I forgot to include a few pics from Nordkapp on my last post, of the round carvings at the cape designed by children from several nationalities who gathered there to have them erected in the name of peace. They’re quite striking, although I did get slightly soggy feet getting to them.
Back to more current affairs. I slept solidly for about 10 hours in Olderfjord, a pretty solid rest after the hard cycle down from Honningsvag, and awoke to a brilliant view and sunny day.
After breakfast I packed up, paid up, and pedalled off, but not before pausing to gaze across the Norwegian ‘Ocean’, a beautiful vista. Today would be the last day I rode alongside it, as I head further South and inland towards Finland and Sweden.
Here’s another shot from the same place as Lobster couldn’t decide on the angle.
I intended to stop in Lakselv for the night, some 65 km away, and the day looked promising with the sun shining and the temperature going up. Unfortunately the wind that made yesterday difficult was back today, albeit not as strongly which came as a relief.
The ride down the E09 was pretty spectacular, with more trees gradually appearing, a few reindeer herds, and at one point a couple of moose in a paddock; I don’t think they were wild but could be wrong.
As well as the moose, more cars (not just Volvos!) were starting to appear, and more frequent signs of human habitation, not quite towns yet but getting there. I even passed a couple of the people on bicycles, not tourers but they gave a friendly wave which always makes you smile and gives a boost.
The Arctic tundra was still very much in evidence, however I did pass through a nature reserve where the river forms a delta into the sea, where much bird life was in evidence; mostly wildfowl but also a few buzzards soaring about.
Have I mentioned how handy it is to have a bike stand on this tour? I wouldn’t leave home without one now, so much easier!
The terrain was mostly gently undulating, with the occasional bigger hill. All easily manageable; my legs must be getting stronger. I passed a pen full of Huskies basking in the sunshine, they gathered to have a look at me but didn’t enter into a barking fit which was a pleasant change as far as dogs are concerned. Despite the headwind I made good time to Lakselv, amazingly being spotted by my stalkers from home on the town webcam as I rode in.
I resupplied at the Remo supermarket in Lakselv, and then decided to carry on to a campsite a bit further on, my legs still feeling pretty fresh. I had a small escort of kids on bikes as I left the town; I don’t think they’d seen a bike with so much luggage on before.
The next campsite was only 10km down the road, but it proved to be closed which was a little frustrating after diverting up a track for a few kilometres to find it. Still, it was a nice off road detour, and I passed a several butterflies flitting about, struggling against the wind slightly, as well as emerging wildflowers; it must be springtime! It definitely felt warmer, perhaps around 11 degrees centigrade, with a few cold patches when the sun went in.
Still feeling fit I decided not to go back to Lakselv, but to pedal on to Skoganvarre where the ACSI app reliably informed me there was definitely an open campsite. I rode on for another 20 kilometres, passing through a restricted army zone where no photos are allowed; a shame as some wonderful frozen lakes and pine forested mountains. I nodded to the bored guard on gate duty as I passed a barracks, he nodded back, smiling, clearly amused at the stupid cyclist slogging through the hills at this time of year.
I arrived at the campsite at about 17.30, having covered 95km which I’m pretty pleased with after 97km the day before. Thankfully the campsite was indeed open, and I was able to pitch my tent close to another frozen lake where people go fishing on the ice in winter.
The ice is thawing now, bringing the ice fishing season to an end, which means this campsite will close in a few days and not open again until June for the next batch of holiday makers; guess I got lucky. I chatted to a couple if Finns who have been coming here for years; apparently the fishing hasn’t been good this year, I hope it’s not a case of over-fishing like so many other areas of the world. It was great to talk to them and I’m constantly impressed at how good nearly everyone’s English is up here, can’t say the same of my Norwegian, although I have mastered ‘Takk’, just about.
The campsite was a little more expensive at 150 NOK for the night, but I did have use of a campsite kitchen, as well as a lovely hot shower which was most welcome. I spent the evening eating, not unusual, as well as planning the next few days ride and updating my blog. Oh, and I remembered to check the UK general election results; a conservative majority which came as a bit of a surprise, and a shame to see such a big Lib Dem collapse, perhaps not such a surprise though. I really haven’t missed all the social media furore and indignation.
Thanks to everyone following my tour so far, and for the comments whether they be on twitter, Facebook or here, helps keep me motivated; although that’s not too tricky given the scenery I’m cycling through.
I didn’t get such a good a night’s sleep in Skoganvarre, due to some of the other residents packing up and leaving in the very early hours of the morning, and not being at all quiet about it. Tent walls aren’t very sound proof, especially versus slamming doors and shouting. Anyway, I awoke to the sound of rain, and was somewhat reluctant to get up, so had breakfast in bed instead; bread, salami and banana, what a luxury!
Using a porch to shelter from the rain I packed up, and was soon on my way, waving goodbye to the campsite owner and hacking a couple of Ingress portals in range of the Wifi signal as I pedalled out; if you’re confused as to what Ingress is look it up, it’s a fun game to play, especially when you’re travelling, but data hungry so I’m not playing it much out here.
It was only a 50km ride to Karasjok, up an initial gradual 1000 foot climb to a plateau, then across and down to the municipal village. I opted for the yellow lenses in my glasses today, they make everything look happy.
Whilst the cycling was relatively easy, especially without the headwind of the last few days, it was pretty cold and wet. The scenery was impressive; Arctic tundra consisting of silver birch scrub pines, and more frozen lakes. I expect it looks starkly different and beautiful in the summer, but with a lot more insects of a biting nature.
My passage along the road was accompanied by the sound of cawing crows, honking geese, and other tweeting birds all waking up for the spring. I think I might have seen a Waxwing, but it was only flitting by and I not sure if they all migrate or not; I suspect all the geese I’ve seen and been honked at by are migratory.
Latterly I started to hear the sounds of bangs in the distance. I think there are a lot of hunters in Norway, as was evidenced by the two people dressed in snow camo heading off into the tundra dragging sleds behind them, complete with rifles; I wonder what they were hunting? Probably why there aren’t many bears or wolves left.
I eventually passed the source of the bangs – Karasjok shooting club by the looks of it.
The descent down into Karasjok was pretty fast and thus freezing. You get cold pretty quickly when you’re not pedalling and it’s damp, however it’s nice to get some speed up now and again. Karasjok has a cool coast of arms, 3 fires on a shield, representing the 3 ethnicities that live here; Sami, Norwegian and Kvens.
The Kvens are Finnish and Swedish peasants/fishermen who migrated to Northern Norway in the 18th and 19th centuries, and of whom I had no prior knowledge. I’d heard of the Sami, and Karasjok is where their parliament is based.
The Sami (Laplanders) are the indigenous people of Northern Europe, the Arctic bits, and are found in Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola peninsula of Russia. They’re traditionally fishermen and sheep herders, as well as fur trappers, and of course nomadic reindeer herders; the Sami are the only people allowed to herd reindeer here. I’ve passed several touristy Sami spots so far, and seen a few in their cultural dress of red coats and dual pointed black hats, but haven’t had chance to get any photos yet; somehow seems a but crass.
I also spotted this sign; Norwegian zebra crossing signs are much cooler than UK ones.
I found the campsite and decided to opt for a cabin, which whilst a luxury at 500 NOK would be warm, allow me to dry my stuff, and would set me up for the long ride tomorrow; about 130km to the next campsite!
The cabin was very cosy with a nice view.
I feasted on noodles and cheese, followed later on by an expedition pack of minced beef hot-pot I’ve been lugging around with me for about 2 years, and which I need to use before it allegedly expires.
Finishing the evening watching some Bear Grylls ‘The Island’, using a VPN link to access 4 on demand from the Europe, very handy. I don’t think I’ll get many tips on how to survive the Arctic tundra from the TV show, entertaining though it is.
Early night now before tomorrow’s attempt at 130km (80 miles), I hope it’s not raining.