The story of the Magnum, written by Tadhg Bradford
In the fall semester of 2017 my friend, David, and I went on an exchange together to Oslo, Norway. We had a one week break from school in September and we used it to travel up north to an area called Lofoten. This region is an archipelago of mountainous islands surrounded by water that is so blue it could be mistaken for the Caribbean if it wasn’t for the frigid temperatures. There are many small towns dotting the islands that all rely on the fishing industry as their source of income. The towns are connected by winding roads and long skinny bridges. Lofoten is extremely beautiful. As a result of increasing attention it is gaining on social media it is quickly becoming a large tourist attraction. This increased tourist traffic is resulting in a negative impact on the environment which is a source of some conflict with the locals. Luckily on our trip we went late enough in the year that we avoided the tourists and could experience the beautiful nature undisturbed.
In total it was a group of three people going on the trip, myself, David and our friend from Germany called Jo. Being so remote it took 2 days of traveling including driving, flying and a ferry to reach Lofoten. My friends and I were studying at the Norwegian school of sport sciences in a program called outdoor studies. Since we were in the outdoor studies program we were allowed to borrow camping equipment from the school. In total we borrowed a variety of gear including an amazing tent which was our home for the nine days we spent up north. The trip started with an early morning flight from Oslo (where we were living) to Bodo. Bodo is the closest city to Lofoten and is very quaint and small. Once we arrived in the city we walked from the airport all the way into the city where we spent the afternoon exploring. As night fell we went looking for a place to pitch our tent. In Norway they have an amazing law that allows you to camp anywhere so long as you are over 150 meters away from the entrance to a building. We walked back roughly in the direction of the airport and soon found a field on the outskirts of the city were we pitched our tent. We slept there that night but quickly realized that we were under the flight path of planes coming and going from the airport and were woken up repeatedly by the roar of jet engines. The next morning we rented a car from a rental dealership at the airport, we were pleased to learn that they upgraded us to a hybrid Toyota Yaris. That car was very fun to drive served as our principal means of transport for the rest of the trip. Once we had the car we had to rush to board our ferry to Lofoten.
The ferry takes approximately three and a half hours and took us to a town near the tip of the island chain called Moskenes. Once we arrived in Lofoten we started looking for a place to camp. We eventually found a nice patch of grass that was beside a parked camper van. The owners of this camper van were a Dutch couple who had driven all the way from the Netherlands to Lofoten, about 2000 km. We struck up a conversation with them and became friends almost instantly. Since we had slightly different itineraries for the next three or four days we decided to exchange contact information and meet up again later in our trip. The next morning, we started a hike with them but their path diverged from ours after about a kilometer and we said our goodbyes. The hike that we were attempting was intended to bring us to the peak of the mountain called hermannsdalstinden, which is the tallest on the island. It is a 2-3 day hike but at the end of the first day the weather turned bad in a matter of minutes and we decided to not risk the harsh conditions. All was not lost however, and we camped next to a beautiful cabin called Mukenbu hut. In Norway there is a organization called DNT that maintains hiking trails and cabins. The cabins are available to members but unfortunately, we had not paid for access. Nevertheless, just the exterior was beautiful and provided an excellent focal point for some pictures. The next day I woke up early and saw the most beautiful sunrise of my life, I was on the top of a smaller mountain and could see the ocean on all sides as the sun came up over the horizon.
Over the following days we continued hiking, seeing more amazing views. We hiked the short but very intense trail up to the peak of the mountain, Reinbringen. This is one of the most popular hikes due to the amazing view but due to the increase in tourist traffic the trail had been damaged and closed for construction. Confident in our own hiking/climbing skills we ignored the closed signs and climbed it anyway albeit with more caution than we'd normal. Next, we hiked to Kvalvika beach, which is made of white sand and is situated at the base of huge mountains. We spent a couple days here hiking the surrounding trails and did some amateur rock climbing above drops hundreds of meters high into the ocean.
During all these days one thing had still eluded us, the northern lights. Our trip was in early October and was at peak season to see the lights. As each day passed without seeing the lights we got more and more nervous that we wouldn’t see them. It got to the point where we took turns sleeping with our head outside the tent in case we woke up in the middle of the night and saw them. On the sixth day of our trip we met back up with our Dutch friends in the morning. Lofoten is a small area and we were running out of things to do so we brainstormed and decided to try horseback riding together. We traveled to the ranch only to discover you had to book a day in advance, so instead we decided to just relax by an old lighthouse and try to catch some fish for dinner. We were unlucky and didn’t catch any fish but still had a good time being outside and spending the day together. When it began to get dark we started looking for a place to camp together. This was harder than it sounds because we had to accommodate both a camper van and a tent. We drove around the islands for almost 2 hours looking for a good spot and were beginning to get frustrated when we arrived at the perfect place. Just as we arrived I looked up and saw a tiny flash of the northern lights in the sky! We stopped in our makeshift campsite, jumped out of the cars and watched this sliver of light play across the sky for ten minutes before it disappeared. We were a little underwhelmed but still ecstatic that we had managed to see the northern lights and in a very content mood we set up our tent. We all began to cook dinner together outside and about halfway through our meal we looked up and saw the lights were back and stronger than ever. Huge strips of dancing green light were stretched across the sky. It was truly the best experience I’ve had in nature my whole life, here I was with the ocean on one side, a huge mountain on the other, surrounded by good friends with the northern lights dancing around the sky. The lights danced for hours before they finally died out and we called it a night. The next morning, we parted ways with our new Dutch friends, as they were beginning their drive home, but luckily we met back up in our apartment when they were driving through Oslo a week later. At this point my friends and I were extremely content with our trip and still had three days left.
We spent the next day at Unstad beach which is a world-renowned surfing spot. We rented surfboards and did our best to surf the waves. I was probably the most experienced surfer out of the three of us but was by no means skilled enough for the conditions on that day. The waves were huge and powerful, I was only able to ride one for a short time before it swallowed me up and sent me spinning underwater. David and Jo faired even worse and were not able to make much headway against the rough surf. An elderly local noticed our plight and advised us to not tempt fate anymore, we heeded his advice and went to return our boards. Even though we didn’t get many good rides we still came away saying that we surfed north of the artic circle. We used the remaining 2 days to drive around and see a few more sights but for the most part we just relaxed, taking in the beautiful scenery. We then took the ferry back to Bodo. Unfortunately, the seas were quite a bit rougher on the way back and almost everyone on the boat succumbed to sea sickness. I was one of the lucky few who managed to keep down breakfast but the same cannot be said for Jo and David. Once the ferry arrived in Bodo we went straight to the airport where we returned our car and boarded our flight home. We ended the trip extremely content and happy knowing that one day we would find a way to come back experience this awe-inspiring place once again.
In short, this song summarizes the unforgettable moments we shared together with the Magnum in Norway.
LYRICS We woke up to piercing eyes
Blonde hair long roads roads and open skies
We went slowly and took it in
Few words, long days and western winds
We took time, went off track
We could wander off and come right back
It was ours that mountainside
Where the sunshine bled we felt alive
If we got a magnum, I’ll love you on the road
If we got a living room babe I’ll love you when I’m old
If we got each other, we’ll never be alone
Those wheels got us around you bring me home
We drove through pouring rain
Made friends on the open road met them again
Sky cleared up, it got dark
Spent the night with the northern lights among the stars
Those wheels got us around you bring me home x3