Foggy fjord

The last few weeks it seems like the entire country has been bathed in sunshine. Spring is here and the temperature is slowly rising. Some days, however, the sun comes as a surprise on the landscape that has for so long been lingering in the cold, and as protection the sea rolls in with a heavy veil of fog. The fog covers the long fjords and rises up around the cold water, creating an air of mystery and tranquility. 

I took these photos on my way to visit my parents. The ferry across the fjord was the perfect time to get out of the car and capture the white surroundings.

On top of the world

A new found friendship took me up a path I haven’t travelled for many years. This sentence sound metaphorical, but it isn’t, in fact it is not at all. A visiting colleague opened for the opportunity for me to work as a mountain guide for a day. In the company of a wonderful lady I walked the few kilometres to the Pulpit Rock on a sunny weekday. The Pulpit Rock is a peculiar rock formation of a nearly flat, square mountain plateau situated 604 metres above sea level. Under the Rock there’s a vertical mountainside which ends in  a scree slope, an accumulation of rocks and fragments of rocks which again runs into the fjord a little further down. 

We started our walk from the parking lot above the Preikestolen Youth Hostel where I have spent many of my summers cleaning and cooking. Im in no better shape then I was while doing the climb, and my pulse reached new heights. The first part of the hike is quite steep. The bad thing about that is of course that me being in such bad shape will have trouble keeping my pulse down, I feel flushed, and I need to take many small breaks. The positive side is that when you stop and turn around the view is stunning; where stunning is indeed an understatement. We could see across the fjord to the city and beyond. 

We climbed a few screes, passed a few Spaniards, laughed at a few Germans, and followed the path thread by hundreds of thousands every summer. When we had finished climbing, we sat down for lunch. We found a decent plateau where we had a wonderful view of the fjord, a lake, the forests and the surrounding mountain tops. How wonderful it is to sit on top of the world, enjoying a nice meal with good company, with the heaviest part of the walk behind us, and the best yet to come. We sat down in isolation, though with quite a few tourists passing by a few metres away, but when left we left behind a group of about 30 people who had been inspired by our lunch break. 

A few minutes’ walk later we rounded the mountain and came out to the steep slopes running down into the fjord. A few balancing acts and a few metres of plain walking we saw the Pulpit Rock. 

The view is surreal, better than any postcard. I can not begin to describe and will instead leave you with these few photos a mere attempts of showing the magnificence of the goal of our hike. 

The Descent

The bridge crossed the river and led me to a smoth, rounded, rocky surface. A few puddles could be seen here and there, and I immediately ran over the first of the larger ones. Close to the surface swam a few tadpoles. Their legs have started to show, but their tales are still long.

The wee tadpole

I left them in their bubble of a world and continued on.

The wee climb before going downhill for the rest of the walk

A small climb waited for me first. Along the path, and in the path, were endless amounts of blueberries and bilberries. The first definitely being the favourite.

After the small climb I turned right an continued down a well thread and wide path. While going steeply downhill I met people. Norwegians are said to be cold and maybe a little shy. Give someone a big smile without talking to them and you’re almost guaranteed not get one back, instead you’ll get a look which will make yourself doubt your own sanity. In the mountains, however, we ignore all social conventions, and greet everyone as a friend. I was thus met with big smiles and friendly and quite loud (according to Norwegian standards) ‘hello!’s. I only met another two people on my way down, and they too greeted me as if they had known me for years.

The water looks still, but it in fact did run pretty fast. I drank just outside the picture to the left, and the water was good!

A small stream crossed the path, and I found myself jumping from stone to stone in order to cross without getting my feet wet. I stopped on a rather large stone in the centre of the stream bent down, ladled water in my hand and drank a few mouthfuls. Any other time I would not have thought twice about drinking more. But this summer there are reported diseases coming from certain rodents infecting small mountain brooks. Not all brooks and streams are longer completely safe for quenching one’s thirst. I decided to wait until I found a suitable place in the big river. A few metres after crossing the wee stream, another brook had changed its course and now ran IN the path rather than next to it. Tip-toeing and jumping back and forth I still managed without getting my shoes soaked.

Following the combined brook and path... I believe I was quite a sight jumping from stone to stone

The path continued (also splitting every now and again) down to an old farm. Huge old oaks used to dominated just above the farm, but for some reason many had now been chopped down. It was a sad sight to see the open landscape filled with branches and cut-offs from the trees. I am sure they have been cut down for a reason, and new ones will be planted, but there and then the scenery looked like a scene from Saruman’s neighbourhood.

The land of Saruman

View from the old farm

Just below the farm I walked off the path and down to the river. The river had split into three, one was still large and wide, but the other two were small and often still, and thus more likely to pick up bacterias and the like. I took off my shoes and waded through the first two.

Shoes placed neatly on a rock in the river. Notice the slippery, scary, green stuff

The rocky surface where the water runs is often covered in green moss, and is very slippery. Where there is no water, the surface is dry, but with many larges stones. I jumped from stone to stone, stopped to wade, before jumping further.

The waterfall in the top right corner was where I deemed the water safe to drink

When I reached the main river I waded into the center and drank as much as I wanted. I scooped the water up with my hands and drank mouthfuls. I am very picky regarding water. When out traveling I have learned to read all labels, as long as the alphabet used is latin, on water bottles to find water I am able to drink. The water in the river is fresh, there’s no chloride, very little calcium, but probably with a mineral content you’d find in no bottled water. Very refreshing, tasting a bit of rocks and forest ground (no mud taste), and perfect temperature.

Perfect place to quench your thirst

I regretted not bringing my bathing suit. As the water was warm enough for a swim (that means just above 15 degrees Celsius, if at all that warm…). After quenching my thirst I returned to the path. Soon after my parents called, wondering where I’d gone. I thus had to run down to the waterworks where they picked me up with their car. While crossing the river on a small bridge I turned and took a picture of some kids bathing where I used to go when I still lived with my parents. Memories came flooding back as together with feelings of love and respect for the gorgeous nature.

Perfection

The Climb

My parents live in a rural town of about 6000 inhabitants. I was raised in this town and spent 19 years of my life there before leaving it behind. Naturally we often visit, as both my parents and grandparents still live where they ‘always’ have. It’s only an hour and a half away from here.

They’ve had Son visit them alone for a few days at a time the past weeks, as I have started work and Husband is offshore. I spent part of the weekend with them before taking Son home again. While there I made time for a hike in the mountainous area surrounding the town.

The starting point for the hike

Five minutes from my parents’ front door I find myself at the foot of the mountain. Up a small hill and I’m in the middle of the forest, junipers, birches and grass dominate the landscape as well as smooth and often slippery roots. The path is not very well thread, I wade through high grass and often have to climb over knee high rocks to continue on the path. The first part of the walk is steep. I realise the treadmill I use to get my heart pumping is nothing compared to the real deal. I can feel my pulse, I pant and increasingly find myself leaning my hand and upper body on my knee as I climb the largest rocks. After a few minutes I find myself on the first plateau. I stop to catch my breath, sit down and eat a few blueberries. The proper kind of blueberries that make your tongue and teeth blue, while the fingers are left with purple stains. I enjoy the scenery and fresh mountain air before I get up again and walk towards a clearing at the edge of the plateau.

The view from the first plateau

The town is stretched out beneath me. I call my father who takes Son out in the garden to wave at me. We then hang up. Son calls me from the porch. His voice carries all the way up to where I stand. I’m amazed at how well the sound carries. I raise both my hands up in the air and wave the best I can for him to see me. He claims he did.

I turn off the path and continue along an even less thread path than the previous. I again wade through high grass, climb rocks and even fight my way through tall junipers. I scratch my arms and sting my fingers on the needles. I’m not sure where this path ends up, I have been in the area many times before, but the paths have been wider. The path suddenly comes to a halt in between two tall junipers. I am about to turn, in doubt about whether I have actually found a proper path. I am reminded of a song by the Proclaimers, one line goes “do you want to follow paths or blaze a trail”. I smile at myself. I’m no quitter at least. I barge through the bushes and continue in the same direction. I hear the river roam somewhere in front of me and thus would always find my way, even if my own sense of direction would abandon me completely. I am headed for a narrow, country road, I’m not sure where exactly on the road, but I know I will find it soon.

The tall grass covering the path, the path got worse, before it got better

After the path had widened

The sun is high in the sky, it’s warm and I am now on the narrow road. The air is drier than in the forrest, and there is no shade along the road.

Tourists often complain about the speed limits in Norway, as do many Norwegians, but I've never seen a tourist drive according to the speed limit on this road. There's a reason why there are many good rally drivers from this country 😉 (btw, the sign sets the speed limit to 80 km/h - about 60 m/h)

I’ve left my bottle of water at home, and am now getting thirsty. I eat a few wild raspberries. The quality and taste is the same as those found by the sea. There are more of them here, outside the city.

Wild raspberries

The scenery around the road is different to how it was last time I was here. Many trees have been cut down, and a large water pipe has been removed. The forest is still very much the same, and has not suffered much. In fact the changes might even be good for the fauna.

There have been waterworks in the area for many decades. These are now rebuilding and changing their location slightly. I pass an old English looking house. The house was built at the same time as the first waterworks as Brits assisted with their knowledge and a bit of work force in the initial phase.

A taste of England in Norway

I continue along the road. Climbing. It is longer than I remembered it to be. I turn right at another dirt road, and soon find myself by the river. It is dammed, but there is still a proper river running down the mountain and hills towards the town. A new bridge has been built. I cross it and find myself in a different world. The descent will follow tomorrow

The bridge