On the high road

With so much snow falling down, I was afraid we couldn’t reach Båtsfjord the day after, for this little town sits in a remote bay, north of the Varanger peninsula. Our host for the night was not very reassuring either, when she said the road went up in the mountains and therefore was not very well cleaned…

As we drove along the fjords, all fears disappeared: the road was perfectly maintained. Sure, we were driving on ice, but that’s what studded tyres are made for.

Even though there was no cloud over the horizon, some trucks were still doing some work, pushing the snow a little bit further. There, they use truck tractors as snow-plowing vehicles, and it can be quite impressive to meet one on the road…. they drive fast too, so better keep your right!

This was our coldest day up there: as we left the Pasvik Valley to reach the Arctic coast, the temperature dropped to -12°C. I remember us gearing up everytime we wanted to get out to take a picture. Jumping out from the warmth of the car, we wouldn’t have survived long without coats, beanies and several layers of gloves. The sun did little to remove the snow from the car; instead, it turned into ice, forming icicles or blocking the grille.

We drove 250km this day, as we followed the Varangerfjord to Varangerbotn, then turned left to reach the Tana Valley. Sometimes the road followed gently slopes, sometimes it winded along the shore, at the foot of high cliffs. Apart from the occasional reindeer, there was nothing but the white and the cold around us.

We stopped in a curve of the road and undertook the ascent to the top of the nearest hill. The wind was blowing hard, lifting snow in tiny hurricanes, while we tried not to slip on the ice hidden under the snow. Marci did a better job at it than me, but as we descended, I fell only twice!

That’s him…

… and that’s me!

However, after Austertana the road started to go up, and we entered a completely new environment: no tree, no cliff, not a single rock was visible, all that was left to us was the snow, and a ribbon of ice, lined by red poles every few meters, from which we’d better not wander.

We had been warned: at the start of the road, a sign indicated the times when convoys departed. When there’s a lot of snow, in a storm, we supposed it was not very wise to drive alone, therefore travellers are ask to gather behind a snow-plowing vehicle, which guide them to their destination, on the other side of the mountain.

There and then, a rooftop appeared, almost buried in snow, or a car was parked, waiting for its owner to come back from a snowmobile endeavour on the tundra. At the highest pass, locals practiced kite-surfing on snow.

A steep descent brought us to Båtsfjord, the end of the road. Still no birds in this article (sorry Jérôme 😉 ), but they are coming soon, and you’ll be astonished, I promise!

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17 thoughts on “On the high road

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