Monday, September 15, 2008

Norwegian Woods

Writing now, late at night, from the luxurious home of Ross Wakelin an old friend from NZ now resident in Narvik, Norway. We swam into Norway a few days ago through a mountain tarn (I will for the time spare you the shots of my big white butt glistening in the Arctic Sun).

Matt, La, Penny and I had a fantastic tramp from Abisko in Sweden to Narvik over five days of amazing calm and clear weather. It was the height of Autumn and red and gold forests and fields surrounded us whereever we went, apart from when we ventured up into the land of granite slabs.

The first day was heightened by an encounter with some Sami people. Following a trail of reindeer fat up a rugged ATV track we encountered a man and his son at their secluded cabin...

"does this track continue up the hill"?

"No, you come the wrong way, this track goes to heaven!"

"Well, that sounds about right then"

After some brief and entertaining conversation they got rid of us and went back to whatever on earth they were up to with that reindeer fat, reassured hopefully that we were nearly as crazy as they were. We camped that night on top of a barren hill near a Sami encampment and reindeer corral, empty now for the coming winter. We glimpsed for the first time Storsteinfjellet (the big stone mountain)and the fluffy little flowers that floated on the marshes like cotton wool.

Day 2 we had some serious walking to do to wander through the Swedish tundra to the hills of Norway. We then had our border swim (photos again spared), climbed a snowslope then stalked our first herd of reindeer. We killed an hour or so doing this then had to descend through the heinous sub-alpine belt which consisted almost entirely of blueberries, or other types of berrys. We arrived at our campsite not wet and muddy but with stained fingers and faces from delightful engorgement.

Storsteinfjellet was now at our mercy, and we ascended up its grantite ridges and gentle snow slopes before being pole axed by its chossy summit ridge. The descent past the foot of its glacier was lovely however and we camped in a freaky barrow downs landscape that provided us with pleasant views and mossy beds.

Time had come to get cranking and Day 4 we just walked all day through a few little mountain passes alongside some silted glacial lakes and amongst some more bemused reindeer.

Then we had to get the hell out of there because the aioli in a tube was running out (although we still had plenty of tomato paste) and we wanted to finally see the sea, which was beautiful. Regrettably Norwegians dont pick up groups of four hitchhiking so the 15 or so km from the road end to Ross and Hildas house, despite been alongside a beautiful fiord was testing. We could however always look back and get some satisfaction from how far we had come.

Ross and Hilda have been awesome hosts, providing us great digs, food and conversation. This morning Hilda showed us around the Narvik musueum while this afternoon Ross took us to the top of a massive great big mountain above town. Ill try and write more on this soon. Sweet take care out there!

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