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Crossing Aotearoa

By travelnorth 2014.08.10 in Hiking Preperations

Cover Image CA

In 2011, the Te Araroa Trust officially opened the Te Araroa trail, a hiking track spanning New Zealand from its northernmost point in Cape Reinga to its southernmost point in Bluff. Getting this trail in place took decades of planning, cooperating with governmental agencies and negotiating with landowners for access across their properties. But now it is there, there to use.

Ever since I found out about it last year (thanks to my mountaineering friend Matthias from 28 summits) it has been topping my do list. When Pj and I met in Lapland we had initially set up a plan to go to Canada for a year, but when the working holiday quota filled up before we got our visa we needed a plan B. I carefully proposed New Zealand (I wasn’t really sure how this guy I just met was going to react to asking him to walk 3000km starting the coming October) and to my great joy he responded with a lot of enthusiasm. You don’t get that many chances to go on an adventure like this one.

In October, we both get off from work, leave our lives behind and head for the other side of the planet. We estimate that tramping the route will take about 6 to 7 months. The trail is still under development and is constantly changing. Every year parts of it become better connected. Some brand new stretches have a newly laid trail that needs people to pass by to get into place. The more people who walk Te Araroa, the more it grows, and the better it gets. Te Araroa is completely built on voluntary efforts and we would like to make a contribution to this beautiful project.

I’ve set up a site especially for the hike. Follow us the whole way from Cape Reinga to Bluff on crossingaotearoa.outdrr.com and on Facebook. On this site you can find everything that comes along with the trip: from gear lists to training hikes we are doing right now in Norway, to general preparations and of course updates once we get on the road.

This site will be quiet until we get back from our New Zealand expedition. After that I will probably return north for some more guiding experiences, so more on northern Europe in a little over a year. Stay tuned!

Folgefonna National Park

By travelnorth 2014.07.22 in Hiking

Crossing Folgefonna

Crossing Folgefonna between Fonnabu and Holmaskjer

Folgefonna is famous for its proximity to the sea and its several ‘fjord to glacier’ hikes. It’s Norway’s third biggest glacier, covering an area of 207 square kilometres. The glacier offers ice climbing, blue ice walks and a hike straight across between the Fonnabu and Holmaskjer cabins. I opted for the last and this turned out to be an astonishing hike in the Hardanger region.  (more…)

Mountain Safety

By travelnorth 2014.07.17 in Hiking Preperations

Air ambulance

Both times I went on a longer mountain tour in Norway I got close to having an accident that could have led to at least a serious injury. Both situation involved rocks falling or sliding in my direction. Knowledge on mountain safety is important for mountain hiking. Having the proper first aid equipment with you, carrying proper gear and knowing about emergency response procedures can make the indispensable difference on how bad an emergency situation turns out.

The most recent accident happened last weekend when a rock slide set off on the edge of the Folgefonna glacier exactly at the time when we were about to descent onto the ice. The slide was caused by a small meltwater stream running underneath a pile of small pebbles. These pebbles were supporting a large boulder. It was one of those places where you could see that it would all come down at some point, but you sort of assume that this won’t happen the second you walk by. Until it does.  (more…)

The Hiking Essentials

By travelnorth 2014.07.02 in Hiking Preperations

hiking

Matthias and I overlooking Sarek National Park

Finally! The short hiking season in the Scandinavian mountains is about to kick off. Time to let your boots get lost in the mountains and woods over snow-free trails, to enjoy summer evenings in absolute silence and to disappear of the grid for days or weeks on end. These mountain areas are wild. You can go on for days in a row without meeting a single soul, and the nearest settlements or roads are usually quite far away. Good preparations are essential for a pleasant and safe trip. Here is a short overview of how I plan and what I have on my hiking essentials list, a list that has been evolving up to the preparations for hiking in Sarek National Park, the thoughest hike I have in my personal history so far.

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Jostedalen National Park

By travelnorth 2014.06.22 in Hiking

Ice cave Nigardsbreen

Deep inside Norway’s rugged fjord country and right into its high alpine area lies Jostedalsbreen, covering almost 500 square kilometres of mountain terrain with ice. It is the largest ice cap on continental Europe and thanks to its remote location it offers excellent opportunities for hiking, ice climbing, glacier walking, kayaking, etc. The park caters for everyone’s needs: from easily accessible glacial tongues and guided family tours on the ice to steep mountain tours and multi day ice cap crossings. It is a stunningly beautiful place and a recommendation for anyone who visits Norway with a love for untouched nature.

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Hello Norway!

By travelnorth 2014.05.30 in Norway

Aurlandsfjorden

A couple of months ago I found a job for the summer season in Norway’s fjord country. So after finishing the winter season in Lapland, I packed up in Sweden and left for its neighbour. Living in one of the most beautiful countries on the planet was most certainly something on my bucket list. The outdoor possibilities in the Westfjord area are so big that I still have to keep myself from expanding my to-do list for eternity. And since I had already lived in Sweden, speak a Scandinavian language and had already been in Norway I anticipated that the transfer would go pretty smooth. Upon arrival however, I found myself not only repeatedly dazzled and excited by the beautiful landscapes (honestly, I hadn’t really seen a proper hill or mountain since my last hike in Sarek) but also repeatedly surprised by the small cultural shocks I encountered. Even though superficially similar, this country seems to be very different from Sweden and its inhabitants. Who are these Norwegians and what characterises their country?

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The Snow Meltdown

By travelnorth 2014.04.24 in Climate

Pårte glacier

Pårte glacier in Sarek, one of the largest glaciers in the park, has been thinning and retreating

A couple of days ago, I watched James Balog’s documentary Chasing Ice. The film was made to provide visual proof of how climate change is affecting our continuously carbon powered planet, by showing breathtaking images of how our glaciers are disappearing at alarming rates. It reminded me of images I took during my walk through Sarek last summer, where you can see the same phenomenon happening. Traces of glacier retreat are visible through almost all of the parks’ valleys and peaks, and in some areas they have completely disappeared, leaving behind only an abandoned moraine and dried up stream beds. I started thinking about the amount of fuel, energy, wood, meat and water we have used in one winter at one (small) tourist lodge, and ended up feeling pretty chocked about how big the footprint of this small company probably is. Expand that to the tourist industry in Lapland, or even worldwide, and the picture does not look good. We who work outside, who show people nature, need to ask ourselves: how can we make our work more sustainable?

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Season’s End

By travelnorth 2014.04.16 in The Arctic

Tonight, it is the last night of the winter season. Tomorrow all guests will be heading home, followed by most of the staff on Friday. It has been an intense, strong and unforgettable experience. There have been ups and downs, but overall it has been great. I will miss being here, being out on tour, driving on the lonely roads, meeting reindeers, taking care of the dogs, and so on. The list of things I will miss is long. The first few weeks back in busy Central Europe will be without doubt difficult ones, even though it will be nice to see friends and family again.

So thank you colleagues and friends for a great five months. I will be back, this story is not at its end yet. Here are some good memories and breathtaking moments of the past winter, a glimpse of the places, the activities and the peoples that I cherish.

 

Aurora Borealis

By travelnorth 2014.04.05 in The Arctic

aurora display

For most of our guests, having a chance to see the auroras is one of the main reasons to make the journey up here. But what exactly are these dancing night lights, and when exactly can you see them? The many questions I was asked this winter made it clear that many people don’t really know what the auroras are, and come under the false impression that you will automatically see them as long as you are north enough. Unfortunately, to see the auroras one needs a good combination of good weather and good solar activity. In other words, you need to be a little bit lucky if you want to see an unforgettable display during your visit. With some knowledge in mind however, you can improve the timing of your trip and  increase your chances. (more…)

Springtime

By travelnorth 2014.03.20 in The Arctic

Springtime skiing

Finally! After one month of non-stop clouds, grey skies turned blue again.The snow fell off the trees and sunny spring days cheered up all visits to the forests and swamplands. More than 4 weeks early, the winter ended and spring arrived. We’ve had days of +5°C and more. The end of the season is slowly approaching, a good and a sad feeling at the same time.

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About

Eef De Boeck

Welcome to Travelnorth, a blog about living and roaming around the north of Europe. My name is Eef De Boeck, I'm 26 years old and come from Belgium. 3 years ago I chose to move to Sweden and ever since I live in Northern Europe.

After finishing my studies last summer, I realised I wanted to have a different kind of life. One that would allow me to be active, be outside, be close to nature. I worked as a guide in Swedish Lapland last winter and now live in the fjords in Western Norway for the summer.

I'm fascinated about outdoor life and the world's northernmost regions. Through this blog, I hope to show you why I love this place of vast forests, tundra and ice.

More images on:

Absolute favourite hikes

Sarek National Park , Kvikkjokk to Ritsem over the Pårte massif, Sweden

Jostedalen National Park , Suppheller to Flatbrehytta, Norway

Folgefonna National Park , Sundal to Odda over the Folgefonna glacier, Norway

Blog roll

This October I am leaving on an expedition to hike 3000km across New Zealand. Follow me on:

Crossing Aotearoa

My hiking buddy and good friend Matthias challenged himself to reach the highest peaks in all 28 EU countries. Follow his progress here:

28 Summits

Everything you need to know to survive the outdoors:

Nordic Bushcraft

Amazing videos and pictures of stunning New Zealand:

Living a Kiwi Life

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