Since our only real tent-bound day of the trip two Sundays ago on the beautiful and mountainous island of Kogen in northern Norway, we’ve lucked out with nearly 14 straight days and “nights” of mostly clear weather and excellent ski conditions. And as we roll into the last several days of our trip this week, the forecast is calling for more of the same! Perhaps the weather gods have been rewarding us for tolerating their outrageous behavior earlier in the trip…
We’ve got much to report since our last update, but just a few highlights to share for now. As we mentioned earlier, our friend Forrest Twombly headed home after two weeks of biking and skiing with us. Although we continue to miss him dearly, we’ve continued to set ourselves up with one spectacular “ski camp” after the next, by placing our tents/camps at the base of peaks offering tremendous summit-to-sea skiing options. Over the last few days, we’ve been enjoying what we’ve been calling our “midnight sun ski camp”, near the northern end of Norway’s Lyngen Peninsula. From this camp, we’ve had ski-in, ski-out access to a great variety of north/northwest facing terrain centered around a summit that towers nearly 1000m above the sea – with tremendous views of the fjords, islands and open ocean surrounding the peninsula. Best of all, thanks to clear weather, we’ve had a clear view of the midnight sun. Today is the first day that folks at sea level at this latitude can witness the midnight sun, and with Norwegian independence day on Monday, May 17, there are plenty of causes for celebration around here.
We’ve been celebrating in our own way by heading out to ski during the last few evenings at 9 or 10pm, climbing and skiing through the beautiful midnight sunset and sunrise hours, and skiing back to camp around 3am. Back on the beach, with our tents hiding out under a northwest-facing ridgeline, we’ve been able to sleep peacefully in our tents for 7-8 hours before the late morning sunshine pours in.
Up on the mountain at night, the skiing has been dreamy. The song birds are back, chirping and singing away as we begin our climb through the birch forest. Ptarmigans scurry and fly around us higher up in the alpine zone. Snow buntings play above the rocks along ridgelines. Snowmelt can be heard trickling and running all over the place, and rushing in the bigger streams closer to the sea. And the steady roar of the ocean fills the world below.
An unusually warm weather pattern has prevented the snow surface from crusting up at night. This has forced us to avoid many steeper ski lines, due to heightened avalanche risk, but has left us with varying degrees of corn snow on many slopes – ideal conditions for our midnight adventures. If we had arrived to this spot just a few days ago, the skiing at midnight would have been crusty…and loud.
Testament to the great warmth of the weather and sunshine of the last several days, Emily – and then Tom and I to follow – went for a dip in the sea today. We followed suit with a fresh water rinse in our camp-side creek, before laying out in the warm and nearly windless afternoon sun again. Midnight sun skiing, in the tropics of Norway…
After moving camp and pedaling a casual 25km this afternoon, we’re looking forward to another evening ski tour. It’s 8pm up here in northern Norway, and the sun is just starting to get low on the horizon. We’ve got our eyes on a north facing ridgeline above the small village of Sur Lenangen, where snowmelt is threatening to wash out the local bridge, and a local farmer is moving ice and debris from the bridge with his tractor. I am writing this from the small office of the local paramedics, who offered us cold soda and the use of their internet-connected laptop when we stopped to watch the action on the bridge.
Emily and Tom are snacking on some brown cheese and rugbrod outside, itching to ski, so with another clear night upon us, it’s time to head for the hills.
We hope all is well with everyone! Thanks for reading.