Simon Migaj photography
Adventure and travel photographer and videographer

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Visit Norway - A week in Lofoten Day 5 "Towards Munkebu"

This was a hike that went wrong. Completely wrong. I wouldn't suggest doing this hike in winter and here is why.

 

Let me paint a picture for you: if you remember yesterday I hiked up Ryten, which was not an easy task due to the deep snow and torrential wind. I got back to my B&B happy, but very late. All of this is to say that the next day I've overslept, I didn't hear my alarm and have woken up really late. Never mind, I told myself and decided to do the hike I was planning on doing that day nevertheless... stupid. My goal for the day was to get to the Munkebu Hut, setup a tent over there and wait for the auroras to happen as the weather was suppose to be beautiful. By the time I got dressed and got to where I wanted to leave my car, which was the town of Sørvågen, it was already afternoon. Again never mind, let's go! This was my plan:

How to get to Munkebu Hut

As you can see it's a pretty straight forward plan, at least on a map, but let's get into it! Once in Sørvågen you'll want to leave your car somewhere near the path that goes between the lakes Tindsvatnet and Sørvågvatnet, but DO PLEASE BE MINDFUL WHERE YOU LEAVE YOUR CAR! Don't leave it on someones driveway or in the middle of the road. At the very end of the road going towards the path between the lakes, you should be able to find a parking space. After leaving my car there I've started walking the path straight up north and it's a great path, clear and visible even in winter as a lot of people walk there with their dogs and do cross country skiing. Basically you should go uphill to pass the lake Stuvdalsvatnet, which you should have on your left.

 Looking back at the town of Sørvågen

Looking back at the town of Sørvågen

Following the path along the lake you'll stumble upon few huts. These are very picturesque, at least for me, so I took a moment to take few photos here. In addition to all of the in winter the lake Stuvdalsvatnet was completely frozen, so I took advantage of this opportunity and took few photos there as well! Tho to be fair I wouldn't advise it. You never know what's underneath the snow and ice.

Here's where the trail gets a bit tricky. Turn left once you're past the Stuvdalsvatnet lake and after few moments turn right, before walking between the two lakes, one being the Stuvdalsvatnet on your left and the other being a very narrow one called Tridalsvatnet. You have to have Tridalsvatnet on your left! This was fun, wasn't it? Here I have to tell you: don't do this hike in winter, but if you're still keen don't try it without at least proper crampons. From this point on it's only uphill, and sometimes it's quite steep. This part, when you'll be climbing along the Tridalsvatnet lake, is very steep when covered in snow and ice and I personally wouldn't make it without my crampons and an ice axe. Once you're up that ridge, just keep on walking straight, along all those lakes that you'll see on your left (the Tridalsvatnet and a new bigger one called Fjerddalsvatnet). Somewhere over there you'll stumble upon another quite difficult climb as the lake Fjerddalsvatnet is higher then Tridalsvatnet

The climb between the Tridalsvatnet and Fjerddalsvatnet lakes

Remember when I said that I've started late this day? At this point this little fact started showing. It was already getting dark and I could see the Munkebu hut in the distance. I could also see that to get there you have to take the trail that goes east a bit and it is a long one. When I say that I could see the hut I mean that I could see that it would still take me 2-3 hours to get there as the trail needs to go around quite a steep cliff. All of this probably wouldn't stop me, but I had a very specific mission in mind: I wanted to take photos of the aurora that evening... and the weather was getting worse. Clouds started rolling in, heavy clouds.

Clouds rolling in over the Fjerddalsvatnet lake

At this point I've decided to call it a day and head back. I regretted this decision twice that evening. First time was when hiking down that steep ridge next to the narrow lake of Tridalsvatnet. My crampons decided to give up when I was sliding down and I've started slipping down the slope to what could've resulted in my death or at least a very serious injury as the slope was going down towards a cliff. In an act of complete desperation I've plunged my ice axe into the snow and ice covered slope and managed to stop myself. At this point I should mention that few weeks earlier I've hurt my wrist while hiking in Snowdonia.

Winter hikes in Snowdonia, UK

While plunging my axe into the ice I've put some serious weight on my wrist, which resulted in quite a lot of pain and issues with the hand in the next few weeks. Fortunately I did manage to get down safely and managed to take few night time photos on the frozen surface of Stuvdalsvatnet

I've started driving back towards my B&B and here I really started regretting the decision of going back. The sky cleared up and some gorgeous auroras presented themselves to me, probably the best ones from this entire trip!

Now you might ask why after all of this I still decided to go back instead of quickly going to Reine and capturing some classic compositions? Well, to be honest, it's a good question, but I had plans for day 6 so stay tuned!