Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The fumes

The huts in the olden days. We slept in more modern quarters
After a glorious trip, having dropped off the cyclists somewhere on the way (it was a joint cycling and hiking group, we would meet up again on Sunday, when we would drive back together), negotiating narrow tunnels and sheep sleeping in the middle of the main road from Oslo to Bergen(!), we made it to our night quarters. 

Two sets of bunkbeds for me and my one colleague
There are lots of huts being run by the Tourist Board and this was one of them. We got our beds, since there was enough room, but if there hadn't been, we wouldn't have been turned away: matrasses would be found and if it would be the dining room or the bathroom, some place to sleep would be found! They are like that over here. 

The graveyard in the grounds
After a lovely dinner, a good sleep and a hearty breakfast, we started our hike at a quarter to nine in the morning. According to the information we had, it would be about a six hour hike. (See how I have decided to change walk to hike?) The weather was fantastic, sunny and almost without wind, so pretty soon the hot stuff (ie sweaters etc) came off. The path was okay, a little gravel, a few stones, nothing to worry about. 

Now, we were to follow the path along the river, but even though the river went down, the path went up. Which led to my first steam train impersonation. It was heard many a time during the day. A few extra pounds and no fitness level whatsoever will do that! Anyway, I made it up, I took photos and we kept on walking. And walking. And walking. Until the split in the path. 

Off on our hike
There was a 'short' route following the river (ahem) and there was a 'long' route going up quite a bit and then down again along a path that had looked quite tricky. According to all present I would manage quite fine on the long route. So, up we went, me huffing and puffing at the rear. When we finally made it up though, the view was absolutely breath taking. So beautiful. Definitely worth it!

Well worth it!
We had a meal break while enjoying the view and then started our descent. Well, that wasn't tricky. It was downright harebrained and dangerous. And that was the general consensus! The tricky path that had been there only two years earlier had been hit by a rock avalange in 2012. According to the receptionist at the huts, it was quite safe, but it certainly didn't look or feel it! Basically we had to scramble down a steep mountain over smaller and bigger rocks. Some of which were loose!

This is what the descent should have been like
Since there were nine of us, we couldn't go down too close to each other, just in case stones and rock would come down, so it took ages to get all of us down. Probably about an hour and a half in all! If it had been a path, it would have taken us about a third I would think. I had to grab rocks, roots, trees, I had to slide down, find my footing, make awkward turns, but I did in the end manage to get down. Thanks to one of my fellow hikers who told me where to go!

This is what it was!
The first people had been down for over half an hour by the time we got down, so my rest was quite short, but we had to press on, after all, the cyclists would be waiting. By then however, my legs were starting to feel the strain. The leader of the pack told me about half an hour later that it was only an hour longer. FOUR hours later I was still struggling. Up and down and up and down. Rocks and stones on the path. I had lost all joy in the hike. When we would catch up with the rest I would flop down, in one case right into sheep shit and not even caring!

No path, just rocks and rubble!
In the end, it was me and two colleagues who made it down last. Very very very slowly. Because by then I was going on fumes. I needed to rest about every five to ten minutes. But getting strength back was nigh on impossible. The breaks needed to be longer and longer. I drank river water, ate nuts and carrots, but I just got slower. The tears were close, I was dizzy at times, my legs wobbled and my knees buckled with almost every step.

An early photo. I was still smiling!
In the end it took me ten and a half hours to get to the coach. And only because at some point we were met by two of the cycling party, who told us the path would be rock for only 500 meters more, before turning into a flat gravel road for about twenty minutes. I could have kissed them! I had a good drink of water, found strength again and after only one more short 30 second stop half way, I finally made it to the coach! It was 7.30pm!

More to come tomorrow!


  1. It sounds as though you were dangerously close to collapse. Well done. That descent - the 'proper' one looks lethal so the improper one must have been dreadful. I'm exhausted after reading this.

  2. Hari OM
    Mara, that you attempted this given no prior preparation is either admirable or madness; that you had a group of mates willing to keep you going says a lot for character. Having experienced such things myself - even when fit! - I know that 'not another inch' feeling...but also the elation of that final lap!! Congrats and looking forward to more. YAM xxx

  3. Too scary for an old heart like mine. Next time, don't tell me about it.
    I mean, next time I won't read what you're telling everyone else.
    Good for you, however. It may not be recommended as therapeutic exercise but, if you keep climbing up and down mountains, you will soon find yourself fit as a fiddle and ready for anything!

  4. Wow ! what an adventure and a hard day !

  5. Now that was an exciting time and so beautiful! I know I couldn't do hiking like that anymore. I can't wait to hear more.

  6. Oh, Mara, what a hike! That was definitely a hike and not a walk. ;)

  7. This is a very strenuous day for someone who isn't used to it. Congratulations for making it through.


Any weighty (and not so weighty) comments are welcome!