Visit Norway - A week in Lofoten Day 3 "Skagsanden and Kvalvika Beach"
If you've read through Day 2 of my trip through Lofoten, you know that is was a pleasant city break in Hamnøy, Reine and Sakrisøy. Day 3 was completely different.
I woke up early in the morning just to find out that the weather was horrible. There was a blizzard rolling through, so it was cold and the visibility was poor. Doesn't matter, I decided to progress with my plan for the day anyways... and I was very grateful I did! On my way towards my destination for the day I've encountered some amazing moody landscapes.
That wasn't the only thing though. I've also seen some of the nutters from Unstad Arctic Surf. These guys are incredible! Often, whenever I'm hiking in the dark or swimming in a lake in the mountains, I think I'm insane, but these guys are on a whole new level, surfing in those hectic conditions. The impression they've made was surreal!
Personally I don't think I'd be able to do what these guys were doing. I'm a big fan of being warm and this looked freezing cold, but I do admire the spirit that they have. It looked like a lot of fun!
From there I drove straight towards my destination, Kvalvika Beach. More specifically I was driving towards Torsfjord, where you need to get to in order to park your car and where you'll start your hike if you want to get to the beach. There is also a second way, using the same trail as the one that goes all the way up to Ryten, but I do not advise it in the winter!
Kvalvika Beach... I've seen so many photos of it and I know that it's an amazing place that I just have to see with my own eyes, but I have to admit that I wasn't hoping for much, as the weather that morning was truly horrible. Hold that thought though and keep on reading!
Personal opinion of mine is that the hike to Kvalvika in winter is not for the faint of heart. The first part, all the way to the pass, is very easy, there are even steps at the beginning of it, but once you get through and see the actual beach it gets a bit steep and tricky and by "a bit" I mean be prepared. I wasn't. I left my crampons in the car, expecting an easy hike and that was my biggest mistake of the day.
Once you'll start hiking down towards the beach, you'll be rewarded with an incredible view. Sit down, relax, take it in, cause it is breathtaking...
Don't stop there! Lets got to the beach! Don't know if this is always the case, but when I finally got to the beach the waves during the day were big enough to reach far into the land thus making the whole beach perfectly immaculate. Flat, no people, no footprints. Ideal! This is one of the main reasons why I would suggest visiting Lofoten in winter: there are very few people and especially if you're a photographer, you'll enjoy all those amazing locations to yourself.
When I finally got to the surface of the beach I was awarded with such an amazing view! The sky cleared up, presented its full gorgeous palette of colours and I just couldn't stop taking photos and walking up and down the beach, which is not easy as it is very VERY long.
This brings me to a very important lesson: the weather in Lofoten can be very tricky, definitely hard to predict so don't trust the weather forecasts to much. If your morning is rainy, dark and cloudy push yourself and get out anyways. There is a good chance that your day will improve.
Also when you get to the beach, instead of going left, straight to the sandy bit, go a bit forward to the right. You'll find a hidden rope swing over there. Sitting on it, listening to the waves crashing and taking in the view is truly an incredible experience!
I've stayed on the beach way past sunset and it was truly amazing, probably one of the best experiences of my life.
Until it was time to leave, that is.
Few people came in and they were camping on the beach, staying there until the morning. Turns out that was the thing to do. Now you see what I should write here is that I decided to take a different way back, returning through the same passage, but climbing from the beach using the Ryten side. While hiking down to the beach I was using the other side, but now, looking at the trail from down below, the Ryten side of the trail looked easier. This was a huge mistake and don't do it, ever!
As I've mentioned before I left my crampons in the car, not expecting many issues, but this part of the Kvalvika is basically covered in small, loose stones and is very steep. Add to that the fact that everything was covered in snow and it was dark and you'll know that the fact that I was afraid for my life was well justified.
It took me hours of stress, slip ups and sweat to get out of there. Now I know, I should've went back, but the first part of this approach was so easy that I've gotten pretty high up before I got stuck up there and I just didn't want to waste the time by going back. Probably another mistake.
The above photo should give you a rough idea of how terrible the surface is over there and how steep it is. Again, don't go there in winter, at least not without crampons.
I did manage to get to my car eventually, but it took a lot of effort and made me so tired that I've decided to call it a day and get some sleep, already thinking about the incredible climb I'll do the next day.