Thursday, July 9, 2015


Vuošvággi is the “gateway to the highest mountains in the Lyngen Alps and the highest mountain in Troms – Jiehkkevarri, which is 1834m above sea level.” It’s a tremendously beautiful valley, and in one spot you can see three glaciers (though we still haven’t figured out which ice masses are glaciers and which aren’t). When we woke up this morning and it was such a gorgeous, sunny, blue-skied day, we decided to head over to the valley for a good hike. For yesterday’s hike in the forest, I wore a long-sleeved shirt, a fleece sweatshirt, a scarf, and my warm down coat, all at once and the entire time. Today I just wore a long-sleeved t-shirt and sometimes my scarf, and I was sweating. What a difference. Seeing the forest on a cloudy day was not bad at all; there would’ve been little light trickling in anyway. And seeing this majestic valley on a clear, sunny day . . . well, it was just spectacular, in every way.

But the first tricky bit to navigate was finding the entrance. There are no signs for any of these places (or restaurants or cafes, for that matter), so we never know if we’re in the right place. Our guidebook said to park at the Furustua in Furuflaten. What is a Furustua? A building? A park? A river? A lot? We knew it’s a proper noun but that wasn’t enough to be helpful. 

this woman stands in front of the Furustua
 Luckily we saw a cabin that seemed to be “the Furustua” so we parked and walked back up the highway to the football field, where we were supposed to turn left and find our way to the path. The thing about a place on a fjord is that you know at least one direction not to turn – not toward the fjord. So we turned at the football field and set off, heading for an alleged bridge, which we found.

the view back toward the fjord
standing on the bridge looking toward the valley
and away, toward the fjord
ready for our walk in the sun
Unlike the hike in the forest, this hike didn’t have any signs or posts, no direction markers, no nothing, but we did have a topo map and as long as we kept the river on our left we couldn’t go wrong. It was an easy, level walk, an occasional place where there was a narrow, gravelly ledge to navigate, but mostly it was just a beautiful walk along a pounding glacial river in the midst of an alpine valley. 


We both kept thinking about The Sound of Music (alpine valleys will do that, I suppose), and I had an old song in my head I remember from Girl Scouts – “The Happy Wanderer,” I think it’s called:  I love to go a-wandering / along a mountain track / And as I go / I love to sing / my knapsack on my back. / Val-der-ee / Val-der-ah / Val-der-ee / Val-der-ahahahahaha / Val-der-ee / Val-der-ah….

We’d left our water in the car, but you know, there was a gorgeous glacial river just right there. Finally the path wound down next to the river, so we walked to the rocks along the edge and I drank handfuls of icy water. It was so delicious. The sun beat on my back, the water was pounding past, and thundering down the face of the mountain just ahead, and there were birds singing everywhere. It was one of those experiences where you feel like if you died right in that moment it would be OK. That’s how I felt.

cold and sweet water......but emphasis on COLD!
The place was packed, though; we passed a couple of people going in, and a couple coming out. For this part of the world, that is PACKED. Once we passed them, though, the place was empty and remote and I just kept thinking that it stands there just like that, through the Polar Night, and the Lights dance in that valley I bet, and when I’m back in New York City, or in Austin, or when I’m in Vietnam in November, those mountains will be standing astride that beautiful valley in their watchful silence.

There was a little patch of the path that was landmined with piles of poop – horse, I think – and just when I thought I’d navigated around it all, I climbed up on a big hunk of rock to take a look around and noticed that I had missed avoiding one pile, which was now pretty firmly stuck to the bottom of my foot. I scraped it on grass and one rock after another, but couldn’t get it clean. Again, the nearby glacial river to the rescue – along with Marc, who took care of it for me while I sat in the sun and soaked it all up.

so sweet of him to do that for me
Maybe the poo came from these guys, though. They stuck out their tongues at us and bleated to beat the band.

We have driven and walked all over this little peninsula in North Norway and have been dazzled by it all, no matter the skies. We have had such fun with the 24-hour daylight; we’ll be out and about and one of us will start to say something about getting back before dark and then we’ll stop – there IS no “getting back before dark!” We’re trying again tonight, assuming the skies stay clear, to drive out to the tip of the peninsula to try to catch a glimpse of the midnight sun. If we find it we do, and if we don’t, it’s OK. It’s been such a beautiful place to spend several days.

Tomorrow we’re up early to catch the ferry back to Breivideidet and then on to Tromso, to the airport. We fly through Oslo to Copenhagen, where we will stay for two nights before heading back to New York City. So with this post I’ll say Tusen takk, Ole and Magni, and Svensby and Lyngseidet and all the mountains and valleys and fjords. We had a wonderful time. Det var hyggelig ȧ treffe deg. Ha det bra!

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