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Inside the midnight clouds

Posted: 2007-07-23 16:11:07, Categories: Travel, Norway, Cycling, 717 words (permalink)

Compass needle pointing north at the northernmost point of mainland Europe. My second trip this summer brought me again to latitudes above the arctic circle, actually several hundred kilometers further north than the midsummer camp at Tuntsa. At Kinnarodden, the northernmost point of mainland Europe, the sun never sets for more than two months, but that doesn't guarantee you can actually see the sun. The picture on the right shows how Kinnarodden looked like inside the midnight clouds, after a 25 km hike to get to the spot. Oh, the wind was quite strong too.

This time I was again on the road with my two old cyclist friends Mikko and Sami. We took first a train to Rovaniemi and continued by bus to Karigasniemi, which lies just before the Finnish-Norwegian border. Then we continued by bicycle towards Nordkapp, but found out on the way that everybody goes there and that Norway has decided to collect 190 krones (about 25 euros) per person just for the entrance at the site, not yet including some tunnel fees on the way there. Besides, Nordkapp is on an island and not even the northernmost point on that island, so we decided to do something else.

The route to the northernmost point of mainland Europe was different. First it was small roads to Mehamn, a small fishing town, followed by a full day hike over rocky fells to the end of the Kinnarodden cape. The hiking trail was marked by small piles of rock every kilometer or so, but cloudy weather made sure that a compass was much more useful than the markings. Besides, the line drawn on the hiking map photocopy we got from the Mehamn hostel helpfully didn't follow the marked route.

We didn't see a single person during the hike. As a matter of fact we didn't see much else either as it was cloudy, the clouds were hanging low and the scenery consisted mostly of rocks followed by more rocks. In particular, we didn't see whether it was really the last bit of land at the end of the cape, because there was some 200 meters of cloud between us and the sea somewhere below. But I guess that was it and we took a group picture at midnight. Actually we took two, first in a wrong place, and that picture was slightly better. Never mind. A Czech cyclist we met on the road had done the whole hike two ways in 23 hours without a map, but he had good weather and must have been a bit crazier than us. We were exhausted after just going one way, very happy to sleep after cooking some dinner and setting up our tent. Next day it was still cloudy and we walked back to Mehamn. As we summarized in our travel journal: The shoes got wet and also otherwise it was fun.

To be honest, we did get a half-decent view of the scenery a few kilometers before the tip of Kinnarodden, and the fjord between two high-rising rocky shores looked magnificent. It ended to an almost white sand beach, a very uncommon feature among fjords in Norway. The whole area must be quite spectacular in clear weather. Even on a cloudy day it was one of the most special places to go for a morning swim. We had of course set up our tent just next to the beach and we had it all for us.

Except during the hike to Kinnarodden we were actually quite lucky with the weather during our two-week trip. While southern and central Finland were suffering from heavy rains we were enjoying sunshine more than half of the time, day and night. Superb wild camping spots by the seaside or by a river with plenty of fresh drinking water were easy to find. We set up the tent facing north, leaving the entrance open to watch the sun through the mosquito net until falling asleep.

From Mehamn we took a ferry to Hammerfest, spent a day there and then followed the coast southwards until Skibotn. From there it was a short ride back to the border, entering Finland at Kilpisjärvi. In addition to admiring the fjords we met some nice people and spent one evening at the Riddu Riddu festival. We have a more detailed travel diary in Finnish which will be published later — when it's ready.

1 comment

Comment from:
A cyclist who had visited Nordkapp later told me that both the tunnel and entrance to the site are free of charge if arriving by bicycle. Great! However, I think it was still a good choice to visit Kinnarodden instead. :)
2008-11-30 @ 16:44

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