Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A weekend getaway

Been stressed out at work lately and low on energy. Knowing that the trail always provides some adventure and time to reflect and build up the energy reserves, I took all the kit I needed to work on friday and headed  to the woods as soon as I was done.

My plan was to start hiking "Jotunheimstien" from Snellingen saturday morning, but I would soon find out that it was a bit optimistic. I had taken a brief look at the map and the suburb Maura seemed like a nice spot to start from, walking westwards from the centre for a while and then southwards toward Snellingen.

After first taking the airport express train and then a connecting 30 min bus ride I arrived at Maura and started walking. It soon dawned on me that this was farther than I thought, and that I would need a campsite long before I got to Snellingen as the sun was beginning to set. A quick route calculation with my iPhone told me that my original plan would've taken me 3 hours (13 km) to walk along a road with high speed traffic. At first I tried to hitch a ride, but that is really difficult here in Norway -  we're nice people, but maybe a bit sceptical to strangers, or maybe it's all those hollywood movies?.

It didn't improve matters that the highway authorities had put a fence along the road to keep animals from crossing the road, making it impossible for me to enter the woods! Luckily I found a door in the fence after walking some kilometres and was able to find a nice spot to camp for the night.

Even though I was hardly in a wilderness area, it was nice to be in the forest again hearing the birds chirp away, seeing flowers in bloom and taking in the smell of pine trees.

First order of business was to pitch the Moment which is so easy and fast it is ridiculous: spread it out, insert pole, put in stake at one end, drag the whole thing thing towards the other end, put in the last stake and then tighten a bit with the linelocs. After a couple of minutes it's up and tight as a drum. Next order of business, for me anyway, is to get the down bag out so it can fluff up, as well as the pad etc. so that I don't have to struggle with that when I just want to go to sleep after dinner and Mintuu. I slept really well that night and woke up with a smile on my face thinking about the day to come.

Lots of bugs were clinging to the mesh wall of my tent and I felt fortunate to have been protected during the night. I just love that Henry Shires dude.

Having had breakfast and spent way too much time packing and enjoying the morning sun I left the forest and started walking westwards along the E35 highway, catching curious glimpses from the passersby in their cars racing along at close to 100 km/h.

After a while I found another door in the fence which according to my map led to a trail that would take me onto Rondanestien (Rondane trail) where I've previously walked with my friend Glenn (but in the other direction :). It wasn't straightforward to find it though since the trail was very poorly marked and apparently hadn't seen much use in the recent years,  eventually disappearing under vegetation and debris. I ended up losing the trail, so I got out my iPhone and the Navida GPS/map app, as well as my map and compass. Found out that it was useful to orient the map on the iPhone with the liquid compass like I do with paper maps and after a short while I was back on track again. It was a relief to get onto Rondanestien with its familiar blue markings and to be able to pick up speed again.

A couple of hours later I arrived at Råbjørnhytta and found it deserted. I had a long lunch there, taking the time to dry my socks and have lots to eat and drink.

The place was crawling with eager ants biting me when they had the chance. As a diversionary measure I offered a piece of milk chocolate as a gift. They curiously approached it and instinctively realized they would never ever be able to pick it up and carry it back to their queen, so they started snacking on it.

After lunch I set course for Snellingen where I planned to either set camp for the night, or head northwards for an hour or two. Hiking along the trail was great with nice views of flowers in bloom, the sun glinting in lakes recently thawed up and birds singing along.

The trail was full of dry cones and other bushbuddy fodder so I sort of regretted not bringing a wood stove this time.
After maybe a hour I reached the remnants of an old farm ("Økrisætra" i believe), the buildings still in good shape, probably being maintained by local people. I stopped to drink some water and take a look around, taking pictures as I went.

I believe they had their cattle in these buildings. There are small openings at the rear for shovelling out you know what :).
Rare photo of the author. Yup, it's the Absaroka. Regrettably it didn't fit me well so it's for sale.
Refreshed I moved along, recognizing places I had already been while hiking with Glenn.

While scooting along i noticed this battered tree which reminded me of a dragon.
This part of the Rondane trail in Nordmarka is nice but it is not very well maintained. Several places I saw trees that had fallen and bridges and other aids in need of repair.

After hiking a couple of hours I arrived at Snellingen as a nice sunset was developing. I collected water in the well close to the DNT hut (deserted too) and found a nice spot maybe 100 metres away overlooking the valley.

Before dinner I treated myself to dry socks, mintuu and a heroic attempt at a nap in the tent which was quickly getting warmed by sun. This was easily the one of the best moments of the hike. Knackered after hiking for several hours but very content.

Didn't sleep as soundly as the previous night and woke up actually at one time feeling a bit cold even though I was cocooned in my 20F down sleeping bag. Guess I was a bit hungry in the wee morning hours - no fuel, no warmth.

We've had one of the nicest months of April ever in recorded history here in Norway, weather wise that is :), so I was not surprised to see nice weather yet again when I exited the tent. After packing up I decided to head for home via the train station at Harestua, a couple of hours away. I chose the wrong trail at first, or so I belive as it apparently took me too much in a south easterly directon when I checked my compass, so I backtracked and picked another one that meant the trip to Harestua would take a bit longer, but hey - at least I knew where I was going.

It was now that I made the cardinal mistake of reviewing the train times (damn you, cell phone coverage in the woods). I found out that if I kept a good pace I should be able to take the train leaving at about 1 pm and not have to wait for 2 hours at a deserted train station. Mmmm, two extra hours of spare time at home; just couldn't resist it, so I hurried a long as fast I could, checking my progress as I went. After a while I realized that I had been in the exact same situation a couple of years earlier, getting stressed out when trying to reach a train in time, when I visited Snellingen with a friend of mine. At that time we managed to hop on the train with just seconds to spare, but this time it was a matter of 4 minutes, just enough to remove some layers and compose myself before entering the civilized world again.

It's always a strange feeling to get a on a train hurtling along at high speed after being on the trail. We hit a rain shower after some minutes that quickly covered the windows with rain drops, and I was glad to be inside and heading home.

It had been a nice getaway.

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