Last night ended with a session in the smoke house. These are communal buildings found all over northern Scandinavia that offer shelter, warmth and a means of heating food and water. They are small, basic wooden structures, not much bigger than a garden shed, usually hexagonal or circular in shape and charecterised by a fire pit in the center. A hood and chimney takes the smoke out. Our hut had a supply of seasoned birch and we got the fire going first time.
In our hut there were bench seats all round and these were draped with reindeer skins; it was an invitingly comfortable environment. We got warmed and dry quite quickly as we mulled over the days events, reflecting on the wrong turn that took us along the beautiful pathway. We washed and cleaned our teeth and slept a deep sleep in the snuggly confines of our cabin. So much so that we slept through the six o’ clock alarm.
A rare treat of cooked breakfast – bacon and sausage – and we were on our way again. The morning was warm and sunny and we left with hope that we would get a proper view of the midnight sun today. Our route took us north-east along the E6 again and then when we got to Porsangenfyord we headed north on the E69. This route, in the sunshine, has to be the most scenically beautiful I have travelled. The fjord water is crystal clear and as blue as the paint they use in swimming pools. Across the water the mountains rise, in places vertically. The vastness of the sky links land and water.
The road twists and turns and descends in to deep valleys before rising in to the blue of the sky again. At times it disappears in to dimly lit tunnels, eerily dank and disorienting; an unseen force seemed to pull Big Blue in towards the walls evoking thoughts of trolls and their magical powers for spiriting humans away.
We entered one such tunnel, the sun blazing behind us and several kilometers later we emerged in to a thick mist. It was as if the trolls had draped a net curtain over the windscreen. Now you could no longer see the other side of the fjord. We drove on in the subdued light of the low cloud. One final tunnel took us below the sea and up to Nordkapp, the northernmost point on mainland Europe. Actually, I don’t think it is at we are really on an island. But hey, 77˚ 21′ 10″, what’s in a number?