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Journal for 29-06-2007 : Kjøllefjord

Beautiful sunny morning, sun streaming in my tent (at 4am !!!)

I thought today might be difficult, judging by the pace of the trucks climbing in and out of the fjord. At the base of the climb I got a pleasant surprise:3km of 6% (ie not too steep and not too far). 50m on I got a very unpleasant surprise: road turned to horrendously rough, rocky gravel.

Let the tyres down, then re-inflated them twice on the climbs out of Bekkerfjord. This was 5ks of roadworks, mostly over uncompacted gravel road base :-(.

Once up the top the road turned into an asphelt carpet. An absolutely fantastically built road that lead me up to a rocky alpine plateau. Man, it was beautiful! Absolutely awesome 20km of cycling through an icy moonscape dotted with frosty lakes, brooks and a few reindeer (OK, they we probably goats) herds. Without question the most beautiful scenery of this trip, and perhaps any trip. Blue sky and a light tailwind added to the moment of course.

After 20ks of zipping along in cyclist's heaven, it was time for the thrilling descent. I was so pleased the roadworks had been on the climb and not the way down. At least I was until I rounded the first bend and saw another "roadworks next 7km" sign. Most of it was thick rocky loose gravel, sometimes having a cycling line, but often not. Some patches were so bad that even with the tyres down I still had to walk the bike. And even walking on this surface was difficult.

Crossed the isthmus at Hopseidet and left the roadworks behind. After another serious climb I was zipping across another alpine plateau, this one covered in grass and tarns. The road here also pretty good, and built up a good 5-10 metres above the surrounding ground.

Terrifying into the wind descent into Oksevåg, and more up and overs into Kjøllerfjord, the end of the road, and literally the end of a continent for me.

Kjøllerfjord is chiseled out of the relatively flat end of a fjord, surrounded by mountains that act as a low cloud trap. It got distinctly colder as I rolled into town, and the signs claiming 14C seemed a bit optimistic as the sun disappeared behind dark clouds.

Searched high and low, but could not find a way to call home. Hotel agreed to let me use their phone, but the silly girls there couldn't get me an outside line. No joy finding any pre-paid SIMs either. One shop did have a cheap international calling card, but Kjøllerfjord has no pay phones to use it from :-(. Public library suggested, but it's closed on Fridays.

Just as well I don't plan on sleeping (much) tonight as I'm drinking a lot of coffee. It's an excuse to sit inside somewhere warm and dry (it's started to rain outside as I write this) for a while.

--- a bit later ---

Rain eased off, and I did a tour of the all the town's shops. 15 minutes later I was back at the supermarket.

Bought provisions for the trip. Had to stick to the cheap stuff: cream cheese and smoked salmon sandwiches. Spent an hour making these up in the town park, if that's the best way to describe a slab of concrete between the bank and the clothes/outdoor/bike shop.

Eventually took up a corner in the café/pub to wait for the ferry. It took several hours, but eventually word spread of what I'd done and I was invited to a table. Kjøllerfjord
is not exactly a tourist town, so visitors like me attract some genuine interest. It's the sort of place you'd like to reach as your ultimate destination. Anyway, I'd been sitting on my own in a corner for five hours, I could hardly refuse. I then had to buy a beer, otherwise one would have been bought for me (a favour I couldn't afford to return). AUD12.

Even by Norwegian standards beer is expensive. That's why most people who go the pub last the whole night on just two beers. To my great surprise, I really liked the Norwegian beer. I was also surprised at how intoxicating it is. I was trying to drink mine as slowly as possible, and it took me more than an hour to sip through. But to compensate for the expense, Norwegian beer has a very high alcohol content, so anyone daring enough to have 3 still staggers home. And while this might be a backward little fishing village, *everyone* (except me I guess) who'd had as much as one beer caught a taxi home, and all smoking was done outside.

Wobbled off to the ferry terminal at closing time in freezing misty rain. No waiting room, no shelter, just a pier and some locked warehouses (which is why I was at the pub).

I've had a cold coming on for a few days now, and it's setting in. I'm now coughing up yellow flem.

Found a corner out of the wind, put on every layer of clothing I had, then wrapped myself in my ground sheet and nodded off to sleep.

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