03.08.2015 - 03.08.2015 18 °C
I finished the last Blog update with, "We survived that and now back in our room hoping that the weather breaks so that we can do the Romsdalseggen Ridge walk tomorrow in 6 hours or we miss our bus to Geiranger that leaves at 5:00pm.....oh the stress."
Quite a complex sentence that. We survived Trollisten. We were hoping for good weather the following day. We had the Romsdalseggen trek the next day that we were naively looking forward to, and finally, we had 6 hours to do the walk or miss our bus to Geiranger and blow a night's accommodation
Let's cut to the chase. The weather was beautiful, perfect in fact for a walk that had massive views as part of its repertoire. We missed our bus as our leisurely stroll took 8 hours and 8 minutes. You might say that we could have picked up the pace and made the bus, we would have had a maximum of 30 minutes on our butt, actually, Louisa would have had another hour on her butt descending down the boulders,,,but that doesn't count.
The walk starts at the foot of a gentle waterfall and straight away climbs quite steeply. After the rain of the previous day, it was very wet and boggy but really just a matter of head down arse up and make your way up the long boggy hill. At this point I noticed a couple taking their dog for a walk on the trail...one of them had a harness around his waist and the lead ran from that. We sped along at this point determined that the couple walking their dog was not going to beat us.....not that it was a race but you know what I mean.
There were one or two minor false peaks, that were major at the time but blend into insignificance on reflection, but in the end we got to a flattish setting between rather largish peaks. That was not of immediate concern as we knew we weren't taking the "climbing option" so proceeded to a signpost delivering our options, in Norwegian. A young Hong Kong couple joined us at this point and noticed the majority, if not all of the Trekkers were heading up this rock laden mountain to our left. Our brief guide notes said we were to take the left track, but that was NOT a track. It was a pile of rocks with no path, although some lunatic had some fun by painting the occasional red dot on rocks that indicated preferred route. I am sure he was sitting on a neighbouring peak with a telescope belly laughing.
Funk and Wagnall's define Hiking as:
Hiking: walking in nature as a recreational activity. Especially among those with sedentary occupations, hiking is a natural exercise that promotes physical fitness, is economical and convenient, and requires no special equipment. Because hikers can walk as far as they want, there is no physical strain unless they walk among hills or mountains.
Wikipedia says that: Walking (also known as ambulation) is one of the main gaits of locomotion among legged animals, and is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an 'inverted pendulum' gait in which the body vaults over the stiff limb or limbs with each step.
So using all five paws is not walking for humans and hasn't been for 200,000 years! Now that I have got that out, we finally climbed to the final top of this peak, and we were greeted with magnificent views of the valley and waterways of Andalsnes. Absolutely spectacular and well worth waiting a day for some clear weather. As we had a bus to catch we only sat down for 5 minutes, took a few snaps and then worked out which path would take us back down to Andalsnes to get our bus.
That is where Louisa read further notes of the Trek/Walk/climb to find the bit we have just done is rated easy. The bit ahead of us was "demanding". WTF? I asked her to turn the map around the right way but while I was tossing all my toys out of the pack and throwing a genuine tantrum, we noticed where the walkers were going. Straight up a ridge to a peak twice as high again. This time though, there were chains to hang on to as we went down the first ridge (this was the red dot guy again trying to make the next peak look even bigger than it already was).
At this point a young couple passed us in flash, running! There was nothing of them and they literally leapt from rock to rock, boulder to boulder without fear or hesitation. Just to rub it in, they were having a full on conversation while doing it. They had a drink bottle hanging off their backsides but no extra clothing or food so they weren't planning on being up here for too long. I don't get why someone would run over such terrain, for sure they're super fit, but one slight misjudgement is a broken ankle/leg and in the wrong spot, a broken neck. I mean we could have done that too, but we are not show-offs. This was the only difference between them and us, but perhaps they had a 3pm bus to catch.
There was no real decision required here as there was no way we were going back where we had been. Off we go clambering down boulders, over boulders and then up a ridge that on one hand offered the best of views (both sides), but clearly could hurt a lot if you tumbled a meter to your right or left. The drop was shear straight down 1200m on the left, and almost that on the right. If you were to choose the side to slip up on, you'd choose the right but it is bit like falling from a 20 floor building or a 60 floor building....the difference is in maths, not pain!
I was surprised how well Louisa was coping as I know she isn't a fan of heights, and doesn't take great delight jumping from rock to rock, so it was hard work. I was glad that she wasn't wearing the new Norwegian trekking pants she bought the day before. When I brought that to her attention at one spooky bit, the humour was you could say, misdirected. If she could have moved her shaking left foot I reckon I would have worn it in the gob.
We kept climbing up and along ridges that ended in peaks of some description. We continued in our little world of denial, naively thinking that it was going to be the high point and it would then be heading down. Of course when we did achieve it there would be another ridge behind it leading up to another summit. The new ridge would seem even narrower, with hardly enough room to paint a bloody red dot! Like a trail of bright green, orange, red and blue clothed ants we didn't question it anymore, we just trudged on. My tantrums were clearly not working and I was offering anyone I could see, the contents of my pack.
By the way, Louisa's bags were packed when she was checking out of our hotel in the morning....optimistically of course thinking we would be on the 5:00pm bus to Gerainger, so I picked up everything that was hanging around in our room and shoved it in my day pack. I was nonplussed that Louisa was expecting me to carry this crap, but as it turned out she wasn't. It was going to be packed in her day pack and left with our main luggage at the Information Centre...
Contents of my pack;
2.5 litres of water
Box of chocolate cookies
500g of dried fruit
500g of dried fruit and nuts
Go Pro gear
2 rain coats
Box of muesli bars
Assorted chocolate bars
And the clincher, one large tin of Pringles. I could have ran a damn kiosk up there.
We eventually reached the real summit, as it was marked with a cairn and it was grins all round. The descent consisted of a lot of rocks, some large and some small. The red dot bastard was at his best spraying his paint willy nilly around the place and I kept looking to see if I could spot someone suspiciously tying to hide his laughter so I could belt the culprit.
The descent had more narrow ridges and some different views of Andalsnes and beyond. We had about three hours to get our bus, but hey we were going downhill from here and we should have an hour or two up our sleeve at the bus station.
I had started cramping in both hammies and knees were beginning to let me know that they wanted to be on a bus. Louisa had bruises already starting to pop out from her shins and knees. Not sure if her bruised knees were from praying for the last 4 hours or from using them to lever herself over the 20,000 boulders that had to be negotiated. I think it was a bit of both.. I suspect also that bruises were going to be severe in the buttock region as well, but it is hard for me to confirm at this point....and I was far too experienced to ask.
We gradually made our way down but it was not easy and with fatigue building up, extra care needed to be taken not to slip or trip. There is a lookout platform that appears in all the photos of the trek that I was expecting to be somewhere near the summit. It is around 700m lower than the summit and a massive anticlimax. It is a relatively short work from Andalsnes up to it that quite a few people take the option of doing. We spent about 7.5 seconds there getting a photo of us with smiles that would resemble that of a losing Norm Smith medallist collecting his award on Grand Final day.
The trek down from here was excruciating. It was so damp and there were tree roots everywhere that meant if your feet touched one heading downhill you were at the mercy of the trekking gods as to whether you ended on your arse, your nose or slid into a tree. This effort was not factored into our prematch planning and it was time to think about where we were going to stay the night. It wasn't going to be in our beautiful Gerainger room with balcony overlooking the fjord, bar overlooking the fjord, restaurant over looking the fjord, hot bath, cold beer.....but of course none of these things came to mind at the time. I was purely focused on my next face plant into a bog hole. About the same really.
So we finally made it, 8 hours and 8 minutes from Vengedalen back to Andalsnes. A massive amount of satisfaction and recalling that 24 hours previously we were actually contemplating having a crack at it in rain and wind. The lady at the information centre had advised against it but didn't rule it out. We would never have made it in those conditions, had no views and would definitely had been forced to retreat at the ridges if not before. Mind you the helicopter flight out would have been cool.
We found a pizza place with massive pizzas, very cold beer and ran into our Hong Kong Trekkers Nelson and Jessica. They also had found it much more challenging than they were expecting, but then again, they were planning to bike ride the Trollstigen from Andalsnes the following day! That was now officially cancelled.....860m climb at 11 degrees plus the ride out there and back...if you survived the buses, cars, campers all trying to make their way through the 11 hairpin bends. Maybe next time for us.
We grabbed our luggage from our lockers and headed back to our hostel that we spent the previous two nights at. The lady there was not surprised to see us.