Crossing the polar circle: Saltfjellet

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Two days ago Xin (who has accompanied me from Bolna to Lønsdal) and I have crossed the polar circle. What a great and symbolic moment on my journey to have crossed this imaginary line after two and a half months on the road! On the trail it is set up a little wooden gate so that one cannot miss the moment 😉

From Børgefjell to Nordlandsruta: Northern Norway here I am

After my previous resting day in Røyrvik I headed for Børgefjell nationalpark. In order to get there, I had to take a ferry over the lake Store Namsvatnet. This ferry was considerably smaller than the MS Fæmund II: a little motorboat with five passenger seats, steered by captain Kurt, a relaxed dude with Yamaha-racing cap, big sunglasses and a ponytail.Needless to say that the boatride was great fun 🙂

In Børgefjell I experienced a great landscape in mainly good wheather: valleys with wet meadows, birch forest and rolling rivers, lovely mountain lakes – one even with sandy beaches and snow covered mountains rising in the west of the nationalpark.

After having crossed Børgefjell, I enterred the province Nordland and thus Northern Norway. Here I have been following Nordlandsruta, a trail that leads through the whole province, from Harvasstua in the south to Bjørnsfjell, close to Narvik, in the north. This has been my favourite part of the tour so far: An impressive and extremely varied landscape, composed of majestic mountains, partly covered by glaciers, strung-out lakes and green valleys.

In this part I took the first self-service ferry on the tour across the lake Daningen: A boat that was moved by cable haulage. Such a boat ride is fun, but one should think twice before letting go of the rope to take photos – it might prove difficult to reach for the rope again 😉

On the last part before Umbukta Fjellstue, where I am now, I passed by Northern Norways roof – the mountain Oksskolten, with its 1916 m the highest in Northern Norway. Furthermore I could admire all its glacier branches on my way.

Also on this stage, I met really welcoming and hospitable people. On the campsite in Grannes I was invited for dinner by two Swedish couples, including home-made blueberry-cake with vanilla sauce and cream – heavenly. In Tverrelvnes I could try the legendary NPL-boller (buns) which every NPLer gets offered here by the host Gunder Garsmark. Last but not least, in Umbukta Fjellstue, every NPLer can spend one night for free and I have taken up quarters in the cosy little Stabburet.

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The owner of Umbukta Fjellstue, Thor Inge, has gone Norge på langs twice himself, once in summer and once in winter. This summer, he cycled NPL in just 12 days (!!!).

Here in Umbukta I also had the chance to refresh my food provisions. With the bike that Thor Inge had lent me, I cycled the 3 km to the Swedish border and did grocery shopping in “matbussen” – a bus converted to a rolling supermarket, interesting concept 🙂

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At Norway’s geographical centre: Blåfjella-Skjækerfjella

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After some nice days with Björn and Laura where I induced them to buy to much food provisions so that I could get the remainders in the end (Danke für’s generöse überlassen :), I enterred the Blåfjella-Skjækerfjella nationalpark. In this virtually pathless area I had to find my own way.

I had had a lot of respect for this part beforehand.Would I be able to navigate for several days on my own? Had I estimated the timespan I would need correctly? Would my food provisions be sufficient? To top it all, my solarpanel broke so that I could only use the GPS sporadically and mainly had to navigate by means of map and compass. Anyways, it turned out that my concerns where unsubstantiated: everything went well.

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At the entrance of the nationalpark, at Skjækerdalshytta, I met Tine who was on the opposite way: from Knivskjellodden to Lindesnes. She had a lot of good tips concerning the route for me (tusen takk igjen Tine, tippsene var kjempebra!). Later that evening two more people arrived at the cabin: a couple in their fifties with an interesting hobby – they collect nationalparks (or tours in them respectively). With Blåfjella-Skjåkerfjella they had visited 24 of the 34 Norwegian nationalparks. It became a cosy evening at the cabin where a lot of stories were exchanged. Tine told about a guy in his seventies whom she had met and who collected DNT-cabins. He had already visited 500 of them and wanted to visited the remaining 23 this year. -A  lot of fancy hobbies out there 🙂

Beside this encounter I met 4 other guys doing NPL (one in stages during his holidays each year and a group of three, all had started from the north) and some fishermen during my time in Blåfjella-Skjækerfjella. It seems that there are not many hikers around in this area and those who are appear to be on the same mission 🙂

The nationalpark is said to have a lot of good fishing lakes. Apart from that it was a stunning, varied landscape  composed of valleys with unspoiled forest, mountains and wide-spread bog areas. It won’t become my favourite tour area, though – a bit to swampy for my taste. Yet, a good thing about the swamps are the many cloudberries which gradually have begun to ripen. What a delicious snack on the go 🙂

One of Tine’s tips was that the Sanddøla river could be waded close to the lake Otersjøen if it had not rained to heavily in the days before, which would save me a detour via Skjelbreia. I decided to follow this advice since it had only rained a bit in the days before. I crossed the river in the evening of July the 30th. It turned out to be a hard crossing with a strong stream and water to the thigh, where I two times almost slipped. Yet, it was a lucky decision to do it this evening, because it rained really heavily in the subsequent night which would have made it impossible to cross the river the next day.

Having eaten up nearly all my food, I arrived in Skorovatn which has a little supermarket – perfect timing. It is always surprising again how comparably light a backpack of 20 kg appears when you start with 30 kg 🙂

In the supermarket in Skorovatn I got an icecream for free. The lady there gives one to each NPLer who passes by. Nice idea! I spent my time in Skorovatn in the DNT-cabin Skorovasshøtta. Here actually the term “cabin” is misleading. It was a semi-detached house equipped with running water, an oven, a microwave and a dishwasher. What a comfortable stay! And interesting to see how different DNT housing can be.

Yesterday, I hit the road again and walked to Røyrvik. A lot of time to listen to the audiobook “Min kamp” (don’t be afraid – I have not developed strange ideas on my way, it is the book of the Norwegian author Knausgaard, not Hitler’s biography I am listening to ;). Today I am having a further resting day in Røyrvik to collect the next parcel, refresh my provisions, do the laundry etc. Tomorrow, I will enter Børgefjell nationalpark, yet another pathless area. I am excited and looking forward to it.

Last but not least I want to make an announcement to all the scandinavian mosquitos and horseflies: I hate you and I will kill all of you that bother me, so just leave me in peace. I hope a lot of them are reading my blog and thus will stop bothering me 😉

 

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