Friday Photo #357 – November Winter

Photo: It’s beginning to look a lot like winter – the classic Olstind view over Reine, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. November 8, 2019. 13:09

Is this November or February? In near complete opposite of last November’s non-stop rain, this year we are rewarded with a cold and calm November – so far! Usually I consider November to pretty much be the worst month of the year here, but this year we’ve been given an early start to winter.

I had meant to go hiking, but in the short days I was too late to leave the house and make the hour + drive. After heading a little bit into the mountains I figured I wouldn’t get to any summits before the sun was gone. So I returned to my van and just made a couple quick stops at the normal tourist view points.

I’ll be standing here and looking at this view a lot in the next coming months once my photo tour season begins in mid January. But I kinda think this might be the winter’s best version of this view – or at least it will take something quite special to improve on it I think.

Now I just need to set my alarm a little earlier so I can get up a mountain tomorrow!

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
44mm
ISO 31
f 14
8 seconds
WB Daylight
6 stop ND filter

Friday Photo #354 – Autumn tones

Photo: Autumn colors over Djurpfjord from the summit of Merraflestind, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 3, 2019. 16:16

Even though September is my favorite month for hiking on Lofoten, I have been a bit lazy this year. Actually, I only shot photos 2 days in September this year: once at the Lofoten Masters in Unstad, and one night of northern lights. A bit of a waste I guess. But this year I actually had slightly bigger plans.

After my summer twilight tour in late August, I had a couple nights at home before flying to Greenland for a workshop there (2020 dates to be announced soon), after which I was home for 1 night before driving to Sweden for 190km on the Kungsleden trail. When I finally got home in late September, I was exhausted. I know I missed some nice conditions this year, but that is ok. I have more years in the future, there is no rush.

Once home, I was mainly stuck behind the computer, save for a few days surfing, to put all my hiking into words. But finally after too many days of idleness, I needed to move the legs again. As usual, I headed west. I’m planning a fairly big update to my West Lofoten Hikes ebook, and while I was fairly productive in the summer, there are still a few peaks on the list which I hope to check off before winter sets in. Merraflestind was one of them.

And so I departed Flakstadøy under a nice October sun only to arrive on Moskenesøy under a layer of clouds – despite the forecast for sun! Oh well. It’s a short hike and I was there. So I headed up the mountain in the late afternoon and found myself alone on the summit for a few hours. I could tell sunset wasn’t going to do much, so headed down while there was still some light.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24 f/2.8
19mm
ISO 100
f 4.5
1/5200 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #352 – Olstind Rainbow

Autumn rainbow fills sky over Reine and surrounding mountains, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Rainbow over Olstind mountain peak, Sakrisøy, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 10, 2018. 08:45

With rain comes rainbows. And there was plenty of both last October – during one of the wettest autumns Lofoten has experienced for a while. But who wants to photograph boring blue skies anyhow? A little October rain is generally good for photography up here – Just as long as it’s not the flat grey, can’t see any mountains kind – which is more common in summer anyhow…

I could see the waves of rain flowing out of the back of the fjord with the sun at our backs – perfect rainbow weather. So I took my tour group up the small hill overlooking Sakrisøy, which is a nice place for sunrise anyhow, rainbows or not.

Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long before the first hints of color appeared, before forming into a 180˚ rainbow that seemed so close that one could almost touch it – I still haven’t found my pot of cold yet though.

With the rain blowing directly into us, it was a bit of effort to keep lenses dry, having to take a few quick shots, turn around to dry off, then repeat again. But the effort was well worth it. And the rainbows were just getting started on this day…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 14-24 f/2.8
14mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/50 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #349 – October Snow

Photo: October snow flurries over Kirkefjord from Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. October 7, 2018. 10:41

Passing mid September the aurora season is well underway and any last trace of summer has faded away. But not all autumns are equal. While some years September has a higher average temperature than June, in others we get an early hint of winter.

2018 was a cold and wet autumn and during my workshop season I didn’t wear full rain gear on only 2 days out of 25 or so. The 2017 autumn had more days of sunny weather then the entirety of that summer – and night after night of dancing auroras. What will come in 2019 we will only find out as it arrives. But so far what had been a relatively dry summer has turned wet, making up for lost time perhaps.

And while snow can fall anytime from mid September or so, it is not that common anymore. So last year’s relatively early snowfall arriving while the land was still full of color was a nice treat. On this day in early October, I headed up Reinebringen on a blustery and cold day. What had been rain at sea level turned to snow by the summit as it swept across the landscape.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8
58mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/50 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #347 – Reinebringen Rescue

Photo: Sea King rescue helicopter pickup up injured hiker from summit of Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. August 21, 2019. 18:29

I was sitting in my cabin at Sakrisøy when I heard the sounds of the helicopter, not something too common on Lofoten. Hmm, hope it’s not the Sea King – it was. As I looked outside, I could see the helicopter hovering over the ridge of Reinebringen in the grey misty sky. It had been a day of heavy rain and not really a day for hiking – especially on Reinebringen. And so a hiker had to be rescued after breaking a foot. I imagine the over eroded ridge had turned into quite a slippery mess of mud after all the rain. A slip could have been easy.

The Sherpa steps on Reinebringen, built to improve the safety of the previously heavily eroded trail due to overuse, have actually had the opposite effect, and turned Reinebringen into a place of regular helicopter rescues – 3 in August 2019 alone, and 4 since work was completed in mid July.

Part of this is just a numbers game, with 700-800 hiking the mountain each day. And part is probably because the steps give an illusion of safety, and so people who would not normally find themselves in mountains now suddenly are. This creates dangerous situations.

On August 23rd, two days after this photo, another rescue took place on Reinebringen. This time is was due to rockfall hitting a woman in the head – the 2nd incidence of this in August – and the reason why Reinebringen is now more dangerous than ever – too many people are on the mountain. More people = more falling rocks…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200 f/4
200mm
ISO 200
f 5
1/160 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #346 – Aurora Season

Northern Lights – Aurora Borealis fill sky over yellow tent, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Camping below autumn northern lights on the summit of Andstabben, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. September, 14, 2017. 22:11

With the growing nights of late August we can now begin the wait for the first northern lights appear in the sky over Lofoten. I often write that the autumn is a quite overlooked time of year for northern lights watching – many people having the false assumption that it is only a winter activity. But for camping below a sky of dancing green, September and October are the best months in my opinion with mostly mild temperatures and the mountains usually free of snow. Kinda the best of both worlds between summer and winter.

But like waiting for the return of the sun in January, you never quite know when that first faint bit of green will appear above the glowing horizon during the white night period of late summer – early autumn. But after around the 20th of August, if the sky is clear, it’s worth going out. These nights are wonderfully atmospheric anyhow, so even with no aurora, they are the best for camping – just dark long enough to make it worth carrying the tent all the way up the mountain.

So hopefully we have a good season this year. Last year was a little on the rainy side, but so far this summer has been good this year, so lets hope it continues. And as I’m guiding my last tour of the summer right now and had to write these words last weekend – Summer Twilight – I may have already seen the first aurora. Fingers crossed!

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
14mm
ISO 1000
f 3.2
6 seconds
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #345 – Mountains Of The West

Setting summer sun behind the rugged mountain peaks of Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Summer sunset over the mountains of the west from Lilandstind, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 31, 2018. 22:10

Just a mountain sunset. The summer of 2018 was pretty bad photographically for me. It was either grey and rain, or clear, cloudless blue sky. Almost nothing in between – that came later in the autumn which, though wet, was one of the most colorful in recent memory.

And so the last day in July, on a wind still and hot day I found myself sweating my way up Lilandstind with some friends. As the sun sank lower in the sky, it eventually hid itself behind the steep summit of Klokktind before slowly emerging again. While originally shooting a little wider, I liked the appearance of the depth of the mountain ridges fading into the distance in various layers of light. Moskenesøy is Lofoten at its best and so even with relatively boring light, there is almost always something to be found.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
42mm
ISO 250
f 14
1/60second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #344 – Lost Control

Photo: Out of control parking in west Lofoten, Moskenesøy and Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

The new stairs on Reinebringen have become more popular than expected since opening again in mid July and have been causing quite a bit of traffic chaos in the Reine area. A few days after I went up on the evening of July 15th, passing around 60-70 people in total, it was reported that nearly 1000 people ascended the mountain on a single day, and has likely continued at a similar pace in the weeks since.

This led to parking chaos with cars parked all along the road next to what had become an unofficial parking area on the west side of the tunnel. In response, Statens Vegvesen closed off this parking area. But instead of fixing the situation, it has now led to people parking along the road on the Reine side of the tunnel, as all the other parking areas quickly overflow – and people are unwilling to use the paid parking at the outer harbor in Reine. I went yesterday to check things out and there were about 20 cars parked along the road, though I had heard there was 40 the previous day.

So of course, new sings will now have to be paid for and installed by the already severely indebted Moskenes Kommune to keep people from parking in places they already should not be parking at – as has already had to be done at the Kvalvika beach parking area, and Haukland beach, and other places that have lost control of tourism.

And I can sense the frustration amongst my friends living in the area. It seems that a large enough portion of tourists these days are acting in quite a selfish and reckless manner, only taking from Lofoten for themselves and leaving a negative experience of their actions.

And for me, it is almost becoming a full time job to keep up with the changes. And so I ask: If you would not park in such a way at home, don’t do so as a tourist on Lofoten. You are overwhelming the 1,100 residents of Moskenesøy. So please behave as friendly guests, not an invading barbarian horde pillaging the islands for your entertainment.

And despite the nearly completed stairway the daytime crowds on Reinebringen have already showed their danger this week. On Tuesday afternoon a man was severely injured and had to be rescued by helicopter and flown first to Bodø and then Tromsø after being struck in the head by a loose rock, most likely dislodged by a hiker above.

With such crowds on the mountain, many of which are likely inexperienced hikers, I will not go there during the daytime. It is far too dangerous to be 50-100 meters directly below people descending the loose rocks of the unfinished upper trail. If you must hike Reinebringen, then I suggest at least to go during the evening, when there is less traffic. And after the extended dry period that Lofoten has had these past weeks, when the next rains come, the rocks will be flying down the mountain…

Friday Photo #343 – Bunes Sunset

Summer fog conceals Bunes beach at sunset, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Sunset over Bunes beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 26, 2018. 22:49

The weather had mostly been clear and somewhat boring up until this point. I wasn’t expecting much of a sunset, but suddenly I found clouds swirling around me. Somehow I picked the only mountain to be in clouds in all of west Lofoten on this evening.

And so while I was expecting some nice evening light to shine over the 600m face of Helvetestind, I found myself struggling to have any view at all. At times the clouds became so thick that I couldn’t even see my tent anymore, just 20 meters away. But from time to time the clouds would thin for just a brief moment, providing a glimpse of the landscape beyond.

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
70mm
ISO 100
f 10
1/80 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #341 – Reinebringen Open

Photo: Midnight sun over Kirkefjord from Reinebringen, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 15, 2019. 23:43

Monday evening, with the sun finally out after a week of grey sky I headed up Reinebringen to checkout the progress on the new stairway which had recently opened over the weekend. After 4 years of work and 7 million Norwgegian Kroner (700.000 euro) later, 1560 steps have been completed on the mountain. All but the final 50 meters to the summit. The mountain has been tamed, and is now accessible to all.

A friend sent me photos of the overflowing parking areas Monday afternoon, and I must admit, I was a bit scared to go. But I wanted to go to Reinebringen just to checkout the progress of the work. I think in total I passed 60-70 people on the mountain, with maybe 25-30 on the summit ridge at any one point – and this was all from 22:00 – 24:30.

So the main challenge of Reinebringen these days won’t be the hiking, but finding a parking place – which may actually be further away from the trailhead than the length of the trail itself. I guess something like this was inevitable. But it’s a long way from my first experience of Lofoten back in 2001, as a backpacker without a guidebook – much less Instagram, YouTube, hiking apps, etc. I kinda feel sorry for people who only experience today’s Lofoten. Although I will say there are still many, trail-less hidden peaks to discover if one wants.

And so Reinebringen has now been reduced to a 35 minute up, 20 minute down staircase. Progress for the world I guess. But a loss for my memories of the old days here…

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
92mm
ISO 100
f 6.3
1/60 second
WB Daylight