You can pack a lot of adventure in very little time. In retrospect I would have loved to have two weeks in Lofoten, all I could squeeze in was 100 hours, from touchdown to takeoff–I promised myself that I would make the most of it.
Jetlagged and hungry I landed in Leknes, picked up my rental car and drove fifteen minutes to Hattvika. The lodge is a converted fishing outpost, painted iconic red, and perched on the Ballstad harbor. It’s grounded in Scandinavian design principles and adds a sauna, hot tub, and unbelievable food. It’s worth the visit by itself, but I don’t pilgrimage back to Lofoten each year to stay indoors. I wanted to use the midnight sun to play as much as I could.
The first evening I joined Kristian, the lodge owner, at a photo exhibit at Unstad, an iconic surf shop in a nearby town. Unstad is the beating heart of Lofoten surf culture and was filled with avid outdoors photographers, surfers, and locals youth. Blown away by camaraderie and passion of cold-weather surfers, I left inspired to chase my own passions even more. Exhausted, I crashed early, preparing for the whirlwind ahead.
The next day we started early at a local coffee shop and then headed for the mountains. Unlike most places, the mountains in Lofoten run directly down to the sea, offering unparalleled ski touring opportunities everywhere you look. We threw on the skins and climbed 600m on the highest peak in the island chain. The wind picked up as we reached the saddle so we snapped a few photos and pointed our sticks downhill. The snow, over 10” inches, was fresh from a recent storm cycle. I couldn’t ask for a better introduction to the Arctic.
The next day we toured a different zone, further grounding my feeling that the skiable terrain in Lofoten is almost certainly endless. It’s easy to pick out dozens of world-class ski lines from the lodge itself and the further you go into the mountains, the more you see. I was led by Roland, one of the guides at Hattvika, and one of the most friendly people you’ll ever meet. Again the snow was untouched–and almost perfect spring skiing. The season here is short, and unparalleled. After a few laps on the sunny ocean side of the peak we dropped into the shute we skinned up, getting smooth last turns all the way to the car.
My last day I decided to mix it up. I threw on a drysuit and headed out on the water to go ocean kayaking with Samy, another Hattvika guide. We paddling out of the harbor and down the coast, austruck by the beauty of the place. The mountain view from the water is no less stunning than from the top of the peaks. Snow-capped mountains rising right out crystal-clear Arctic water. After a couple hours exploring small rock outcroppings along the coast, we headed back to the lodge, with my heart completely full.
I packed my gear and prepared for an early morning flight with a grin on my face, confident my time was spent well. I’ll be back to Hattvika soon–and next time I’ll spend more than four days exploring this incredible place.
A recent published article from Andy Cochrane can be read here, 4 International Kayaking Destinations to Add to Your Bucket List. From beginner to expert, there’s a spot for every type of paddler.
Another great site of winter photos is also available from Pie Aerts, a great dutch photographer. Look him up here