Goodbye island paradise

We spent five wonderful days in the Lofoten Islands, hiking 4 (small) mountains and being rewarded with some of the worlds best scenery.

What I loved about the area is there’s a lot of short hikes, most of the ones we did were only 2 hours long. Not easy going though; it was rough terrain, steeply uphill and dust plumed around my feet at every step. The mountains we hiked were from about 350m to 600m high, so very manageable and you don’t need to carry a pack lunch up, hooray!

One of the only flat walks we did was to a lake, again, only an hour but it was a mix of bog, sharpe rocks and huge boulders from landslides – you could literally see scars along the mountain tops from where they’d fallen. Craig stupidly wore flip flops so found it easier walking bare foot, bloody hippy. The final stretch was through dark pine forest, everything was creepy and brown; the trees, all dead and dry, the pine needles that covered the floor, the mud on Craig’s feet. But just around the corner was a fresh water lake with a beautiful beach – the sort of place that deserves a holy ‘aaarrrr’ sound on arrival. The water all shimmered in the sun like millions of sequins sparkling away. And it wasn’t ice cold!! It was just perfect. From the beach looking back, the forest we’d walked through showed no signs of suffering with lush green tops lapping up the sunshine.

We’ve been unbelievable lucky with the weather here (and for the past 2 months!!). We only had one day of pure cloud, and it makes a huge difference, the scenery went from a 10/10 to a 6/10, ouch!!

We spent the past couple of days hiking around Svolvaer, the main hub of the islands. I wanted to hike up the back of Svolveargeita, which is a sheer slab of rock shaped like a goat. At the top are two ‘goat horns’, 1.5m apart, which crazy fools jump over. I saw a photo of it – they have climbing gear on and are attached by ropes to prevent them from falling down to a graveyard at the bottom!!

Anyway, we popped into the info centre to ask how long it takes to get up the mountain for a view of the rock. God, did we get the least enthusiastic worker ever created, he was so monotone and mumbled every word. I was constantly having to say “Sorry? Pardon? Can you speak a little louder, my ears aren’t quite tuned into that frequency. Are your vocal cords made from a silent dog whistle?”. He said it takes him 30mins to hike up, and I asked about the route as I read the trail goes behind the goat for the best view, he said there was only one route, like I was a thick shit.

So we set off, then the trail split (look who’s the thick shit now!), one route had the standard Norwegian ‘T’ marker so we took that. It led us all the way up a mountain ridge that curved around towards the goat. When we got to the end of the ridge (2 hours later) we looked down to see the goat way below us. Bugger! We started descending down a really steep slope and soon realised it was stupid and surely couldn’t be the right route. Clearly the proper route lead from the split in the track, we’d have to hike back down, then follow the trail up the other side of the mountain to the goat, and back down again – fuck that!

But we soon realised that although our route was wrong, it was a lot better, as we got spectacular 360degree views. Svolvaer below, white tailed sea eagle above (YES!!), tiny islands dotting the ocean, sharp mountains all around us, and fjords and lakes spread along the lower areas. Plus, we came across an impressive viewpoint, the ‘Devils Gate’, where a rock was wedged between two cliff faces, creating a sort of bridge. It was very similar to Kjerag Boulder, but a lot safer, wider, easier to approach, and not a guaranteed death if you fell, but still possible.

If we found the goat track straight away we wouldn’t of made it up to see the amazing view – so I’d like to thank Mr.Monotone, as had it not been for him wrongly telling us there was only one track, we wouldn’t of seen what lay beyond the ridge line we climbed. For all I know he could of given us detailed instructions about the split in the path and we just didn’t hear him.

It was a lovely hot afternoon, and we found a nice warm lake for swimming. A South African guy and his Norwegian fiancΓ© pulled up next to us and we got chatting to them and about how we want to travel around Africa. He said he moved to Norway 7 months ago and is finding it quite a struggle and some of the youngsters quite arrogant. He said the Norwegians are so ahead with some things, but their light years behind with others, and that it was like being back in Africa. Then he summed it up as, *queue South African accent*: “If it wasn’t for oil, the Norwegians would still be picking ticks out of donkeys arses!!”.

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