Reading material for those who love the camping life

Text and photo: Knut Randem, Bobilverden.no
Motorhome and Caravan magazine, No. 5 October

A different travel report: Northern Norway winter roads, are they a problem with motorhomes?

Driving on Norwegian winter roads can offer all kinds of weather. In some parts of the country there is hardly any snow in the winter, but in northern Norway there is almost a snow guarantee. Is it a problem? Neida, a motorhome gets on the road all year. But where are we going to spend the night?

As a southerner, I readily admit that I have little experience with northern Norwegian winter roads. Then the chance to drive a Hobby Optima ontour from Tromsø to Oslo signed up in mid-February, we jumped at the opportunity without hesitation. Let it be said at once. We were incredibly lucky with the weather. There was a storm the week before and the week after, and we heard about motorhomes that were weatherproof. It is a part of life when the forces of nature ravage. And they often do here in the north. In "our" week we experienced dense snow drifts and poor visibility on two occasions, but were still a little disappointed that the weather gods were so kind to us.

Low traffic

Our journey started on a Sunday morning and was completed before it was the weekend again. For an easterner who is used to traffic chaos, it was a rare event to be able to drive almost alone on well-plowed roads. Yes, without exception, the roads were well paved. And if it snowed, it did not take long before we caught up with a bulldozer. So we started in Tromsø. We started with an interview with Kjell Urdal who works with renting motorhomes in iCaravan. When he showed us "SafeGrip", which he sends with all rental cars, we immediately bought a pair for ourselves. Our own fully integrated Hymer on studless tires sometimes struggles to get started on slippery surfaces in winter. And since we are not so fond of putting on chains, this seemed like a good solution. Maybe we could use it on this trip too, was the thought, but it came with the thought.

Excellent winter roads

We had decided to use the E6 all the way. Then we had to start with the E8 from Tromsø and excellent winter roads. Just a few kilometers south of Tromsø, in Ramfjordbotn, we met a brand new emptying station for cassettes. The emptying takes place indoors and you open the door with one of the cards you have in your wallet, but it costs nothing. The most important thing is that it is open all year round. An approximate agreement in Bardufoss did not materialize this Sunday. We could have chosen to spend the night in Målselv mountain village only 15-20 minutes away from the E6. There are various accommodation options close to trails of many kinds. There is also a campsite here, but we had to think about the progress as we had limited time to complete the trip.

E6 with waiting time

We could stop in Narvik where the motorhome site in the city is open all year, but we wanted further south and over the only ferry route on the E6 - from Skarberget to Bognes before we settled down. After Narvik, it became very quiet on the road. There had not been much traffic before either, but now we were alone on the road - all alone. The explanation for our loneliness was, of course, that everyone with local insight knows that the ferry only runs every hour and a half on a Sunday night in February. So there we stood, in solitary majesty on the pier, waiting for the ferry. We got away with a three-quarter wait. Eventually a few more came, but the ferry did not even get half full. What happened to the driver of the local bus is not good to know, but when we were getting off the ferry in Bognes, he took speed from the back of the deck and pushed past the motorhome that was in the front row. Could it have been the German signs, or the motorhome in general he wanted to pass? In any case, he could have saved the effort. In the end, it was we who drove past him.

The motorhome "everyone" boasts

Our goal for the evening was Innhavet motorhome pitch. A motorhome pitch "everyone" brags about. It is nicely located behind the gas station overlooking the water. The pitches are terraced, but in February only the pitches on the top row were plowed. We lay alone, but saw traces in the snow after other recent visits. Here there is also an open emptying station in winter. As the motorhome was borrowed and taken over almost completely empty the same morning (Sunday), the fridge was also incredibly empty. Then it's okay that you have "everything" in the intersection that Innhavet constitutes; gas station with fast food, hotel and restaurant with dining. In other words, we had food. Fauske became the natural stop the next morning. First pri was to fill the fridge. Just below the shopping center and close to the center is Fauske's motorhome pitch. It is also plowed all year round and has a wonderful view.

traffic congestion

After lunch with a colleague, the trip continued south, but only a mile south of Fauske, the barrier stood still when we came out of a tunnel. The hill we were going down had become too steep and slippery for five trailers going up. A couple of them had tried to drive past the first two, but ended up blocking the entire E6. The fifth stood in the ditch. So we stood there until they had put on chains and crawled up the hill. We had checked the Norwegian Public Roads Administration's traffic reports and knew that the tunnel just before Rognan was to be closed for an hour and a half in connection with a memorial service after a traffic accident. We should now get rid of it. We do not know what happened, but the E6 remained closed for an hour longer than announced.

Free camping?

Over the Saltfjellet there are so many parking spaces that in our opinion are well suited for free camping. We did it during the summer, but chose not to do it now. If you have enough electricity and gas, it should still not be a problem to stand here in the winter. But I wanted to make sure that the weather was in good mood. The brewers were in readiness at the top of the mountain, but if they wanted to prioritize brewing for a revamped motorhome, we don't know. On the way down from Saltfjellet we meet a sign, which shows that it is 50 km to Trondheim. We have already driven 60 miles so it became a strong reminder of how elongated our country is.

Winter Open campsites

Our goal for the day was Mosjøen. There we had two agreements. Before leaving home, we checked with NHO Reiseliv if they have an overview of winter campsites. They do not have that, but we found Mosjøen camping. There the owner could tell that all campsites connected to PlusCamp chain is obliged to stay open in winter. So then we know it for another time. Mosjøen has a lot to offer. We even looked at the nice buildings in Sjøgata and met a dealer before the trip further south. Viaferata and zipline we get to come back and try when these are open in summer. Maybe also some of the other offers in the area?

Bjørnefjell National Park

On the way further south we pass Børgefjell National Park. If we had been skiing, a visit here might have been relevant. With the heavy snowfall we entered on this stretch, a ski trip would hardly have been tempting that day. Poor visibility and dense snow drive, but again we were almost alone on the road so it was no problem. It was the same on the first snowstorm we met further north. By the way, Børgefjell is a unique area to visit even in the summer with lots of activities. Then you can start from Mosjøen camping or Brekkvasselv camping in Namskogan if you do not find another suitable accommodation.

Private motorhome parking

This day we were to drive 36 ​​km with a stop at a dealer in Steinkjer. The goal for the evening was the privately owned motorhome pitch at Frosta by the Trondheim Fjord. Øra motorhome space is run by a married couple who received coffee and cake. Here, too, we were the only visitors. Well back in the camper we see that the gas had run out. Then it was just to turn off the system and change the bottle, but it should not be that easy. We did not get the heat to start again - no matter how many tricks we used. The display was newer than in our previous motorhome which had the same heating system. In retrospect, we have received a tip that we may not have acknowledged the error message on the display correctly. Anyway, it was a cold night, but we also got weather changes and rain. 6 degrees outside and 6,5 degrees inside in the morning we survived. The episode is nevertheless a reminder that you should know your equipment a little better when winter camping.

Successful winter trip

This last day of the trip we only had one stop on Øysand south of Trondheim before we headed home. From Trondheim and over Dovre there was an Easter atmosphere and almost completely bare roads. At Hjerkinn we stopped for lunch and a work session with the world's most beautiful view before we headed down Gudbrandsdalen. Whether the trip was successful? Absolutely. We like to do this another time, but then we will not work so much and take better time on the trip so that we can digest more of the impressions along the way and take more detours from E6.

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