Every beginning is hard - no exception here. On the contrary! All the uncertainty regarding the Corona virus is affecting my motivation to plan the trip. Still, I get my act together and plan as good as I can. Not a perfect preparation but sufficient. In fact I make it to Nordkap without much hassle. Flying to Alta and hitch-hike to the Kap - the starting point of my adventure. All goes surprisingly smooth - as does most of my hike. I don't want to go too much into detail here - it would be neverending. Feel free to check my blog for a better insight.
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 (literally!) 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 in 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 and extremely 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. In fact it's not nearly as demading as I feared it would be.
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.
Speaking about the level of difficulty of the trail: Technically I don't consider it to be a very challenging hike. Apart from a short stretch in Reisa National Park, the trail is never exposed at all and only very rarely had I used my hands in steeper terrain. Expect snow (mostly from last winter) throughout the hike. But usually even if you slip, the fall or slide shouldn't have ugly consequences.
Due to the favorable weather, river crossings were straight forward. However, I appreciate that if the weather throws the worst at you, going can get very challenging. Not only river crossings but also the exposed landscape will make your hike challenging.
As mentioned before: The remoteness is what made this first section interesting. Be prepared to see no other person for days and carry your own food for close to 14 days. These last points make me suggest to not attempt the hike if you are a completely inexperienced hiker.
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 of my hike.
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. I don't know yet. My planning isn't that advanced.
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.
I arrived here in Scandinavia as a stranger. As someone, who didn't know anyone, didn't know the landscape. I had no idea what to expect. 46 days later, I leave the country with the comforting feeling of being a small part of this spectacular region. I made friends, know the the irks and quirks of the nature.
Unlike after Te Araroa I don't feel an emptiness. On the contrary! I can't wait to plan section two and continue my journey.
From the Nordkapp, the official starting (or ending) point of E1, the trail leaves Magerøya via the Nordkapp tunnel. The trail soon enough leaves the coastline and follows inland thorugh the sparse Finmark landscape to Kautokeino. These first few days are mostly flat, easy going with some interesting river crossings. Expect tons of mosquitoes during the summer months!
From Kautokeino, E1 follows the amazing Reisa River towards the Finnish border, where the terrain gets rockier. Passing the Three-Country Point (Sweden, Norway, Finnland), E1 follows the Norwegian-Swedish border for its remaining distance. The stretch between Abisko and Sulitjelma along the Nordkalottleden is especially remote. Expect plenty of snow and adventurous bridges (where there are). The spectacular landscape makes it very rewarding though.
Soon enough, E1 crosses the polar circle and first farms appear along the way. Pine trees mix into the dominating birch forest.
Terrain gets wetter and once in Børgefjell/Byrkjie Nationalpark, expect long days through very wet terrain. Markings do not exist and navigation is my map and compass or GPS.
The detailed route I took can be found here.