Last minute road trip to Norway

For quite some time, the plan for June was to take a flight to Biarritz and walk along the GR-11 long distance trail. The night before our departure the weather forecast promised nothing good for the next days: a lot of precipitation, coming down both as rain and snow, thunderstorms and temperatures below 10ºC. I’m quite a coward when it comes to thunderstorms, especially on a trail that is often running along the very highest ridges.

At almost midnight, with the flight going at 7 am., we spontaneously decided to change our plans and packed the car instead. The next morning we were on our way north, with hiking gear, a tent and even surfboards in the luggage.

Our first stop was Femundsmarka Nasjonalpark, quite far south in Norway – not so far south in Sweden. This area is known for it’s extensive wilderness areas and the magnificent fishing possibilities. We put up our tent in a cozy spot and started a campfire to get rid of the countless mosquitos.

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Camping and taking it easy in Femundsmarka- one of my favorite places in Norway!

After the first night the weather looked good for a tour to the summit of Elgåhogna, one of the highest mountains in the region, with 1460 m. I had already been there last autumn, but it’s such a pleasant hike, that I wanted to give it another shot.

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Close to the summit, lake Famunden in the background.
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After hiking: lunch time!

We also tried our luck at fishing and got to eat a salmon trout for dinner, while a second one unfortunately got away with their life. On this day we also saw a moose with it’s offspring and some reindeer, that were simply standing on the middle of the road.

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Not the biggest one, but a delicious starter.
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Sunset over lake Sorken at 11 pm. Unbelievable stillness (besides the mosquitos).

After three days in Femundsmarka we carried on to Rondane Nasjonalpark, Norway’s oldest national park. I had never been there before but it was on our way west and since it’s one of the most well-known national parks in the country, it was certainly worth the visit. In Rondane there are 10 peaks with more than 2.000 m altitude, while most of the other highest mountains are in Jotunheimen. We went to stay in one of the serviced cabins of the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) and tried to reach at least one of the 2.000 m+ peaks from there.

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Approaching Rondvassbu, which you can see down by the lake. You have to walk about 1,5 hours to get there.

We chose Veslesmeden (2015 m) as the top we wanted to climb, mostly because it was indicated as one of the easiest around. Norwegian mountains are quite steep, rugged and rough to climb, so I’m always trying to aim low and not be too cocky. We started our hike in very nice weather and slowly made our way up from around 1.000 m over sea level.

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On my way up to Veslesmeden.

By the time we were only some ten minutes away from the peak we got a breathtaking view into all directions. Unfortunately, we also saw the dark clouds approaching from the north. I decided, that I did not want to continue along the ridge with the possibilty of standing inside a storm within a couple of minutes.

We turned around, without having made it to the top, which was quite a bummer at first. On our way down, we were overtaken by the storm clouds, that brought sharp winds and very surprisingly even snow. There was nothing like that indiciated on the weather forecast! Another moment that taught me to expect any kind of weather in the mountains, even if there is not a single cloud in the sky.

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Back down to Rondvassbu, looking forward to get into the warm house. Temperatures dropped from 15ºC to around freezing in an hour.

After Rondane we continued further west, this time not to a national park, but to the sea. We stayed at a camping close to the town of Åndalsnes. The region is quite touristic, due to the Trollstigen road, Trollveggen mountain and the Geiranger fjord. While it is allowed to camp most places in norwegian nature, we decided to not wild camp here, cause it seems a bit disrespectful. Since we are good tourists, we also drove up and down Trollstigen and looked at Trollveggen.

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Trollstigen
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Trollveggen. Under the imposing walls there is a monument with the names of all climbers and basejumers that have died here. Quite impressive.

Since we can’t just do sightseeing we decided to try and catch some decent sized fish in the fjord. So we went on a small boat with some other Swedes and tried our luck. In the end we had caught one pollock/saithe that was really big and a medium sized cod, which I actually gave to the other guys in the boat, who caught nothing worth keeping.

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Gustav and our dinner.

Having done all there tourist activities and been to these crowded places, we felt like going back to the mountains. Close to Trollstigen we followed a small gravel road into a valley, parked by the end of the track and followed a winding trail into the mountains of Tafjordfjella.

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After some kilometers we had entered Reinheimen Nasjonalpark and were again in completely sublime and untouched nature. Our aim was the tiny cabin Tjønnebu, owned by the DNT and locked with their universal key (which I fortunately call my own).

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The cozy hut and Rafal, the only other person we met on this hike.

Since the hut was rather high up in the mountains, conditions were still wintery and we encountered a lot of snow on the last kilometers. The hut itself is a real jewel and has a super cozy feeling to it. A place to just relax and enjoy the surroundings. We chatted a lot with Rafal, who told us about his adventures crossing Finnmarksvidda and Sarek in winter, by himself!

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After Reinheimen Nasjonalpark our next destination was even further in the west: The village of Bud in Fræna. The first thing we did there after arriving, was renting a motor boat and trying to catch some fish. At one point there was a dolphin right next to us! We also went up to southern Norway’s largest cave, called Trollkyrkjan, which is located quite high up on a mountain, a pleasant hike through a lush forest included.

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One of many makerels we caught- some olive oil and salt on it and ready to go onto the barbecue.
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Inside one of the caves. Climbing down was a tad bit spooky, if you are not used to caves.

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Our last stop on the way home was a DNT hut called Jammerdalsbu, a bit south of Rondane. It lies quite deserted on a mountain plateau and offers a wide view over the treeless landscape.

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On my way to Jammerdalsbu, taking a picture of the cairns. These are a huge help for orientation, especially in foggy conditions.
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Jammerdalsbu, which one can open with the DNT universal key.

After this delightful trip I can only say: Norway, I’ll be back!

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