer fence. These fences, while making it easy to navigate, really spoil the scenery. Eventually, I leave the fence and cross a snowfield while climbing over a pass followed by long descent to Namsvatnet. Terrain is never steep and once over the pass easy to navigate, as I am following the true right of Virmaelva. Sometimes closer to the river, sometimes a bit further away. Continously trying to find the easiest way, which is, once the vegetation gets denser and denser, through wetlands. Rain is easing as I approach Namsvatnet. Finally.

After fixing my sandals twice within 15 minutes (they start annoying me...) I approach Viermahytta. A tiny hut. It looks full, even though no one is inside. I enter the hut anyway. If it's just to escape from the cold weather for a few moments. It's 14:00 and as I am in the hut. Rain starts again. That's the sign to call it a day. I will spend the night in the tent outside. Not as comfy but still beats a cramped, probably reserved hut.


For tomorrow: I'm not sure yet, if I should walk out to the road (20 kilometers through wetlands) or take a boat, which I'd have to order. Weather is crap again tomorrow, however the boat is,  if I am able to reach the ferry man. 

My route leads me straight over that snow field
My route leads me straight over that snow field
Shallow descent towards Namsvatnet
Shallow descent towards Namsvatnet
Approaching Namsvatnet
Approaching Namsvatnet
40.0 kilometers walked in a bit more than a day
40.0 kilometers walked in a bit more than a day
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Day 42: Borgefjell It Is

400m above Grannes to Raentserenmejkie

Distance: 40km


Yannick, the German hiker didn't make it out of the valley. But I had the wind knocking on my tent. First gently then uncomfortably firm. The result: a terrible night sleeping. The brisk southerly breeze is bothering me nearly all the way to Harvasstua, ruining an otherwise sunny morning. In fact, the gusts are so strong, it feels like walking into a wall. Yet, there is a highlight as well this morning. My fanciest river/lake crossing ever. You have to check out the photos below. 

Once in Harvasstua, I have two options: turn right into Borgefjell and follow the official route or turn left and take the easy option via Sweden. You might think, of course turn right but until the very last second I was planning with the easy Sweden option. I can't say what made me change my mind so spontaneously. 

With this decision made, I head into Borgefjell. No trail, no markings. Nothing. Nada. I feel slightly uneasy in the beginning, finding my way through scrubs and wetlands. Luckily, the sun makes navigation easy. All I have to do is walking right into it. The 'official' trail notes suggest a much more northerly route, leading past a hut. I opt for a direct route, saving me roughly 12 kilometers. 

Eventually I am above the tree line, where going gets easier. The wind is back though. With full force. 17:00h: No way to pitch my tent. It would get torn up instantly. So I continue. 18:00h: Wind is easing but still too strong. I've been walking for over 12 hours and my legs are screaming for rest. It's flat up here, at 1000 meters, no sheltered place. I pass a collapsed rock bivy. No use. For a thru-hiker, it's not uncommon situation. There's no other way to continue if there isn't a possibility to pitch the tent. So it's wise to have some reserves. 19:00h: I get uneasy for the second time today. My body, after 13 hours intense hiking, starts quitting.

The first best place I see needs to be good enough. 30 minutes later my tent is somewhat errected - on uneven terrain it's not easy. Especially, if you are tired and all you want is to eat your pasta and crawl into your sleeping bag. 

Luckily, the wind is continuing to ease. Still, as I am writing this, the odd gust is still rocking my shelter. Fingers crossed for not much wind and rain. 


Dark skies ahead
Dark skies ahead
Crossing Bliehrehke and Daningen in Norwegian style
Crossing Bliehrehke and Daningen in Norwegian style
Captain Koster
Captain Koster
Navigated the waters safely
Navigated the waters safely
Looking back at Daningen
Looking back at Daningen
Bjorgefell National Park
Bjorgefell National Park
No trail no markings
No trail no markings
No good for spending the night
No good for spending the night
Last flare up of the sun
Last flare up of the sun
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Day 41: Happy Trail Day

Krutvasshytta to 400m above Grannes

Distance: 40km


With the stove still warm from yesterday, getting up and ready goes reasonably comfortably.

After taking it easy the other day, I hit the trail early and a over boardwalks I head towards a burning morning sky.


Perfect weather and perfect trails make for a perfect day, which becomes even better when I get invited for coffee and sweet treats by a local woman and her hubby. On the veranda we have some great talks. A German hiker, who I met earlier and who just started his first thru-hike from Umbukta to Bremen, passes by. He gets invited as well but declines the offer as he seems to be in a hurry. More sweeties for me :) 

With my tummy and mobile phone battery full, I say goodbye to the lovely couple. 

I fly along the great trails and soon catch up with the German, who is having a break. He feels stupid for declining the offer for coffee. 

I know exactly how he feels. I used to be the same in the very beginning of my thru-hike career: so focused on the hike that I forgot everything else around me. Like with everything you do for the first time.

Now, as a well seasoned thru-hiker, I have become different. I can savor these moments on the trail, enjoy the trail magic.

I leave the young German behind and continue my pace. We have roughly the same goal for today. Seeing him there, looking exhausted, I somehow doubt I will see him again. 

A last steep descent followed by a last even steeper climb (which, after hiking for nearly 40 kilometers is tough work, requiring a last big effort) bring me to my camping spot, high above Grannes. What a lovely day it has been. Thru-hiking at its best! 

Walking into a burning morning sky
Walking into a burning morning sky
Brundreinbekken
Brundreinbekken
Brundreinklumpen in the left
Brundreinklumpen in the left
Amazing trail
Amazing trail
Having fun
Having fun
Curious reindeer
Curious reindeer
Mosvatnet
Mosvatnet
River crossing
River crossing
One last selfie
One last selfie
Descending to Tverrelvnes...
Descending to Tverrelvnes...
... where...
... where...
... I enjoy coffee and biscuits
... I enjoy coffee and biscuits
Cheating on my beloved Cloud Berries
Cheating on my beloved Cloud Berries
Great bridges
Great bridges
Looking back at Unkervatnet
Looking back at Unkervatnet
Another camp spot with a view
Another camp spot with a view
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Day 40: Trail Chatter

Aksla to Krutvasshytta

Distance: 25km


Weather: great. Trail: good. This basically sums up my day. 


But there are some things to add. After yesterday's long day, I'm suffering somewhat today. Everything feels stiff and I never get into the hiking mood. I rather pick Cloud Berries, which are everywhere. 

It's only 15:00h, when I decide to call it a day, spending the remaining afternoon in a lovely seaside hut. My first Norwegian hut, where it's completely legal to sleep. No need to worry getting kicked out in the middle of the night. 

I have a quick, well needed wash in the lake. It's warm. No mosquitoes. I'm enjoying the view while I get dry. 

Even though it's wonderful outside, I head back inside. I guess if you spend most of my time outside hiking, you appreciate my time under a roof as well. 

With a fire going, it's getting comfy quickly. 


Oh yeah, the title... About half way into my (short) day I meet three cool guys from South Norway on their way to Nordkapp. We have a nice talk, exchanging experiences. Also the phone I found comes up. The three hikers are following "Team Ida" on Instagram. Two girls, both named Ida, hiking to Nordkapp, too. Apparently they posted that one of them needs a new phone as it got lost. It's the same girl that, according to the guy in Umbukta, needed new shoes. Bingo! Happy I found the phone and hopefully they get it working again. Anyway: this example shows, the "trail world" is small. It's like a small family of similarly crazy people. And it's something I love about long distance hiking. 

Ol Andersontjonna
Ol Andersontjonna
And once more...
And once more...
A look back
A look back
Relaxing at Krutvatnet
Relaxing at Krutvatnet
Fiskttjonna Hut
Fiskttjonna Hut
Lovely Hut
Lovely Hut
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Day 39: Back To Normal

Grasfellkoia to Aksla

Distance: 35km 


With the first sun rays I start into my hiking day. It's six o'clock - in the morning...

This time definitely suits me better. Even though I have to admit: walking into sunset has been spectacular. 


Despite the early morning sun rays, it's a cloudy morning as I am on my way to Gresvatnet. Still, the views of the glacier covered mountains ahead of me are impressive. Less impressive is the trail along Gresvatnet. For roughly 2 kilometers it's tough going along a muddy, steep and partly washed out trail. Feels like Te Araroa all over again, when I have to hold on grass and branches. At least there are Cloud Berries again that keep my hiking spirit up.

Going gets more pleasant again. It is still very wet underfeet as I cross never ending wetlands. However, it's not as annoying as it might seem. A bit like beach walking (at least I'm imaging it this way): needs a bit more effort but it's actually quite straightforward hiking. 


After yesterday's long waiting times, I feel like I have to catch up. My body is feeling fit today, allowing me to push it a bit, making use of the weather (which is improving during the day). If the forecast is accurate, I've got three more days (not including today) before a bad weather period settles in.


After walking across some farm land, the first one I encounter on E1, a last steep climb takes me to small flat. Looking at the map, it seems like a good place to camp as I soon will head into wetlands once more.

Morning views
Morning views
Mountain views
Mountain views
Another charming accommodation
Another charming accommodation
Hiking with a view
Hiking with a view
Starting today's last climb
Starting today's last climb
Getting higher
Getting higher
Made it!
Made it!
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Day 38: An Involuntary Quickie

Umbukta to Grasfellkoia

Distance: 10km


My hiking day starts shortly past five. Not morning but late afternoon...


While the trail is quite nice to walk, it's a continuous up and down. Quite steep at times. As a result, despite the short day, I feel rather exhausted when I reach the hut 15 minutes after sunset. However, it's not only the hike that was tiring. The whole day was somewhat exhausting.


It starts at 08:00h. After a filling breakfast in the restaurant's kitchen a say goodbye to my lovely trail angel and head to the road, trying my luck to hitch a ride to Mo I Rana. Well, after a 4 hour wait I get lucky and get a ride to a shop in the outskirts of Mo. As it's Sunday, most parts of the shop are off limits, yet I get everything I need.

On the parking lot, I rearrange all the stuff, getting rid of all the packaging. People passing by usually watching me closely what I am doing.

30 minutes later, I try my luck again. This time the opposite way. Many cars are passing by, none stops for the first three hours. The cars are all shiny and new. The sort of cars that usually never stop. It's usually the older cars that stop. The older the higher the chances of getting a ride.

And one of these old cars finally gives me a ride. Not far but at least out of town. Surrounded by pine trees, I start waiting again. Slowly but surely I get restless. My hope of making it back to Umbukta are vanishing.

Then an old, battered car pulls over. A couple asks me where I am headed. Even though they go the other way, they drive me 20 kilometers to Umbukta. What a great experience. They saved my day.

Once I get off the car, I turn on my tracker and start hiking immediately. No time to waste the remainder daylight. 

Organized chaos
Organized chaos
Keeping up traditions
Keeping up traditions
Finally on the trail again
Finally on the trail again
Spectacular views of Storakersvatnet
Spectacular views of Storakersvatnet
Stunning sunset
Stunning sunset
A view to remember
A view to remember
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Day 37: Umbukta Express

Kvepsendal to Umbukta

Distance: 35km


With hiking to Umbukta and resupply in Mo I Rana I have an ambitious goal today. So I start with first light, which is currently at 05:00h. Initially, the trail continues the way it was yesterday. A pleasure to walk on. Unfortunately, it becomes muddier, rockier and overgrown once it passes north of Melkfjellet. At one point it is more of stumbling than walking. Anyway, I eventually make it up to an unnamed pass, at 1050 meters the highest point of today. A steep climb over mossy rocks and snow.

On the other side, going gets surprisingly easy again and the Umbukta Express is speeding towards its destination, which it's reaching at 15:30 - well ahead of schedule.

Once there, I try to find the owner of the Umbukta fjellstue, to hand him over the phone. Not easy but eventually I spot him. A cool guy, hiked the length of Norway three times. Twice by foot, once with skis.

The phone has a shopping list attached, which, among other items, says 'new shoes'. He remembers having hosted a guest, who mentioned buying new shoes. If it's really this guest's phone it would be super cool.

Anyway, the owner asks me what my plan is for today and adds, I could stay for free in his lake side cabin and join a group of horse riders for dinner tonight. Sounds extremely tempting and I tell him that if I can make it back to Umbukta today, after shopping, I would take up the offer.

So I quickly go to the highway to start hitching. Problem: basically no car is passing by as the Swedish/Norwegian border has closed again last night. I wait and wait and wait. The few cars passing by don't stop.

By 17:00h I decide: screw it. Would be a shame if I got stuck in Mo I Rana, while a nice cabin is waiting here for me. I will have to figure out tomorrow, how to resupply. But for now, I'm in my warm cabin, waiting for dinner to be ready. 


Beautiful morning
Beautiful morning
Great trails
Great trails
Melkfjellet in the background
Melkfjellet in the background
Approaching the unnamed pass
Approaching the unnamed pass
Looking down towards Sauvatnet
Looking down towards Sauvatnet
More green, less rocks
More green, less rocks
Looking down towards Umbukta
Looking down towards Umbukta
My lakeside cabin
My lakeside cabin
Isn't this great?!
Isn't this great?!
1 Comments

Day 36: Easy Cruising

Randalselva to Kvepsendal

Distance: 30km


First thing I usually do when I wake up: checking if the rain fly of my tent is wet. Usually, it is. Overnight rain or high humidity. But not today! Saves me from cold hands when packing and makes my pack a few 100 grams lighter. It's easy going all the way. A bit of up and down, mostly on grass. Would be perfect for some barefoot walking if it wasn't that cold. There's not always a visible trail but it's marked excellently. Even a blind chicken like me finds the way easily. 

I haven't been walking for long l when, it starts to drizzle. Not long enough to really annoy me. Virvatnet, a lake, looks spectacular with its unique islands. A huge cottage somewhat spoils the scenery though.


What else to say? In fact it is so easy going, by 14:00h I reach my planned overnight place. Should I stay or should I continue. Always the same question. I opt for the former. Just too lazy to continue. 


Oh, and I found a smart phone today. Lying there right on the trail together with some tissues and lip balsam. Strange combination. All items soaked, the phone dead as a rock and no one around. 

Still, I call 'Hello, anyone here?'. No response. Obviously. Maybe fallen out of the backpack?

I don't like finding these things as I never know what to do with them. Leave them and hope for the owner to return and find them or take the items and drop them in a town? The only shoe prints that looks recent are the opposite way I'm going. And they look like the size of a shoe for women. Which would make sense as the phone has a pinkish color. 

Anyway, I take the phone with me and will leave it in Umbuktu. 


Speaking of Umbuktu. No, it's not a city in West Africa. It's a small settlement on a highway, which I hope to reach tomorrow. Once there, I have to immediately try to hitch into Mo I Rana to buy food for the next 8 days. The shops I plan on going are closing at 21:00h. If I don't make it, it's going to be a challenge to resupply, as will be Sunday the following day and the possibility for resupply rather limited. 

You will read it here if my plan works out or not... 


A last look back towards the Arctic Circle
A last look back towards the Arctic Circle
Lovely trail, lovely scenery
Lovely trail, lovely scenery
Virvatnet
Virvatnet
And up close
And up close
Mystical mood
Mystical mood
Rain showers around me
Rain showers around me
Updated shelter from yesterday. Not suitable for sleeping.
Updated shelter from yesterday. Not suitable for sleeping.
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Day 35: Arctic Circle

Old Stone Cottage to Randalselva

Distance: 35km 


The last few days it feels like my progress is stalling. Like I am standing still. Obviously, that is just a imagination from my side as I am continously hiking 35 kilometer days. Yet, I wonder where this feeling is coming from.


Back to the topic: for the first time since Nordkapp, I use my headlamp. It's dark inside the cottage and I want to make sure I packed everything.

The first few meters are a pleasure to walk on a a dry, well formed trail. A great way to start into a new hiking day.

As always: the pleasure doesn't last long. It gets wet. Very wet. Lots of wetlands as I'm following Bjollaga River. Eventually, I cross the river via a bridge. Speaking of bridges: since Sulitjelma, all of them have been in a superb state. Once across, the trail wastes no time and climbs steeply away from the river above the tree line into my favorite terrain. Or so I thought. To my disappointment, it remains boggy, even as the trail climbs a bit more. Now rocks come into play too. And it happens when I cross one of these rock fields. I stumble, falling towards a thankfully flat rock. Chest and hands simultaneously hit the rock.

Beside some discomfort in my chest and wrists, everything seems alright. However, it shows how quickly something can happens.

Coincidence or not: a few minutes later I walk past a sword, rammed into the rock. In memory of a guy, one year older than me, who passed away (I assume at this place) a couple of years ago. 

The outdoors are a dangerous place. But so are cities and roads. In the end we all have to go.

I'm I get carried away again... Back to my hike: I pass Raudfjelldaskoia, a tiny hut and decide to have my late breakfast/early dinner break. It's 10:30h.

Inside the steaming hot hut, I meet Martin, a Norwegian thru-hiker heading the opposite way. He's taking his sweet time to start into his hiking day. We have a wonderful chat about our gear, especially my sandals (he used to hike parts of PCT in Lunas) and exchange what to expect trail wise in the coming days.

An hour later I say goodbye and a few steps further up the valley pass the Arctic Circle. It's a significant milestone for me and maybe makes the feeling of not making progress go away. Trail wise the remaining day is straightforward, with a bit of roadwalk.

My plan in staying at Randalska ends in a disaster. Firstly, I have a hard time finding 'it', even though a sign says it's only 15 meters away. Secondly, when I finally find 'it', I can't believe what I see. Hard to describe. I suggest you look at the photo below. More a place for Hobbits than for me. While I am certainly not picky when it comes to places to sleep, this thing is a big no-no. Especially, as it's filled with rubbish.

A bit disappointed, I continue. The sun is shining brightly though, making the search for a campspot quite enjoyable. It's a short search as there are suitable spots like sand on the beach. Too easy. 

Climbing away from the river
Climbing away from the river
Approaching the Arctic Circle
Approaching the Arctic Circle
Here we are
Here we are
Looking down at E6
Looking down at E6
No, not really
No, not really
Better
Better
Much better
Much better
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Day 34: Can't Think Of Any Title

Vestreviskisvatnet to an Old Stone Cottage

Distance: 35km 


After a quick descent to Lonsstua, a long climb follows. Initially through lovely alpine pine forest, followed by not so lovely birch forest before climbing above the tree line, which is roughly at 650 meters above sea level, where I currently am. It's usually the landscape and trails I like most. Not muddy anymore and not yet rocky. As the climb is rather steep, I pass through my favorite layer quickly and enter rocky terrain soon. While not painfully slow, walking across never ending Lapptafaggetlahtsa, a pass or even a high flat, is tiring. It's windy and cold at an altitude of 1000 meters. I'm worried about the descent, which I fear is rocky too. Luckily, it's not the case. The landscape changes from rocky to dandy within meters. A lovely trail takes me down into spectacular Bjolladalen, where I walk past an unlocked old stone cottage, with great views down to the river. Not too cozy but since I've been walking for 11 hours, I decide to call it a day. A very unspectacular day. Haven't met a single person, weather was medicore with no rain but lots of clouds and a chill breeze. 


Edit: it's not exactly fair that I called the cottage not cozy. Once I kept the fire going, the cottage, which reminds me of these Ticino/Italian stone buildings scattered all over the alps, becomes very comfy. Just, the backfiring chimney is a bit unlucky. I'll smell like smoked reindeer the next couple of days. Maybe it will keep the mosquitoes away, which, basically out of nowhere, started annoying me again yesterday. 

Walking on this huge flat rocks. A pleasure!
Walking on this huge flat rocks. A pleasure!
Climbing towards the pass right in the middle
Climbing towards the pass right in the middle
It's getting rockier
It's getting rockier
Like on a different planet
Like on a different planet
View...
View...
... from the cottage
... from the cottage
Not too bad
Not too bad
Not bad at all
Not bad at all
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Day 33: Sun, Rain, Sun

Laggejahka to Vestreviskisvatnet

Distance: 40km


What a gorgeous morning! Yesterday's dramatic sky gave way to mostly clear sky. 

After a surprisingly good sleep (I didn't wake up a single time, which is highly unusual) I leave before sunrise, which is later every day. Yes, the days are getting shorter incredibly quickly!

A clear night means a cold morning. Frost makes my feet freezing. At least until the sun pops up behind the mountains. 

The trail continues the way it finished yesterday. Rather hard going. Two hours into the hike, I leave Balvatnet and follow Skaitielva river for quite some time before climbing out of the valley along a gravel road. Weather up here can change quickly. Like today. By noon, I'm just walking this gravel road, rain starts hammering on me. While I should actually descend to Graddis, this stupid road keeps climbing and climbing. My mood drops to sub-zero. Eventually, I make it down to Graddis. Plenty of berries along the way. There are some red ones, which I haven't tasted before. Risking getting some discomfort in my tummy, I eat a few of them. They are delicious. Scandinavia: berries everywhere. 


After Graddis, it's up again. Before I start my climb, I pass a couple from Bodo. The first two people I meet today. They offer me coffee and pack of biscuits. So we stand there, in the forest, in the rain, chitchatting about my hike. I really start to like these Norwegians! 


Well fed I tackle the last climb. A lovely one in fact. Over huge flat rocks, the scenery spectacular. Once more. Eventually, even the rain stops. I'm a happy camper. 

Speaking of camping: time to find a camp spot as I have been hiking for 12 hours. It doesn't take long and I pitch my tent above some small lakes with a clear view towards the west, where I am about to head tomorrow. 


What a beautiful morning
What a beautiful morning
A last look back at Balvatnet
A last look back at Balvatnet
Skaitielva
Skaitielva
Lovely trail
Lovely trail
A look back towards Skaitielva
A look back towards Skaitielva
A look towards the west, where I heading to tomorrow
A look towards the west, where I heading to tomorrow
But not before getting some well needed rest
But not before getting some well needed rest
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