Paradise Found

2017/07/26 (Wednesday; Gullesfjordbotn -> Å Part 1)

I slept well and long. This was the first morning in the last several that I didn’t need to bounce out of bed and get on the road. I’d put in the work to make it out here, and now I was free to enjoy it. I could spend up to two more nights here on Lofoten before needing to start heading back. Over breakfast I pulled out the map and mulled over my options.

There were three possible destinations, all vertices of a triangle outlining the main shape of the Lofoten island cluster. Furthest out was the town of Å in the west. It was the very end of the line of the longest road in Lofoten. When I’d first seen it on the map I’d joked with my wife that it was so remote that they couldn’t afford more than one letter for the name. Fittingly the next corner up was known as Bø. It was situated at the northwest extreme, which was not as far west nor as remote, and so they were able to make it further into the alphabet and even manage the luxury of a second letter. Lastly there was Andøya in the extreme north. (It was interesting how many Norwegian place names had a Russian sound to them.) Although there was a fair amount of action in Andøya, including whale-watching tours, the island itself looked flatter and less mountainous on the map than elsewhere, and so I decided to cross it off the list for being less interesting from a motorcycling perspective. I had two more days, so I’d shoot for Å and Bø. After some thought it seemed best to go for Å first, since I’d be disappointed if I didn’t make it there, and one could never know what would happen more than a day in advance on a motorcycle trip. Also it would be a really remote start to the trip back if I ended my last full Lofoten day on Å.

In addition I investigated the smaller side roads I could see on the map along my route, and made a couple of selections to explore. The actual total distance I needed to cover today was not that great, and even factoring in the slower roads, so there should be time for a side-trip or two.

I eventually got underway around 9 or 10, and the first side-trip came after only an hour or so. I would take the road south down to Årsteinen, of which the last few kilometers were unpaved.

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The first part of the side trip was quite excellent. I proceeded south along the east edge of a narrow fjord, perhaps 3or 400 meters across, but I rode along it for 10-15 km.

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At one point I saw an orange buoy out in the middle of it, and noticed that it was leaned over at quite a steep angle, with white foam trailing behind it. The tide was apparently pullling water out of the fjord at a high rate. I continued, and the road narrowed down to the point where there really wasn’t room for two cars to pass unless someone paused or backed up to a pullout. Even though I was on a motorcycle, I slowed down considerably to allow for unexpected situations. Soon my turnoff came to the dirt road for the final few kilometers. I had gone to far and doubled back to make a left onto it, and I had to stop for a car coming out. It was full of young “kids” maybe in their early 20′s (gosh I’m getting old) and they waved and cheered to me as they passed. I waved back.

The road was by far the best yet. It wound quite close to the water’s edge, and there was no traffic. Nor was there any wind. Just cove after cove of translucent blue water. I thought about photos but there were so many places I couldn’t decide where to shoot. Finally I came to a small pull-out next to some big rocks on the side of the road and I parked the bike.

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I scrambled up onto the rock and just sat and stared down to the water, amazed at the place to which I’d come. The sun, lack of wind, and 70+ degree temperatures combined with the scenery to bewitch me. I sat for a long time, just enjoying.

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Finally I climbed back down and got on the bike to continue. But when I’d gone only around the next bend, I stopped again. A patch of white sand I’d spied from the rock turned out to be a beach of paradisic beauty, and it looked like there was a way down to it.

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In fact there were two beaches. The first was the large crescent that I’d seen already, stretching a couple of hundred meters wide and about as deep. A few tents perched in the green area just above it, and a family with children were relaxing at the water’s edge.

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The second was a much smaller chute leading between the embankment of the road on one side, and a peninsula of jumbled rocks on the other. I stood between these for the time being, and after a short sally directly down the rocks, decided to go and visit the smaller beach, which had no occupants.

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What a great move!  The peacefulness and intimacy of the place went from zero to beyond imagination within seconds of me clambering down there.  No cars came along the road at all, and the only sounds were of the water, with no waves and just barely stirred by the hints of a breeze, gently lapping at the rocks and the “sand” on the beach, which turned out to be finely-crushed coral.

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I walked down to the water’s edge and listened to the gentle “tssshhhh” which came whenever a one-inch-high “wave” dropped down onto the coral bits, which were roughly the size of sesame seeds.  There was no other sound here, and in the “tssshhh” it seemed you could hear the individual sound of every last one of those thousands of tiny bits being tossed against its neighbors.  Into that space, the world expanded.

I climbed up and sat on the rock peninsula for a time, looking out ahead to the other beach, and to my left to scattered islands marching out into the distance. Paradise found, on a remote beach in Lofoten.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

But I could not stay here forever. Eventually I headed back to the embankment and pulled my jacket and pants back on, removing the liners first, it being so warm, and taking my sweet time over the whole operation. I got back on the bike and continued forward, wanting to make sure I got to the end of the road, but it turned out to be only a few hundred meters further on. There were a few houses at the end, nothing more. That was Årsteinen, I had to suppose.

 

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(Continued in Part 2)

 

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