Today we decided to head over to the next peninsula to the east, the one that abuts Finland, for an easy hike along the Lulleelva River. It’s in a protected area, which means you should not hurt anything or ‘invade’ it, although of course you can forage for mushrooms and berries all you want, and you can just camp anywhere you like. (Too bad, none of the berries are out yet; the tourism guy in Lyngseidet told us yesterday that the berries are around in August.) We drove over to Lyngseidet and caught the ferry to Olderdalen, and then drove ~20 miles to just past Skibotn.
|ferry heading across the fjord|
|want some food? She has you covered.|
|the ferry lounge -- the trip took about 45 minutes|
All we knew was that it was classified as an “easy” hike, it was 3.1km (and in a loop, we thought even WE couldn’t get lost), and it should take 40-60 minutes. Approximately 170m above sea level. Forest. River. Gorgeous.
As we headed into the forest, Marc sang, “I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me …” and I busted out laughing. There we were, in a Norwegian wood, and I have to agree with The Beatles. Yes, it is good. So very good.
|and so so quiet|
|sweet little flowers|
|and tall trees|
|red baby pine cones|
|and this magnificent raging river --|
|we could hear it the whole time|
|three-toed woodpeckers make rings of holes to mark territory|
|what a great walk|
|the Lady's slippers|
|ah, I love a peeling birch, don't you?|
|but we could not figure out which part was the|
inside and which was the outside
|so many pinecones|
|a place to rest at the trail's end|
The place was completely empty! There were two other cars in the parking lot, but we never saw another person until we were leaving. All of North Norway feels like this, empty and uninhabited. There were little signs all along the path, some in English, describing the vegetation, or a bit of history (tar pit here, Sami campground there), or giving bits of information about animals and birds that are found in the area. Lots of moose signs along the road and we haven’t seen one yet, but we did come upon a giant pile of moose droppings which was kind of thrilling. We hoped to come across a moose, but no luck. We saw a few medium-small rodents, bigger than field mice but they didn’t look like rats, either. They just scurried across the ground into their little hidey holes.
The ground was soft, and in fact as Marc noted, the whole forest was soft. Not only were there pine needles all over the ground, the ground was kind of boggy, squishy, and sometimes muddy. But the boggy feeling wasn’t due to it being wet; it’s just the nature of the ground. The trees were primarily pine and spruce, and the area is known for its 16 species of orchids, including the Lady’s slipper.
If you’re a real hiker (and we are most definitely not real hikers – we are city walkers), we assume you just know the various conventions for hikes. We, on the other hand, were sometimes unsure where to go because the path either kind of disappeared or split into two or three paths. And it also felt like the M.C. Escher forest too, because we climbed up and up and up and up and never seemed to go down in a corresponding way. There were a few downhill bits, but not nearly as many as the uphill – and yet we did finally end up back at our car, just over two hours later. It was just starting to rain a tiny bit as we were heading out of the forest.
What a gorgeous place Norway is.