Day 119. Kinnarodden to Mehamn

Posted by: James on April 29, 2009

Distance 22km | Time 6hrs | Ascent 460m | Descent 460m

Day 119. A beautiful morning to wake up to on Kinnarodden beachWhen I woke at 0700 the tent was hot. I open the zips and looked outside. It looked like summer had arrived overnight. The sky was completely cloudless and uniformly dark blue. There was not a breath of wind and the sun was blasting down. Even the seagulls on the beach were lazily walking up and down in front of the tiny waves.

The only thing which was busy was a small ermine stoat, completely white except for the black tip of its tail. It was frantically bobbing in and out of the driftwood as if on an important mission.

Day 119. Looking from the tent across the beach to Kinnarodden headlandIt was difficult not to become lethargic also given the weather and temperature. I got a few fish boxes together and made up a table a chair. Then I set out a celebratory breakfast spread. Fresh bread, butter, smoked salmon, slices of cured lamb thigh, prawn salad and blackcurrant syrup. I spent a while eating it in the hot sun with waves barely licking the light sand.

Day 119. A celebration breakfast on Kinnarodden beachAfter breakfast I pulled my mattress out of the tent and lay on the grass while I digested in a morning siesta. It was quite remarkable how much difference there was between today and yesterday regarding the weather.

After a good lie in the sun I eventually packed up my tent and belongings and finally managed to get going at 1200. There was just the odd wisp of mackerel cloud formations in the sky.

My first task was to climb off the beach onto a raised beach which was now flat moorland. This meant climbing a large snow drift. I was then onto this dry moorland for a km before I thought about putting my skis on again to climb up into Sandfjordselvdalen valley.

Day 119. Winter is losing its grip in the spring looseningFor the most part the stream here was open. The torrent had carved a slice in the snow and ice which once covered it. Under the snow pack hundreds of smaller rivulets would be flowing to feed this larger stream, each melting the ice which it once was. This was the Vaarlosening, the spring loosening, where the solid ice of the winter melts and breaks up. Soon these streams would be in spate.

The climb back up the valley was wonderful. The mackerel clouds had disappeared and the sky was blue again. Ptarmigan flew from outcrop to outcrop as I chased them up the valley while the reindeer ran with there unusual gait up the sides of the valley.

Day 119. A final look at the plateau out to Kinnarodden headlandIt was not long before I was up on Bjornvikstuva hill again. I turned and had a last look at Kinnarodden and the blue ocean around it while I took off my ski skins. From here there was mostly descent down into the long valley with lakes and across the final plateau above Mehamn. Again this area was teeming with reindeer who were making the most of the reindeer moss, a type of lichen, which was becoming exposed on the rocky outcrops.

It was with a feeling of sadness that I skied down the last slope through the willow bushes to the final narrow strip of snow beside the airport until there was nothing but heather beside the road. The skis came off here for the final time.

It was a km walk back to Vidar’s hostel. En route I passed row upon row of cod drying in the breeze on huge racks. These many hundreds of tons of fish would be dried and then mostly exported to Spain where they form the principle ingredient in Bacaloa.

I walked to the shop to get dinner and then returned the km after getting it. From tomorrow I would allow myself to use a bycycle as after 119 days the ski tour was over. It had been a total of 2684 km with 46160 metres of ascent and descent. In total this had taken 754 hours of skiing. So an average of about 3.5 km an hour.

I cannot begin to summarize the tour but in a nutshell it has everything a ski tourer is looking for. Variety, challenge, superb nature and interesting people. It also offers and a return to our nomadic DNA which is just buried under 50 odd generations of sedentary dullness and often superfluous refinement.

I had just made it really before winter finally lost its grip entirely and spring set in seriously. As I go further south again to Kirkenes by bicycle I will be curious to see if there was any leaves on the trees. There were no trees around Mehamn as it was too far north.

After supper I had a shower and brushed my teeth with a new full length toothbrush, the half sized one being symbolically cast into the bin.

It had been a really good day. It was a pleasure to wake up on the beautiful beach I was on with little hurry. It was also a treat to feel the real warmth of the sun again for the first time really this year. However the day was tinged with sadness about packing my skis away.

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