Sunday, July 5, to Monday, July 6
Rising to another day of sun and bright skies we planned our day around two hikes: one to a lake which we read last year s/v ALCHEMY had actually used for an arctic dip; the other, just up the hill to get a view of our anchorage.
First, Max added line to our 140 feet of anchor chain (we like to have a ratio of 1:4, i.e., if 15 ft is the depth, we’ll put out generally 60 ft of chain so it lies on the bottom and helps keep the anchor snugged in; we had to anchor in 50 ft, so we needed more than our amount of chain). When anchoring Max is usually at the helm ensuring we’re in a safe spot (best depth and enough swinging room in the event the wind changes direction). I’m handling the anchor (for retrieving it we have a motorized winch, so, no, I’m not having to haul in a 55 lb anchor, thank god), and to facilitate letting the correct amount of chain to run out as the anchor goes down we’ve marked the chain via colored plastic ties and noted the corresponding feet on the door of the anchor locker. Believe me, as that chain can zip through one’s hands, it truly helps!
Mission accomplished and with packed suits and lunch, we took the dinghy ashore and then bushwhacked to a path only to find ourselves not really on a path but rather on a soggy marsh trail. Eventually we reached the opposite cove where deserted summer cabins took sentinel in the sun.
Finding a real path, we reached a park sign. Being in Norwegian we weren’t too clear on exactly what was what, but it did show us where we were heading.
We had read there were several streams to ford meaning get use to wet feet, and we discovered it was all true. After the first time Max and I just accepted we’d be hiking in flooded shoes; Chris, however, after the first time, removed his and went barefoot. It was fairly warm compared to other days in the Lofotens, so slogging through frigid streams and squishing our way up and down the forest path didn’t seem like any hardship at all.
At one point we crossed one of the rushing streams only to find some galoshes that must have been left for fellow stream-forders. Thoughtful but too late for us.
The walk was a true joy. I felt as if I was in a Scandinavian fairy tale as the path cut through a forest of springy, leafy birch trees.
Then we came into the opening and the vista opened up into this crystal pool of water enclosed by mountains laced with snow.
It was a warm-enough-for bathing suits weather, allowing for ensuring you were sitting in the sun and in no wind, and we were facing that beautiful, clear water–more importantly, FRESH–water lake. So, how could we resist each taking our turns in jumping into that very brisk arctic water? :) We all dipped into lake with Chris actually doing some calisthetics to warm up for his swim after displaying a hiking casualty.
Then, we drip-dried sitting on a log to eat our picnic lunch as we gazed out on the vista knowing we weren’t going in again.
Retracing our hike in to hike out, we plowed through the streams, only this time the water felt a lot colder. Entering the small settlement we again felt the eeriness of no one being around, outside or inside for what we could tell. If anyone was around, they were well-camoflauged.
Continuing around to the cove with its stream of waterfalls pouring off the mountain sides, we made our way back to the dinghy. Max, at one point, tried crossing an outlet to the cove only to be sucked down to mid-calf by mud. Fortunately, no shoes were lost, nor did Chris or I have to test that particular ‘path’.
At one point Max noticed a huge hoof imprint, and he recalled reading that Dick and Ginger had spotted animal prints along the shore line. I’m just thankful bears don’t seem to be partial to Norway as they would be huge considering the amount of fish they could catch here.
We motored to the other side of our cove where I emptied my boots of accumulated hiking water.
Another bushwhack to the top of the hill for an overview. I keep describing it as bushwhacking but, actually, climbing up the hillside was a big like being on a bouncy ball. The moss covering provided a very soft landing if one slipped a bit, and, not a great hiker, I welcomed anything that would make walking up and down a slope easy.
Once atop the rocks it was deceptive how far JUANONA looked from us, as if we had really climbed for a long distance; yet, our trek up the hillside amounted to fifteen? twenty? minutes at the most.
Max commented on how there’s another hike to one of the power poles sitting atop the bare mountain off to the left. No thank you.
Back down at the shore I couldn’t resist now a dip in the sea water, which felt warmer than the streams we had forded. One-quarter immersion was all I did.
Aboard after a great day of stretching one’s land muscles, Chris did some laundry, Max and I performed brief boat showers in the cockpit, and we all had a quiet evening with our ubiquitous games of Oh Hell. I finally won a game against these two veterans, which was noteworthy enough for a photo. Off to bed and another midnight sun-night.
The peace was shattered when Max woke up at 4 AM and noticed the wind had changed causing JUANONA to swing towards shore. We were down to 28 feet from anchoring in 50 due to wind falling off sheer mountain walls and pushing us towards the shallower water. For those who aren’t familiar with reassuring anchoring depths, between 10 and 25 feet are optimal ranges as long as there is good sand and/or mud for holding the anchor. We can easily go over that, and do up here, but it means we’re just more aware of wind changes and wind strength. Either of those two can make us feel a bit uncomfortably close to the shore (not good).
So, up we got and left after Chris hauled in the extra line we had added to our chain (the line won’t go around the motorized winch so he had to man-handle it until reaching the chain).
Being chased out of the cove by strong winds, which warranted, as Max suggested, a beautiful sail back up the fjord, we turned the corner and the wind dropped to a whisper. Huh. So that’s what they mean about katabolic winds rushing down the mountains. A heart-raisng event that can disappear just as quickly as it shrieks into one’s consciousness.
Since we were up and planning on leaving that morning anyhow, we continued to Kjopsvik where we’d revert to our plan of two days prior: finding a way to get to Hellmobotn.