2017/07/27 (Thursday; Moskenes -> Evenskjer)
Things got pretty quiet for a while during the night, but then in the morning a woman got up at 5am and set about the project of inflating an air mattress out by the nearest picnic table. I suppose it was because the mattress had lost its air and she needed to do something to sleep, but it was pretty annoying nonetheless. The campsite was nice and well organized, and the “pub” was a nice plus, but was the most crowded by far of any I had been in.
I tried sleeping a while longer and managed to make it until 6am, but that was about as much as I could manage in the broad daylight, even with my eyeshades. Pretty soon the sun would be beating down on my tent and baking me alive. So I was motivated to get up and rolling early. But not without going for a walk first!
One export Norway is known for is dried and salted cod, or as I first came to know it, klippfisk. Wikipedia rather unromantically states this “cliff fish” is no longer dried outside hanging against cliffs and rock faces, but rather indoors with electric heat. Fortunately rumours of the deaths of these practices were at least partially exaggerated, and there was plenty of outdoor drying going on here — at least, I assumed, when the proper season came.
I decided to try looking for a more significant hike in the hills here as well, but if I didn’t find it after a short time, I’d just start heading back and then do the same hike I’d done before again, this time continuing further.
And in fact I ended up not finding anything at the place on the map the trail was supposed to start, so after a short pause to earplug up I was on my way eastwards. The official turning point of the trip had come.
I ended up stopping in same town, Svolvær, for gas and lunch as I had on way out. It was kind of nice to now feel a seasoned traveler here in Lofoten, but along with that turning around at Å came the loss of that exciting sense of mystery about what lay beyond the next bend. Of course the road looked different coming in the other direction, and in fact that was made more so by the fact that the tide was at a different level. I passed a number of white sand beaches this morning for example that had only been choppy blue water yesterday afternoon.
This brought home to me even more clearly just how lucky I had been the day before in coming to that particular place at that particular time. It was paradise then and there, and would have been (at least somewhat) more ordinary on any other day and time. I could go on a hundred trips to Lofoten or anywhere else and not once achieve the same experience. Whether we call it dharma (fate), karma (extended cause and effect), God, Allah, Brahma, or something/someone else, it was clear that some forces had conspired to bring me to that particular time and place and grant me a wonderful gift. Now it was up to me to treasure and preserve the experience, and do what good with it for others that I could.
After a short early lunch at the pair of gas stations in Svolvær, I returned to the bike and carried on eastwards, reaching the campground of one night before in less than an hour, only a little after 12:30. As I was parking and stripping off my riding gear in preparation for the hike, I noticed it was quite a bit warmer than it had been the evening when I’d first started this hike. It was too bad, evening really is my favorite time for a hike, but there was nothing to be done since I had another 100+ kilometers to go after this. I grabbed a water bottle and an energy bar, and tied my thermal top around my waist in case it actually got cool and windy up at higher elevations. Riding gear and helmet were cable-locked to the bike since I had no room in my cases to put them.
Keeping my remaining ride in mind, I headed up at a fairly good pace, and in only a little over 20 minutes I came to the he-man’s campsite where I’d turned back before after nearly an hour. Now I continued, the trail winding its way along the lake. It seemed that there were many others besides myself who turned back where I had the evening before, since the trail was noticeably narrower and more overgrown. It was slow going, and I was glad to finally find a spot where it started to climb up above the lake.
Unfortunately it died out even more soon afterwards, but I kept on, nosing my way from sign to sign of previous passage. At least I came to discover that this turnout actually hadn’t been the one I should have taken at all, for I was confronted not by another alpine lake, but a sweeping view down to the valley and the fjord from which I’d come. Never mind that it was the wrong place, it was absolutely spectacular, and I couldn’t help but pump my fist in the air and yell, “Yeah!!” at the top of my lungs.
You can get an idea of the scale of all this with a zoom-in on the boat in the image above.
I was also treated to a bird’s-eye view of the campground I’d stayed at two nights before.
And then I headed back down, again moving quickly, eager to get back on the road again. But I was now happy twice over — for coming to the tremendous overlook that I had, AND because I still had reason to come back and do this hike for yet a third time, to finally find the third and fourth lakes the map had shown.
It was still hot and sunny back at the bike, but I had to put on my heavy gear before I could start riding. Then after I got going and the sweat started evaporating, I started to realize I’d spent a lot of energy. The ride went OK at first, but grew progressively more painful as the afternoon continued. I was only too happy to cross over the final bridge to the mainland. I just had to go a few kilometers up the coast to reach my campsite. But hardly had I turned north when the sun disappeared and grey mists descended from all sides. A few minutes later when I got off the bike at the campground, a damp chill pervaded the air and a steady wind was sweeping in from the sea.
I lost all of my appetite for camping and decided I could splurge for one night in a cabin on the trip. It wasn’t cheap, nor was the cabin particularly well-kept, but it was clean enough, and warm. I brought a few things in from my bike, took my shower, and then stayed inside for the rest of the evening. I had been outside almost continuously for the past five days and now I was content to rest for a while and just reflect on all it had been my tremendous privilege to see.