Low, thick cloud. My enemy.
It was our last opportunity to get into the mountains of Northern Norway to see the midnight sun, and Senja was covered in grey soup. The sun was surely shining brightly above but we sure as hell didn’t know it.
We had saved the best hike until last: a lookout near the incredible Segla mountain. Maybe that was a mistake. Hard to reach part of the world? Check. Utterly buggered from the other hikes? Check. Shithouse weather on all sides? Check.
Why do all our best stories involve us betting against the elements and our own stamina? Are we fucking crazy?
At the base of the main trail we found someone who had just returned from the top of Segla. Through broken english we gathered the view was amazing, and the top half of the mountain was poking through the clouds. What of the surrounding hills though? Were they poking out too?
I dragged Sharon to the other end of town and onto an empty trail. The peace and quiet could be a good thing or a bad thing. But probably neither. Only lunatics hike at 11pm.
Up we went into the mist. No bearings, no map, no idea if this was the right trail. Our path cut through a rocky field, then a sparse forest with thin sinewy trees, their branches reaching out like Freddie Krueger’s fingers. It was straight out of a horror movie.
With one eye over our shoulder we scrambled higher, and the path got steeper. An hour had passed, and we knew we must be getting close. There were glimpses of an opening above us. Warm blue sky contrasted against the fog that renewed our diminishing interest.
The blanket thinned more and more, until we reached a ridge with clear air. I got my bearings and wheeled around. There was Selga: looming high above us. A giant spire reaching straight into the sky. This whole time we didn’t even know we were close enough to touch it.
There we sat, floating in the clouds above the misty wilderness. To the west a ridgeline jutted out like the spine of a sleeping dinosaur. To the north the sun set behind a cluster of rocky peaks. And to the south, Segla.
From this angle the peak didn’t look real. What we could see was barely a fraction of the whole mountain, like an iceberg bobbing in a white sea. Hidden from view was the sheer 600 metre plunge into the ocean, and the adjoining cliff edge that stretch from Selga under our noses and beyond to the north. It was daunting enough knowing the drop below us. Had we seen it as well I’m sure we would not have ventured so close to the edge.
What started as a stab in the dark became one of our favourite Norwegian experiences.
Once on Senja, your starting point is in the town of Fjordgård. Entering town from the south it’s a right at the cafe/pub then a left-left. Look for a small hut in the clearing on left at the bend in the road, and what looks like a ski slope with a trail of lights. The trail starts beyond the hut. For those interested in climbing Segla itself, turn left at the cafe/pub and park where you can near the school. The trail starts at the top of the road.
You won’t cover much distance (around 3 km round trip) but because of the incline, expect to be hiking for around 3 hours. 1.5 hours up, and 1 hour back down. That said, time is irellevant under the midnight sun.
We’re two relatively unfit 30 year olds and didn’t have any trouble. Slight incline to start, gradually getting steeper. Once you hit the top of the ridge turn left and keep climbing. It’s a rough, vertiginous scramble over boulders to the top.