Arctic Tramping: Senja

We had a few days to spare in Tromsø and decided to undertake some tramping.

We visited the helpful woman in the information centre and told her our requests: 2 – 3 days, scenic, and not too difficult seeing it would be our first time.

She recommended Senja.

The first campsite was situated by a picturesque moutain lake, busy with fish.

Senja is Norway’s second largest island, roughly six times the size of Great Barrier Island. It is located well within the Arctic Circle just south of Tromsø, and has daylight 24 hours a day. The temperature hovers around a moderate 10C, and the hills are all still laden with snow.

We set out on our hike.

The track took us through Anderalen Nasjonalpark, past many mountain lakes, and eventually traversed over the hills across to the other side.

Along the way we saw plentiful wildlife including fish in the icy crystal clear lakes, and several reindeer.

Our second day took us over the hills, and that’s when we first started to ponder whether ‘not-too-difficult’ had a different interpretation in Norway.

Fortunately, the snow was soft, and we could just get by without crampons.

Tramping over the ridge, down to the other side

An ice axe would have been desirable though.

We trampled on to what we were led to believe would be another pleasant lake and our second campsite.   

The lake was frozen, with thick blue intimidating looking ice cracking around the edges.

The track took us along the steep lake edge. (Although, can it technically be called a lake if it’s frozen even during summer?)

As we were tramping along, I kept the words of our NZ Adrift guide running through my head. “Do not slip”. “Slipping is not allowed”. Slipping would mean a high-speed icy hydro slide crashing into the scary lake of death. “Don’t slip and you’ll be fine”, I continued to tell myself.

Finally, we made it across to the other side, and assessed the potential campsite. It might be fine for the Norwegians, but for these two Kiwis it was a little too intrepid. We decided to push on, finally settling on a lower spot, in a valley outside the snow belt.

With the snow and ice behind us, we continued to appreciate the dramatic scenery. It’s gorgeous, and easily rivals any NZ great walk. But perhaps, most interesting of all, was we were the only ones on the track.

We completed the tramp a day ahead of schedule on account of not stopping at the icy lake, and the track ended on a remote mountain road on the other side of the hill.   There, we flagged down a passing bus.

The bus back to civilisation was very reasonably priced and mostly empty. I can only assume public transport must be heavily subsidised to be able to service such isolated arctic roads several times a day.

The bus took us back to Finnsnes, and from there it was a fjordful ferry journey back to the island of Tromsø, and to the comforts of our hotel, with hot showers, and warm, warm, central heating.

Map, and all photos below.
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