Sometimes when on a photo journey, you have to just be open to the unexpected. Those happy accidents that happen when things don't go according to plan. Because sometimes, those happy accidents lead to memorable experiences and amazing photo opportunities. Kvalvika Beach was just that for us.
Yesterday, we set out for the day ready to climb Reinebringen Mountain and shoot the Midnight Sun from the summit. It's supposed to be an unbeatable view of the town of Reine and the fjords from high above. We didn't make it. Sadly, the climb proved to be more than my wife and I were prepared to handle carrying all of our equipment.
Determined not to be defeated, we came up with a new plan. We would watch the Midnight Sun at Kvalvika Beach, a hidden beach reachable only by a 3 km, 750 foot high hike through a mountain pass. After all, 3 km isn't far, we've done longer and steeper hikes.
We located the trailhead. It started out a bit muddy, but a clear trail that someone before us had placed numerous boulders and wood boards to hop across as we made our way. About 30 minutes into the hike, it began to get a bit rocky. And then more rocky. And steeper. We were scrambling up the rocks, carefully watching our footing. About an hour, we reached the summit of the climb.
We still couldn't see the beach. We continued the path downward, still not seeing the final destination. The terrain became steeper and more rocky. Scrambling moves became the norm as we maneuvered down the rocks. Still, we did not see the beach. We balanced our packs and ourselves, grabbing the rocks with our hands and we climbed down. Finally, we reached a ledge and as we made it over to the edge, we were rewarded with the white sands and bright green grassy dunes several hundred feet yet below us. Our target was in sight.
When we finally reached solid grassy terrain, we came upon a surprise - a family of sheep resting just off to the side of the trail. Two adults and two lambs. They tolerated us moving a bit closer and even posed for a photograph before we continued on to the sandy beach.
One of my favorite things about my job as a travel photographer is meeting people along the way. Our trip to Kvalvika Beach was no different. Though still several weeks out from the peak tourist season, we met a handful of others along the way: A family from Germany visiting for the afternoon before heading back the following day, a Swedish photographer camping at the beach waiting, like me, for the best Midnight Sun,
The cabin in the rocks currently inhabited by young travelers Alla and Andrew.
And then there was Alla and Andrew, a Polish couple who had just completed their exams at university and was touring Norway on foot. Alla and Andrew invited us to share their campfire, chat for a while, and visit the small cabin they were staying in. Hidden among the rocks edging the beach, we can only assume the cabin was built by the surfers who frequent the beach. With its round door, it felt like something out of the Hobbit, and inside it was complete with a bed, stove, warming oven, supplies, food and spices, everything a weary traveler would need. Alla and Andrew left their own mark by taking something (food), and leaving something behind.
Together with our new friends we watched the Midnight Sun. I photographed the stunning beach setting in the deep light provided by the lowered sunrays.
After awhile, we said our goodbyes to Alla and Andrew and wished them well. We were glad to have been a part of their journey, just as they became a part of ours. And we began our ascent up the rocky mountain pass and within a few hours, we made our way back to the trailhead and to our car.
Had we been successful in original plan to climb Reinebringen, we may have captured some stunning images. But alas, we left ourselves open to the happy accident that was, for us, Kvalvika Beach.