Hermannsdalstinden Lofoten Islands Norway

Travel Updates

Hermannsdalstinden Lofoten Islands Norway


Photo: Moonlight bivy on the summit of Hermannsdalstinden, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2013


Well, it’s been a while since my last post.  Mostly this is due to my working in the chronological order of my travels during the last few months, and as my trip began with two+ weeks on Lofoten, I’ve mainly been adding content over at 68North.com as I get through the images and write a few mountain hiking guides.

There were also some major setbacks to my travel plans in which I’ve been waiting to write about.  The most affected was my planned hike along the Kungsleden trail and into Sarek national park, Sweden.  I only managed one day – 20 km of hiking before disaster stuck, and I was forced/reluctantly chose, to cancel that part of the trip and return to Lofoten.  And it was such fantastic weather! There was more sun in those two days than my previous two trips combined.  I’ll write more on this later.

Anyhow, here is a short overview of the last few months.  More extensive write-ups will come soon as I get ready to head home to California next week where I’ll hopefully be a bit more productive.

Lofoten – Part 1:  I sometimes wonder why I don’t run into many fellow Americans on Lofoten.  That is until I walkout the door in California and don’t see a stop in motion for the next 40, where I can finally setup my tent and close my eyes in someplace more comfortable than an airport, airplane, ferry station, or bus stop.

With an overall trend of rain lasting from Monday to Friday, I did manage to photograph what will probably be my best single set of images from Lofoten to date.  And then, after two weeks on the islands, with one more still to go, I decided to sprain my ankle while coming down from Ryten in the evening while camping at Kvalvika, which effectively took me out of business for the next days.

Germany – Festival Mediaval in Selb: Like last year, I headed down to Germany for a weekend of music and food.  And fortunately, I managed to keep onto my wallet, unlike last year.  And even more fortunately, I got to see one of my favourite bands, Garmarna, play live, which they haven’t done in around a decade or so.  A night in Berlin and then I was on my back back north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden.

Sweden – Kungsleden:  After sitting around all afternoon in Stockholm’s Arlanda airport, I caught the night train north to Gällivare where I then caught a bus to the beginning of my hike at the Saltoluokta hut.  Arriving in the late morning as the rain cleared to a brilliant blue sky I bought a few supplies and then was on my way for the 20km hike south to the next hut on the shores of Lake Sitojaure.

I was a bit worried about my ankle, but was happy see that it managed the trail with only a little pain towards the end, though still quite sensitive of any ‘wrong’ steps.  I inquired about taking the water taxi across the lake in the morning, but learned the boat driver would be away reindeer hunting for the day so I would have to row across the lake myself.  No problem I though as I headed to bed, at least two boats are on my side, so I won’t have to row the lake three times!

Getting into the boat the following morning, my camera decided to go for a swim.  It died.

I sat around for another hour of so, doing my best to dry it out and see if I could salvage anything, but it was gone for good.  And so, I emptied out a bit of the heavier food and the hut and made my way the 20km back north from where I had come the day before.

Lofoten – Part 2:  It took me two days of travel before I was back in Stamsund, where I quickly put a new camera on order and began the wait.  Days of brilliant weather and nights of Northern Lights passed, yet I remained camera-less.  Finally, after 12 days, I got the news that it had been delivered around the corner and was waiting for me at the post office inside the Joker market.

with six full days now left on the islands combined with the thankful cooperation of the weather I hit the hills with a furious pace.  Day after day I found myself high in the mountains under a bright shining sun until finally the rain returned on the 5th day.

Dublin – TBEX conference: Leaving Norway on the 1st of October I next traveled to Dublin (my first visit to Ireland!) where I would attend the TBEX – Travel Blogger Exchange conference over the following days.  I had a really good time, learned so useful info and met some nice people.  I will definitely do my best to attend the next one as well.  Although I did feel out of place at times and sometimes received something of a blank look when I said I was a photographer and that my website is codyduncan.com and not some fancy-sounding-world-traveler-wandering-adventure-blog.com.  Something to work on for next time I guess.  And it was nice to learn that I looked as if I had ‘just come from the mountains,’ being slightly under dressed to the more upscale looking and successful attendees of the conference.  Though in my defence, I had just come from the mountains…

Scotland – Orkney:  I made the somewhat unwise decision of leaving Dublin at 6:00am on a Saturday.  But I had places to go, namely, Scotland!  Even as we were heading north from Manchester airport, the exact destination for the next week was still unknown.  Scotland, yes, but where in Scotland had yet to be decided.  The weather forecast was somewhat bleak, so instead of heading somewhere to the mountains, it was decided Orkney would be the destination; it was the top of the list anyhow, so not a hard choice.

As I won’t be around for the New Year this year, I was provided with my mandatory dose of gale force winds to hold me over for the next few months.  Nearly lost a second camera over the cliffs at the Old Man of Hoy as a sudden, severe gust of wind nearly took my whole backpack over the edge!  But over all, I was glad to be back in Orkney again after 4 years and the week passed all too quickly.

Wales: I’m now counting down my last days here in Wales.  The weather has been somewhat dismal and I haven’t even made it out to the hills at all, but that’s how it goes.

Inspired by TBEX in Dublin, I’m heading to London on Wednesday for the World Travel Market.  Followed by a concert up north on Saturday for my final weekend here before flying home next week.

Until next time…


Ryten Hiking Lofoten Islands Norway

Photo: Enjoying the view of Kvalvika beach from Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2013


Northern Lights Kvalvika beach Lofoten Islands

Photo: Northern Lights over camp at Kvalvika beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2013

Spring Hiking on Schneibstein, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany

Finding Winter in Spring

Spring Hiking on Schneibstein, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany

Photo: Spring 2013 conditions on Schneibstein, Berchtesgaten national park, Germany – Austria.  May 2013

It has been a running joke among a few friends of mine for the last several years that I have an uncanny ability to attract abnormally bad weather.  I actually used to boast that the California sun followed me wherever I headed, but for the last 5+ years I’ve seemed to have lost that power.  Now I travel in my own personal rain, or snow, cloud wherever I seem to end up.

The Germans had a long, dark winter this year.  And that is nothing due to me.  But as I landed in Munich in mid May after a previous two weeks on the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway, the temperatures felt absolutely tropical.  Walking the streets of Munich to my hostel as the midnight hour neared, I was in a full on sweat under the heavy load of my backpack, without wearing a jacket.  And so it was with a fairly optimistic outlook that my friend Till and I set our sights on some easy hiking in the Alps.

As we passed Chiemsee on our way to Berchtesgaden on a Monday afternoon, passing rain showers clogging up the normally fast moving autobahn, it was apparent that maybe our glasses were at bit too rosy.  Or plans had been for Watzmann, the second highest peak in Germany, but as we neared Königssee, it became apparent that this would be an unlikely objective.  Not to mention that I only had some light hiking boots, as I hadn’t left California planning on full on Winter mountaineering.

With clouds concealing all the high peaks, we caught the one of the last cars on the Jennerbahn up the mountain, entering into snow and blasting winds as we left the station at 1,800 meters.  If it was truly bad, I knew we could stay at Carl. V. Stahl Haus at Sneibstein pass on the German/Austrian border.  But it was only pretty bad, so we reached the hut, we decided to continue on up into the mountains in the direction of Schneibstein, 2276 Meters.  I was here last October, in a brilliant t-shirt weather week of indian summer so I more of less knew where I was going.  But as we ascended a bit further, into the whiteout of the clouds, the trail became near impossible to follow.  Finding a fairly decent flat area in the snow, we decided to set up camp for the night and see what morning would bring.

The night was cold and windy, not to mention that I only had a 0˚C sleeping bag with me.  Perhaps not the most comfortable night of my life, but still a ways off from the worst.

Morning arrived with passing moments of sunlight and raised clouds, at least high enough for me to see Schneibstein’s summit at set my bearings.  We continued up the mountain, probably the only ones having made this journey since the storm arrived several days previously with a fresh dumping of snow.  At times we struggled through drifts up to waist deep, as we watched the cloud layer begin to lower.

I knew more or less the correct way to go, or we would not have continued once we entered the whiteout, with visibility to each other limited to about 10 meters or so.  And with a 500 meter cliff near vertical cliff near the summit, it wasn’t exactly a mountain to get lost on.

I could feel the way as we got higher.  If the weather got too shit, we still had enough time to follow our footprints back down the mountain.  Had I been alone, perhaps I would have turned around, but the hubris or companionship kept us going.  As the mountain began to flatten, I kew we must be close.  But it wasn’t until I was only 4-5 meters away from the summit cross that I could actually see it in the cloud, so covered in hoar frost it was, it was rendered near invisible.

Quickly chilled by the wind, we didn’t sit long on the summit before making our way back down the mountain.  The descent proved to be much quicker, me bum-sliding most the way down the snowy slopes.  Camp was quickly taken town and then we set of for the leisurely walk back down to the valley floor.

Spring Hiking on Schneibstein, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany

Photo: Deep snow while heading into the clouds, Schneibstein, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany – Austria.  May 2013


Spring Hiking on Schneibstein, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany

Photo: Ascending into the clouds, Schneibstein, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany – Austria.  May 2013

Spring Hiking on Schneibstein, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany

Photo: Nearing the summit in full whiteout, Schneibstein, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany – Austria.  May 2013

Whiteout on Schneibstein Summit, Berchtesgaten national park, Germany

Photo: Schneibstein summit, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany – Austria.  May 2013

Schneibstein Summit, May 2013, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany

Photo: Mandatory summit selfies, Schneibstein, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany – Austria.  May 2013


Person stands under rainbow near summit of Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Europe Travel Plans

Person stands under rainbow near summit of Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Rainbow watching on Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2012

Only 1 week left for me in California.  Still a few tickets to buy and details to workout, but here’s the rough schedule of my travels for the next few months.  As much as was interested in going to some new/warmer places, it looks like I’ll be sticking with my favorite areas.  I can’t avoid being pulled north.

Norway – Lofoten Islands

Next week I’m making the long journey back to Lofoten.  I leave California on Tuesday morning and reach the islands Thursday morning.  Hopefully I find some time for a bit of sleep, but like normal, that will probably have to wait for the 3 hour ferry crossing at 01:00 am Thursday.

Like normal, if the weather is good I’ll most likely head out to Bunes beach.  If the weather is crap, I’ll probably head to Stamsund and wait things out for a few days.  I have somewhat ambitious plans for this trip, so wish me luck that the weather cooperates!

Originally I planned to be on the islands about two weeks, and then head down to Jotunheimen national park for a few days before continuing on to Germany.  But this proved to eat up too much time just getting between locations, so I’ve decided to stay the whole time on Lofeten.  So I’ll be on the islands until September 4th.

If any of you are around the islands, look for someone in an bright blue jacket and probably a tripod.  Come say hello!

Germany – Festival Mediaval

Like last year, I’m heading down to Selb, Germany for the Festival Mediaval.  Hopefully I don’t get my wallet stolen this time!  I’m bringing a small padlock for my tent.  One of my favorite bands of the last 10+ years, the Swedish group Garmarna, is playing their first show in years, so I’m super excited to see them finally.  And then of course there’s the food and beer to enjoy after a puritan three weeks in Norway.

Sweden – Sarek National Park

I really had it in mind to maybe head down to the Alps for a week or so and then maybe to Croatia, where I’ve been wanting to go.  But logistically, Packing for both Norway and Croatia would have been a bit difficult.  So I’ve decided to stick with the cold conditions and head back north to Sweden, the area around Sarek national park to be exact.

I don’t have exact plans at the moment, but it will be a long journey from Berlin any way I go about it and most likely involve a night train and a bus or two.  It looks like it will be best to enter from the north at Saltoluokta and hike south over the next week, ending in Kvikkjokk.  I’ll probably spend a few days in the area of the beautiful Rapadalen, and with luck, have some decent light and good timing with the Autumn color.  And I wouldn’t complain about a light dusting of snow on the surrounding mountain peaks.  But it is the Arctic in September, so anything can happen, err, anything having to do with cold and bad weather can happen.

Norway – Lofoten Islands Part 2

Following Sarek, I’ll be heading back to Lofoten for another week to 10 days.  If the weather stays like last year, this should mean I’ll be finding myself up a few more mountains.  But I’m sure I’ll spend most my time sitting around the warm fire in Stamsund watching the rain fall against the windows.

Ireland – Dublin

In a change from my normal hermitude (I don’t thinks that’s a word, but it is now), I’m going to try and change things up a bit and attend the TBEX travel blogger conference on October 3-4.  I’ve never really thought of myself as a travel blogger, but seeing as I’ve now had this blog going since 2005, maybe it’s time for a little change in mindset and perhaps I can open a few new doors.  I have to admit that I’m a little jealous of all these 22 year old blond chicks that seem to get all these free ‘press’ trips all over the place 6 months after getting the first stamp in their passport.  Maybe there’s one more spot for an unshaven, probably slightly smelly, with sink washed clothes, dude with too much camera gear.

Ring of Brodgar standing stones, Orkney, Scotland

Photo: Ring of Brodgar Standing Stones, Orkney, Scotland.  December 2009

Scotland – Orkney

I have this weird relationship with Scotland in that I think every visit will be my last.  Yet alas, another year comes around and I seem to find myself doing my best to avoid hitting sheep standing in the middle of some small winding road in the middle of nowhere.  And after my last two New Years on the Outer Hebrides, which were pretty grim weather wise, to put it nicely, I think I’m finally due for something a little better.

It’s too far off to make plans at this point, but as I pretty much have near every road in the Highlands memorized, there doesn’t need to be one.  My inclination is to go to Orkney, but that will be a little expensive with the car, and that is if I even have any money left after more than a month in Norway and Sweden, so it might be to the familiar glens and Bens of the Isle of Skye for a week cruising around the Cuillins.


For the remainder of my time in the UK, it’s back in Wales until I fly home to California in mid November, for my first holiday season in the US since 2007.  I’ll admit that I purposely try and be away during the holidays for the sole reason of avoiding Christmas shopping.


I have yet to start packing, but within the next week I’ll be posting up my gear list for both my hiking and camera equipment.  But for the most part, as these travels are pretty similar to last year, my gear list should be looking pretty similar to 2012.

frankenjura bouldering, Germany


frankenjura bouldering, Germany

Photo: Frankenjura bouldering, Germany.  Nov 2011

My time on Lofoten is now ended and I’m heading south to Germany today.  Bad flight and train connections mean I have to spend a night in Munich, before heading a couple hours north to Erlangen where I’ll with with my friend Till for the week.

And if the weather cooperates nicely, hopefully we’ll get some good days climbing and bouldering.  Spring in Franconia is a beautiful time of year, so I’m quite looking forward to being out it the woods of fresh green leaves while hopefully the cherry trees are still in blossom.

frankenjura bouldering, Germany

Photo: Frankenjura bouldering, Germany. Nov 2011

German Photo Gallery Update

Watzmann Berchtesgaden national park, Bavaria, Germany

Photo: Dawn comes to Watzmann, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany.  October 2012

I forgot to mention in Monday’s post that I’ve added a few more images to my German photo archive -CLICK HERE-  Other than a week in the Alps in October, I really haven’t photographed much in Germany since I left in 2009.  So I guess I was a bit overdue to add a few new images.

Evening sky over Aggenstein Allgaeu, Bavaria, Germany

Photo: Indian summer twilight at Aggenstein, Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany.  October 2012

Berchtesgaden alps germany

Photo: Afternoon light across the Alps from the summit of Schneibstain, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany.  October 2012



Islands in the Sky – Allgäu Germany

Breitenberg,  Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany

Photo: Alpine foothills rise above fog, from summit of Breitenberg, Allgäu, Germany.  Oct 2012

At the end of October I found myself cruising around the Alp foothills along the German – Austrian border.  In what is somewhat typical autumn weather in Germany, a heavy layer of fog hovered over the lowlands of Bavaria.  Luckily it only rose to about 500 meters, above that it was glorious sunny weather with temps in the mid 20’s (˚ C) with hardly a cloud to be seen.  It was actually a bit too hot for me, only having somewhat warm pants that I had used for hiking in northern Sweden where I had already experienced snow storm in the middle of September.

One of the days I headed up to Breitenberg, a small peak near the village of Pfronten.  I stayed at the Ostlerhutte, which to my surprise, I ended up being the only guest which actually felt a bit awkward for me.   In the afternoon I headed up Aggenstein, the highest peak in the area. I thought about sticking around up there until sunset, but I also didn’t want to get back to the hut too late (this was before I knew I was the only person).  Breitenberg proved to be a fairly decent spot as the fog came up right to the base of the mountain.

Breitenberg, Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany

Photo: A sea of clouds and islands of mountain, Breitenberg,  Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany.  Oct 2012

Mountains emerge above inversion layer fog, from summit of Breitenberg, Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany

Photo: Evening light from Breitenberg,  Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany.  Oct 2012

mountain shadows on inversion layer fog, from summit of Breitenberg, Allgäu, Germany

Photo: Mountain shadows in late afternoon, Breitenberg,  Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany


Leaving Germany

Steinerne bruecke regensburg germany

Photo: Steinerne Brücke, Regensburg, Germany.  Oct 2012

I’m heading to Berlin this afternoon for my last night in Germany before flying to Wales tomorrow morning.  Hopefully my bank account still has enough money left to make the UKBA agent happy when I tell them I’m planning on staying until March (not counting a Lofoten trip, probably sometime in February).  After being on the road for 10 weeks, I’m tired and looking forward to being in one place for a while – though I’m sure I’ll be bored after two weeks and head up to Scotland or something.  Orkney and Rackwick Bay has been on my mind a bit lately.  The thought of waiting out winter storms all alone in a small stone shelter with no electricity that sits on the edge of the sea surrounded by cliffs seems to be a nice one.

The last two weeks have seen me criss crossing Germany; east to west to east, and south to north.  After a long weekend in Regensburg, even getting a little snow, I headed north to Bonn to stay with a friend whom I’ve traveled with on Lofoten several times.  And having the good timing of showing up for halloween, I even got to cook some pumpkin seeds (one of my favorite foods that I can only get once a year) and attend a pretty good party which didn’t see my head hitting the pillow until 6 am.  I guess I’m not getting too old after all.  Although a few nights later in some Cologne disco at 2 am and surrounded by 19-20 year olds all seeming to have the same haircut I knew I was a bit out of my element.  For the last week I’ve been up in Rostock staying with another old friend.  A good place to relax and focus my thoughts on what lies ahead in the next months.

My first priorities are to get the blog slightly back on track.  I’ve never been good at the blogging while traveling thing, which is probably the reason that even after 7 years, my readership is still abysmally low.  I’m always amazed at the people I see blog about going on their first trip and 6 months later they are making a living off it.  Perhaps if I were some cute blond chick posting pictures of myself in a bikini while partying on the beach, or, if I actually had even some minimal talent at writing I could be doing better.  Though I’m supposed to be a photographer anyhow, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Speaking of writing, I also have a number of articles to write for 68north.com.  Hopefully I can get one done per week, which will see new content added until sometime into the new year and possibly even until I’m back on Lofoten again.  While on the Kungsleden trail in Sweden I also took some footage and shot a few time-lapse sequences.  Hopefully this will turn into a short video clip, but it’s sort of a low priority behind all the images I have to process.  Not to mention that I have to re-learn how to use Final Cut and edit video.  All and all, hopefully I can keep myself busy and finally get some shit done!  I think I’ll have some pretty good images to show…

And finally, my fingers are crossed for a cold winter in south Wales.  My ice tools are are ready for some action and I need to get in a bit of training before heading Lofoten.  I don’t want to be stuck pulling on plastic in the climbing gym all winter.

Berchtesgaden – Germany

Watzmann, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany

Photo: Dawn light over Watzmann from Jenner, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany.  Oct 2012

After a few nights in the Allgäu region, and without having any sort of plan or maps, I headed to Berchtesgaden, a place that I’m at least a bit familiar with.  It was still sunny when I arrived in mid afternoon, but I knew the fog would be arriving so I wanted to get up into the mountains to escape the gloom.  I headed up to Stahlhaus, dropped off my backpack, then immediately hiked up Schneibstein.  I wanted to wait around on the summit until sunset, but the hut warden lady didn’t want me back too late, so I had to go down a bit early that desired.  But it was still amazing to be sitting at 2200 meters in the late afternoon, in October, and only wearing a t-shirt.

In the darkness of the following morning I hiked from the hut to Jenner, hoping to get an interesting photo of Watzmann at sunrise.  Wasn’t the best sunrise ever, actually was pretty boring the whole week with the almost perfectly clear skies, but the valley fog covering Königsee and Berchtesgaden was quite nice.  I wish I’d had a second camera so I could shoot some timelapse sequences of the fog as it moved around.

Schneibstein, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany

Photo: Afternoon light from summit of Schneibstein, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany.  Oct 2012

Allgäu – Germany

forggensee, allgaeu, germany

Photo: Twilight over Forggensee, Allgäu, Germany.  Oct 2012

After picking up my car in Munich I headed straight to perhaps my favorite region in Germany, the Allgäu.  Where rolling, cow filled pastureland meets the vertical wall of the Alpine foothills, the Allgäu is a magical place.  Combined with a late October Indian Summer, the region was bursting at the seams with tourists looking to escape the fog that cloaked the rest of Bavaria. Though despite the fullness of the parking lot as I arrived at noon, I did find myself a peaceful night as the only guest at the Ostlerhütte on Breitenberg one night.  Actually felt a bit awkward really, but I managed, helped by some good food filling my stomach and amazing views right out the door.

Allgäu sunset from Breitenberg, Germany

Photo: Sunset from Breitenberg, Allgäu, Germany.  Oct 2012

Aggenstein – Germany

Aggenstein, germany

Photo: Moonlight silhouette of Aggenstein from Ostlerhütte, Allgäu, Germany. Oct 2012

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, You’d know that I was cruising around the Alps for a week.  And a week of absolutely fantastic weather it was.  If I actually had any idea of how good the weather turned out to be, I would’ve skipped renting a car and just done some long hut tours in the mountains.  But anyhow, I still stayed a few nights in the mountains in the Allgäu and Berchtesgaden regions.


Aggenstein, Germany

Photo: Climber on Aggenstein with Tannheimer Tal (Austria) in background, Allgäu, Germany.  Oct 2012