Scandinavia (2021): From Thuringia to the North Cape and back

Sandnessjøen and the Unconquered Sisters

Strictly speaking, Sandnessjøen is not quite on the way to North Cape. Instead, we had to make a small curve to the west to get to the island of Alsten over a long bridge. But the place looked so picturesque online that it was worth the detour for us. We left in the pouring rain and I froze through in the car because we were still quite wet from packing up, but we only noticed shortly before the end of the almost 6-hour drive that we had the cooling system in the car on the whole time. It’s a miracle we didn’t catch a cold. We also spent our lunch break, we made sandwiches in advance, in the much too cold car, while outside the rain poured down incessantly and mercilessly from the sky. It was a shame because the rest stop had a really nice outdoor area, similar to the rest stop we stopped at on the way to Trondheim. With the windscreen wipers on maximum, trying to give us at least a bit of a view of the road, we passed a large archway, which should indicate that we were now in Northern Norway. Only once did the disc shooters have a short break when we passed an 11km long tunnel. When we finally passed the bridge to Alsten, however, we saw that the journey had been worth it: in front of us stretched out a mighty mountain range like something out of a picture book. While the bridge pillars passed us left and right, the mountains stood still and the closer we got to them, the more enormous they were.

Since it was Sunday and the only campsite in the area was just outside, we headed for a supermarket in Sandnessjøen town centre. In Norway, supermarkets from certain chains are also open on Sundays, but only with a reduced range. This means that part of the supermarket was closed off and due to the Corona regulations, fewer people were allowed in at the same time, which is why we had to queue up a bit. With the bare essentials for the coming days, and still accompanied by the relentless rain, we headed towards the campsite.

When we got there we stood in the rain for a while because the reception was closed. Next to it was a digital bell and a note informing you to ring and wait 5 minutes. In fact, after almost exactly that time, a car pulled up and a friendly Norwegian lady got out, delighted to be able to welcome new guests to her small campsite. While waiting, Kevin and I realized that not only were we both completely soaked and hypothermic, but also that a lot of things in the car were wet from getting in and out of the car and we didn’t feel like standing in the rain any longer to set up our sleeping place. So when we finally stood dry at the reception, we decided to rent a room instead of a parking space. We paid for one night and were shown to a long building with a covered patio and multiple doors leading to individual rooms and a kitchen. Our room catapulted us back to school trips because it consisted of two bunk beds, a table with two chairs and a closet. But at that moment it felt like paradise: We were finally dry and it was still warm, so we didn’t have to freeze anymore! When it turned out that the showers were not only clean, but also completely free of charge, we immediately agreed that we wanted to stay here longer and would book an extra night the next day. Freshly showered and happy, I prepared us vegetable soup with Fiskeboller and we met another German family in the kitchen. They used their parental leave to travel because of their newborn baby and planned to be on the road until September. A final highlight of our room was that the campsite was right next to a small airport. From the window you had the best view of the runway and so I watched the small gliders and Cessnas taking off and landing.

At Sandnessjøen there is a very beautiful mountain formation consisting of 7 mountains called the 7 sisters. We could already admire them from the campsite. The next morning we wanted to tackle the easiest of the sisters, Skjæringen. The hiking trail was very well signposted and began picturesquely in a small forest behind a parking lot. Shortly thereafter, however, we left the grove and the 7 sisters stretched out in front of us. From there the road started to get very rocky. Red arrows and the letter T (probably for “trail”?) showed us the way. This was designed to run between Skjæringen and Tvillingene, the neighboring twin mountain. At the top there was a plateau where you could either turn left or right. Not only was Skjæringen supposedly the easiest mountain to climb, it was even described online as family-friendly. I don’t know what Norwegian families are like, but the ascent was anything but easy. The first stones turned into steep rocks that had to be climbed. Luckily the weather cooperated, because it must be incredibly slippery when it rains. Every step had to be well thought out so you didn’t slip. While it wasn’t that steep that you had to climb and even if you slipped, it only went down a few meters so it wasn’t really dangerous, but it was really tough.

After about 1 hour the whole thing became too much for Kevin and he decided to turn around. We agreed that he would just pick me up in the car from the parking lot when I got back. So while Kevin drove back to the campsite and watched a film on his laptop in the room, I climbed the increasingly steep cliffs step by step. The higher I got, the steeper it got. Every now and then I would slip, get up and keep walking. The air was getting thinner and I kept putting my jacket on and off because I was sweating with the jacket on, but since it was getting colder and colder the higher I got, I quickly started to freeze as soon as I took my jacket off again. Every now and then I’d take a quick breather and look around. The view was stunning halfway, but the further you went, the bigger the mountain seemed. Panting and panting, I continued to put one foot in front of the other. Easy? Familyfriendly? What’s the matter with these Norwegians? Are they really that hard? The air was getting thinner, the temperatures cooler and with every step I leaned more on my hiking poles, without which I probably wouldn’t have made it this far. Every time I thought I was almost on the plateau, a new, even steeper and even bigger rock face appeared. Meanwhile, every step was agony, there came a kind of higher sign: A thick cloud wandered towards the summit until it was completely enclosed. Whoever was at the top probably could only see a few meters away. No, I wouldn’t torture myself for that, it wasn’t worth it to me. I admitted to myself that the seven sisters conquered me instead of me conquering them. So I made the decision to only go to the plateau and not to the summit. When I finally arrived, I wasn’t just gasping for breath from the exertion: the view was more than breathtaking. Behind me you could see all of Alsten and in front of me stretched a dreamy landscape consisting of mountains and water, which reflected the sun’s rays. That’s why people torture themselves up here again and again. That’s why I struggled up here. All the negative thoughts were suddenly gone and I knew that I would make the ascent for this over and over again.

After my visit to the plateau, I descended as planned, slipping several times and sliding down a few meters on my butt. After Kevin picked me up as scheduled, we returned to the campsite where we went to see the owner to pay for our second night. We took the opportunity to ask her directly for tips on what we could do for the rest of the day. She recommended us to drive further down the island to the southwest. There should be a church and a small museum there and you can walk there easily. After a quick trip to the center of Sandnessjøen to stock up on supplies, we followed her advice, which turned out to be a real insider tip. The church was a typical Scandinavian wooden church and, like pretty much all the churches we were to see on our trip, was unfortunately closed. Next to it was an almost incongruously modern building, which turned out to be the Petter Dass Museum. Petter Dass, we found out, is a well-known Norwegian poet, sort of the Norwegian Goethe 😉
Since we couldn’t do much with Norwegian poetry, which is partly due to our lack of Norwegian knowledge, we only visited the souvenir shop for a short time, but not the museum. Behind the museum there was a very nice path along the coast. There were sheep that happily jumped over the existing fence, making it pointless. In addition, a horse grazed quietly in front of it and even let itself be petted. The path continued along wooden planks through a mini forest until we finally arrived at the top of a small peninsula where we briefly enjoyed the great view over the fjord before turning around and getting back to the car.

We spent the evening exploring the campsite as it was quite winding. On the one hand we found a few nice campsites surrounded by trees, on the other hand there was also a heap of bulky waste a few meters away. Finally we came out at an old abandoned boathouse where a fisherman was fishing his dinner.

Our last day in Sandnessjøen ended with our little exploration tour. The next day we should continue north.

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