The goal was always to head North and into the Arctic circle. Since leaving in 2019 I knew it was a place I always wanted to revisit, and my second visit, it makes me realise how special this place truly is.
That said, it’s time to head home…
Highs and lows of the week(s)
Highs: Some brilliant Arctic sunshine, more wonderful views and a solid week of training.
Lows: Knee niggle and feeling somewhat unproductive, I guess.
A visit to the Polar Park was on the cards. Having driven passed it in 2019, it had been on the list since. I don’t really like Zoos if I am honest, but sometimes it’s a toss-up between paying and contributing towards animal welfare, feeding, care, and conservation, and not at all.
This time, paying won.
Some cool animals inside the park, but the price tag certainly didn’t live up to expectations. Especially given that you could go to Chester Zoo for the same price.
That being said, seeing lynx, bear, arctic fox, deer, reindeer and for the first time ever, Musk Ox.
From Polar Park, it was back towards Lofoten. The weather was clearing and thought it would be a good idea to visit the north of the island, and in particular, Harstad. The biggest town on the Lofoten, and the place where the locals go if they need anything major.
Managed to pick some clippers for my beard and a new frisbee to play disc golf. Before quickly realizing that it’s nothing like golf, but the only similarity being I am shit at both. Harstad is cool and is much bigger than anywhere around here. Feels kinda weird to have the choice over supermarkets, shops, and outlets.
Although it didn’t help with my addiction to Arc’teryx and wanting to basically buy a full new wardrobe.
Having a time deadline to be in Bodo, I decided on the plans for the next couple of days.
Heading down towards Narvik on Sunday and hitting up the most prominent peak that is, Linken. Not too bad of a hike, and thankfully the weather was the clearest it had been for a week or so. Which definitely made it worth it towards the top! However, that being said it would have been quite easy to have gotten blown off on the top…
(Steady. My Mum reads this, yanno ;))
Now the journey home kinda begins. The van, for the first time, is facing south and it’ll continue to head that way until I eventually leave Norway. Kinda sad that it feels like it’s coming to an end, but still 2 or so more weeks to enjoy here first.
Stetind, Norway’s national mountain.
And you can see why.
Driving towards Stetind, from the north, it doesn’t look anywhere near as impressive. Then once you shoot out the other side of the tunnel you’re faced with its prominence. Jutting from the fjord and towering overhead.
Quick morning stop off in Bodo to use the gym, get a shower, and get coffee. Good way to start the day and tick some boxes early doors to add structure and routine into the day to day life whilst on the road.
Then it was a short drive to the Saltstraumen. The largest and strongest Maelstroms in the world. Basically, a section of water where the inland tide meets the sea and it pulls it in either direction. Creating huge whirlpools that could sink a boat. I think some of them are around 10ft or m wide. Cool to see from the bridge above.
Next on the list was a small hike to a waterfall I had found on google. No idea of it’s name, or how big the hike would actually be, but was worth the small detour.
A slight trek off of the main road to get to the smallest village I’ve ever seen. I think there were 4 houses and 2-holiday homes. Right next to a perfect lake and a beautiful waterfall.
The hike was indeed short, but the view from the top was amazing. Norway is quite renowned for its waterfalls and even though this is off of the beaten path, and not really a tourist waterfall, it was beautiful nonetheless.
The scenic drive from Bodo down the west coast of Norway is something else.
Small islands, golden beaches, jagged peaks. Seals bobbing their heads up and down in the water below, eagles flying high above. It’s a drive you could stop every 100m a take a new picture. Really is one of the best drives in the whole world.
Having experienced some more knee issues the plan wasn’t to hike too much but the temptations were just hard to control. I found a smaller peak in the area and decided for a slow jaunt up there to get some views of the nearby Svartisen glacier.
The views from this small peak would otherworldly and it really doesn’t bode the question:
Is there a shit mountain in Norway?
Svartisen glacier is Norway’s second largest glacier and consists of two glaciers. It was once, probably still is but way higher in the valley now, mainland Europes lowest laying glacier at just 20m above sea level.
The only issue with driving the coastal route is that there are many toll roads through tunnels and over bridges and when that isn’t possible. There are ferries.
The next day was mostly eaten up by tunnels, bridges, and ferries. But all beautiful sites and you just have to get used to traveling at 30 miles per hour and taking it slow and steady. After all, the tortoise won the race, right?
The weird thing is, for two ferries I didn’t pay. Usually, the guy seeing you onto the boat, makes you stop if you’re not Norwegian and then asks for payment. But for both of these ferries, I didn’t pay. One was a 90-minute journey too!
If there’s one thing that has been good and consistent this week it’s training and gyms. Having signed up for a 24/7 membership at a chain of gyms, it’s easy to get them in. Well, when the town I am going towards has a gym. Luckily on this stretch, there’s been a gym at each one.
Essentially I’ll train for an evening, shower, eat and then park up close by. Then just repeat the process in the morning and then I am good to go.
However, this week I’ve trained 5 times which is the most in this entire trip, and now I’ve got a lot more work to do should I want to be prepared for Nepal in a few months.
A somewhat wasted trip towards Donnmannen, which is a hike on the west coast of Norway, just west of Mosjoen.
It comes up a lot when you google Norway hikes and was actually recommended to me to go and do. However, when I got there the wind was upwards of 25mpn at sea level, so I didn’t trust that it would be any less than 35mph when at 900m. With it being a ridge hike I decided against it.
However, that being said I got to see this incredible bridge and watch an unbelievable sunset. This was just before spending the night in what felt like a washing machine. With the wind being as strong as it was it shook the van more than the hips of Shakira on the way to prison.
I woke up, well say woke up – I hadn’t slept, at 4 AM to move the van to a quieter spot in nothing more than a coat and my boxers. Thankfully there aren’t many police around this part of Norway.
That brings us nicely onto the next adventure…
Well no, it’s Nepal. But I’ve decided to stay at home for a few more weeks before Nepal, instead of flying to Bali like originally planned.
My plan when home is to see and squeeze my Niece, fist bump my Nephew, give Mandy 3 months’ worth of washing and a van to clean, see my Grandparents, go to the football with my Dad, catch up with some friends, rehab the knee and hopefully get out and about in Snowdonia.
Nepal is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit since 2017. I actually bought an Annapurna guidebook and read it cover to cover in hope that one day I’ll visit. It never happened and always got put on the back burner.
Now is the time.
There’s a small window of time where I’ll be able to be in the mountains for an extended period with the potential of not much WiFi or connection to the modern world, so I’m using that time to get out to Nepal and hike in the Khumbu region of Nepal.
No, I’m not doing Everest or Everest Base Camp (EBC).
No, I’m not doing the Annapurna circuit.
I’m doing the Three Passes.
A trek that goes over three high passes in the region. The passes being:
Kongma La (18,209 ft / 5,550 m)
Cho La (17,782 ft / 5,420 m)
Renjo La (17,560 ft / 5,360 m)
Honestly, I’ve got no idea what to expect, or if it’s something I am even physically capable of doing. But gonna give it a shot.
Winter is a great time (from my research) to visit Nepal. Despite it being obviously cold, the skies are clearer and there are fewer people on the trail and in tea houses.
Out of all the plans I’ve made and have got (Iceland in the van, Asia for a few months, back to the US, etc) this is the one that excites me most.
More details about the trip and what it entails coming closer to the time. But now it’s to enjoy the last couple of weeks of the slow drive down Norway and back to the UK.
Thanks as always for reading, it does mean the world to see when you message and tell me you’ve read the blog/enjoyed it.
SO truly, thank you.
See you next week.