Reaching Europes northernmost edge: Finnmarksvidda, Porsangerhalvøya, Magerøya

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Yesterday was the day: I reached a designation that for a long time had been too far away – both spatial and time-wise – to imagine. In the morning I set foot on the northernmost point of mainland Europe: Knivskjellodden (N 71° 11’ 08”). Shortly after, around noon that day, I paid the North Cape a visit. Steeply arising from the sea, it is far more popular than its some 1.5 km more northern neighbour. Maybe this is also, because there is a street connection to the North Cape 😉 Anyway, I enjoyed being at both places. The weather was ok, no rain and I guess the strong winds are just normal there 🙂 It was a strange feeling to look down from the plateau and know that just a vast sea area and the archipelago Svalbard separates one from the North Pole.

You also want to know what happened in the last weeks? Well, Finnmarksvidda and Porsangerhalvøya held some rough days ready for me. “On Finnmarksvidda in that time of the year, I would be prepared for everything from sun to snow storm,” two different people, whom I met on my way, told me. At that time I did not know how right they should be. I got some days with really strong winds, often without the possibility to find lee. Combined with rain or snow on one day respectively, it got ugly and I just wanted to arrive in these moments. One morning, I realized that my boots were frozen over night. I had missed the time to take them into my sleeping bag. This meant a 1/2 hours retarded start of the tour that day, because my boots had to go into the sleeping bag, together with a hot-water bottle 😉 Yet, there were also the days with nice and sunny weather and all those magic moments – a sea eagle ascending majestically into the sky; a huge reindeer flock of more than a 100 animals, being herded together by two Sami, Northern lights flickering on the sky in some of the nights – which made up for everything. Overall I think that I was lucky with the weather on that stage, too, but I got a glimpse how things can be on the stormy side.

It was also on this stage that I reached the lowest point of the trip (only literally, not figuratively speaking 😉 ): the Nordkapptunnel, which on a length of 7 km brought me some 20000 cm under the sea. Jules Verne sends his regards 😉 It was definitely an experience to walk through that tunnel. Every car sounded like an approaching train. This was fair enough, since it was off-season and there was only a car passing by every couple of minutes. But I imagine it to be really loud for the hikers who start their trip from the north and come through the tunnel in the main season. Otherwise I just heard the rhythm of my own footsteps and the water dripping from the humid walls. On Magerøya I had yet to pass another tunnel: the 4 km long Honningsvågtunnel to Honningsvåg. One fourth of that days walk under the surface of the earth – not bad 😉

Maybe you are wondering – and I do the same – what I am feeling now that the trip is over. Joy? Sadness? Relief? Pride? To be honest, it is hard to tell. I guess it is a mixture of everything. Now I have some days rest in Honningsvåg before Hurtigruta will bring me back to Bergen. I am definitely looking forward to that – world`s most beautiful cruise. Maybe I will get the chance to write a little post about that, too. I am also looking forward to hopefully see all of you again soon. In this sense: Vi snakkes 🙂

P.S.: The photos of the last weeks are also in the  google album now.

From Finland to Finnmarksvidda: Halti, Reisadalen, Kautokeino

20160917_131413On my short visit in Finland I mainly had beautiful autumn weather with the sun shining from a blue and cloudless sky. I went through a mountain landscape which was dominated by stones and rocks, yet far from boring. Stunning distant views, bizarre rock formations and wild river valleys brought about a lot of variation.

From the Finnish alpine world I descended into the wonderful Reisadalen – a deeply incised canyon with steep hillsides from which numerous waterfalls find their way into the valley. Because of the protected location temperatures were still quite mild and most trees still wore their autumn costume. It was here where I saw the most varied and intense autumn colours of the whole trip. In Reisadalen the DNT cabin Nedrefosshytta is located which is said to be one of the favourites of the queen. I did not meet her there, but 3 zoologists who expanded my knowledge of mushroom mosquitos which they were studying there.

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From Reisadalen I had to ascend again onto the vast plateau of Finnmarksvidda that I have just enterred now. Until now it has presented itself as a mix of low birch forest, swampy areas and heather. Here I found my way to Kautokeino which seems to be the “capital” of the Sami. The Sami school of applied sciences and the Sami national theatre are located her and according to Wikipedia 90 % of the inhabitations speak Sami as their mother tongue. It was a strange feeling to hear most people on the street speak another language than Norwegian. It almost felt like being in another country.

Days have started to become considerably shorter now. Was it still bright until 8:30 pm just some weeks ago it is already dark at 7 now. Hiking days are starting to get shorter 😉

Tri-state-area: Nordkalottruta from Abisko to Kilpisjärvi

In the last days I have had both wonderful and windless autumn days on which the sun illuminated the coloured leaves and stormy days on which the wind blew the rain horizontally into my face.

After my first trip in this area in 2013 I once again could walk through the beautiful valleys Anjavass- and Dividalen. The mix of wild canyons, unspoilt woods and rough mountains still makes it to one of my favourite areas.

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In the cabin Dividalshytta, which I reached last Saturday, it became full house. Here I met Trine and Susanna as well as Torstein and Ul-Juhan who invited me for dinner: Moose meat from a self-hunted moose with grated cream potatoes and cabbage vegetables – a feast 🙂 After dinner a bonfire was lit and we sat together until late at night. Since everyone except Torstein had a Sami background, I learned a lot about Sami culture and stories. It was also in that night that the first northern lights of the trip flickered across the sky – weak, but still impressive! After a late breakfast where I was invited for pancakes by Trine and Susanna, it was time to say goodbye and I continued to Dærtahytta.

Here I met Kasper and Torbjørn who were on a week trip. On the next morning I awoke from the wind dragging at the cabin and moaning in the timbers. The wind gauge in the hut showed a wind force between 18 to 20 m/s. That could nearly be called a storm. Because of that both Kasper and Torbjørn and I were unsure whether to continue the trip or to have a resting day and wait for the wind to calm down. We waited until noon. By then the wind had ceased a bit and we decided to give it a shot. It turned out that it was manageable to walk in that wind, but it was not really a pleasure.

Today I came to the tri-state-area between Norway, Sweden and Finland. A big yellow concrete block beside a lake marks this point and I could walk through all three countries in just some seconds 🙂
Now I am in Kilpisjärvi and, after a resting day, will continue the trip for some days through Finland before enterring Norway again.

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Luckily, I have access to a computer here, too. Thus, I could upload some photos again. As usual, they can be found in the google photos album. (It was not that easy to work with a Finnish computer, but for you I spared no effort 😉

Junkerdalen, Padjelanta & Kungsleden

Sitting in the DNT cabin Lappjordhytta I just found out that I have mobile reception. Thus I can post the highly due blog update which I did not reach Yesterday 😉

A lot has happened since my last short entry from the polar circle. Since Xin already has given a detailed account of the days in Saltfjellet, I will start with the subsequent days.

Having just seen of Xin in Lønsdal, I headed to Argaladhytta in Junkerdalen nationalpark to meet my next visitors: my father Lutz and our friend Mario. It was a joyful reunion in this rustic and cosy little cabin (on of the oldest in Northern Norway) that gives the impression to be in another time.

Mario and Lutz accompanied me until Ritsem. We walked through a varied landscape together, passing by the former mining town Sulitjelma, crossing the adjacent mountains among impressive glaciers, walking on long stretched stonefields and occasional snow patches, finally enterring Padjelanta nationalpark in Sweden with its big and scenic lakes and rivers in widespread valleys covered by grassland, surrounded by majestic mountains that got the first layer of powdery snow in these days.

Not only Xin, but also Mario and Lutz brought loads of delicious foods and additional calories to refuel my batteries. Thanks a lot!

From Ritsem I headed for the “hiking highway” to Abisko: The Northern part of Kungsleden seems to be extremely popular among Swedish and foreign (not least German) tourists and I met countless other hikers on my way. The climate in this mountainous area was quite rough. One could feel the autumn approaching and I experienced the first night with temperatures slightly below zero, crawling out into a frost-covered landscape in the morning.

From the mountains I descended to Abisko valley with its milder climate and its forrests shining in all shades of yellow and red. What a scenic view!
In Abisko I had a resting day in the STF Turiststation there. I shared the room in the hostel with Alex from England who started at the North Cape and intends to run the whole long distance trail E1 to Sicily. He has an absolutely minimalistic approach, wearing only sandals, his backpack including food and tent not weighing more than 12 kg. When I packed my bag in the morning he burst into laughter when comparing the size of my bag to his. “Actually, you should look like Hercules, carrying such a bag”, was his dry comment. Attending the breakfast buffet together with him, it turned out that also my calory intake was “slightly” higher than his. “You are eating like a machine man”, was his remark 😉
If you are interested in his trip, just check out his blog on pursuingthevoid.wordpress.com

In Abisko I also met another old acquaintance: Oliver, the other German NPL guy whom I had met in Skarvheimen in June.It turned out that he had arrived there one day before so that he now is one day ahead of me 🙂

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