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Finnmark 2007 Diary » Blog Archive » From Sjangeli mountain to the sea at Skjornen Fjord on the Atlantic

From Sjangeli mountain to the sea at Skjornen Fjord on the Atlantic


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This was the hardest weather we’ve experienced on the expedition. After a great evening with Marja’s generous parents at their cabin, and the usual selfless support from Tommy, and Roy, we left from this mountain-top in a blizzard with visibility down to a few metres. Even with GPS we’re having to stop every few metres to check direction. The dogs are astonishing, looking (and finding) the best way up the inclines, through the rocks, round the spurs, over the passes – where I would certainly go wrong. The dogs’ instinct is assured and miraculous. And then quite suddenly we come out of the turmoil, the wind ceases to burn our faces, and the clouds part over our heads.

Tom-Frode halts the line in a small valley. Herds of reindeer stop and stare before galloping into the dawning sunlight on the bluff before us. “It’s beautiful here, “ he reminds me, “and we’re back in Norway!” We celebrate with hot chocolate from the thermoses, bread and cheese, relieved to have found our way. And then we take off once again, drifting silently through the birch and then into the Taiga below with more pines, their green coats, and rusty bark giving variety to the black and white landscape. We pick up speed, and the dogs catch the urgency and that the end is near. Tom-Frode whoops from the lead sled, and I try an old joik to accompany us from the rear, and it’s like riding a helter-skelter down into the forests and the waiting truck with the dog boxes.

The road’s been cleared of snow, temperatures have risen, and it’s too dangerous to take the dogsleds to the sea. Before my judgement improves I grab my rucksack, thermos, the last dregs of cognac, unhitch my dancing leading lady Sprio from the sled, and tie her to my belt. We’ll do the last 12 kilometers or so together (in my sled boots), I tell her, and she seems fine with that. We set off down the long straight road, and I feel like an antique ad for Start-Rite shoes. Spiro and I make good time, and she’s patient with the clumsy human sled she’s pulling home.

We reach the sea with the truck and sled-dogs, Euan, Dess, Tom-Frode and the gang, who’ve caught us up. I take a dip, Euan asks me which was colder – the Barents or the Atlantic. “Somewhere between having my legs amputated and bathing in extra-chilled champagne”, I answer him, “and both as bad”.

We‘ve made it sea to sea, and the cognac dregs are carefully shared. With this brave little dog by my side I look out over the pebbled sand, the grey water, to the horizon – with exhilaration, relief, gratitude – with an odd sense of helplessness.

Leaving Sjangeli on our way down to the Atlantic.

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Reaching the sea.

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The AtlanticŠ

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2 Responses to “From Sjangeli mountain to the sea at Skjornen Fjord on the Atlantic”

  1. romy shovelton Says:

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    congratulations!… and thanks for the inspiration. Knowing you’ll miss the dogs and each others’ company after such an intense experience… enjoy the wind-down reflection time.. I’m sure all of us ‘back home’ are looking forward to hearing the stories and the learning in even greater detail. Thanks again. Romy

  2. Elise Says:

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    Congratulations to the swim! -and all the experiences and meetings. (Siljan was cold outside Hildasholm at the time. Referncepoints alter!) Sister Lotta has joined in and Henrik. Well done and good luck with the rest, reports, films, books etc. Are you planning on a reunion to make the separation easier? much love
    Elise

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