09 Sep Nordkapp, part 2
After only a few hours of sleep, we wake up to the sun beaming on the tent. The sky is clear blue again, even in the direction of the water it looks clear. We hurry up eat breakfast, pack the camera, our rain jackets, snacks, a bottle of water, our water pump/filter and the 6-liter water bladder. The plan is to hike out to the monument, take a few beautiful pictures, and to pump more water out of a lake or stream on our way back to the tent.
On the hike out, we meet an Austrian man and his son. While dad is hiking his son is riding his mountain bike over the rocky terrain. We leap frog each other all the way to the monument. Whenever we meet up, we chat here and there with the dad. At other times Ron and I sit down near a way marker to eat a bite or to watch birds and soak in the views.
The terrain is initially flat and rocky, before we slowly have to work our way off the plateau, downhill toward the rugged beach line. The path is full of ankle-twisters: big, lose rocks, crevices, and bumps; with the occasional wet, slippery patch of mud thrown in between. We trot along with our heads down to watch every step. To really soak in the scenery, we actually have to stop every once in a while and look around.
As we descend down to the water’s edge, we can see the Nordkapp plateau across the inlet. The strong and powerful looking rock sticks out of the water like it is ready to defend whatever land lies behind it from the dreadful Bering-Sea.
We are almost at the “most northern point”, when the sea-fog slowly creeps closer toward land, trying to engulf everything along its way in a white, milky mist.
Suddenly, the wind picks up, gray clouds appear out of nowhere, and the temperature drops drastically. Just a couple of miles ago, we were sweating in our t-shirts, now we are zipping up our rain jackets and are pulling the collars tighter around our necks.
Only one more mile to go! We climb up and down several ravines, over the jagged, rocky, beach and make our way toward the monument. There are so many different pathways that it is difficult to be certain, whether we are still on the actual hiking path. Occasionally, we spot a red “T” painted on the rocks, pointing to our destination.
Finally, we reach the Monument. The father-son duo, has already made it there and apparently thought it was a point to be besieged. Not thinking about other people maybe wanting to take pictures at ‘their’ spot, they set up camp right at the base of the monument. Bike, backpacks, and all the contents of the pack are strewn all around its base, while the owners are checking out the beach area a couple hundred feet below the monument. What the heck!
A little perturb, but trying to be polite, we go ahead and check out the area around the monument. We look for the little shrine-looking cabinet placed atop a rock, which houses the signature book and sign our names like all the other hikers that have ventured this way before us…Ron actually gets to sign it for the second time.
We watch two more hikers coming up in the fog, who give the monument a quick glance and then decide to take close-up pictures of the plants around–they make it obvious that they too are waiting to get a clear shot of the monument.
Finally, the father-son duo returns to their trophy-spot under four sets of watchful eyes. Oblivious to their audience, dad unpacks the cooking stove, water, and dry-soup, while son is unpacking sandwiches–right on the base of the Nordkapp Monument–and start cooking and carrying on.
All the while, the fog around us is getting denser, and the air is turning into a soggy, wet mess, freezing us slowly to the core. We decide to sit down close to the monument on another rock, unpack our measly snack, eat, and freeze while keeping an eye on the unconcerned pair. At last, they seem to take note of the four waiting hikers watching every move they make, pack up their belongings, wave, and start their hike back to the parking lot…Finally!
We motion the other hikers to take their turn first, before we take over the monument to snap our photo for the memory bank.
After a few quick shots, we could not wait to warm up and get moving again. The fog is so dense, that we can hardly make out the big stone way-markers along our path. Having so many different pathways to choose from did not make finding the right way back any easier. Luckily, the mist suddenly gives way to blue, clear sky as we ascend from the rugged coast line onto the Knivskjellodden plateau. The air heats up quickly, and before we know it, we are hiking in short sleeves again while sweat is running down our face. The weather is definitely quite unpredictable around here!
About a mile from the tent, we pump our water-bladder full of fresh water from a stream that is crossing the path, and continue our hike back to camp to cook a good meal of rice with veggies and tuna.
Just as we are reaching the tent, we see a familiar looking figure heading our way along the path. We have seen this red rain jacket and this walk before: it’s our Polish cycling friend, hiking out to Knivskjellodden point. We for sure thought he was already long gone off the island, but it was great seeing his big smile again. He laughs and waves at us and motions with great enthusiasm that he was up at the Nordkapp plateau last night, and plans on spending this night at the parking lot. After a short chat, we once more wish each other well and say our goodbyes.
We quickly return to the tent and eat our hearty meal.
We have read before, that Nordkapp plateau only has about 60 days of nice weather with good visibility. The other 300-some days of the year, people usually only get to see a thick foggy soup and have to resort to the underground cinema at Nordkapp Hall to see what the midnight sun or the steep rock springing out of the Bering Sea actually look like.
So far, we feel very fortunate what the weather is concerned in Norway. Although, we did not originally plan on going to the actual Nordkapp plateau, we felt that the weather is so nice and clear at the moment that it would be a shame not to visit it. We quickly tear down camp to cycle the few more miles up to the touristy “most northern point”… After all, we have already cycled all the way up here, we might as well go the extra 5 miles.
Packing up these days is a piece of cake. We have mastered the art of breaking up camp and are able to deflate and roll up our mats, stuff the sleeping-bag, disassemble the stove, pack up cooking gear, clothes and what have you, rip down the tarp, take down the tent, and have everything in its place on the bike in less than 20 minutes. Time to get rolling!
Just as we are crossing the parking lot to get back on the road, the Austrian hiker from earlier in the day stops us, shakes our hands, and hands Ron 2 beer cans. Not sure whether this was a gesture to make up for him and his son hogging the monument earlier or just to be nice, we felt a little bit guilty for having all kinds of angry thoughts previously–and said thank you.
After cycling over a few more hills, we reach the top of Nordkapp plateau. As we roll up to the entrance gate, where the operator of cars, buses and any other motorized vehicle has to stop and pay an exuberant amount of money for each and every passenger, we get waved through….cyclists and hikers get to enter free of charge. I guess, bicycle touring has its perks!!
We quickly find our way to the Nordkapp Hall and the Globe Monument behind the big building. To our surprise, there are not that many tourists present at the globe. Apparently, most touring buses and tourist show up later in the evening to see the midnight sun during this time of the year. We wait a few minutes for several Spanish tourists to finish up with their photo op, before we have the whole monument pretty much to ourselves.
After taking more pictures for the memory bank, we stroll around the area and enjoy the view from this massive rock. Looking out over the sea-fog covered sea, it really feels like we are at the end of the world. The plateau plummets into the Bering Sea about 300 meters below us, in front of us is nothing but water and soft sea-fog rolling over the ocean, which almost makes it seem like we are above the clouds.
Since the area to explore at Nordkapp is not very large, we decide to head into the Nordkapp Hall to hang out until midnight. We find an electric outlet near the big windows facing the globe and charge a couple of our gadgets while checking the free internet. We eat another of our famous salami and cheese sandwiches and people watch.
As it is getting closer to midnight, more and more tourists gather around the globe to get a peek at the midnight sun.
We watch the golden globe slowly dipping closer to the horizon, painting the sky with beautiful sunset colors…yet, it does not disappear behind the Bering Sea. Instead it steadily crawls along the horizon toward the east, while the sky continually changes its sunset colors which playfully reflect off the water and the rolling sea-fog . What a spectacle!
Well after midnight, we finally head back to the parking area near the Nordkapp entrance, which is full of RV-campers spending the night on Nordkapp. It is actually permitted to stay/camp up to 48 hours on the Nordkapp plateau free of charge. That is not really out of generosity, but because it is simply part of the “Allemannsretten“, which allows anybody to camp anywhere in Norway for 2 nights at a time.
We pass the parking lot and push our bikes off the road onto the big grassy area that is not accessible by motor vehicles. There, we set up our camp near other folks that have biked or hiked up here with their tents in tow.
Although the sun is already rising again, most people–just like us–are just now returning to their tents to call it a night.
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