I think I’ve said it before, that the economy of the Lofoten islands runs off basically two things: German tourists in the summer and cod stockfish in the winter. During the winter months, Atlantic Cod migrate into the waters of the Vestfjord for spawning, where they have been met by Norwegian fishermen since the days of the Vikings. One would think that north of the arctic circle would not be the most hospitable place to be during this time of year, but the gulf stream keeps the Lofoten islands relatively mild temperature wise. Though an arctic gale is nothing to laugh at, having heard stories of winds so fierce that they have literally moved houses.
One afternoon I took a hike up one of the hills above Stamsund to watch the sunset. Wasn’t the best light I’ve ever seen, but at least it was mostly clear and the wind was relatively calm. It crossed my mind to wait around a few hours in hopes of some auroras, but after waiting around for a little while, I decided it was far too cold for such an idea. Maybe I will bring a sleeping bag up nextime.
While the hike up the mountains was mostly deep snow, the top was windswept and icy. I made it to the top with a little bit of sun left, casting long shadows across the winter landscape.
Panoramic of the mountain Justadtind (in the center of photo). 4 photos at 31mm stitched together.
In the far north, the sun never gets very high in the sky, making more of a low circle around the horizon as the day passes on. Due to this relatively low angle of movement, the twilight time before/after sunset/rise lasts much longer up in the arctic than at milder latitudes. In only another month in a half, the sun will set for the final time of the summer. It’s amazing how long the days already are this early in the year.
the mountain peak in the distance is Steinstind (the peak on the left is the higher one, though doesn’t appear so in the photo), the high point of the mountain ridge I was on. this photo was from near Stamsundheia. In summer it’s a nice easy hike along the ridge.
View towards the village of Ure (below mountain in center of photo), with the islands and skerries off the coast of Steine on the left of the photo.
This photo is the view from Stamsund across the Vestfjord (Vestfjorden). The mountain on the far left of the photo is at the village of Henningsvær, still part of Lofoten. The mountains in the distance are of the Norwegain mainland, some 40-60km away across the waters of the Vestfjord. Typical sunrise with a break in the clouds near the horizon, letting a few minutes of sun through, before turning into a (mostly) gray and overcast day.
Nikon 85mm tilt-shift lens: 3 photos stitched.
Just walked in the door after 24 hours of travel. Been up in the Lofoten islands for the last week. More photos coming tomorrow and the next days. But for a quick teaser of things to come: snow, snow, a bit more snow, and maybe some snow…
One of the cool things about the north is how quickly the weather comes and goes. One April morning after a night of snow I woke up to nice sunny weather. First thought of mine was to head up Steinetind (the mountain in the center of the first pic) and take in the view. Around the half way point, while I was climbing a smaller middle peak the winds picked up as some clouds blew over and brought about 20 minutes of snow. I huddled down among some rocks and waited for it to pass. And soon enough, as quickly as it arrived, it was over and I was looking at nice blue skies again and a gently breeze. now back on my way up the mountain…
Continuing on the Lofoten theme of the last couple days…
The Hurtigruten is a daily coastal ferry that runs the length of Norway from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes, far into the arctic circle in the north. Stamsund is one of it’s ports of call. And twice from there, I’ve caught a ride south. The first time to Bergen in summer 2001 and the second to Trondheim in spring 2007.
A full price ticket and cabin is quite a fee, but with a student discount (many things in Norway have a ‘student’ price) and being willing to sleep somewhere on the floor for a couple nights, it can actually be one of the cheaper ways to get up or down Norway. Anyhow, the journey is so spectacular that there’s not much time for sleep anyway, though the ticket lady gave me quite a funny look when I said I didn’t want a cabin. “It’s a 3 day journey…” she said. “Yep, I’ve got a sleeping bag.” I replied. “Ok then, here’s your ticket.” And that was it.
I’m amazed at the skill of the captains. They bring this huge ship to port better than most people can park a car! It’s simply incredible to watch them navigate this giant boat like it’s some little toy. Most of the modern ones have propellers in the bow which help them turn the ship around. But on some of the older ships, they drop a front anchor, hit the throttle and spin the ship around the pivot point, then arrive absolutely perfectly. So cool.
Hurtigurten arriving at Stamsund as viewed from a nearby mountain one spring evening…
Hmm, another Lofoten post. Perhaps I’ve been at moderate latitudes for a bit too long and need another journey north. I had actually planed to travel to Lofoten around the new year to experience the polar night and the first coming of the sun, unfortunately, German class has put a ruin to those plans. Perhaps next year if I’m lucky.
A day of nice weather gave me the itch for some change in scenery from Stamsund. I had never been to Unstad, so I decided to head there for a night or two. I figured the journey would take a good 4-5 hours as I would most likely have to do a fair bit of walking as I imagined traffic to be quite sparse to a tiny coastal village of only a few people. But as luck would have it, I caught a ride out of Lekness with a guy who was going all the way there, cool!
(More below, including a few a couple pictures that some might find disturbing…)
One stormy spring evening I headed out of the warmth of the Stamsund Vandrehjem to take some photos of the coastline. I stood watching the waves crashing among the rocks for a few minutes until I was confident of a certain rock that would provide a close location to the sea but keep me and my camera dry. The first photo is from that location.
The second photo is of that location, about in the center of the picture, completely covered by a large incoming wave about 3 minutes after I had moved for a different angle. Would have been a quick ‘hop, skip and a jump,’ and still probably a wet Cody had I remained there…
And yes, in the Lofoten, the color can be that different just by turning 90 degrees.