Friday, July 31
In spite of grayness in the morning air and sky we decided to hike to the hole in the mountain and to the tipping rock, both sites noted by other cruisers as worth seeing. To ensure we understood exactly how to get there we stopped by the little grocery store where we met a woman who had graduated 20 years ago from Fordham. She had grown up on this small island but had attended college in NYC. She told us how every ten years she returned for her reunion to keep in touch with her friends. The life she must have led during her college years must have stood in stark contrast to living on a small Norwegian island close to the Arctic Circle. Wondering if any of her college friends had visited Bolga, she replied no and it would be quite a shock to their system if they did. I could understand that.
Armed with a laminated trail map she let us borrow, we set off for the short walk and hike partway around the island. New sign posts also helped us find our way to the short climb up to the hole in the mountain.
Once again Max went a bit further while I awaited at the foot of the ladder (I’m the little white dot at the very bottom of the crack). The views were as expected: beautiful.
From there we walked through a pasture and along the coast reaching the tipping rock. Max acted out a muscleman routine while I filmed his prowess.
After conquering the rock, he had to sit on it.
I tried but wasn’t as successful in terms of really getting it to bounce around, yet I had already proven my strength by hauling around a HUGE egg-shaped rock…
and had sat on mine as well :)
At many hikes Norway leaves a log book, and we duly recorded our names while looking and finding Dick and Ginger’s of s/v ALCHEMY from a year ago.
And, one of my favorite was the intro to the one at the tipping rock:
Knowing we wanted to reach Engen to see the glacier everyone raved about, we returned to JUANONA and motored-sailed during which I asked sailor man Max to pose with his sailor man boots. Why he puts up with me I don’t know, but, believe me, I’m awfully thankful.
Before we left Bolga we had seen a huge cruise ship go by and, upon arrival at Engen, the same ship dwarfed the tiny dock (to the left below) as the liner sat at anchor.
As we approached the small pontoon, some sailors beckoned us to toss them our lines (always a pleasure to have happen!), and we found ourselves in the enviable position of meeting fellow OCC’ers (Ocean Cruising Club), the Scharowski family, Markus, Sibylle, and Nicolas from Switzerland cruising the summer on their boat s/v DESPINA.
After giving us some information about the glacier hike (Sibylle, like me, was also afraid of heights and leary of knee damage, i.e., I liked getting her input…), Max and I grabbed two of the bikes you rent using the honor system and set off. Along the way we passed hordes of cruise ship passengers, some smiling and others seemingly anxious to return to the ship. The crew, on the other hand, flashed us genuine grins to our shouted ‘hellos!” and “hi-hi’s!” (the Norwegian greeting, which I love) as we flew by.
Svartisen, or Black Glacier, is Norway’s second largest ice field composed of two glaciers, an east and west. The name comes from the oldest snow and ice, which is noticeably a lot darker than the newer.
Well, we reached the glacier and it was truly magnificent, even in the graying light in which we viewed this behemoth ice mound. Scratches from the retreating ice marked the rocks, which undulated down the hill.
There were three paths supposedly marked in either red, white or blue. Unfortunately, we took the red as it seemed the most direct and was supposedly not too bad. Hah! I made it up to where the iron poles ended
while Max continued on the unmarked climb to actually look down on the glacier and then walk right up to it. His photos belie the size which is far more massive than the pictures show.
To clarify my fear of heights to the lucky ones unafraid of self-induced altitude, my trepidation comes not only of going up but also of coming down. So, my MO seems to be watching Max’s cute little butt going up and waiting for it to come back down. Hence, all the dots of moi at the bottom of the view…
Not only did he return elated but also with glacier ice cubes, which he kindly shared :)
Reaching the start of the road back we noticed our bikes had somehow pedaled themselves away. The idea of someone taking them was shocking for we had experienced nothing but honesty and openness during our months in Norway. All I could think of was maybe it was the group of teenagers who passed me while I was waiting for Max. About a half-mile down the road we found them on their kickstands posed for our use.
By the time we cycled back, had our celebratory drinks with _____ year old shards, and ate a simple dinner, it was almost midnight. Another, memorable full day in beautiful Norway.
Saturday, August 1
We said our good-byes to the Scharowski family, wishing we were all heading in the same direction. Unfortunately, they were going north, possibly leaving their boat in Tromso for the winter. The bane of cruising, saying good-bye almost as soon as you say hello. We truly hope our boats can share another port.
In spite of the cool temps, Max and I donned appropriate duds associated with a warmer climate as we crossed the Arctic Cirlcle on the way south to our next port.
Unbeknownst to us a globe marked the approximation of exactly what we were commemorating; so, once that was discovered, I made poor Max stand to attention again with that in the background. At least that’s what I said was why.
Motoring down the fjord into a small offshoot, we glided into the beautiful Nordfjord with tumbling waterfalls and a forested shoreline. The view was breathtaking.
We anchored in a quiet spot where our friends Jon and Cindy Knowles had been the year before after they, along with ALCHEMY, had actually climbed up ONTO said glacier (!). The Knowles mentioned you could see the backside of the glacier, and we saw it playing peekaboo through some of the mist.
There was evidence of some summer inhabitants with an improvised dock and pontoon but no life other than birds and fish and, what we discovered the next day, an occasional otter or seal (could only see a gray fuzzy head plowing through the waters leaving a slivery wake).
As Max said it was one of the prettiest anchorages of our trip, and it was a perfect spot for our planned event the next day.
Sunday, August 2
We left Nordfjord but not before a heartfelt ritual for a dear friend, Billy Weinschenk. He had passed away in his sleep the night of July 28th, and, knowing we couldn’t attend the gathering occurring on this Sunday, Max had fashioned a ship in Billy’s remembrance the night before.
We read the poem Colleen’s mom was going to read at the service, one that speaks to Billy’s love of the sea, ‘The Ship’ by Charles Henry.
Then we ‘skaaled’ our friend with some cognac Smokey had given Max the Christmas before, and gave Billy a Viking burial at sea.
He will be, and is, truly mourned by many as witnessed by the continuing outpouring of love and support being sent our friend Colleen. Here’s to a wonderful man who shared his life with humor, grace, and dignity. We know he’s undoubtedly charming those angels in heaven as we write this.
Leaving Nordfjord we began our journey to another anchorage 50 miles away.
While motoring along we espied a Coast Guard boat coming up behind us. Remembering they had appeared to slow down when they had seen us a month or so ago on one of our legs, we made the boat shipshape in the event they boarded.
Sure enough I heard the VHF radio crackling and the Coast Guard hailing the sailing vessel JUANONA. Fortunately, it was only a courtesy call as Max assured them we were fine.
This was the second time we’d been addressed by a country’s official patrol, the first being off the coast of England where we were actually boarded. Nothing like a government authority to make one stand to attention and to breathe a sigh of relief when any inspection was over and approval was granted. The Norwegians are looking not just for drugs and possibly immigrants but also alcohol, and we know two friends whose boat was boarded in the Lofotens. Fortunately, they didn’t have any over the legal import limit.
Eight hours later we ended the day with some wonderful sailing, and entered a narrow cove and anchored for the night. The rain kept us boat-bound but we could still appreciate the pastoral view of sheep grazing on the little island surrounding us.
Monday, August 3
As we left Hjartoya Max pointed out the famed Seven Sisters eclipsed by the morning clouds. We would have loved to have seen them in better light but had to leave them in order to reach our next island at a decent hour.
With sunny skies and a nice breeze on the quarter we sailed through skerries (scattered group of small islets) and past beautiful beaches and innumerable coves and inlets all the way to Moyhamna – one of the nicest sails of the entire summer.
This island features Torghatten mountain, the much larger and more well-known ‘hole in the mountain’. As we came up to the island Max spotted a glimmer of daylight through the mountain wall.
We tied up at the local dock with some small motor boats located on another pontoon being our only neighbors. Leaving JUANONA we began our walk to reach Torghatten.
This time there was a paved road right up to the short hike leading to the hole. Ah, my type of hike.
Torghatten seemed to be a popular destination with a campsite close by and cars filling the small parking lot. The climb was a short one, which opened up into a cathedral-high opening. In the first photo below there’s a guy standing below the entrance in a blue shirt, just to give you a perspective.
To me Norway is a landscape made for fairytales, and Torghatten serves as another example.Yes, this is definitely a hole in the mountain, one possibly made by a giant putting his fist through.
You entered only to use a wooden stairway to step carefully down to the bottom
where looking back you’re dwarfed by the light from the east
while a vista beckons you to the west.
We exchanged cameras with a young Swiss couple for portraits, then we made our way back passing cairns left by other visitors.
The walk back was shorter thanks to the Swiss couple mentioned above who stopped to offer us a ride. They let us off at the road leading to the little marina.
While strolling back in summer warmth we shot photos of a yellow bumble bee in purple thistle,
a fluffy orange, catnapping cat,
and, a curious ewe.
With the sun still high we took glorious refreshing showers in the cockpit and settled in the for the night.
Life was loverly in the utmost.