Scandinavian Summer Sports

A keen participant in most sports, I was eager to get outdoors during the Scandinavian summer and make use of all that glorious sunlight. I spent most of my time in Finnish Lapland, about 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, but also stopped off in Bergen, Norway to check out the famous fjords.

Here’re a couple of my favorite sporting activities:

Hiking in Lapland

Since I met my Finnish friend Pirjo while trekking in the Himalayas, she planned a 4 day / 3 night camping trip for us to explore one of Finland’s national parks: Urho Kekkonen National Park.

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t quite cooperating and it poured rain for the first 2 days, so we cut hike short by a day. Luckily, the final day we had a bit of sunshine.

Each day we hiked for about 6 hours and slept in huts strategically positioned throughout the park for trekkers. Each hut had sleeping capacity for about 8-10 people and a wood-burning stove, along with a gas stove and cooking equipment. We only had to pack in sleeping bags, spare clothes and food. Almost plush!

All I have to say is that the Finns are a fairly rugged people. Our short expedition included lots of wood chopping, compass navigation in the fog and fording icy rivers (literally ice floating in the water!).

None of the rivers we crossed had bridges, usually just some strategically placed logs. A couple of times we had to hike around to find the widest (and shallowest) part of the river and once we plowed through waist deep, packs held overhead while we crossed.

But the surrounding scenery was beautiful, justifying all that exertion. Lapland is a place with endless skies and water everywhere reflecting the stunning hills. Don’t wait for an invitation to go – strike out on your own next summer and explore the endless daylight in the Arctic wilderness!

Kayaking Norway’s Fjords

I started my adventure by kayaking New Zealand’s fiords last year. Here’s an article I wrote about the experience: “Facing a New Frontier: Fiord Kayaking in New Zealand”

I was looking forward to comparing the two fiord-fjord environments and so traveled to Norway’s west coast. I started from Bergen, taking the train to the town of Voss, then hooking up with a group to kayak around the Naeroyfijord, a finger off the famous Sognefjord.

It was great day for kayaking (no rain!) and we had a great group. I elected to go with a single kayak and thoroughly enjoyed our day out. From the tranquility of the water we could see waterfalls, small houses perched on the shore, and a few passing ferries. Mid-day we pulled ashore for a BBQ lunch.

The biggest difference between the New Zealand fiords and the Norwegian fjords is that people have been living on Norway’s fjords for hundreds of years, while NZ’s fiords are uninhabited. Both fjords / fiords offer up spectacular surroundings, especially when viewed from your kayak. Definitely an adventure not to be missed!

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This entry was posted on Saturday, September 1st, 2012 and is filed under Europe.

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