Foto: Christine Butz

Gold, Ice & Fire – Explorations on Ringvassøya

In November, when the landscape can drastically change from day to day, we took a weekend trip to Ringvassøya and the Kårvik valley. A view over Skogsfjordvatnet, Norway`s biggest lake situated on an island was our destination for the night.

Text and Photos: Christine Butz 

Ringvassøya is Norway`s sixth biggest island and is located to the north of Tromsø. In winter Skogsfjordvatnet is a popular lake for ice fishing since there live trout and arctic char. The starting point for our tour can be reached over Kvaløya by road, bridge and tunnel. Bus 429 goes as well to Indre Kårvik, close to where our 12 km trail next to the river starts.

If you are interested in the gold rush, this might be your island. Gold has been found on the island and samples have been taken the last 15 years. Novel Mining AS even has some oral admissions for further investigations. Skogsfjordformation is one of the interesting areas, so keep your eyes peeled.

The beginning of the tour follows the DNT trail to Ringvassbu. When you see the sign to the cabin you proceed straight ahead and begin to walk in open terrain. There is not a lot uphill trail that needs to be managed on this trip. The challenge in this season was the crossing of around 50 small frozen streams coming down from the mountains. Since there was no snow that would have given a better foothold, the tour was harder than the map would suggest.


We had started the day early to use the little daylight that there is in the middle of November. In the beginning one can see the fjord at the starting point but after leaving that behind, one is totally surrounded by the high mountains of the valley. They make it hard to imagine that civilisation is so close at hand. In some parts the river had cut itself deep into the landscape with some sharp canyon like walls on its sides.

After pitching the tent we started a big fire that we kept going all through the afternoon and evening to give us warmth while reading or cooking. In daylight the road on the opposite side of Skogsfjordvatnet was barely visible. As the darkness fell, one by one the stars were popping up and in the far distance we started to see lights of houses and cars.

The next day we awoke to some rain and wind, over night the landscape had underwent some enormous changes, the little snow and frost on the ground was almost completely gone. The bigger streams had thawed, at some places a 10 cm layer of water lay atop the ice, which made the way home a “sliding party”, allowing us to experience nature closer than we desired. In spite of our close up position we didn’t fall over some gold pieces.

5 Smart outdoor tips

  1. Water bottle

Get a 1 l water bottle that is heat resistant. In the evening before you go to sleep you fill it with boiling water and have a simple hot-water bottle for your feet to keep warm. When you put in a bag of peppermint tea or any other flavour, you will have a drink ready for the next day.

  1. Blisters

The never ending problem of blisters – here are some tips that really help.

– Tape your heel with elastic sports tape, before you start walking. Cut of the edges so it gets an oval shape and doesn’t come off so easily.

– If you know for sure you will get a blister use a Compeed© plaster, those can stay on your foot a couple of days.

– Another trick is to use two wool socks a thin one and a thicker one, this way the socks rub each other and not the skin. If your shoes don’t leave enough space for that you can use a thin nylon ladies sock and then a wool sock over.

– Air your feet a couple of times a day and/or change socks, when they get too wet.

  1. Wool wool wool

If you use a thin merino wool layer directly on your skin underneath the rest of your  clothes you feel much warmer. Even when you sweat a lot it still doesn’t get as cold as it would get with e.g. cotton. There are a lot of hightech sweat-transporting materials, I personally feel that wool is the absolute winner in the test. Wool has an antibacterial characteristic, which prevents you from not smelling so bad. Even in summer it is nice when a t-shirt has some percentage of material in wool.

  1. Running shoes

Carry a pair of running shoes with you besides your hiking boots. Norway has a lot of water and it´s very likely you have to cross some rivers on your hike. Using your hiking boots always leaves the risk to have wet shoes for the rest the day. On the other hand, going barefoot might give you serious cuts or could be all too slippery. When you have a lucky day and arrive with two dry pairs of shoes, it is quite nice as well to just walk in running shoes around the tent and not have your feet in heavy boots all day.

  1. Drinking cup

Have a small drinking cup with a carabiner hanging on your belt. It makes it easier to drink from rivers and lakes without having to take off your backpack every time. In addition to that it helps to prevent dehydration. Obey your thirst so to speak. With enough water in your body you will feel in much better shape both physically and mentally.