Friday Photo #238 – Storskiva Sunset

Storskiva Sunset - Friday Photo #238

Photo: Watching the sun sink into the sea from the summit of Storskiva, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 22, 2017. 23:06

In October last year I made an attempt to camp on the summit of Storskiva. The weather decided otherwise and so it just ended up a day hike. So with a good forecast for this past weekend after some days of cold weather, I set my sights on the summit once again.

Vinstad is a crowded place in summer, and the Friday afternoon boat required two departures, us unfortunately missing the scheduled 15:00 trip and not leaving till closer to 16:30. This put us in Vinstad later than planned. Still time enough to get to Storskiva for sunset, but with some added complications to meet a friend arriving later, so we headed to our other planned objective for the weekend.

The sun was shining bright on my tent Saturday morning, well, closer to midday as we had been up until after 03:00 Friday night, when I finally stirred from sleep. More so from being too hot, than actually wanting to get up. From our first camp, we took a lazy pace towards Storskiva.

The day was hot! I only had 2.5 litres of water with me, while usually fine, was a bit on the low side for the sweltering sun. Not that I’m complaining about it being good weather! We arrived at the summit in mid afternoon and I immediately set up my tent to have some shade to hide in – I could feel my redness already forming.

Next began a lazy afternoon as I waited for the light to grow softer. Finally, as the sun neared the horizon, we left camp and headed out to where the summit overlooks Bunes beach. I could tell it was crowded down there, with a couple dozen tents pitched across the grassy dunes, but up on Storskiva, there was only 3 of us.

The 24 hours of the sun above the horizon had left Lofoten a few days previously. And every night it sinks into the sea just a little bit earlier. I feel like I just got used to the rhythms of late nights and now they will soon be over. But with dark skies, comes a new type of magic to the north, which I’m eagerly looking forward to!

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
ISO 200
f 5.6
1/200 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #237 – Ryten Poop

Mountain pollution - Friday photo #237

Photo: Pile of human faces and toilet paper under a rock on the summit of Ryten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 5, 2017. 22:44

This weeks photo is literally shit, in more ways than one. First, it is a photo from my phone, so apologies for the quality. Second, it is a pile of poop and toilet paper, left in the open save for a small stone placed on top. How nice!

This was a few meters from the summit of Ryten, where I was with a client a couple weeks back. I was looking for a nice steady rock to put my tripod on and then I came across this lovely sight. There were also other areas as well, unfortunately.

This is completely unacceptable mountain behaviour and is not something that should be seen on Lofoten!

I guess this has to be another one of my annual ‘tourists behaving badly’ articles. Unfortunately this year seems even worse than the last.

I am bringing attention to this this week, as in the last days there has been a series of articles about poor behavior from tourists in the local news. See:
NRK article 1
NRK article 2
NRK article 3
NRK article 4


With the final one titled: We must turn our marketing away from Lofoten. This is coming from one of Norway’s biggest tourism agencies. A sad state of affairs. But now that the people are here, something needs to be done.

As I now hike the mountains here on a weekly basis, I can see the damage being done. For some trails that I might not have visited for a while, I am shocked at the amount of new erosion and spreading of what might have been a single trail into multiple ways, all attempting to avoid the erosion of the last path. And I myself, and this website, are also part of the problem.

The chief example of this on Lofoten is Reinebringen. The trail has now officially been closed by Moskenes Kommune. But the wording of the signs are unclear, and without proper direction; making it seem more like a suggestion that they hope you listen to. And so hundreds of people still hike this dangerous route daily; just this week there is an article that 7000 people have gone up the supposedly closed mountain in the last month alone. The highest amount of traffic ever.

A friend of mine recently contacted the mayor of Moskenes, suggesting stronger wording might be needed, she was told that the sign was good enough. Well, obviously not!

More funding has been raised to continue work on the trail, but realistically, I would be surprised so see if finished by summer 2020.

Which leads me to the typical situation on Lofoten: There are complaints about too many tourists and not enough facilities, but it always seems up to someone else to find a solution. This is due to a myriad of reasons from funding (the Norwegian government wont allow implementation of any sort of ‘tourist tax’), to who actually has the authority/responsibility to do something.

From the outside world, Lofoten is one place. Lofoten. For Lofoten however, there is Moskenes, Flakstad, Vestvågøy, Austvågøy, Leknes and Svolvær, Statens Vegvessen and private land owners, plus numerous organizations. Often, it seems they try and shift the responsibility of providing any necessary infrastructure onto someone/something else. And so nothing will be done this year, next year, or the decade to come. The nature will be polluted further, tourists will be blamed, and next summer the same articles will appear in the local newspapers and I will type another one of these articles, reminding you to behave properly.

There was supposed to have been an expansion of the parking area at Kvalvika made after lasts years chaos. It wasn’t. They are now attempting to direct visitors the parking area at the school in Fredvang, which is good! However, this is 3.5km down the road from the traditional parking area at Torsfjord, more than doubling the distance of the hike. And so what happens? People still illegally park along the road, same as last summer where I wrote about it in Friday Photo #187.

I saw a comment on Facebook today that someone counted over 60 tents at Kvalvika one night this week. 60 tents is probably around 100 people, just on a single night. All without a toilet! And that is not even counting all the day hikers. No wonder there are piles of shit to be found next to almost every rock and tree. How long can this rate of usage continue on before Kvalvika, and many other locations, become toxic dumps of faces and toilet paper?

I have been attempting to talk with some people and bring a bit of my perspective as an American, and what we have done to help protect some of our more fragile mountain areas. But I am also aware that I’m an outsider in an old and well established community, and my input, though possibly useful, might not always be welcome. However, I chose to make these Islands my home because I love them more than any place else in the world. And their future is also mine now. So I hope things can be improved for the benefit of all.

Nature is fragile here in the north. And so it is up to all of us to help keep in clean and minimize our impact.

For more information about how to behave in the outdoors on Lofoten: Download the Lofoten Code of Conduct

For a list of local toilets and waste disposal locations, see: Clean Up Lofoten Map

Camera Info:

Friday Photo #236 – Kirkefjord Light

Friday Photo #236 - Kirkefjord

Photo: Rays of light over Kirkefjord, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. July 4, 2017. 22:22

Up to this moment, the light on this day had been somewhat flat and average, and I hadn’t even pulled out my camera so far. That was until I was parked a little ways down the road where I saw a bit of color begin to form deep in the fjord. There wasn’t much time to move, but I knew the place that would probably be best, and so I headed there as quickly as is possible among all the slow driving motor homes and traffic that is summer in Reine.

I knew the light wouldn’t last long, and so I more or less ran to the edge of the fjord. The sun was low, but just over the distant peaks which separate Vindstad and Kirkefjord. Every second the light was changing as the clouds moved and the rain began to approach. Luckily, this light lasted about 10 minutes before the color faded and the first drops began to fall on my camera.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
ISO 200
f 9
1/400 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #235 – Midnight Flowers

Midnight Flowers - Friday Photo #235

Photo: Flowers at midnight, Gimsøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 12, 2017. 00:02

Another midnight image from Gimsøy. After a long winter and this years cold may, it is so nice to see the fields first turn green and then, in the first weeks of June, fill with a endless color as a million flowers cover the land.  Often, especially in the last years as I have focused more on the mountains, I forget to look at the small scenes and simple moments.

And what is more simple than a flower in a field with the warm glow of the midnight sun shining in the background. Perhaps this could be anytime of day and any place in the world. But to me, this is a nice, simple pause in the passing of the days here in the north.

Camera Info:
Nikon D800
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
ISO 200
f 5.6
1/250 seconds
WB Daylight