Day 180. Ramsund to Tysnes

Posted by: James on June 29, 2009

Distance 38km | Time 8.5hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 180.1 The crystal clear waters at the south of Ramsund in the large basin where coral can be seen growing a metre deep on old shellsI woke quite early and go up at 0800. I had the tent down and everything in the wet bags and the kayak by the water by 0930. However I still had to shop and it did not open until 1000. So I waited around outside in the still but overcast morning.

When the shop did open I bought enough food for 5 days and packed it up into day packs and put them into compressions sacks and then dry bags. I now had 6 days food which would be enough to get to Bodo.

Before I set off I made some small adjustments to the rudder system and it was now starting to work much better after Bjorn of Bjornskajakk had made some modifications. I cast off at 1200.

I set off into a sudden headwind and crossed the sound to the west side and continued down to the opening at the south end. There was a large basin here and the west side of it was quite shallow. The water was crystal clear and I could see down a metre to the coral growths on the bottom as if were air. The coral seemed to grow on old shells and especially old sea anemone shells.

At the south of Ramsund I entered Vestfjorden, a vast body of water with Narvik at the head and enclosed to the North West by the Lofoten Islands and to the east by the mainland down to the town of Bodo. There were lots of large fjords and sounds which branched off Vestfjorden.

Vestfjorden is essentially the open ocean but it is also one of the main breeding grounds of the cod. The cod come here in their millions to spawn in the early months of the year and this gives the life blood to the Lofoten islands fishing industry

Day 180.3 Lunch on a beach near Finnvik on the east side of Vestfjorden with the mountains around Narvik in the backgroundInitially my trip took me across the narrow eastern end of Vestfjorden to the leisure house hamlet of Finnvik on the east side. The wind and the tide were against me and I made poor time across the fjord and along the coast a bit. I pulled in at this sandy bay for lunch. While I was there the wind died off completely and the remaining cloud burnt off to leave a perfect day.

Day 180.2 A pair of noisy Redshank kept me company during lunch near FinnvikI must have been near the young of a pair of redshank as these birds buzzed round me and tried to distract me during my half hour there. They never feigned injury or a broken wing like the oyster catcher but made a lot of noise instead.

After lunch I paddled west up the coast to the end of the peninsula at Skarstad. There was a modern sculpture by the shore here which was remote, extravagant and did not enhance the surroundings. Much of the slopes each side of the fjord were ice scoured rock and were quite bereft of trees or other vegetation. It was not as barren as the Ishavet coast in Finnmark, but certainly not lush like the sounds of Troms.

Day 180.5 The idylllic beaches and islands at the mouth of Efjorden was paradise in the hot sunAfter Skarstad the coast veered south into the long Efjorden. At its mouth were a cluster of small low islands and the larger island of Baroya. I paddled south of Baroya through this small archipelago. It was enchanting. The islands were low ice scoured mounds, some with trees on and nearly all had a beach of bleached coral. Between the islands were shallows up to 10 metres deep of crystal clear water where on the sandy bottom corals were growing. The whole sea had a hue of green. I stopped on one sandy island for a stretch until the tide came up and washed over it.

Day 180.4 the hamlet of Slattvik in the mouth of Efjorden was both idyllic and impressive with the granite mountains behind. Stetind in between the saddleNot only was this island paradise in the hot still sun, but it had the back drop of some impressive granite mountains, not least Stetind, Norway’s national mountain which is iconic and immensely impressive. I think this area at the mouth of Efjorden is the most idyllic I have seen on the paddle tour so far. Of course the weather helped to leave a great impression.

I thought about camping here as it was so nice but I had not really done enough today with the late start due to shopping so continued across Tysfjord. Tysfjord is known for two reasons. Firstly millions of herring come to spawn here in the late autumn and early winter. They are followed by Orca whales which feast on them for these three months.

Day 180.7 The huge impressive granite spire of Stetind is nearly 1400 metres highSecondly Tysfjord is home to the very impressive granite mountains like Stetind. There must have been some huge plutons of magma cooling slowly in the earth crust after having welled up from the mantle like a giant lava lamp in extremely slow motion. These plutons stabilized and cooled leaving granite which was then through numerous processes brought to the earth’s surface. Once on the surface they were eroded into impressive spires and walls we see today. The outcrops of granite tend to exfoliate large flakes like chips of the layers of an onion. These layers formed in the cooling process of the original pluton. The planes of exfoliation is what causes some of the mountains here to be so steep.

Day 180.6 the jagged skyline of the Lofoten Island of Austvagoy is one of the most jagged i have seenAs I paddled over the mouth of the large Tysfjord this impressive view was to the south and east. The North West however was not going to be outdone and there was perhaps the most jagged skyline I have ever seen. This was the skyline of the island of Austvagoy. It was the most easterly and perhaps the most impressive of the five main Lofoten Islands. There were hundreds of jagged peaks which rose above everything else. Unseen there were also deep fjords like the famous Trollfjord. I had paddled round these islands and into the fjords two years ago and it was what fired my imagination to paddle Norway’s coast.

As the sun moved round to the north I reached the other side of Tysfjord at 2030. There were islands marked on the map and I went in between them as I like to explore their channels. However these islands were only islands at high tide and it was already going out exposing beaches and silt between the outcrops. I could not get through and decided to pull up on a beach here and camp.

While I was putting the tent up the water vanished and it was now some 300 metres away. It meant I would have to leave here at high tide tomorrow or at 0830 at the latest unless I want to carry everything across sand and silt. No lie in tomorrow.

The tent was pitched in some metre high grass which I soon trampled down. The sun stayed shining on the tent until midnight while I wrote the blog and cooked supper. Although the sun was shining at midnight there was no warmth in it and it got quite cold.

It had been a marvelous day. It started slowly but by the time I reached the sandy archipelago south east of Baroya in the hot sun I felt I was in paradise. Then the views to the granite mountains in Tysfjord confirmed this. This afternoon was really straight out of the brochure.

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