It is most common to start walking the length of Norway in spring or summer, though winter crossings have been made before. We started in the second week of October on foot. We estimated that we would need to change to a winter kit after about 1 to 1,5 months of walking, though this was not the case. Temperatures were cold throughout, falling at their lowest in the dark months of December and January (coldest temperatures recorded in Finse in December and January are -22°C and -26°C). There were some modifications to our planned route due to the onset of winter, snow and avalanche conditions.
Approximately 3 – 4,5 months for the entire route. It took us 78 days from Nordkapp to Bolnastua just south of the Arctic Circle, of which we walked 50. The remaining 28 were spent waiting out storms, dealing with injuries, resting or were turnaround days.
3. Getting to the starting point
Best way to get there is to fly to Alta (SAS, Norwegian from Oslo) and then take the bus to Honningsvåg (www.en-tur.no).
There is also an airport at Honningsvåg, only 32km away, but it’s only Widerøe flying there and this is expensive.
The bus from Honningsvåg to Nordkapp runs only in the main season. For departures and times check the tourist information at Honningsvåg. Otherwise a taxi can be used.
4. Gear and gear exchange autumn – winter
Because we are going through two seasons that require entirely different equipment we needed to make a gear exchange when winter hit. We started off with lightweight gear for the autumn (see gear list – very similar to our gear for the Great Himalaya Trail) and had parts of our winter kit sent up (by PJ’s family) when the conditions demand it. We did not send up any gear in advance to avoid that things ended up waiting for us in the wrong place when the snow hit. Rather we kept a close eye on the weather forecast and then made a decision as to where the nearest post office was located.
We shipped a winter tent, snow shoes, warmer wool, down jackets, shell jackets and shell pants. In the end we never needed to send the skis or pulks as we had to interrupt the hike and went home in the beginning of December. However, skis and pulka can be sent with Postnord, Posten and Bring. Personally I don’t find Bring the most reliable of the companies, so I prefer using Posten or Postnord.
Possibly to send packages that are up to 240cm long and weigh up to 10kg for 99 NOK. Above 10kg (up to 20kg) price goes up to 179NOK. Each package is insured for up to 10.000 NOK.
Packages within Norway can be delivered as ‘Norgespakke’: the package can weigh up to 35kg. For packages longer than 120 cm there is an extra fee of 119 NOK (to pay in the post office) for handling. A package up to 10kg costs 145 NOK (when paid online) https://www.posten.no/sende/pakke/norgespakken
- Olderfjord Matkroken (also cabins and hotels), 9 km off route on E16 (122km). Alternative: Skaidi Handel AS, 14km off route on E16.
- Maze Nærbutikk (305km)
- Kautokeino X-Tra (364 km).
16 days to Kautokeino (all timetables taken from E1 website)
- Kilpisjärvi K-marked (537km)
10 days to Kilpisjärvi
- No convenient food resupply between Kilpisjärvi and Abisko
8 days to Altevasshytta at the road end
- Riksgränsen (train from Björkliden) (714 km)
1 from Altevasshytta to Björkliden – 9 days total of food
- Sulitjelma COOP
20 days from Abisko to Sulitjelma over Nordkalottaleden, 15 days over Kungsleden. Ritsem cabin is only open in the main season (an emergency room is open, but there is no staff and the shop is not open outside of the season). The bus to Gällivare also only runs in the main season.
- Røkland COOP (1084km), 30km off track
Train from Lønsdal to Røkland. 8 days from Sulitjelma to Lønstua
- Umbukta Fjellstue (1213km), need to send a package (no busses from there to Mo i Rana). Owner has walked NPL 2 times, once in summer and once in winter
7 days from Lønstue to Umbukta Fjellstue
- Stekvasselv gård (see poste restante) (1260km)
3 days from Umbukta Fjellstue to Stekvasselv
- Aarporte Coop (1298km), 33km off track. No bus
3 days from Stekasselv to Krutvatnet
- Røyrvik Joker (1415 km), 12 km off track
alternative Brekkvasselv Joker. Bus 2700 from Røyrvik. There seem to be other busses as well with ATB: line 17-415 (https://www.tronderbilene.no/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/2018-07-30-Tronderbilene_host_vinter_web-ny.pdf)
9 days from Steikasselv to Røyrvik. NOTE: route here takes ferry over Namnsvatnet but this stops running in september.
- Grong stasjon/Nordli (1498 km), Coop in Grong, Matkroken Nordli. Bus 2600 from Nysenet
7 days from Røyrvik to Nysenet
- Trondheim (1770km), 90km off track. Closest station is Storlien in Sweden, 8km to the east from the track. We could also divert from the trail and head for Meråker instead of Teveltunet, from there NSB trains run to Trondheim and busses as well (line 670 Storlien – Meråker – Stjørdal https://www.atb.no/getfile.php/1317746-1531299438/Rutetabeller/Host18/AtB_rute670.pdf). There is a bus from Teveltunet but only on Fridays.
Teveltunet accepts packages from NPL walkers
12 days from Nysenet to Teveltunet by E14
- Stugudalen Landhandel (1839km)
3 days from Teveltunet to Stugudalen
- Røros (1915km, depending on route)
3 days from Stugudalen to Røros
- Joker Alvdal (2021km)
126km from Røros (here we start differing from the E1 so from now I state the distance from one point to another rather than the estimated time)
- Sel (2110 km), Coop
90 km from Alvdal
- Vågåmo (2130km), Coop (larger than Sel)
- Joker Tyinkrysset (2285km). Closest bus stop is at Kyrkjestølane, right by track. 9 min by bus with 603 or NW162. Bus is early in the afternoon. Also possible to send a package to Steinbergdalshytta, 10km off track from Kongshelleren
150km from Vågåmo
- Finse (2376km). Finse DNT is closed outside of the main seasons, Finse1222 open on new year. It is possible to get into Flåm or Voss from Finse by train. There are not so many trains in winter, but at least they are not sold out all the time.
90km from Tyinkrysset
- Haukeliseter (2498km). Possible to send package or to travel to Røldal (30km) with bus NW180 or Arbuvollen (10km) also with bus NW180 for supermarket
- Ljosland (+/- 2727 km). Ljosland Fjellstove is open all year for accomodation and they sell some small food items
About 230km from Haukeliseter
- Eiken (+/- 2807km), Coop
About 100km from Ljosland
Rest of the route is on or close to roads with shops in Birkeland and Spangereid.
6. Poste Restante and Food Drops
Several of the small supermarkets along the route hold a post office where you can send packages. Normally they hold them for two weeks from the date of reception. If you want them to keep the packages longer, call ahead and agree with the shop on this.
It is possible to send resupply and gear packages to several hotels and guest houses as well. Some of them require that you spend the night if they will keep your package – check and make an agreement on this before sending anything over.
List of poste restante points (not exhaustive):
- Russenes post-i-butikk (Finmark)
- Maze post-i-butikk (Finmark)
- Thon Hotell (Finmark)
- Abisko Fjellstasjonen (Norrbotten)
- Sulitjelma post-i-butikk (Troms)
- Stekvasselv gård (Trøndelag)
- Tverelvnes Gård (Trøndelag)
- Nordli Post-i-butikk Skjelbredtunet (Trøndelag)
- Teveltunet (staffed private cabin) (Trøndelag)
- Vågå postkontor (Oppland)
- Steinbergdalshytta (Sogn og Fjordane)
- Stasjonsbygningen på Finse stasjon (Hedmark)
- Evje Extra
To cover for both autumn and winter conditions we used our Primus Omnilite multifuel stove. Fuel is easy to find in Norway though we will have to carry or pull large amounts of it because it is not always easy to get off the trail and into a town. At the start we will be relying on gas. Many cabins along popular trails become unstaffed during the fall and their shops close so it is not possible to buy gas canisters in the mountains from October to the middle of February. Gas loses a lot of its output in cold temperatures and snow conditions. Hence, when winter hits, it is more practical to use liquid fuel. The Primus stove can burn anything, though the cleanest to use are white gas (available from Coleman and Primus) and clean gasoline products such as four stroke fuel (without oil).
Paper maps are costly and to buy them for the entire country would be a major post in the budget. We will mostly rely on printed maps from the following resources:
- Norway: Kartverket.no or Kartutskrift.no
- Finland: Halti Kilpisjärvi 1:50 000
- kartutskrift Finland
- Sweden: Fjällkartan BD6 Abisko-Kebnekaise-Narvik 1:100 000, Fjällkartan BD7, Sitasjaure-Ritsem 1:100 000, Fjällkartan BD 9 Padlejanta-Sulitjelma 1:100 000
- kartutskrift Sverige
One major advantage of printed maps is that they indicate weak ice on the mountain lakes. We’ll have to consider how safe we feel about our own judgement if whether or not we might use printed maps when there are many lakes to cross.
In addition to the maps we will also take a GPS with a detailed map from Norway installed (1:50000) and waypoints for the trail (available through “useful websites” below). We will also take a compass, which might be very useful for navigation in addition to the GPS in whiteout conditions.
As on any other extended outing in the backcountry it’s important to prepare for the worst and have a good insurance cover for the duration of the trip.Many insurances exclude trips above the Arctic Circle from their coverage so make sure to read the fineprint before settling for an insurance provider. PJ used his home insurance from Norway while I subscribed to Mondial Assistance Gold Protection. Standard duration for this insurance is 9 weeks, it is possible to extend the coverage by contacting Mondial Assistance directly.
10. Search and Rescue
Search and rescue efforts in Norway are coordinated by the Red Cross and assisted by Sea King helicopters. For safety reasons we always carry an emergency beacon (SPOT) with us, so we can notify authorities in case of an emergency through the GEOS network.
We have costs for search and rescue included in our insurance. Just in case it can be good to send an email to Hovedredningssentralen with names, contact information, that we will walk the length of Norway, starting date, route, contact information to parents, link to SPOT and link to the blog.
11. Useful websites
Senorge.no for snow conditions, skiing conditions, precipitation and weather in all of Norway
www.yr.no for weather conditions and level of avalanche danger