Lapland - Summer Hike 2012 - North Norway

17.07.2012 - Stuart and I met up with Sakari at the Hotel Kilpis under the giant slab-like shadow of Saana fell. Sakari had booked a room for us and we settled in to an evening of last minute plans, supper and sauna. In the morning after a great breakfast we were packed up and ready to move.

Well, of course even the best laid plans change - as does the weather. Our plan was to head up to the Norwegian coast and down one of the fjords to get as close as possible to the north side of Halti - the highest point in Finland. At 1365 meters Halti isn't exactly a challenge to an experienced climber - but this far north anything can happen to the weather, and any change can turn easy into hard going.

Stuart and Sakari check out the planned route
Sakari and me complete with my new mosquito hat!
Panorama on the Norwegian coast

The place at North Troms where we leave the coast and head south into the hills.
So, after a few short breaks along the coast we turned inland from the Northern Troms and began the gentle climb along the road toward our planned parking place.

A short break as we climb into the hills
One short sharp bump over a cattle grid and we were soon nursing a cracked radiator and facing an overheating engine miles from anywhere against a backdrop of raw mountains and roaring waterfalls. It wasn't the best way to start our week in the wilderness, but we managed to patch it up with Stuart's nylon ties and left the car high on a hill before setting off South on foot.

Car repaired and ready to move on.

Waterfall and abandoned building in the hills of North Norway
Radiator pitstop

The first kilometers are usually the toughest. The 20+ kilo's on your back seem to gain weight as you walk, and the change of pace from normal walking feels quite strange.

Starting point panorama
The landscape slows down, details come into focus and every step becomes deliberate and calculated. The day is punctuated with short breaks for coffee or snacks and the moments when the back packs are lifted off give the body a sensation of weightlessness.

Sakari tries out my walking sticks - and hates them!
Progress on the first day was slow; a steady walk across streams, through fields of scattered stones and up the lower slopes of Halti on the Norwegian side with occasional stops for food and drink.

The last bits of road

Cleaner than bottled water up here in the fells
Sometime in the early evening we pitched our tents as the sun crawled under the clouds to the north. It takes time to arrive in the state of mind where your thoughts are only about the here and now.
Sakari - taking Finnish sausage to places it has never been seen before

Looking out across the ancient landscape on these last weeks of July, the patches of melting snow and sound of rushing water remind one that this is the shortest summer season of anywhere in the world and that soon the snow will fall again and cover the land for another eight months.

Arctic flowers everywhere
The most vivid and colorful lichens you will ever see

Snow lined banks of the mountain stream
On 18th we'll make up our minds on the route we'll take depending on the overnight change in weather and our limited map resources. Oh, yeah - of course I have a map, and a compass - but the car broke down - remember? So we find ourselves still in Norway after a day's walking and the only map we have is a photograph of a map taken at the entrance to this national park on my iPhone with enough information to get us to where my map starts just inside the Finnish border of Halti! But that is another day. For now the legs are a little tired but the feet - well - the Haglöf Grym Highs have nested my feet so comfortably that I never thought about them: the best way to be with that much eight on you back. Warm, snug and very dry.