Visit Norway - A week in Lofoten Day 1 "Senja"
Two weeks ago I had the incredible opportunity of visiting Norway for the third time in my life. As it happens this was also my first time ever that I've been above the arctic circle and that week became one of my most memorable ones. This is the first time I'll try and write such an extensive report on my travels and also on such an extensive subject, thus I'll divide it into days.
On Saturday, 27th of January I took a flight from London Gatwick to Tromsø, which was quite a long one, three and a half hours, but also very beautiful as at some point I had the opportunity to admire my first sunset over Norway.
I've landed in Tromsø around 7PM and it was probably the scariest landing I've ever been a part of as the whole runway was covered in snow and ice. Everything went smoothly tho and I have to give a huge credit to the Norwegian airlines pilots as they are amazing every time I fly with them.
After that I've picked up my luggage and went straight to Hertz to pick up my car (a very nice Ford Mondeo Estate, thanks Hertz!) and off I went.
My first destination, as you'll be able to find out from the map below, was Senja and the peak of Husfjellet. I know, I know, "why not Segla" right? Segla became so popular recently that I really didn't want to do it. I preferred spending the day by myself in a place that had a good possibility of having no people at all and boy did it work out the way I wanted it to!
Before I arrived at Skaland tho, which would be the starting point of my hike up Husfjellet, I still had a more then three hour long drive before me, which was bound to be longer as I was sure that I'll try and do some nighttime photography along the way, which was not an issue as I was planning on spending the night in my car and starting my hike early in the morning the next day. And I'm really glad I've made plans like this as that night was the first time I got to see the Northern Lights or aurora borealis. The experience was truly incredible, especially since it is such a rare occasion and I didn't get to see another one over the next six nights.
Aurora borealis can only be visible in the winter months and above the arctic circle so I'd suggest making an effort, cause it's really worth it!
After this experience, although I was spending the night in my car, the night was very pleasant and even the -29 degree cold did not bother me much. First thing in the morning, even before sunrise, I've driven from the parking space I've stopped at all the way to Skaland from where I would start my ascend up Husfjellet, but before any of this could happen I had to get dressed properly, as the temperature was reaching -26 degrees and it was suppose to be very windy at the top. Now putting clothes on that would shield you from weather conditions this harsh is quite something. If you've ever been in temperatures below zero then you know how important it is to have every single inch of your body covered. At -20 the clothing has also got to be really thick or in my case you have to have many layers on you. To sum it up: skiing tshirt, skiing longsleeve, skiing polar longsleeve, insulated jacket and a parka, hiking trousers, skiing trousers, two pairs of warm and thick skiing socks, Sorel heavy duty boots, leather gloves, skiing gloves, crampons. I'm not listing the contents of my luggage, these are all the things I had on me that morning. Add to that a backpack with my trusy Sony A7rIII, few lenses and a tripod and walking becomes... interesting.
Hiking up Husfjellet, any mountain in north Norway for that matter, is a very unique experience as very often you don't see any trails, which means that you either do some research or just go with your gut. For me it was a little bit of both as I helped myself with the information from Senja Vandrer, but as soon as the beaten path ended I've decided to just push forward, through the fresh snow, which was a bit of a poor choice in the end as I've ended up a bit to high and got stuck in a really deep snow, where I've lost one of my crampons. By the time I've noticed it was missing, I was already quite for away from the poor fella and had to walk back quite a bit, which all-in-all took me about an hour.
From that point on it was, to my big surprise, smooth hiking all the way to the top. Except for the crazy wind. And freezing cold. And steep cliffs everywhere, which you could not see, cause they were all covered with snow, which made them even more dangerous, but nevertheless I did manage to get all the way to the top and it was so worth it! The winter scenery from the top of Husfjellet is breathtaking, so raw and powerful. Truly an unforgettable experience. After taking it in for a moment or two I've started setting up my camera, which I would not recommend. The wind at the very top was really strong and I think that my camera only survived due to pure luck.
It did handle the severe conditions like a champ tho and I did manage to capture some great views with it. Oh and btw northern Norway is a photographers dream in winter as you get just the sunrise and sunset through the entire day. Senja is so far up north that during winter months to sun does not go to high above the horizon. That results in shorter days, yes, but also in some great lighting conditions through those five hours of sunlight.
I've started my descent around 3pm, which was basically sunrise time as I had plans to get to Lofoten before 8PM. Already on my way I've stumbled upon an incredible view: trees all covered in snow. Just check out the middle photo. Once you'll see something like that you'll immediately fall in love with arctic winter.
Now it was time to go straight to Lofoten to make my 8PM appointment... which didn't go all that well, but I'll explain this in the next one.
Stay safe and see you on the trail