life on pine


the munken hut hike | lofoten islands, norway

Kate Parrish1 Comment

on our final day in lofoten we did the munken hut hike, as the trailhead was only a 20 minute walk from our hostel. the weather was weird that morning, so we packed a bag full of every item we might need - weather pending. what-was-thought-to-be a somewhat moderate hike turned out to be one of the hardest most uncomfortable hikes i've ever done. 

because of all the rain, the trail was extremely muddy and slippery. our shoes were wet and filled with mud within the first hour and i was falling what felt like every 5 minutes. the wind picked up, temperatures dropped, rain fell and mud continued to get more and more slippery as the mountain became more and more steep. after climbing and climbing, we finally ended up at the huts which had a family cozied up inside with a fire playing cards. we peered in the windows and they smiled and waved, but did not look like they were planning to invite us in. other people set up camp here, however we quickly turned around after snapping a few photos. as much as we wanted to sit and hang, the wind was quite brutal. 

this all being said, i would highly recommend this hike if weather permits. the scenery is really crazy (coastal views, multiple glacial lakes, jagged mountain peaks) and the challenging climb felt great on the legs. our experience was just pretty tough [though i'm happy we can at least say we did it]! and the views were of course, incredible. with better weather, it's easy to see why this hike is reviewed so highly amongst locals. 

across our 3 hikes in norway we trekked 19 miles total and climbed 7,400 feet. stair-master with views!

see our  full lofoten travel guide here


my hiking gear: long sleeve | shell | underneath [kids XL] | pantsbackpack | hiking boots hat | sports bra [my new favorite]

Å hostel & reine | lofoten islands, norway

Kate Parrish2 Comments

the back half of our time in norway was spent in Å, the most southern tip of the lofoten islands. this area seemed a bit more "known" as there were more young tourists and backpackers. that being said, it was still rather quiet relatively. 

the "town" was situated right near the water and consisted of: our hostel, hiking trails, a boat dock, a fishing museum sharing the history of stockfish [which is why you see all of the dried fish heads], a small bakery [which served fresh cinnamon rolls and bread every morning!], a small grocery store, a few other hostels/cabins, 2 restaurants and a small bar. we slept in two twin beds, used coins for hot water, and cooked dinner every night because dinner prices were borderline ridiculous.

one day we took a bus 20 minutes to reine, an extremely cute town known for their fishing cabins, kayaking, whale watching and boat tours. kayaking wasn't available because of the weather, so we rented bikes for $10 here and explored the whole area on two wheels. the sweet guy [photographed below] @ reine adventures recommended we stop for lunch at anitas, and it ended up being the most tasty meal we'd had in a while. fresh fish burgers and salmon sandwiches.  this might have been one of my favorite days. after our final day of hiking here [post on that coming next] we had a long travel day of ferry >> flight >> quick night in oslo [where i did laundry and all of my white clothes turned PINK!] >> flight >> BERLIN! 

see our  full lofoten travel guide here


ryten & kvalvika beach [norway]

Kate Parrish6 Comments

on our second day with the car we drove about an hour south to do the ryten peak hike. it was a beautiful drive and we found ourselves stopping often, especially to look at more cemeteries or cabins with the "living roofs". it was much foggier this day, and the hike was completely unmarked and hard to find – our directions were "the trail starts after the white house with the two car garage" ... amongst what felt like 15 white homes, we almost gave up. luckily we ran into some other hikers that pointed us in the right direction, and i'm so glad they did. this was one of the coolest & most rewarding hikes. 

the mountain was extremely green and the terrain was very mixed, which meant every turn looked different from the one before. we were often climbing, but had pleasant patches of flat ground to catch our breath. we saw multiple serene lakes tucked between mountains, red cabins that are available for campers [check mountain huts here], a secluded beach {kvalvika} that is only accessible by foot [which had a few camping tents], and a massive cliff where we finished the hike. 

afterwards we headed back to the hostel and took out one of the row boats to fish. we [kyle] caught a mackerel with a hand spooled rod and i learned from other guests how to properly gut/clean it, a skill all should have. we put it on salt that night before smoking it for lunch the next day. then we hit the road to Å [pronounced "oh"], the southern most tip of the islands.  

did i mention that norway gets 19-20 hours of sunlight in the summer [!?]

see our  full lofoten travel guide here


my hiking gear: top | long sleeve | shell | underneath | leggings | backpack | hiking boots | hat
kyle's hiking gear: tshirt | shorts | jacket

himmeltindan hike & unstad arctic surf [norway]

Kate Parrish4 Comments

our first couple of days in lofoten were spent hiking and exploring the region by car. with all of the small islands it's very spread out and most likely you will need a car a least 1 or 2 of your days, everything else is done by bus, bike or motorbike. we rented from a local auto mechanic that is friends of the hostel [hertz was almost double the price]. kp dusted off his manual driving skills and we headed southwest to do the himmeltindan hike and check out the unstad artic surf hotel.  the hike was situated right alongside beautiful haukland beach that was filled with locals and campers. we went straight up the side of the mountain for about 2+ hours and ended up at the most ridiculously gorgeous peak with the best 360 view. we were also lucky to have very sunny weather – which helps the view point. 

after our lunch we hiked back down and drove to unstad beach, along the way we encountered so many sheep and beautiful cemeteries. we stopped so many times to check out small local shops and grocers, bought cheese from a cute local goat cheese/meat shop, and even though the surf was very small it was still fun to jump in the water, wander the property and check out all of the cool camper vans that were parked beachside for the summer. 

most of our hikes were chosen from this awesome website, which does a great job of explaining where everything is, as a lot of these hikes are unmarked. that evening was spent at stamsund, cooking dinner and relaxing with the other guests. i miss this place already. It's an outdoor adventurer's paradise and is well worth the trek.

see our  full lofoten travel guide here


my hiking gear: top | long sleeve | pants | shoes | hat 

stamsund hostel, lofoten islands [norway]

Kate ParrishComment

after 2 days in oslo we flew to bodø, a much smaller town that set us up for a 3+ hour ferry into the lofoten islands. lofoten is an archipelago in the artic circle and is known for it's unique scenery – dramatic mountains, open sea, white sand beaches and untouched nature. i jokingly referenced that it was like switzerland and the philippines had a baby. 

one of the coolest things about norway is allemanstratten – the freedom to roam or the right of access. had we known more about this before coming here we would have absolutely brought tents and sleeping bags in our pack. during our almost 2 weeks in this country we were mind blown by the overall trust people have in each other. bus tickets where never checked, we were never given a lock for rental bikes, you're free to pick blueberries or sleep in a public park, picnic where you want, and so on. it was so refreshing and made exploring even more fun. 

our first 4 nights were spent at the stamsund hostel and it was such a dream. this spot has been around for over 40 years and only excepts reservations by phone. when we arrived a few of the guests and roar, the eccentric host of the hostel, welcomed us for a huge crepe dinner with the rest of the group. everyone was so welcoming and clearly this was a very community oriented place. we actually met numerous guests that had been coming for 20+ years. our time here was spent hiking [posts on that later], fishing, exploring, row boating, relaxing, cooking meals in the shared kitchen, learning to make blueberry cobbler, smoking fish, & making new friends with the guests from around the world as we tried to learn everything we could about this quaint & magical little fishing village. 

here are some of our favorite photos from moments around the hostel. 


where: lofoten islands, norway [stamsund]
time of year: august
how to get there: oslo >> flight [2 hours]  >> bodo >> ferry [3 hours] >> stamsund
price per night: roughly $50/night for a private room [shared room is available for less]
activities available: hiking, fishing, cooking, blueberry picking, exploring
things to know:  this is a very special place, and definitely deserves at least a few nights. we met people who had been staying there for over a month! a true family vibe. you will definitely want to rent a car during one of your days. 

see our  full lofoten travel guide here