Norge pȧ Tvers

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Norge pȧ Tvers, traversing Norway. A route developed by Trondheims Tourist Association that roughly follows 63 degrees latitude, from the sea in the west to the Swedish border. We follow our own interpretation of the route.

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During the first days we meet only a few persons enroute and none in the cabins. It’s not yet Easter (Pȧske), the time of year in which a lot of Norwegians wipe the dust of their skis and go skiing. Because of this bustle the routes between the DNT cabins will be marked with willow branches to ease navigation. At this moment it take a few more weeks till Easter, no willow branches in the snow yet. It’s a good exercise in navigation in the snow. At the Ramsjøhytta we meet a volunteer from the DNT, one of the men that stick the willow branches in the snow each year. In this part of Norway they are slowly migrating to the system in use by their neighbours: fixed wooden poles. It will save a lot of work each year.

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At Storeriksvollen it’s the first time this trip we’re not alone in a cabin. The beautiful weather goes on day after day and we are doubting whether or not to spend an extra day in the mountains. It’s nice to be able to ask advice from the other guests. We decide to visit not one Swedish cabin, but two. The Norwegians we meet affirm it’s better to spend the night in the Swedish mountains instead of a village. But they are smiling as well as the Swedish cabins are quite different from the Norwegian ones…

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The next day we arrive in our first Swedish cabin in the afternoon. Maybe hotel is a better word for it. It’s not possible to order a three-course dinner, but there is running water from a tap, hot and cold, there is electricity and even internet. In the-middle-of-nowhere. It’s luxurious but also a bit strange as the atmosphere has changed as well. In all cabins up to now, you’ll lit a candle at night for lighting and drink a cup of coffee with the other guests. You’ll talk about the day, about ‘friluftsliv’ and the differences between the Netherlands and Norway for example. Here in the big rooms lit by neon lights the cosiness and personal attention has disappeared. I open the door and watch people bend over their mobile phones. It’s good progress to make these beautiful places accessible for everyone, but the typical outdoor cabin atmosphere is gone.

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The next day in the morning we meet a Swedish diplomat. He recognised our nationality by our accents. We may precede on the steep descent in front of us. While I’m still talking, Charissa is flying down. “It’s not so steep, it’s fine”, he says when I leave. I arrive at the end of the descend with trembling knees. Fast and so many icy grooves for the skis to change direction…

A bit further we’re climbing again. A dog strolls from behind a boulder. Usually it doesn’t take long for his boss to arrive as well. Not this time. I take the binoculars from my backpack. A dog, I thought, maybe it is a fox. The animal looks back at me, doubts for a moment and runs off in the other direction. Yes it’s fox, it’s clear to see now. It’s not the first time we meet a fox, but it surely is one of the longer moments.

The day before yesterday at Storeriksvollen we met a small animal we’d never seen before: an ermine. He happily ate all the leftovers… and the mice. Happy ermine, happy humans.

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The last evening we share the dorm with some Scotsmen with whom we talk a bit. We meet them again a few times when we descend into the valley the next day. Though they are a few years older than us, we notice they move at a high pace.

Fast forward a few days when we are bored waiting at the airport. I browse through some websites to find an update of climber Dave MacLeod. He made a new film, let’s take a look. We see someone running through the Scottish hills, almost falling in the soggy ground. Some running on jeep tracks, then bogs again. An old Landrover climbs. Then a close-up of the driver. By the time I processed the thought that I’ve seen this person before, the screen shows an interview. I immediately recognise the name! I was right, this is the guy we’ve been talking with in the last cabin in Sweden. We never knew we were talking to a well-known Scotsman.

Photographs

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Video

Bibliography

DNT, Nordeca
2742 Merȧker Sør
1 : 50 000

With additions from Turkart UT.no and Sveriges Länskarta.

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Ski eller skøyter

Cautiously I step forward. A few meters back the snow changed into a sheet of ice. First it’s still relatively soft, the kind of ice you can kick steps into. Now it is hard and blue. We’re searching for small imperfections where the sole of our shoes has some grip. Another step further. I notice that I’ve slipped when I’m already on the ground and feel the acceleration of gliding over ice. Turning to my belly is astonishingly easy even with the heavy backpack. Automatically I brake on hands and feet like I’ve learnt years ago. I don’t notice any braking. Maybe on hands and knees? Nope, no difference. Suddenly I’m halted in a snow dune. When I look up, searching for Charissa, I see her gliding the same trajectory, halting next to me in the snow dune. Ski eller skøyter, skiing or skating?

This year we’re in Trollheimen for a week of skiing. We want to ski Trekanten, The Triangle. “According to the media all of Norway is going to ski for the Easter holidays. The ones that don’t go are pathetic. Statistics tell however, that less than ten percent of the Norwegians go for skiing.” (Source: Henk Brugman – Een Leven In Noorwegen) Trekanten is the most important tour for Easter for the people living nearby: a triangle through the valleys of Trollheimen. Beautiful views en route and two high passes according to Norwegian standards.

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The first part is groomed and tracks are made. It’s Sunday and most Norwegians can be found cross-country skiing. A small tour to the staffed mountain hut, eat a meal there and then back home. A family trip with dog and children or perhaps as sports activity, like running in the Netherlands. A few times we’re almost blown from the trail, such heavy winds are blowing. Everywhere blown twigs and pineapples can be found. This is the only part of our route that has tracks.

Instead of Trekanten, The Triangle, for us it’s more like Linje, a line.

Suddenly in the evening, it’s quiet. All day long the wind was whistling and howling. Even in the Gjevilvasshytta the wind could be heard when suddenly it’s gone. In the morning it’s still gone when we leave. We ascend through the forest or at least we try. There’s so much ice that our skis don’t have any grip. We put on our ski-skins, not to remove them for the rest of the week. When we leave the forest, the wind picks up again, just like yesterday. This is what will be waiting for us the coming week: old snow with ice and drifting snow gathered in dunes.

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We make a day trip to Grȧfjellet where we meet a herd of reindeer. In these conditions the route from Jøldalshytta to Trollheimshytta is too ambitious for us. We get up early, cross the frozen river and start the ascent along the Langfjellet massif. The snow changes into snow over ice into one big sheet of snowless ice. We should have brought our crampons. The higher we go, the more difficult it becomes. We don’t make it to the pass and return to Jøldalshytta. Instead of Trekanten, The Triangle, for us it’s more like Linje, a line.

Tomorrow he’ll get up early, he’ll ski 45 kilometres back home via the tracks.

When we return to Gjevilvasshytta the next day the wood stove is already burning. An elderly man, Yngvar will spend the night there. He’s skiing Trekanten and was at the Trollheimshytta yesterday. He brought no map as he knows the area well and took the southerly route to the cabin instead of our northerly route. Even with his 64 years of ski experience (Do your own math to find his age …) he found it one of his most difficult crossings. The way from Trollheimshytta to Gjevilvasshytta was as difficult as the one the day before: a small ridge crossing with descend took him three hours. In the beginning of the evening he’s a bit shy for he cannot speak English that easily. As soon as we put our map of the area on the table, he starts talking, very nice. Tomorrow he’ll get up early, he’ll ski 45 kilometres back home via the tracks.

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Though normally we like to travel with our tent, the DNT cabins are our favourites in the winter. During this tour we meet other people in the cabins during three nights. Of course they are all Norwegians, Trollheimen is not well-known abroad. In the guest-books of the cabins we can find only a handful of foreigners each year. Last night we share the cabin with a Norwegian woman who speaks English very well. We learn a lot about Norway, the Norwegians and their culture.

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Photos

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Movie

Bibliography

DNT, Uglant IT
Trollheimen
Turkart 1 : 50 000

Henk Brugman – Een Leven In Noorwegen (Life in Norway)

Skiftende bris*

*) Changing wind

 

Hiking without plan is different from roaming around without goal. Without plan we leave for Norway, a journey in two chapters as we go to Børgefjell NP and Lomsdal-Visten NP. This time no ease of footpaths, coloured dots of paint or luxurious cabins of DNT. Swedish Sarek is also called the last European wilderness, but these two Norwegian national parks are almost as wild as Sarek.

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Børgefjell

When the train pulls over, we immediately search for the train guard. “Two tickets for Majavatn please.” The timetable says about Majavatn: Stopper ved behov, only stop when asked for. Half an hour later we disembark, indeed, we’re the only ones.

We head for Jengelvatnet, fishing paradise in Norway. Enroute we meet the biggest group of people we will encounter for the next three weeks: five fishermen just return from the lake. During the remaining of our tour we sporadically meet some people. Most of them two persons, Norwegians and staying in the park to fish. We try to catch some fish as well, but reserve too little time for it. In between pitching our tarp and having a soup we fish for half an hour. The rumbling in our stomachs remind us of the freezedried meals we haul each day in our backpacks.

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Not only the fish play hide and seek. We see raindeer dung all over the national park, but no raindeer to be seen. We find the first herds when we head for the Bȧtskardet col. We sleep on the col, while being visited a few time by the herd. They’re startled by our tarp, bark to tell this threat to the others. Then they run away.

We leave Børgefjell via the Simskardet valley. A dirtroad links the parkinglots to the main road. We walk over the dirtroad when we notice a drowsy fox. A fox! We didn’t expect to see this shy and sly animal here. Seems like he prefers walking the dirtroad over bushwhacking just as we do!

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Changing national parks coincides with the change in weather.

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Lomsdal-Visten

Changing national parks coincides with the change in weather. We crossed Børgefjell in beautiful weather. Lots of sun, sometimes a bit of rain. We’re welcomed in Lomsdal-Visten with four consecutive days of rain. Sometimes we find a cabin we can use, sometimes we’re stuck in bad weather. Our first idea is to cross the park until we reach the sea. We spent a long walking day reaching Litlskardvatnet lake. After all the rain the karst land with only a few centimeters of soil is so saturated the border between swamp and creeks fades. No-where we can pitch our tarp. As soon as you lie down, you’ll push down the earth so far you’ll create your own pool. Searching a long time for a place or discussing it is also no option. The wind blows ferociously, freezing us in our wet clothes. There’s no other option then return on our own steps. One and a half hour it took us to climb, we’re back down in an hour. We cook in our tarp and immediately fall asleep.

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The next day we try again. One and a half hour of climbing, the river still high and fast flowing. The clouds lower over the lake. We doubt but know too little of the remainder of the route and the weather to continu. We decide to return and try via another valley.

In Lomsdal the raindeer gather at specific places as well. We meet a merry herd of around seventy animals between Grønfjellet and Storklumpen. Only the last day we see a moose, again in a downpoor. The camera stuck deep in our backpacks in defence of the water, we’re just in time unpacking the camera to get one picture of the large animal with its wide antlers.

A few minutes later we find ourselves before an abyss. Fifty meters of sheer drop. Looks like we’re stuck on a large rock band. We go to the place where we last spotted the moose and find his tracks. Tracks that guide us down over a steep path. It reminds us that this is his place and we’re only visiting.

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They burst out laughing: “Ah, that’s why you’ve returned today, you don’t trust the craftmanship of the Norwegian hunters!”

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At the end of our adventure we arrive at the super market in Trofors where we’re addressed in Norwegian by two persons, an old, grey guy and his friend with only one arm. Jeg snakker ikke Norsk, I don’t speak Norwegian. Instantly they change to English and ask us if we have been in Lomsdal. Yes, we’ve been hiking in Børgefjell and Lomsdal for three weeks. “Three weeks? Only hiking?” Indeed. The old man looks at our backpacks. “Light weight?” Yes. Very not-Norwegian: small backpack, light, no resting day to hunt or fish. He says he’s going to Lomsdal as well the next week. We remember that it’s the tenth of September today, the opening of the hunting season. They burst out laughing: “Ah, that’s why you’ve returned today, you don’t trust the craftmanship of the Norwegian hunters!” After discussing the beautiful wildlife here for some more moments we say our goodbyes. Goodbye to this spontaneous talk and goodbye to the precious and wild nature here. It feels like the journey returning home has already started.

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Film

Route

Part 1: Majavatn – Breidskardfjellet – Søre Bisseggvatnet – Nordre Bisseggvatnet – Simskardet – Bȧtskardet – Breidskardelva – Strendene

Part 2: Strendene – Stavassgȧrden – Litls Kardvatnet – Stavassætra – Oorlogsmonument – Storklumpen – Feitskardet – Stavvatnet – Tinden – Øvergȧrdsvatnet – Trofors

Climbed mountains: Col of Kvigtinden, Litl Kjukkelen, Breidskardfjellet, Storklumpen, Tinden

Bibliography
DNT, Uglant IT
Børgefjell Nord
Turkart 1 : 50 000

DNT, Uglant IT
Børgefjell Sør
Turkart 1 : 50 000

Nordeca
10114 Vistfjellan
1 : 50 000
ISBN 978-82-8278-114-5

In between Thai food and white skies

It’s Friday, eleven o’clock in the evening. Our airplane lands in the snow on Olso airport. Ten centimetres of fresh snow has been falling the last hours. Next day we check in at Strand Fjellstue, a nice mountain lodge with Stefan and Surina as its enthusiastic owners. They serve the best Thai food that we’ve ever tasted. Strand Fjellstue is our starting- and endpoint of this tour. We’ll be sleeping in DNT self-service cabins, a more luxurious stay than the tarp we normally use.

It’s still snowing when we want to leave the next morning. The low hanging clouds make for poor visibility, which doesn’t make the navigation easier in this sloping landscape. Stefan tells us that the easiest route to Storkvelvbua goes around Ongsjøfjellet (fjellet = mountain). A long route but easier to find in this weather. We put our skis on, cross the frozen lake and start our ascent.

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At the end of the ascent we can choose to climb further to mountain pass Leppskardet or we can choose the longer route that Stefan told us. We choose the last one. The visibility is still low and we trust our own navigation capabilities and the scarce signs we find (this day we find about three signs in total). Willow branches put up in the snow show the route. It is going to be a long day, half past five we arrive at the cabin which is packed in ice. “I think I see a light indoors”, Fred says, but immediately corrects himself. “No, it’s very dark indoors.” and the cabin seems to be vacant. Till we arrive at the door and find nine pairs of skis standing in the snow.

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In the cabin we find nine Norwegians, the stove is burning, water has been made and they offer us some hot water for making tea. Instead of clearing two beds for us, they show the small room for us to use. We prepare our food and over dinner we talk about the routes and about Norway. They are doing a three day tour. The day before yesterday they arrived, today they made a day trip and tomorrow they’ll return to the valley. During the day trip they did not use the willow branches for navigation and needed to rely on their GPS. We already decided to use the marked trails in this bad weather and get that as an advice as well: “Stick to the sticks.”

Stick to the sticks.

After dinner everyone is doing his or her own thing. We take a look on the map, some people play cards and others read a book. We prepare a hot chocolate and they offer us a brownie. The home-made brownie melts on our tongues. Such a luxury, such a luxury.

“There are two ways to fall: the faceplant and the bumplant.” Fred has the chance to practice both.

Just before we want to leave in the morning one of the Norwegians hurries to the cabin. “There’s a herd of raindeer in the valley. More than one hunderd animals!” The same herd we saw yesterday just outside the cabin. This herd has returned from the north early this year. It’s time for us to submerge ourselves in the monochromous world of snow and willow branches.
We cannot judge depth because of the clouds. Drift of snow cannot be seen either. As Ernst Arbouw describes in his article (page 46) in the Dutch magazine Hoogtelijn: “There are two ways to fall: the faceplant and the bumplant.” Fred has the chance to practice both.

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Candlelight dinner.

We’re brushing our teeth in Oskampen when Charissa says: “Grab the camera, I see a fox!” Special for us Dutch, but as we learn later, foxes can be seen regularly here. At Strand Fjellstue they know a fox that walks the same route near the mountain lodge each day.

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The last night we spend in Nordbua. Not a DNT cabin, but a cabin from the local tourist association: Gausdal Fjellstyre. There are less facilities than in a DNT cabin, but mattresses and a stove are present. What else do you need? We’ll be enjoying the last freeze dried meal with candlelight for this week here.

We want to move on fast, but to where? We hang against the wind to keep standing and feel the gusts of wind pulling forcefully on our backpacks.

From the start of the last day the snow sticks to our skis. In the morning it is +2C already and wet snow falls from the sky. We decide to go for the short route, via mountain pass Leppskardet. In the meantime the wind is picking up fast. The higher we climb, the worse the weather gets. Just under the mountain pass we’re in a white-out again: We see white everywhere, the horizon cannot be found. Claustrophobia in the wide open plain. The wind is blowing at at least eight Beaufort. The willow branches are 25 meters apart, but sometimes Charissa needs to go ahead to find the next stick. Finally we are saved by the sign at the mountain pass, completely covered in ice.

We want to move on fast, but to where? We hang against the wind to keep standing and feel the gusts of wind pulling forcefully on our backpacks. No willow branches to be found anymore. We try to find them, but fail regardless of our attempts. The map told us that the next 60 meters will consist of a steep descent and the terrain will flatten out afterwards.

We need to yell to hear what we’re saying to each other. Eventually we decide to keep our bearing to north-north-east and carefully descent inside this white cloud. Step by step we descent, watching the compass. We see some grey spots, but cannot identify what it is we’re seeing. Trees, rocks? We make a few cautious steps when suddenly the cloud dissolves a bit. We see trees and we see where we need to go to. Quickly we descent to the trees. There we find the next willow branches. Finally time for a break, the first energy bar and cup of tea of this day.

It starts to rain when we continue to follow the willow branches. In the afternoon we arrive at Strand Fjellstue soaking wet. We can dry our gear in the drying room and are offered a delicious cup of Thai soup. Despite all Norwegians we speak say it’s “a horrible winter”, we have enjoyed the last week! We’ve seen a fox, raindeer and grouses, all days we’ve dined in candle light in comfortable warm wooden cabins. Holidays!

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Film

Route
Strand Fjellstue (Espedalen)*
Ongsjøsætran
Leppbua
Storkvelvbua*
Svarttjønnholet
Storhøliseter*
Jotunheimstien
Oskampen*
Øyvassbua
Skriurusten*
Storkvelvbua
Nordbua*
Leppskardet
Strand Fjellstue*
*: overnight stay

Bibliography
2492, Huldreheimen, Spȧtind
DNT Turkart
1:50 000

Example tour by DNT

Norway, summer 2011

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Our route

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

A day of travelling. First the train to Schiphol airport, flying to Oslo, waiting, then flying to Bodø. At the airport in Oslo we had an exciting moment. We can only pay by creditcard, that we normally don’t use. What was our personal code again? With sweating hands and hard thinking we manage to dig up the numbers from our memory. Phew…

Bodø airport is situated in the middle of the city. We even manage to buy gas for our stove at the Intersport. Great. Tomorrow we only have to go to our starting point with the bus. We’ve had times that is was much more difficult to start a tour.

From the Intersport it took us 45 minutes to walk to the campsite. A nice short walk after sitting in trains and airplanes for most of the day.

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Sunrise from the campsite

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

Our bus is scheduled for 14.15, so we have the morning for ourselves. We wander around in the city, drink a cup of coffee and take a walk through the harbour.

For Kr 164 our backpacks and ourselves are allowed on the bus. It’s hard to find the right way to speak the Nordic language. After a few tries we can make ourselves understandable to the bus driver. We want to leave the bus at Børelva (pronounciation: Burjelva). It’s not an official bus stop, but a haystack with a farm near the road. Holding the map on our laps we follow the directions of the bus. Again, we leave a bus in the middle-of-nowhere. Our bus stop, Børelva.

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Our starting point

We start climbing towards Børtinden. Right at the start of the climb, we meet a Norwegian guy with his dog. He has time for a little talking, so we come to know that the hunting season starts at September 10th (in a week), that dogs may not be used for hunting and that they shoot with hail (so it’s not dangerous). He trained his dog here and is going to hunt in Tromsø.

While walking we almost are blown off our feet, what a strong winds! We have a difficult time trying to find a place to pitch our tent. We would like to camp out of the wind, but most horizontal places are swampy. We find a place in a small bowl with a view to the local mountainridge, the Åselitindan. The striking summit to the right is called Børtinden, which we want to climb tomorrow. As long as the weather is good, we want to try and climb some summits.

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The view from our campsite.

Each time we have to get used to the full backpack. The both of us are glad that the start is only half a day of climbing.

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

The first night in the tent was uneasy. Though the both of us were tired, we didn’t sleep that well. Normally the wind will lessen during the night, but this wind continues to play with our tent throught the night. Although the evening ends with an overcast sky, we set the alarm. We hope for the northern lights. Halfway through the night the rain starts. Our tent is made of nylon and will stretch when wet. So raining means getting up, going outside and adjusting the guy-lines.

We left for Børtinden and after an hour we left our backpacks on a rock ledge. We will come back here to continue our journey, so why would we want to haul our heavy backs up and down? Without the backpacks we’re faster. If only the lemmings will not find our food…

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A lemming.

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The summit of the Børtinden, to the left you’ll see Bodø, still in heavy winds.

We find our backpacks at once and still in one piece. We walk along the mountain ridge to the lake Skardvatnet. There we’ll proceed over the footpath, to the hut. If we look down the valley at the end of the ridge, it looks much easier to join the path from Børvatnet. We can go to the hut via a small bridge and do not need to wade.

In front of the hut we meet two Norwegians. They tell us that they turned the heat up in Lurfjellhytta, the hut. A pot of hot water is already waiting for us. Their definition of nice and warm is clearly different than ours. It is scorching. The hut itself is beautiful, neat, with a kitchen, a living room, bedrooms, incredible. The mountainhuts in Andorra (which we were also very happy with) cannot be compared with this. Even the manned huts in the Alps are uncomparable!

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The Lurfjellhytta

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Today the weather looks menacing, but it doesn’t rain (well, a few drops). We don’t have to climb as much as the last days and we’re walking on a footpath. The pace is fast and we’re able to cross a great distance.

While walking we do not meet any people. We come across some sheep and it looks as if they are wondering what we are doing. We also see a lot of lemmings. The amount of lemmings seems to fluctuate each year. This year the amount of lemmings is at its peak and we know it.

Today Charissa caught a cold.

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Our bivvy.

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

A tougher day than yesterday. The weather was not very cooperative, heavy winds and raining all day long. Enroute we met two Norwegian women. They were traveling from one cabin to the other and this was day 7 of their journey. Judging by their grey hairs, they were not that young of age anymore.

Our views become obscured by rain clouds. Yesterday great glaciers were visible, unfortunately today not anymore.

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Rain clouds.

Our counter-of-the-wild-beast is incremented by a flock of raindeers and a bunch of lemmings.

Charissa’s cold is getting worse.

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Today we went from the Arnevatnetr lakes to just after Steinbua Bjøllåvatnet. Of course we came across some lemmings and raindeer.

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Raindeer.

A stretch of today’s route is marked as “difficult in wintertime” at our map. We expected a steep path or other difficult terrain, but in autumn it is not difficult at all.

Again we’r lucky when wading. The water level is very low today and we can walk across by just hopping from boulder to boulder. If the level was 10 cm higher, we had to wade barefooted.

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No need to wade.

During our break at hut Bjellåvasstua we talk to a Norwegian hiker. He lives in the neighbourhood and started this morning in Mo I Rana. Last summer he was also at this hut, while it was much more crowded. Some people had to sleep on the floor. He also explained about other huts around here, some even have a sauna! No, no tent for him.

We continue along the lake. The heavy wind makes it hard sometimes, we both hang in the wind while walking. Half way the lake a stone cabin was built, Steinbua Bjøllåvatnet. A fisherman is spending the night there. He has put some fishing nets in the lake, but cannot bring in the nets because of the heavy winds. He doesn’t talk English, but we understand that we may spend the night there. We decide to go on.

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Walking along Bjøllåvatnet.

A few hunderd meter later we find a nice campsite. Just after a small hill, next to a creek. No direct wind with water nearby. Perfect.

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Tonight Fred’s throat started to ache. No surprises, two people is such a small tent. There’s no way to avoid this. The wind stopped blowing. In the afternoon we arrive at hut Midtistua and the skies are clear! Wow! Just sit a bit, eat a bit, and just lie down enjoying the sun. This really is land of the raindeer. While we’re having our lunchbreak a flock passes. We see flocks of raindeer throughout the whole valley.

One moment we’re watching raindeer at our right, while two raindeer try to pass us stealthly at our left. Funny to see them so close by.

After a long, wide valley we turn right to arrive in another wide valley, Riebivagge. To reach it we have to pass a small valley, over a meandering footpath, along a small creek.

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On our way to Riebivagge.

We pitch our tent at the start of Riebivagge. The valley is wide and full of bogs and creeks. The weather is beautiful, before we start cooking we lie a bit in the sun. After dinner and dessert the rain starts again. Moving back in the tent.

Up to now we set the alarm each night. Perhaps we will see the northern lights someday. Unfortunately each night we had an overcast sky and nothing could be seen. Tonight is just the same …

Friday, September 9th, 2011
A beautiful valley, Riebivagge. Quite wet, the rain made all bushes wet. We choose to travel in autumn, especially for the colours. This valley looks great with all the nice colours.

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Riebivagge.

Along the river we see a tipi with 3 guys. We say hi (“Hej”) and continue downstream. One hour later we meet 3 hunters and their dogs. We say hi and one of the hunters start to talk. He tells us about the tipi that they pitched near the river last week. It will be their base camp while hunting. Ah, it’s almost September 10th. On our first day in Norway we were already told that hunting season starts at the 10th. That’s why we see that many hunters. We tell them that their friends are already waiting for them at the tipi. They don’t understand. We tell that we saw three other guys near the tipi, their friends (we assume). No, they ensure us that those are other people. They nod to their shotguns and laugh a bit. No problem. We wish them all the best and leave.

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The suspension bridge near Bukkhaugbua.

We meet the next hunter at Bukkhaugbua on the suspension bridge. He travels alone and wants to talk. He climbed from the valley with a backpack weighing 50 kg. Apparently they hunt grouse. Today the first hunters claim their spot in the cabin. During the weekend it can become very crowded and this hunter certainly does not want to sleep outside. He recommends us to go to a small cabin in the other valley, Reinhagen. A cabin for up to 2 people in a valley that is not open for hunting. A nice, small, old cabin. He also tells us that we need to look for snow-eagles in another valley, Gråtådalen. A lot of these beautiful animals live there .

We continue our climb for a bit and then pitch our tent. Enough for today. Overcast, no northern lights.

Saturday, September 10th, 2011
This morning we hear some shots fired in the valley. It is confirming that the hunting has been started. We finish our climb and descend in the next valley, Tverrådalen. If the clouds are higher we can go for the local summit, Tellingen. Unfortunately we are already walking in the clouds, it makes no sense to walk to a summit today.

No hunter can be seen in this valley, neither do we spot any grouse. Today we do not see anyone. We descend in a valley with a furious river and beautiful autumn colours.

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Tverrådalen.

We arrive at the cabin the hunter told us about. Our tent is bigger to sleep in, so that’s what we do. In the cabin we find a stove, which is really good. Charissa’s shoes are leaking. When it rains, her shoes become wet, so do her socks. We light the stove and let everything dry. Nice.

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Drying.

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Reinhagen.

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Tonight our gear has dried reasonably well in the cabin. Even our shoes were quite dry. What a relief after so much rain last few days. Today is a beautiful day, with a bit of sunshine.

We descend through the forest and arrive in the village Tverrånes. We have to find a path at the end of a barnyard. A quest. The houses are scattered sparsely and they have been working with an excavator at the barnyard concerned. We found a path and a gravelroad, but no markings anymore.

We lunched in the sun and continued our way over the mountain ridge. This time with a view at Gråtådalen, a mountain range with a lot of great glaciers. The wind picks up and blows dark clouds through the valley in the south-east.

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A view at Gråtådalen.

We sprint to keep ahead of the rain and take shelter in hut Gråtådalstua.

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Shelter.

Rain and clouds = no northern lights.

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Despite of the rain we left. First we travel on a footpath sparsely scattered red T’s to mark the route. A moment later we find T’s everywhere, but no path anymore. We walk in the right direction, it’ll be allright.

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Enroute.

At the crossing of Gråtådalen and Skavldalen the clouds open up and we could catch a glimpse of the amazing glaciers. We continue our way in Skavldalen. According to our map we should cross a snowfield here. There’s only a tiny patch of snow left. Global warming?

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Crossing a small patch of snow.

Skavldalen is a rough valley with a lot of rocks and creeks. Beautiful to walk through. At the end the valley opens up and we arrive at Kvitsteindalsgammen. A hut like the Sami made it: thin tree trunks that form a tipi. The trees are covered in bark, which in turn are covered in turf. In the end it looks like an overgrown wigwam. We found a stove in the hut. It took a while to gather a bit of wood and try to dry our gear another time.

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Kvitsteindalsgammen.

We pitch our tent at a few meters of Kvitsteindalsgammen. If our view is not obscured tomorrow, we would like to climb Vegdalsfjellet from here. From the summit we would have a great view over Svartisen. But first we need to set the alarm, perhaps the northern lights can be seen tonight!

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Incredible, but tonight the sky went overcast again. Despite of the alarm ringing a few times, no northern lights were to be seen. We prepared well. Practiced with the camera, took a timetable with us that shows the best times the nortern lights can be seen, but we have no luck. This is the 11th night we try.

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Campsite.

This morning we opened our tent and the clouds are gone again. Wow, we didn’t expect that. We have a fast breakfast, prepare a backpack and leave for the Vegdalsfjellet. We leave the tent at its place. We start with a fast ascent. After two and half hours of climbing, our altitude is 1255m. The summit is at 1268m. We can see the summit, but it’s still a good walk away. It starts to rain again and we see Gråtådalen (where we were yesterday) is covered in fog. Time to turn around. There’s no path to the summit, so we need good visibility to return to our tent.

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View on the sea, from Vegdalsfjellet.

On our way down, we meet a raindeer with gaint antlers. He notices us late, then stops, looks at us, snorts loud and runs away.
Back at our tent, we gathered some wood for the next person to arrive at Kviksteindalsgammen. Hopefully they will enjoy the stove as much as we did.

We have half a day left, which we used to continue our trail. We pitched our tent at Litle Svalvatnet with a beautiful view at the mountains around us.

We spent the half day we had left by continuing our trail. We ended the day at Litle Svalvatnet with a beautiful view on the mountains around us. Today as well as yesterday we didn’t see anyone else. That might be because it is already autumn and there is a chance of snow. Certainly not the busiest time of the year.

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Campsite.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Dense, dense fog when we unzip our tent this morning. We cannot see the lake from the campsite! We use our breakfast, grab our gear and off we are. We have to cross the Svalvasselva river, which is very easy: The river runs partly under the ground and we can use the rock-bridge.

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The rock-bridge over the Svalvasselva.

The visibility diminishes after we crossed the rock-bridge. The trail is still marked by painted red T’s, after which it becomes path-less. Unfortunately, the fog is getting thicker and thicker. Now we’re getting more problems navigating. We start to walk from cairn to cairn and find out that we’re heading in the wrong direction. This is not the path we want to follow. We head back to the last red T. Another good look at the map and then we find the next red T.

Eventually the fog becomes that thick, that we need to try to find the next mark. We walk one hundred meters in one direction. If we don’t find a mark, we walk back. Then we try another direction. It’s quite an exercice with only 30 m visibility.
The last hour we walk about 300 m. (3 marks in 1 hour). We would like to follow the red trail in the overview, Fellvasstua, Vakkerdalen, Glomfjord during 2 days. With a velocity of 300 m per hour, we’re not going to finish that in time. With enough visibility it’s not a problem for two days. Now it doesn’t seem feasible. When will the fog disappear?

Lunchtime. Perhaps the fog will open up. We eat a piece of tourbread and drink, but the fog remains. In the end we decide to turn around. We know that there is a good path to our finish point at about an hour back. What took us all morning, we walk back in 45 minutes. Back at our campsite.

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The weir.

We arrive at the reservoir and see that the fog starts at 530 m of altitude, about the height of the reservoir. According to the description of the tour it is possible to walk over a gravel road and a large stair to highway 17. A bus will stop there at 7 AM or at 5 PM. We will stay here one more night, to descend tomorrow and take the bus at 5 PM. Tomorrow night we’ll be back in Bodø.

In the cabin near the reservoir we find the same map as we have. We even find some tickets with the map. His journey started in Germany at September 3rd, return at September 10th. Talking about a short holiday.

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

This morning we can take it easy. It’s only a few hours descending and the bus leaves at five o’clock.

We leave over the gravel road, follow a footpath and move along a few small lakes. After a few turns and a small forrest we should arrive at a bridge over the river. Not far after the bridge, the stairs should start. However we don’t see a bridge, we see the gravel road disappear in a furious river! Hmm, we’ll never manage to get to the other side here. A quick look at the map reveals that there is another road a bit higher. Let’s try to go there and hope it won’t take us too long. We don’t have that much slack in the planning, so we might need to spend another night in the tent.

We find the other path and a place to cross the river. This bridge is about 10 cm higher than the waterlevel. Again confirmation that the waterlevel is high this year. We find the stairs, 1162 wooden steps with iron chains to hold on to. It ends in a wooden (violently wobbling) suspension bridge. Half an hour later we arrive at the highway.

A friendly bus driver takes us to the centre of Glomfjord, where we can wait for our bus to Bodø. Three hours in the bus and we arrive at the campsite in Bodø.

The end

We have some spare time in Bodø and walk to the summit of Keiservarden. We’re rewarded by a beautiful view over Bodø, the fjord and the ocean.

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View from Keiservarden.

The last evening the sky finally opens up. Although we’re in the middle of the city now with a lot of residual light, we don’t give up. In the afternoon we look for a good spot to see the northern lights. If Charissa looks outside in the evening, she sees white spots in the atmosphere. At first we think high clouds are forming up in the sky. The northern lights start as fuzzy, high white spots, so we hurry to get the photo camera and walk to our photographer’s spot. Our patience is rewarded and we spent 45 minutes outside enjoying this unique spectacle.
A beautiful end of a beautiful trip.

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Aurora Borealis.

Click here to see all photographs.

Film

Bibliography

Jolanda Linschooten – Bergtochten in Noorwegen
Voorbeeldtochten Saltfjellet/Svartisen DT4, MT8
Uitgeverij Dominicus, 2009
ISBN 978 90 257 4582 0

Salten Frilufsråd, Turkart 1:75 000, Sulitjelma – Saltfjellet

Salten Frilufsråd, Turkart 1:75 000, Sundsfjordfjellet – Svartisen