The name Lyngen stems from the old Norwegian word for calm. Protected by the giant Lyngen alps, the Lyngen fjord lies still when the Arctic storms roam the Barents sea. Only gentle waves roll in to the shore of Lyngseidet.
Eide is a common part of village names up here. The word was historically used to identify a place where it was better to drag the boat across the land than to go around on water. Dragging a boat for miles on land was not necessarily the fastest way to get to the other side, but it was safer. According to David Skirnisson who told me all this, crossing the land was probably also a whole lot nicer as the sea just contained water, fish and other men, while the Eide-villages at least potentially also offered beer, meat and women…
I have no idea if any of this has any truth in it. I heard it while I was sipping on a beer the sauna at Magic Mountain Lodge after a day of riding in the Lyngen Alps during the Lyngen Exp Enduro festival.
The Lyngen Exp Enduro festival is a yearly autumn event hosted by local enthusiasts David the storyteller and Andreas Holm, and co-partnered by Magic Mountain Lodge, where participants get their stomachs filled (with great food and beer) and legs rested.
My first day at the festival offered a well needed crash course in how to jump, corner, and handle steep sections without sitting on my back wheel, all while we shredded yellow leaves and skidded with more or less control over wet roots, and ended with a bike rally. After that, when I was listening to David the sauna, I wasn’t really asking for the truth. I just wanted a perfect ending to a really good day. In other words, I wanted to listen to a good story, drink my beer and sweat a bit.
During recent times, Lyngen has become something of a Mekka for backcountry enthusiasts. The mountains rises straight from the sea like rugged giants with little compassion for the weak hearted. It is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever had the privilege to see.
While the Lyngen alps are an Eldorado for experienced backcountry skiers, the same mountains are quite challenging from a mountainbike perspective. Very few people live here, so most of the trails are made by sheep, and a majority of the mountains are just too steep and rocky to ride down on anything but snow.
Most of the trails that we rode down during the Lyngen Enduro festival were hand (and wheel) carved by the local enthusiasts arranging the event. I could almost feel the love that they had put into the dirt as I skidded down the mountain on narrow singletracks neatly interupted by small jumps and drop offs.
The trails we rode around Lyngseidet wind their way through lush forests all the way from the tree line and down to the fjord. We didn’t explore the jagged peaks above tree line this time, but in my dreams I will ride or carry my bike down those peaks next fall.
Getting to ride in a Lyngen dressed up in autumn is balm for the soul. Doing it with together with good friends, and making new interesting acquaintances is nothing but a bliss.
When we visited the Lyngen peninsula, the fjord lay as still as ever but there was movement in the mountains. Happy faces on dirty bikes. There will be more movement on those hills when snow falls and the water freezes.
In January, the Lyngen Exp Iceclimbing camp kicks off. I can’t think of a place more suited for shoving ice axes into frozen waterfalls than Lyngen, and I can’t wait to experience Lyngen dressed in winter.