05 Sep Into Norway
It is still early, when I wake up to grey clouds, threatening to release more rain on us. I scratch the new bumps on my legs and arms and swat at the few pesky mosquitoes that have found their way into our mosquito-net enclosure to torture us all night. After successfully assassinating the little critters, I change into my riding clothes and look for the midge-net and long-sleeve windbreaker in hopes to fend off all the other bloodsucking critters that are stalking us right outside the net. I really love the net! It has become my little save-haven and lately, I even wish I could make a whole suit out of it; especially, when taking a break in the woods from riding or while trying to eat a meal in peace.
Of course wiggling around inside our sleeping bag, while getting suited up for the war on mosquitoes, I wake up Ron. We start our morning ritual of persuading each other to go outside to start making coffee. I guess he must really like me, because most of the time he braves the early morning challenges, whether it is the freezing cold, rain, or like today a swarm of bloodsucking mosquitoes, to get the stove for hot water going. While he dons his “anti-mosquito armor” and boils water, I search through my pannier for our cups, instant coffee, sugar, and a breakfast snack.
After the coffee is poured, Ron quickly crawls back under the net. It only takes a few seconds of lifting the bottom of the net and getting himself and things situated for more of the bloodsuckers to slip into our nest. A few swats and a couple of new bloodstains on the white fabric later, we are able to enjoy breakfast.
Shortly after breakfast, we tear down our camp and get going as fast as possible to avoid getting eaten up. Also, we were very excited to enter our next country today: Norway!
Today’s weather reminds us a little bit of bipolar April weather. The sky is mostly gray, occasionally it rains for a short period of time and we frantically search for our rain jackets while we freeze our butts off, the next moment the sun pokes through the thick clouds with all its might and we can’t wait to strip down to shorts and t-shirts.
After several miles of riding we cross a small, inconspicuous bridge, where the Finnish-Norwegian border is located. We almost miss the border-crossing, since only a small, insignificant sign marks the spot. To top it off, everybody around the world who makes the trip to Nordkapp by motorcycle or bike feels the need to plaster stickers all over it to commemorate their pilgrimage, which made the sign almost unrecognizable.
After a long uneventful day of riding through more forests and over rolling hills, we start looking for another camp spot for the night.
By now we have learned to stay away from the woodlands, where mosquitoes run rampant, and are looking for a spot where we can get a nice breeze and have a water supply at the same time. After a while of searching, we find a place right at a rest/parking area by a lake. There are picnic tables and toilets located; and although the toilets are primitive and have no running water, they are very clean, have a good supply of toilet paper, and keep my butt somewhat safe from bloodthirsty mosquitoes. According to a piece of paper hanging in the bathrooms, they even get cleaned every day and somebody has to sign off at what time they were serviced.
After claiming one of the picnic table ours, we pump water out of the lake to cook dinner and since the weather does not look very promising we decide to set up our tent instead of sleeping under the mosquito net. We find a level spot down a slope from the parking area, right next to the lake, where we are not easily spotted by car drivers who are taking a break.
Luckily, the mosquitoes only seem to bother us while we are pumping water and trying to set up our tent. Apparently they do not care so much for the paved parking lot, so we are able to cook and have dinner in peace. Just as we are finished setting up camp, it starts to rain again. We quickly stow away our bags in the tent and call it a night.
In the morning, we wake up to the sounds of a soccer-ball being bounced around the nearby parking area and people carrying on a conversation–just a family taking a short break at the picnic table from their long car ride.
By the time we crawl out of our sleeping bags, we hear drizzle hitting the tent again, or maybe it was just the sound of lingering raindrops falling off the surrounding birch trees. Either way, our home is pretty wet again this morning.
We decide to take our time with breakfast and to let the tent dry out before hitting the road again. Unfortunately, the weather is not playing along with our plan. Just before the wind finally dried out the fabric, it starts to drizzle again. We set up our tarp over the picnic table and have breakfast under the shelter, while waiting for the rain to stop.
Eventually, we get a small break in the weather, we help the drying process by wiping the tent down with a sponge, pack up the tent quickly before it gets soaked again and hit the road.
We encounter more hills today and whenever we hit the top of a hill, we are amazed on how much wilderness is out here. Sometimes we can see nothing but hills and trees for miles and miles. There is not a single house nor sign of civilization to be seen…minus the road of course. Traffic is fairly light throughout the day, there are hardly any cars, instead we are passed by mostly tour-buses and camper-vans making their way up to Nordkapp.
As we take a break at the side of the road to eat a couple of bananas, trail-mix, and cola-gummies, we notice a weird figure coming down the road, toward us. Against the sun we can not really make out the silhouette. At one moment it looks like a strange animal with huge antlers, then like a packed bike rider that moves extremely slowly but sways heavily from side to side. Then, finally, we can make out the cheery hiker with his backpack, rain-jacket, shorts, crocks, and long fishing rod sticking out of his backpack.
Bord is a young, native Norwegian from the eastern part of Norway over near the Russian border. He is what most people would call a survivalist and adventurer and he loves to hike. He has hiked and skied from the bottom of Noway to Nordkapp in the wintertime before. Now he is braving the mosquito infested inland and is bushwhacking his way through the mountains of Norway to Alta. He has no map, just a compass and he makes his own trails. He lives mostly from foraging and catching fish, and he pumps/filters water from streams or lakes. Thinking about the food prices in this area, we think he is on to something and are briefly considering getting a fishing rod for ourselves.
He tells us a little about his adventure, while we are sharing our trail-mix. While most people tell him he is crazy for doing what he is doing and find it way too dangerous to be out in the wild like this, he thinks we are crazy for choosing to travel on the road by bike. In fact, he believes this short piece of hiking on the road is the most dangerous part of his hike…and he is more scared of that then the possibility of meeting bears and wolfs while whacking his way through the mosquito infested mountains.
Sometimes it is just funny to hear, what other people find crazy and dangerous and what they consider fun!
After a nice break and chat, we go our separate ways.
The weather stays cool and rainy for most of the day. Unfortunately, it has just the right temperature, where we sweat up every hill in our rain jackets, but are too cold to take it off to coast back down hill. So we continually zip and unzip our jackets to keep from overheating or being uncomfortably cold. Luckily, the landscapes are pretty, to make up for the discomfort.
After a few more miles of ups and downs, I spot several sheep in road. Apparently, they are trying to stay warm in this unpredictable weather and are huddled down on the warm asphalt. I yell out “sheep!” Ron looks around and scans the surrounding hills to spot the animals and almost runs over a sleeping sheep right in front of him on the road. As I yell out “sheep!” again, he finally realizes that the herd I am referring to is not merrily grazing out in the field, but about to trip him on the bike. Luckily, he is able to avoid a collision at the last moment.
We have not encountered sheep for a long time, so expecting the animals to take naps on the narrow road was the last thing on our mind. Maybe, next time I have to remember to yell out the location of the critters as well to avoid misunderstandings.
After a few more miles of riding, we reach Porsangerfjord. The scenery is gorgeous and reminds us a lot of Scotland; it is open, wide, and rugged. As we admire the water and the mountains on the other side of the fjord, we also spot several reindeer huddled down by the beach while trying to stay out of the cold breeze. It made us think of the cows sunbathing at the Spanish beach by Tarifa and we can’t help but chuckle a bit. I guess, the reindeer here really are a little bit like the cattle down south: they like to walk in the road without a care in the world and they like to stay out of wind while sunbathing at the beach.
While taking a break and enjoying the scenery, we see our Polish friend ride by again. It’s been 3 days since we have last seen him so we decide to catch up with him. As soon as he sees us, he gives us a happy “hello” , laughs and seems happy to have someone to ride along for few miles again.
With lots of charades, traveler’s sign language and ‘Thai Chi’, we have a good conversation about our travels, fishing, and where we stayed the last few nights. Since it is already late in the day, he soon decides to pick a spot in a patch of small birch trees to call it a night, while we keep going a few more miles. We read on our map, that there are supposed to be whales in the waters of the Porsangerfjord, and decide to look for a camping spot along the water, in hopes to see a whale. Shortly before midnight, we finally find a good area away from the road with a great view of the fjord and set up camp for the night.
We stay up until way after midnight, but unfortunately never got to see any whales…Maybe we’ll be more lucky in the next few days.
All comments are welcomed here, so if you would like to leave us a comment that would be great! We appreciate all your kind words that are left over on Facebook, but when we return home, our Facebook page will most likely go away and sadly so will your wonderful comments. If you are having troubles with leaving a comment or if you are worried that we will sell your email address to the NSA, just make up an email.