The weather was warm and sunny while I was above the Arctic Circle this summer, due to 23 hours of daylight. The Lofoten Islands are known for a distinctive landscape of jagged peaks, windswept grasslands, open sea, sheltered bays, and white sand beaches. I was excited to hike here where the mountains are exposed, with rock bordering the ocean, and visibility is fantastic. I was staying in a quaint fishing village bordered by a high wall of mountains behind it, with a protected harbor from the sea. It was a peaceful, back-to-nature place that still exists, whereas some of the old fishing villages are now abandoned.
Led by our guides Anna and Annasteina, one day our small group hiked on Vestvagoya, a steep, exposed trail, with the ocean touching the base of the mountain, far below where we hiked. It was a day-long hike and ended with a walk on the white sand beach. I threw off my hiking boots, looked around to see if anyone was going to join me, and then waded alone into the cold Arctic water. It felt great after hiking, but that pleasant sensation lasted only a very few minutes before the blast of cold began penetrating my toes. There were several surfers in full diving suits in the water or on their boards.
Another day we spent hiking more gentle trails through grasslands, hills, and harbors. After hiking all day, our small group would enjoy a great meal by native chefs. The fish is caught daily and served the same evening. The meal was well prepared and we dined in a casual, friendly atmosphere. The islands have become a great place to hike in the summer, ski in the winter, and view the Northern Lights.
Soon it was time to leave Lofoten and Norway, but I would take with me many happy memories of hiking in different regions, the friendly people with a healthy lifestyle, and the beautiful country. Because we were so far north, it was a long day of travel.
Again in the wee hours of morning, but at least not in darkness, we departed the red painted rorbus, a cabin on stilts where I slept with the water under the floor boards. Then we drove an hour and a half to Svolvaer Airport on Lofoten, took a puddle jumper plane to Buda. There our group divided and we said our farewells. I took the first flight to Oslo, picked up some checked baggage and took an international flight to Denmark.
Of course there were flight delays to make my day longer and more tiresome. This is part of the “downs” of the “ups and downs of life.” The “ups” are all of the great adventures of travel: what you learn, who you meet, and what you do and experience. The “ups” far outweigh the “downs.”
I was very happy with my adventures in Norway. It is a beautiful country that is clean, friendly, safe, and a great place for many outdoor activities. I would be delighted to return to Norway someday.
(posted October 18, 2016)