Day 117. Hopseidet to Mehamn

Posted by: James on April 27, 2009

Distance 31km | Time 7.5hrs | Ascent 430m | Descent 450m

Day 117. Climbing up onto Nordkinn plateau from Hopseidet and looking east down HopsfjordenI had a long lie on the floor of the workman’s hut. The weather was still unpleasant outside with frequent snow squalls coming through the whole time up the fjord. Quite a lot of snow had fallen in the night and it had turned the whole landscape white. The weather forecast said it would brighten up at midday and I opted to lie in and trust them.

As it happened the weather forecast was spot on again. Just before midday some blue sky appeared and I got ready to go. I left at midday. Just outside the workman’s hut were very fresh otter tracks left in the snow.

I pretty much headed straight up the hill hoping to intercept the road above me. On the way up I came across a herd of about 50 reindeer. Despite the fact these reindeer are domesticated they are still very wary. This herd was no exception and ran off when they saw me arrive.

Once on the road I followed it as it climbed westwards and then northwards for about 4 km. During this distance it climbed to over 200 metres. Up here it was full winter again. I put my skis on.

It was superb conditions. The base layer of snow was frozen firm and there was a light covering over the top of this. Even with the skins on I was gliding very well. By now the sky had cleared up completely and there were just a few lingering clouds in the otherwise blue sky.

I headed off to the east of the road across some tarns and then up a hill. While crossing one tarn I crashed through the new crust on top of the slushy snow which was accumulating on top of the ice. I nearly went in up to my knee. Luckily my gaiters kept it out of my boots.

Day 117. The Nordkinn plateau was plastered in deep snowThe hill after the tarns is where I picked up the old defunct telephone poles again. These poles headed over to Mehamn and I just had to follow them. The route climbed up to around 300 metres in the end to reach the top of the plateau.

To the south and east I could see how the plateau was as flat as you get in nature, but then how it just dropped off steeply into the sea for 300 metres, although I could not see the sea, just the edge of the plateau.

Day 117. Looking from the Nordkinn plateau north to the Barents sea-and-kinnarodden-headlandAs I skied further north along the line of poles I was astonished to see just how much snow there was. It almost felt I was skiing across a glacier as the landscape was very smooth and there were no rocks or bare patches. It would be a while before all this melted to reveal the sparse heather and abundant rock underneath.

Eventually I decided to take my skins off as the gradients were so small. Immediately I started to go faster and glide on the most imperceptible descent. It was very good skiing conditions. If I could have skated with these mountain skis and a rucksack I would have been really flying. But it was too exhausting to keep it up for more than 30 seconds.

After a few hours of this very nice skiing I came to a small rustic hut. It must have gone up when the telephone line was built and it looked over 50 years old. It was called Futelvstua. There was an outer store full of snow and wood. There was and inner room with a very efficient stove and a third room with 4 bare beds without mattresses.

I got the stove going with the huge amount of wood at this cabin. Someone was obviously stocking it with wood. There was a visitors book and it seemed the hut was well visited by skiers on days trips from Mehamn. I had a late lunch here with the last of my dehydrated meals.

From the hut northwards along the telephone poles the going got even better as there was now a slight downhill bias. Within an hour I had reached a point on the plateau where it looked like it would get a bit gnarly if I carried on north. As it transpired this was wrong and I should have continued.

To avoid this bit I thought could be gnarly and difficult, I cut off west and made a long diagonal descent down to the road. It was a superb descent and the icy surface was firm and fast. In the space of 15 minutes I had gone about 4 km towards Mehamn. I passed two herds of reindeer on this descent and I was going so fast they did not have time to decide to run before I was gone. Eventually I reached the road at Ostebakken where there were some 5 Lapp cabins for their reindeer operations here.

I descended on the snow covered verge here for a few minutes until I rounded a corner and the fishing town of Mehamn came into view some few kilometres to the north. Beyond it was the sea. It was not a fjord but the Barents Sea in the Arctic Ocean. Beyond Mehamn were a number of headlands and I knew the furtherest of these was Kinnarodden: The top of Europe.

It was a quick hour down to the outskirts of Mehamn. En route I passed the scooter track coming down from the plateau to the east, and where I should have come down. At the outskirts of the town I took my skis off and walked the 2 km to the Youth Hostel owned by Vidar, who sent me the maps.

Vidar seemed quite a character and very lively and jovial. It was easy to see he was a hard working outdoor adventure entrepreneur and was quite well know in the area. He was extremely knowledgeable about the area and the route I would have to take tomorrow.

His Youth Hostel was very comfortable. Beside it he had 5 new Robuer, or traditional fisherman’s houses, which he rented out. I checked in and he gave me a beer as a welcome. He said I had earnt it. He also lent me a map to Kinnarodden and explained the route. It would take two days to make the round trip.

The only problem with the youth hostel was it was at least a km from the kiosk/shop which I had to walk to to get supper and breakfast. I would have to go back again tomorrow to get more supplies when the real shop opened for the final days. In the evening I wrote the blog and crashed out excited about tomorrow.

I plan to go out to Kinnarodden and camp there at a beach famed for its white sand. The beach is in a bay called Sandfjorden just to the west of the headland.

It had been a very good day. The skiing was wonderful and I had at last reached the town of Mehamn, the place to launch my final bid to Kinnarodden headland.

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