Arctic Trip 2012 Report: Part One. I don't mind admitting that I've looked forward to this trip for a long time. It was first offered by Bushcraft Expeditions through Bushcraft UK in 2010 but dates and finances just didn't work for me at the time so I decided to start sorting my gear out back then. In 2011 a change of circumstances left me unable to go again so I was determined to go this year come what may. An advanced course was planned as well as the basic one so I shifted some bookings around with the co-operation of my customers and ring fenced a fortnight to do both courses. It then transpired that there were not enough people booked on the "Basic" so that was cancelled leaving only the "Advanced" course running. Not to be deterred, I set out planning a week out near the course location on my own. I didn't know what conditions would be like so flights were booked online and I also booked two nights in a hotel and one night in a cabin to support the trip, giving me the opportunity to dry out gear if necessary and charge up camera batteries as required. Little was I to know that this part of the plan would create the only significant problems on the trip. Saturday: My first flight brought me to Oslo Airport the day before my onward flight to Bardufoss. It was too early to check the baggage in for the next flight so I used the left luggage facility so I wouldn't have to watch after too much stuff and went for a wander about. I did think about finding somewhere to bivi down near the airport but my onward flight was fairly early so I decided to just sit it out in the terminal instead. A friend had lent me a spot satellite transmitter so I could lets Debs know I was OK and while finding somewhere to sent a signal from I found an abandoned bottle of vodka in the car park. I wasn't about to try drinking the stuff but I thought that will at least give me a day or two's fuel for my stove if I have problems finding any meths in the local stores. There are some comfortable chairs near the left luggage booth and the one at the end also has a little space by it that you can put a foam mat down to catch a bit of sleep. I settled down with a book and my hand luggage and watched the world go by. A few others were doing much the same and I made an agreement with a Turkish gentleman next to me to watch after each others seats as we went for refreshments and the like. Sunday: Flying over Norway it is not hard to see why they have a very different approach to the outdoors than the British. Here is a wild landscape on a huge scale with a relatively small population. It's something we just don't get in the UK. The flight to Bardufoss was packed with Norwegian soldiers who looked like regulars on the route. After touchdown I collecting my two bags. In the end I'd settled for a sports duffle and a longer bag containing my pulk that had been booked in as a ski bag. These needed to be broken down to pack it onto the pulk which I did just outside the terminal. It was just a short 2km walk into Andselv which was my first stop on the trip. The weather was bright and clear and although I was tired from travelling I would have liked to have got properly started out. I had however booked the hotel for this night because arriving on a Sunday, there were no shops open to get provisions until the next day and after a restless night at Oslo it was probably wise to get a good nights sleep. Once I had checked in to a small but comfortable room I set out for a bit of a recce round. There were a couple of supermarkets Andselv and a small DIY shop that I could get meths or "Rod Sprit" from in the morning. I took a few bearings to check the local magnetic variation against the maps I had downloaded and returned to my room to sort my gear out for the trip. The print on the wall in my room caught my eye and once again made me wish I didn't have to delay the start of my proper trip till the morning. After all the planning I was eager to get out so I decided to have another wander around after dark to see if there was anywhere I might be fortunate enough to see and photograph the Northern lights from. Luck was certainly with me this evening as it turned out. Geomagnetic activity on the sun measuring 4 on the K-index (A scale of 0-9 with 9 being the strongest.) was showering the Earth with solar wind. Our magnetic field was doing it’s constant and often underrated job of stopping that radiation from frying us As a neat little side effect we were being treated to a spectacular display of the Aurora Borealis. I had noted the location of an old quarry near the airport, I was thinking of using it as a stealth camp on the last night within easy reach of the terminal for an early check in. Now it offered some good potential viewpoints that excluded some of the local light pollution. My best camera had developed a fault with perfect timing just a few days before departure but fortunately a good friend had lent me a body compatible with my lenses for the trip. I had a pocket full of batteries and a medium weight tripod so I set off eagerly towards the quarry. Most of the batteries turned out to be worthless junk, failing to perform at all at -12°C. The few decent power packs I had worked well but still needed a bit of care to get the best from them.I taped disposable hand warmer sachets to the outside of the battery compartment to slow the cooling of the cells and regularly swapped them with warmer packs inside my clothing. This was amazing luck, You can visit the Arctic many times and never see the lights. I had been treated to a great display on my first night. To say I was pleased would be a massive understatement. Monday: Up for a hotel breakfast followed by a quick circuit of the shops to lay in provisions. By 11:30 I was packed and finally ready to go. I was intending to carry my day pack while dragging the pulk but I soon decided that it was easier to strap that on the pulk as well. This remained the case for the rest of the trip. Large parts of the area around the airport seemed to be dedicated to military exercises, much like our Salisbury Plain. I didn't know what the access issues might be so I kept well clear of them. This meant that I was somewhat road bound for this part of my journey but that seemed to be no hardship as the snow ploughs had left a narrow strip of pulverised ice, much like snow, at the side of the road that the pulk glided easily across. I had planned a route taking me to Malselvfossen where I had a cabin booked mid week, leaving me time to get back and rendezvous with the rest of the participants for transport to the course area.