Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Jotunheimstien - the second week part 1

A full zero day at the B&B did us a world of good. We ate a lot of filling and both healthy and unhealthy food, got some visitors, washed our clothes, sorted out gear, repacked, stretched, read and got energized for the week to come.

Our resupply boxes were waiting for us when we arrived so our packs were going to get heavy again, but we were happy to get a healthy refill of snacks, dinners, breakfasts and other stuff. My friend Glenn, his girlfriend and their newborn baby, drove up from Fetsund to meet us, which I really appreciated. It was so nice to see them both again and to see the baby for the first time. Glenn had brought us more meths ("Rødsprit" in norwegian) and he took with him gear we didn't need and surplus food (i actually had too much snacks).

Joe had previously commented on my many stuff sacks and how it complicated things for me, added extra weight and meant I didn't utilize the volume of my pack to its fullest. I had already started to do some changes when we stayed at Lygnasæter, and I continued at the B&B. I sent home several stuff sacks with Glenn and instead just stuffed clothes, bug inner etc. into the pack liner. My new setup was my food bag at the bottom in its own plastic bag (the GG one), minus the food I needed for the day, followed by the trash compactor liner which had the sleeping bag and sleeping clothes at the very bottom and then clothes, followed by the cooking setup and so on. At the very top I had the day's food plus for instance my rain gear if the weather was looking grim. This was a much better setup for me and I was thankful for Joe's advice and insight.

Stuff sacks going home. Bye bye.

Joe organizing his gear and admitting to having slight OCD.

When we browsed the guestbook, several previous guests complimented the breakfast warmly, and it was indeed very good with nice bread, eggs, ham and different jams. The morning we left for the trail we took our time and made sure our bellies were full, paid the nice hostess and gave her a healthy tip for picking up our resupply boxes and then set off.

We started the day with our usual morning backtrack which consisted of us being high on energy and happy about being on the move again, talking about gear (always that topic in the morning for some reason) and then missing some of the red trail markings. The first one was indeed easy to miss as the tree with the mark was quite well hidden by trees and vegetation. We decided to make an arrow to aid future hikers, and in the process we probably acquired some good karma for later. Might come in handy.

The weather was superb and we hiked on in good spirits despite the backtrack. A series of forest trails led us onto large, open fields covered with grass, bog and tree stubs and cows (?). This meant slow hiking in blazing sun and it didn't take long before Joe let me know that he wasn't enjoying this :).

I wasn't a huge fan of that particular section either, but it didn't take us too long to get through it. The next part was a lot better when we walked along a ridge, closing in on Snertingdal. At the time we didn't know that we would soon pass a well stocked store (ice cream, hot dogs, burgers and so on) and that it was only open until 5 PM. Well, I had read about a store in Snertingdal, but didn't think we would pass by right next to it and I didn't really now that we were so close to Snertingdal at the time. Actually, I'm glad we didn't know because then we would be hurrying along at a frantic pace!.

The ridge walk was very nice, with one part nice enough that we both shouted "super trail!". The enthusiasm faded when we saw the closed store and the lost possibilities, oh the lost possibilities. We stood there looking through the windows for some minutes, thinking about our bad luck but at the same time also imagining eating all that was in there. A farmer gave us a curious look and we understood that it was time to move on. A steep slope led to a farm which we passed and then we lost the trail. The farmer that had given us a curious look shouted from a far that we should go along the field to the right to find it. We waved back happily and continued on. Not long after we got to a football pitch which we both admired for a long time, imagining the perfect pitch that could have been done there, oh so flat. We also spent some minutes trying to find some kind of tap or water hose, but for some reason there was none and we gave up. Should have gotten that lock picking kit ;).

We hiked on for a while and arrived at a lake we had planned to camp next to. Turned out to be a bit rough terrain and few suitable spots to set camp, so we ended up pitching on some kind of a grass covered parking lot with masses of noseeum.

This was when I found out that I had lost or forgotten my headnet. I took everything out of my pack and went through it all meticulously, but to no avail. Joe was still in his shelter when I said "Joe, I have some bad news...I can't find my headnet". There was a long silence and then he answered "You what?"..:"Have you gone through everything?", "Yes, everything", again followed by silence. The headnet I was using I had made for his friend who was going to Rondane with him (also a serious bug hangout), so I told him that he would need to tell her to buy one in Bergen before their trip. He answered "Never mind about that, that will sort itself out, I'm worried about you". That was good to hear in a way. I put on my windshirt, cap and pulled the hood over the cap and then it wasn't too bad. I would cope I thought to myself; its really only needed in the evenings and I can always stay in my bug inner and let Joe cook. In the meantime Joe went through his things to see if it could've somehow ended up in there, but no. He also tweeted about my situation, telling everyone that his headnet was now worth 100 euros :). I'd also made a pacer pole out of one of my hiking poles earlier, plus we'd done a 33 km day, so dinner eaten in a parking lot with noseeums as company was done in mostly silence.

We both slept well that night, but had quite wet shelters from condensation in the morning. Not a problem though since the weather was again super nice and we got to dry them during our lunch break in the sun, with a nice cooling breeze flowing through our selected spot. On our way to the lunch spot we had breakfast beside the road, hobo style, including a knife fight for the last remaining headnet. My Mora 840MG was no match for his puny UL swiss army knife (muahaha). Still, we left the fight as friends and Joe could keep his headnet :).

So nice to be able to dry everything in the sun during our lunch break.

Breakfast beside the road, hobo style. No noseeums and Joe found a very nice well close by (hero!)

The battle commences!

Having had lunch we continued on along the trail, and then did a kilometer or two on tarmac before leaving the road to walk for some kilometres on gravel road, parallell to a lake. This is when we both felt that we were starting to enter higher ground, our destination for the day being the hut Skjelbreidhytta, which was close to a climb we would do the next day, going above treeline for the first time.

As we walked along the road the sun was frying our heads and necks. Joe used his Euroschirm umbrella to good effect and got curious looks from the farmers we passed. I used my bandanda (the ultimate multi-use item!) to shield my neck and that helped a lot.

This is something you don't see very often in Norway.
It was still tough going because we were at this point getting really tired (we would end up doing 30 km that day). I was struggling with tender feet too, something that Joe had only had the first two days. To keep going at a good pace I set short duration goals like getting to specific piece of gravel some 20 m away. That might sound strange, but it helped to motivate me.

We finally arrived at the hut and I was surprised to see a guy there doing apparently serious maintenance work. "Hi, you're doing maintenance? We can still stay here right?". His reply : "No", with a grin on his face. Turns out that wasn't the hut after all, it was a bit further on. We were both relieved to hear that!

The hut we were supposed to stay in! :)

We found the hut deserted and quickly opened the lock with the DNT key (available to members of the norwegian tourist association to open these kinds of huts). The hut was very nice and clean, but a bit cool so we put some birchwood in the wood oven and did our chores, heating water to have a proper wash with soap, cleaning gear, hanging stuff to dry out and air out, getting dinner into our bellies. The view out the window was beautiful with cows and sheep grazing on the field close to us, and a vast landscape bathed in the last rays of sunlight.  Before I went to bed I made a couple of extra insoles from a sit pad I had gotten from Leif. That would turn out to be a big relief for my tender feet in the days to come. The next day we would climb even higher and we were both looking forward to it.

Last part coming up soon!.

Take care.

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