The north is a beautiful place in winter. But all that snow can get a bit... white. Thank god for film and its ability to color in the mountains. See photos of my winter hike after the jump. Brrr... Prepare for Lomographic frostbite!
Coloring in the Snow
My friends and I went to Norway, to get away from the wet, grey winter in Holland, and breath in some genuine cold winter air. Our destination: Lyngen, an island way up north, near the city of Tromso.
Within a day it became clear that this trip would not go exactly as planned. Nasty weather and danger of avalanches conspired to keep us away from our intended trail. After two days of walking, and only one night of camping, we found ourselves in a mountain hut, two days early. No problem, a big storm had been predicted for the next day, so this was actually pretty convenient. We’d lounge about in the hut for a day, and then continue on our way.
So we were slightly disappointed to find the next day bright and sunny. When, the day after, we continued our trip, the storm had caught up with us. Climbing up from the valley where the hut was to the plateau where our trail continued was easy enough. But up on the plateau, a quick look around confirmed what we had feared: the strong wind blew so much snow around we couldn’t see where we were going. The only sensible thing to do was to get back to the hut.
Meanwhile, all that snow was getting slightly on my nerves. All that whiteness! How much purity can you take? Decided not to take it any longer and put some color into it. Redscale! Blood red trees and yellow snow (don’t eat it – a useful tip when all the drinking water you have is molten snow), take that, purity!
After three nights in the hut, we finally managed to get away. Finally the icy plains and wide vistas we had hoped for. Wrapped up like polar explorers, we looked over grim mountains and beatiful fjords. Only to find our trip blocked by another avalanche-prone site.
No worries, another detour led us to the tiny village of Furuflaten, filled with friendly Norwegians. “Sure, you can wait in my shop for an hour.” “This teepee? It’s mine. Why, do you want to sleep in it? Sure, go ahead, and take this bag of fire wood so you can make a fire inside.” “Hi, I live in the house over there, just pop by if you need water. Oh, and you can use the toilets in that building over there.” All in all, not quite the wilderness experience we had expected.
Next day we were on our way again, finally into the wild. Except the cold had gone: the snow and ice were thawing. There was nothing to it, I would just have to use Kodak Chrome to add some icy blueness to the landscape or no-one would believe it had been winter.
During the night (finally, camping again!), the weather changed and it started to snow. Even though twice that night we removed the snow from our tents, we still had to dig them out the next morning. The pristine white forest looked beautiful though!
Once we were out of the forest, onto the plateau again, the world tuned black and white. We felt like we were in an old movie, seeing nothing but white snow, black rocks and grey clouds. I might as well not have bothered with black and white film, the results would have been the same in color film.
That evening, we were near another hut. Since it would be a bit silly to camp out in the wind and snow (or rather, sleet, by then) when there’s a perfectly good hut just around the corner, we enjoyed another night indoors. A nice surprise on my birthday!
Since the weather forecasts were improving, that night we decided to keep walking for an extra day. We had planned an extra day at the end of our trip before we had to fly back in case there was some kind of unexpected hiccup in our trip, so we had the time.
A slight detour took us along a beautiful glacier, and provided us with a spectacular view of sunlit mountains and snow covered trees. It made me really happy that I had half a roll of color negative with me, so I could try to capture the lovely evening light on the mountains.
That night we finally got some proper cold. The temperature dropped well below zero (-14 C), so all those down sleeping bags and extra woollen undies had not been taken for nothing. Of course, the magnificent view of the mountains from our tents helped to keep us warm as well. Still, it took some time to put on shoes that were frozen solid in the night.
Our last hiking day brought us into contact with even more friendly people. We had the choice between waiting seven hours for the bus back to civilazation, or trying to hitch a ride. We had our doubts about hitch hiking with nine smelly people with big bags, but within ten minutes we were all on our way! Hooray for friendly Norwegians and Belgian tourists!
And thus ended our not-so-cold winter hike. We had a wonderful time coloring in the mountains.