When next morning I get to the train station at Geilo, I soon learn, that there is a fire in a tunnel between Bergen and Oslo! Nobody knows when the next train to Finse will leave! Not good, but it takes only an hour and the problem is apparently solved. On the train back to Finse I meet a german couple with their 4-year old daughter. They want to do a stroll around Finse! I suggest, that this is probably not the best place for a relaxing walk with a young child, but when we arrive they put the complaining girl in protective clothes and really walk out in rain, and wet thawing snow, wow! I am not sure this child will like the outdoors when it has grown up...
Near Finse it is just raining and grey, but a little further up dense fog sets in. There are sticks to mark the winter skiing route, but soon the white stuff is so thick, that I can't see from one marker to the next, although they are not far apart...
The region I am going to visit now between Hardangervidda and Jotunheimen is called Skarvheimen. The word "Skarv" in Norway is used is for mountains with steep sides, but flat tops.
The biggest of them I climb first. Hallingskarvet is a 450 sqkm nationalpark, which only has been established in 2006 to protect this refuge of arctic plants. There even should be some polar foxes, which are almost extinct in Scandinavia! The "Skarv" is 40 kilometers long, but only 2-3 kilometers wide!
After three hours ascending I reach the locked Klemsbu hut at around 1600 meters, which belongs to the hotel in Finse. From there I continue following the sticks, before I realize after a look on the GPS that they lead me to the wrong direction!
The right trail follows the ridge, where dark rock is already snow free, before at 1663 meters the highest point is reached. On the map this area is marked as a glacier! The whiteout conditions are worse for me, as I am wearing my goggles, necessary to protect the eyes, but worsening the disorientation as well...
Dense fog on the roof of Hallingskarvet
On the descent finally visibility becomes better and I reach the valley where the large Geiterygghytta is located. Like so often in Norway there is a ugly powerline and a road, which is still snow covered. It was the old connection to Aurlandsdalen, nowadays just a dirt track. I continue for a while and pitch tent above the valley.
Descent from the Hallingskarvet plateau
In the morning it rains again, but soon only a light drizzle remains. I follow the valley with the powerline for a short time, but soon ascent back into the mountains. Although I am gaining altitude, the climbing is rather gradual.
Lemmings are small rodents which are very important for arctic ecology as they are the dominant food source for birds of prey and small predators like foxes. On this long hike I spot only one living lemming and the dead one on the photo. Although their population density always shifted dramatically, nowadays it seems that they are heavily affected by climate change. More about this topic I will learn later in the hike, when I have a where interesting encounter!
Lemmings seem to be affected by climate change
Before I reach Kongshelleren hut, I need to cope with an obstacle. There is a bridge, but the river which connects some lakes has split into several channels. When I look out for the best way to cross, it turns out, that by jumping from stone to stone, I get across with dry feet!
Near Kongshelleren hut
The weather now is fantastic and I enjoy immersing in the wide landscape along some ice covered lakes like Volavatnet.
From the northeastern shore of Austre Volavatnet there is a short climb to a pass at around 1500 meters overlooking the Lungsdalen, into which I will descent for quite a long time.
Pass at 1500 meters
On the other side of the valley, steep, dark walls rise. Although a lot of the snow has already thawed, there are many large snow fields, and my face is burning red...
Descent into Lungdalen
At first view one snow bridge is not different to many others I already have negotiated, but soon after the crossing I see, how violent just some meters behind my crossing spot, a raging torrent comes shooting out of the snow, plunging down a steep chute. Although the snow still looks quite stable it leaves a strange feeling just having crossed above the abyss...
Crashing through the snowbridge is not advised here!
Finally I reach the green valley and need to cross the river. As the bridge is not ready for the season, I need to wade. This is doable, but the water reaches high up my thighs...
Around the Lungsdalen DNT- hut is a cluster of buildings, and parts of the meadow are fenced, here at the shore of the large Lungsdalvatnet. It is sunny, nice and warm, no surprise that the first mosquitos are out, still not aggressive...
Two men, the first people since Finse, repair a fence, probably soon there will be sheep around!
I ascend into the beautiful Fødalen, passing thundering cascades and a chain of lakes. When I pitch tent the thermometer shows
14 C°, here at only 1180 meters spring is in the air! But mini icebergs are still floating on the lakes...
Next morning my tent is dry, a first on this walk...
Camp in beautiful Fødalen
The weather is very good, which is nice, because today I want to cross a number of high passes on a quite alpine route!
I climb out of the valley and have a nice view on Klevavatnet below and back into Fødalen.
After a short descent I traverse the steep snow slope above the lake. Luckily the snow is not hard, otherwise this would be an easy slide with a final plunge into the icecold water...
From the lake I climb to a pass and think I already need to descent into the valley. Only after walking for some time I realize that I am wrong and I need continue climbing.
Unlike most days, where the orientation in the wide landscape is rather easy, today is more complicated with a lot of steep climbs and descents. The most spectacular day up to now, with fantastic views!
I negotiate different passes
Above 1500 meters the landscape is again rather wide and bleek, stones and snow...
Near Skavlevatnet I climb to the highest point of this hike so far, at around 1700 meters. Clouds are coming in, but still the weather is fine.
Panorama from Pass at 1700 m
I follow the shore of Bjordalsvatnet for some time, where the just thawed surface seems almost black.
The planks for the bridge at Bjordalsbu hut are missing, but even without it is no problem to cross.
The weather has changed again. It is cold, grey and windy. Ascending not very steep to a flat pass proves more difficult than I thought, because the terrain is very rocky.
On the other side a waterfall comes directly crashing out of a snowfield. There are warning signs and a vehicle track. Apparently this is again part of a lake regulation system...
This happens quite often in the Norwegian mountains: At first look they seem to be wild and untouched, but a closer view often reveals signs of energy use, from powerlines to tracks, to artificial channels and dams.
In the evening it rains and I manage to bowl over my pot with tomato sauce in the tent. Yummi...
Next morning it is still grey, cold and windy. I start the long descent into Hemsedal, where I reach the road at just 1000 meters.
Downwards into Hemsedal
The private owned Breistølen fjellstova is still closed, nobody is around...
Soon I ascend on the other side of the valley, marvelling at the greenery of willows, junipers and the lush spring flowers.
Spring has arrived in Hemsedal
Soon I am higher up again, follow valleys and cross two snowy passes. Once I picture a ptarmigan on a rock.
After wading the outflow of Masseringstjørni lake I have my usual chocolate lunchbreak. At this I eat 100 gramms nut chocolate. As my feet are nearly all the time very wet, it is absolutely necessary, that I use such breaks for drying them. This works well and I don't develop blisters, although like on other wet trips before, this time I don't apply vaseline or other fat to the feet. The fat should prevent the softening of the skin caused by the constant wetness. But to my delight I can do without, so my daily life is less messy...
I carry on hiking under the grey sky with only little altitude difference, until the climb to the pass Suleskaret.
No sun today
It would be nice to climb the impressive mountain Suletinden nearby, but the summit is not clear, so it is not worth the effort.
For a long time I follow the shore of lake Øvre Sulevatnet to the hut Sulebu. Meanwhile the clouds on Suletinden have lifted, too late for me to climb....