Living the Simple Cabin Life in the Arctic North

Seven long winter nights up North above the 68° parallel, in a cabin with a wood burning stove. Why would anyone vacation in a cabin in Arctic Norway in the winter? Keep reading, and I’ll tell you why.

When planning our trip to Norway, we looked at all sorts of accommodations, campers, houses and apartments. You name it, we considered it. Our main criteria was finding a home base in the central area of the Lofoten Archipelago. During our search, we came across a charming red cabin with white trim. This cabin was placed high on a hill with great views of the fishing village Sund.  It was perfect: it was a centrally located home base that allowed us to experience Norway as a local.

We arrived in Norway and met our host, who gave us instructions on the cabin and where to buy firewood:

Buy firewood in the town of Ramberg, 15 miles from Sund, it’s the closest town selling firewood.

Firewood meant one thing: our cabin’s main source of heat was fire. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting to nurse a wood stove to keep us warm during our stay, but what an adventure it turned out to be.

Upon our arrival, the character of the cabin instantly consumed us. I explored every inch of the cabin: the loft, bedrooms, nooks, kitchen, and the main room with wood burning stove. It was awesome but cold.

Oh yeah, wood burning stove. We were so focused on our destination that we didn’t take our host’s advice and stop for firewood on our way. Luckily there was enough firewood at the cabin for the night.

The next day we drove to Ramberg for supplies, groceries and firewood. Grocery shopping was a must as we were hard pressed to find an open restaurant or cafe during the winter months.

Groceries, check; Firewood, check; an axe, check!

I couldn’t find an axe anywhere in or around the cabin, so I bought an Hultafors axe, for splitting wood into kindling.  I have to admit, as an axe lover, this was an exciting purchase for me.

Over the next few days we developed a routine. After a day of adventures and returning to the cabin, we built a fire and stoked the stove to keep the fire roaring until the cabin was cozy warm.

In the morning, we had to fill our minds with motivating thoughts to coax ourselves out of the warm bed and into the crisp, cold cabin air. The cabin was stocked with heavy scratchy wool blankets so our bed was warm. I love scratchy wool; my wife, not so much. But, overall this added to our cabin’s character and charm.

During the winter months, the sun sets around 2:00 pm so we had plenty of quality cabin life on our trip.

Adding to the experience, we had no wifi, and cell service was a weak, intermittent signal. We were unplugged for seven days: no emails, no internet, no texts, and no TV. In this day of iPhones and internet, it’s easy to get lost in an always connected social media world. This leads to distractions, blurs our priorities, and takes us away from what matters most.

Spending seven unplugged nights in this cabin created many opportunities for quality time together. We cooked; we read; we talked; and many times we went to bed early and talked more. Despite the chores and responsibilities of maintaining a stock pile of firewood and keeping a fire going, cabin life is a simple life.

Most nights we experienced cloudy skies, but we had several nights of clear Arctic skies where lady Aurora tempted us with her display of northern lights. We literally watched Aurora Borealis twisting and turning high in the Arctic nights right from the front porch of our cabin. I love a starry night. But in the Arctic North, it’s magical.

Would I do it again? Damn right, I would. Despite the cold mornings and managing fires, this cabin was just what we needed: the simple Norwegian way of life.

Kenyon Virchow

Kenyon Virchow has a love for photography and his home state of Utah. His dad introduced him to photography at a very early age, teaching him basics with his Voigtlander Bessamatic (purchased in Germany 1962). Kenyon’s first real camera was a Minolta x370 SLR he received at 14. He took photography classes in high school and learned film development, exposure and composition. Kenyon’s fond memories adventuring with his friends while growing up in Utah continue to this day. He now lives in the foothills of Lone Peak Wilderness mountain range.