Day 13: On Top of the World


Day two of our kayaking adventure. Wake up early, eat a relatively quick breakfast of yogurt and granola, make sandwiches for lunch, and row across the fjord to the opposite shore for a day long hike.

Camp at 7am. The sun won’t reach the water until at least 10am.

We start the hike in a “village” / farmstead, and will wind up a valley for maybe four and a half miles.

An old farmhouse. They used to herd reindeer off the cliffs above, killing them, and then drag the carcasses to this barn to be processed into meat. Hey, it’s already tenderized from the fall, right?

On the way up, we passed a lot of picturesque scenery and then came upon a small collection of sheep-herder’s huts. These huts would traditionally be occupied only during the summer while the sheep fed on grasses high up in the mountains ( saving the lower grasses for when it got colder and the high elevations were covered in snow ).

The sheep are still up here, but the owners don’t live up in the huts during the summer anymore.
In fact, I think this guy has claimed a house as his own, since no humans are around to dispute it.

After the village, we hiked by the side of a lake. To say the trail was marshy is a bit of an understatement. A lot of time was spent hopping from rock to rock in order to avoid sinking into several inches of mud.

The lake was crystal clear and ice cold, as it is all snow runoff.
The ‘path’ by the lake. It felt a little like Super Mario Bros to jump from rock to rock without getting stuck in the mud.

With all of the rock-hopping in crossing the marsh next to the lake complete, we found ourselves by a second set of sheep-herder’s huts in a high mountain valley.

The view here was spectacular.

We were now about four and a half miles into the six mile uphill hike. The only downside was that now we had to hike straight up a very steep slope for a full mile before things leveled out again at the top of the mountain. There were no switchbacks either. We just hiked straight up.

This picture was taken 15 minutes after we left the houses down below. It should give an idea of just how steep the slope was.

Only five of the nine of us managed to scale the mountain from this point forward. It was rather difficult and there is no shame in having not been able to complete the hike here.

The tundra at the top of the climb. Still about a half mile to go before we can look down into the fjord.

Getting to the top, however, did provide an amazing view of the fjord below. We stopped to eat lunch ( one well earned ) and, of course, take pictures.

The fjord from the top of the mountains.
Another view. The large waterfall on the right is where we stopped for water on the first day. Our campsite was around a bend on the left and not seeable from this viewpoint.
Proof that I made it to the top. That I’m writing this caption is also proof that I did not fall off.

Of course, after you hike up, you must hike down. With our legs already feeling like jelly, we started the descent. I won’t bore anyone with details except to say two things:

1 — Throughout the hike, there were wild blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries along the side of the path. Each grew at a different elevation ( blueberries highest, then strawberries, then raspberries at the lowest ), but all were excellent eating.

A picture of some raspberries before I plucked and ate them.

2 — The day before, while kayaking, I had hurt my forearm in some way. I’m pretty sure it was a re-aggrivation from over-doing it rock climbing about a month ago and I had thought the injury would go away with a night’s rest. It didn’t. It just got worse. In fact, my hand would soon swell up like a balloon and I found myself unable to do much at all with my right arm — even simple things like unzip a jacket. That should make for a fun tomorrow, right?

Our campsite.

Back at camp it was time for a dinner of chicken and rice, then a night talking around the fire. Tomorrow is our last day, at which point we will row back to Gudvangen — at least as long as my arm behaves and gets better over night.