June 2nd 11:55 am: The bus driver dropped me off at Knivskjellodden Parking, 7 km before The North Cape plateau. From here it is a 9 km walk out to Knivskjellodden, the northernmost point on Magerøya, ~1,5 km north of The North Cape. Would it be too risky to hide the backpack at the parking while making the return trip out there? I decided to take the chance. Magerøya is far from flat and the return trip to Knivskjellodden includes a 500 m descent/ascent.
Only a few other people were out at Knivskjellodden, but there was no trace of the Norge på Langs book, where people have been known to sign in to officially mark the beginning of the, in my case, 2686 km long hike to Lindesnes Fyr. On the straightforward trail to get there, you most notably pass Knivskjelvatna, the northernmost fishing lake in Norway, though the people I met fishing failed to catch any fish there. Though I didn´t realize it at the time, I later found out that the two girls with a dog and a Norwegian flag crossing me on the trail were Fjolls Te Fjells, also just starting Norge på Langs.
Normally asked where I started to walk, I say The North Cape, to avoid a lengthy explanation of where the rather unknown Knivskjellodden exactly is. However, once back at the Knivskjellodden parking I did actually decide on the 14 km return walk out there,, though technically not part of the trip. However The North Cape plateau is a weird, fascinating place, complete with a Thai Museum, and a quite good restaurant/café in addition to a parking lot packed with campervans. I was there just before midnight, unsurprisingly a popular time to visit with plenty of tourist buses on the road.
I am not sure where the saying “Either you suffer before the trip or on the trip” comes from. But, due to my habitual lack of predeparture training I have by now gotten used to suffer in the beginning of a long hike. This first day I walked 33 km. which, all things considered, was far too much. And despite my wellworn boots, I started out with two blisters, though small. At 3 am I was so exhausted that I ended up pitching my tent right by the road just opposite Kjeftavatnet, on what turned out to be the worst camping spot of the entire trip. In addition, construction workers arrived to work at the tent site the following morning.
The North Cape plateau is where the E1 long-distance hiking route begins. Generally the E1 was not easy to find on Magerøya, but it runs very close to and parallel with the paved road, the markers hidden under the last meter of melting snow. I had studied senorge.no intensively up until the departure to verify that snowmelt was completed on Magerøya, which it indeed almost was. When I finally had to leave the road on the second day and cross down to the tunnel, it turned out to be far less difficult than expected to navigate through the snow.
The timing of the trip was close to perfect: Spring had just arrived. Snowmelt was in the last stage, though not yet completed. The grouse had laid their eggs in nests on the ground. The midnight sun was approaching maximum. I spotted numerous reindeer calves close to their mothers in the huge reindeer herds, that are found everywhere here on Magerøya: 5000 reindeer spend the summer here, I was told.
I am surprisingly often asked about the walk through The North Cape Tunnel: It was 7 completely eventless and uncomplicated kilometers with ample space for pedestrians on both sides. There is however, too much noise in the tunnel to listen to podcasts, but that´s about it. Built in 1999, I well remember taking the ferry when I first visited The North Cape in the mid-80s, where in addition our family car broke down just before the ferry and we stayed overnight at the car mechanic´s private house in Honningsvåg. This kind of hospitality from complete strangers is far from rare off the beaten track in Norway, something I later experienced on this trip as well.