First step for a hike: get there. We showed up to the airport and after almost checking one of our packs to the wrong airport, everything went on the belt and disappeared into the bowels of the airport.
Once we were on the flight, night quickly came, and brought with it a great sight: the northern lights!
A brief stop over at BOO airport for a beer, some dinner, and a new place, and then we were on our way to Leknes!
The three of us arrived in to Leknes and retrieved .. two bags. Uh-oh. Maria's pack never showed up. After a brief conversation with the lone attendant, we learned that her pack probably left Oslo (but they weren't sure) and that it might be on the first flight in the morning (but they weren't sure).
After a long drive to the cabin for the night, we hit the hay since we'd need to get up early to drive all the way back to retrieve the pack .. assuming it shows up.
4:30 alarm -- this feels like hiking! (Except we were in a cabin; small difference). After some quick showers, we loaded up the car and drove from Reine back to Leknes to hopefully retrieve Maria's pack.
Once we got to the airport, we found out where the bag was (Bodø) and it would be on the 7:30 flight.
After hanging out an hour, the pack finally arrived and so we started walking into town for some grub. Unfortunately this whole thing ruined our planned timeline because we would miss the first ferry (8:30). Oh well, time to improvise!
After killing some time at a gas station, we were finally on a bus headed back to Reine so we could catch the 10:15 ferry to Vindstad so we could start our hiking.
Once we got to the ferry terminal, we learned that on Fridays, the best ferry isn't until 2:15. Damn it. Oh well, let's go hike around because why not!
After some hiking around, we headed back to the ferry terminal to catch that day's last ferry (2:15). We struggled to convince him that we only wanted one way tickets, but he eventually sold them to us, and we were off!
Once we got to Vindstad, we began the actual hike -- right as it started snowing. Big fluffy flakes, which were really pretty, but also really snowy.
This meant that I didn't take very many pictures. However, it was pretty rough going -- the trail quickly vanished -- both under snow and through rockslides. We eventually picked our way to the far side, arriving into camp around 7pm -- well after the sun had gone down. Thankfully, there was a big flat area for our tents, which would also shelter us if the wind picked up. However, it was the dock of a power plant or something, so it was a concrete floor. This didn't bode well for us (especially me, because my tent is not free-standing). However, we made it work with snow piles and some rocks.
After some jambalaya & cocoa for dinner, we called it a night and headed for our respective sleeping bags at 9pm.
Let's see what tomorrow brings.
It kept snowing throughout the night, so we had a lot of snow to shake off of our gear in the morning. Maria & Bahar were in my two-person tent, but it's a three-season tent so it provided very little extra warmth. I was using my tarp tent so it provided zero extra warmth. However, my sleeping bag is wonderful and kept me plenty toasty.
After working our feet into our frozen-solid shoes, we broke camp, packed up our gear (after shaking off as much snow as possible) and started hiking. We had a big climb to do today, and a covered/hidden trail, so we put on our hiking spikes for it.
About a quarter of the way up, the trail forked: it didn't matter which route we took, because they eventually merged again. However, we choose the right-hand path because it looked more developed (at least for summer hiking) and pushed on.
About a third of the way up, the trail turned into solid ice from frozen runoff. I scouted ahead a bit, and then came back with disappointing news: we weren't equipped for this route. If I'd had my proper crampons and maybe a mountaineering axe, I would push on. But I didn't, and neither did they.
So we had two options, and had to decide now due to lack of time:
We choose (2).
Once down, we had a quick lunch and then started the long, snowy, scramble-y hike back to Vindstad.
We reached Vindstad (literally, "wind place") around 6pm. We scouted campsites and eventually decided to set up on the yard of the cafe there -- the entire village was deserted, but we figured that was the least-rude option. We made a guess which way the wind would be coming from and set up to use the building to block the wind.
After dinner, we didn't dawdle and instead just climbed into our sleeping bags and went to bed.
We did not predict the wind correctly; this could be a long cold night for me in my tarp (at least the frozen ground made for very good tent stake anchors)
Howling winds, very cold temperatures, a foam pad on the snow, and, well, an open tarp tent didn't really make for a super restful sleep. However, the tent stakes didn't wiggle a millimeter which was awesome. I'm super glad for my -10F bag because I really needed it.
At daybreak, I convinced myself to leave the warmth of my bag, cram my feet into my frozen-solid shoes and go look at the sunrise. I missed the best part but it was still totally worth it.
After a chilly breakfast we decided to pack up (so our stuff didn't blow away) and hike back to the infamous Bunnes Beach -- we had hours to kill until the boat came anyway. So off we went!
While it was cold, the hiking made my shoes thaw and got my toes nice and warm again.
We reached the summit an hour later, around 10:00am. We decided not to go down to the actual beach because it was a really cold and annoying and windy descent. Instead we hid in the lee of a big boulder, ate some chocolate, drank some whisky, and just enjoyed being out there. Or at least I did; I can't speak for the thoughts in Maria's or Bahar's head.
We descended after that and reached the village very quickly -- around 11:00am. We still had a few hours to wait, and the wind was still howling. However, the sun was shining, so we went and explored town!
When walking around town, we spotted a very cool (and unfortunate) sight: the grisly end to a hare. I've never seen something like it before!
After killing an hour in an unlocked shed we found (thanks!!) we saw the ferry approaching so we went out to the pier to meet it.
After another beautiful ferry ride, we were back in town. A bit more time-killing in a coffee shop and we were on a bus headed back to the airport, right on schedule!
While we had to change our plan drastically, it wound up being an awesome trip with great friends.
I definitely need to come back.