Our friends invited us to spend some time with them in Norway, so last week, Jeff and I boarded a couple of planes for our Scandinavian adventure.
Saturday, Day 1: Arrival into an overcast Stavanger, Norway
After we’d arrived and tucked into a hearty meal of pork chops and potatoes Thomas’ mum made for us, Thomas brought us on a quick drive through Stavanger. We stopped by this fjord to admire the sunset.
Sunday, Day 2: Visit to Pulpit Rock
A google of hiking near Stavanger inevitably brings up Pulpit Rock. The views were undeniably gorgeous, but the crowds were a little too much to handle. Thomas, who is used peace and quiet on the trails in a sprawling country with a population of only 5 million, was disappointed. It was a beautiful sunny day though, with brilliant blue skies and puffy white clouds.
Monday, Day 3: Drive to Haukeliseter
Rainy day – good day to be on the road and not outdoors. The 4-5 hour drive through the misty mountains to Haukeliseter was most scenic.
We criss-crossed our way through windy and narrow one-lane-but-dual-direction roads, where we often had to pull over/slow down for oncoming traffic and sheep
The scenery reminded us strongly of New Zealand, and also somewhat of Scotland since it was overcast and wet.
The cabin we stayed in before starting our hike to Hellevassbu.
Tuesday, Day 4: Hiking Hellevassbu
We had two options – either hike 18km in to a basic cabin where we’d spend the night, and hike back the next day, or do a 12km round circuit hike. Save Thomas, the rest of us weren’t in particularly fit hiking shape, especially with our heavy packs of layers and food, so we opted for the second easier option. Still, it was a long day. We started out at a little past nine and made it back to the car just before 6. Unlike Pulpit Rock though, this was Norwegian wilderness at its best. We saw only 6 other people the entire day, but dozens and dozens of lemmings (it’s a lemming year), flocks of sheep, and some grouse.
Fall has barely begun but there is still snow melt from the prior winter
The sun peaked briefly through the voluminous clouds right before we decided to stop by one of the many lakes we saw for lunch.
Scaled a little peak from which we could see the huge extent of the wilderness
We were tired at the end of the hike, but a little sad it was over. I loved the vastness of the rugged landscape, and its peace and quiet.
We took another route back to Stavanger, this time along the fjords that afforded the most beautiful pastel sunset.
Wednesday, Day 6: A Spot of Climbing
Since we only got home in the wee hours, we slept in Wednesday. What a glorious rest! Awoke to a breakfast of hunter’s bread, butter, homemade jam, cheese and ham – our daily morning fix in Norway. It was a hearty and delicious meal no doubt, but I’m not used to eating that much bread, particularly since we also had it for lunch and supper! Thomas though, happily subsists on entire loaves of bread everyday, beginning with 10 slices for breakfast and ending the evening with 6, every day, almost without fail.
In the afternoon, Thomas brought us to a crag close by to his mother’s place. The approach was short, though not necessarily sweet smelling, since we had to cross a pasture full of sheep. Fun climbing though, on Norwegian granite! The routes, a dozen of them at least, were all next to the other, so after we’d led a few of the easier ones, we just traversed over to the next anchor to set up top rope. Got in 7 great climbs this way. :)
Spot my reindeer skin seat!
Thursday and Friday, Day 7 and 8: Lighthouse!
There are a bunch of lighthouses in small islands dotted along the coast of Norway, that visitors can visit or spend the night in. Thomas found us just one such lighthouse, just 2.4 km from a beach 15 minutes drive away. We’d arranged with a fisherman to ferry us over to the island at 5pm, but due to strong northerly winds, the fisherman only managed to pick us up at 6pm. Still, there was plenty of light left before sunset at 830pm, and we happily wandered around our private little island, soaking in the late afternoon sunshine.
Exploring the lighthouse
Happy we lugged the tripod all over – this turned out to be one of my favorite photos of the trip
The cabin we stayed in on the lighthouse island. It has a generator, but since it wasn’t a particularly cold night, we didn’t power it on and just relied on candle light. More fun that way anyway!
This, and cards, was how we passed half the night by, while waiting for the half moon to set so we could better admire the stars
We saw the milky way!
By the time we turned in, it was already 330am. The sun rose in 3 hours. I was determined to make the most of it though, and blearily dragged myself out of bed then. Needed to pee anyway.
Sunrise over mainland
Saturday, Day 9: A Chill Day
Poor Jeff essentially had to work the entire day, through 4am Sunday, just before our flight back to Chicago. In the meantime, it poured. The entire day. So the rest of us took it easy and just lounged around in our pjs, playing cards. It’s been the most bread I’ve eaten and the most cards I’ve played this trip than in a year or more! Even though he had to put in hours hunched over a laptop, Jeff agreed too that we had a most enjoyable vacation. Good companionship, fun climbing, beautiful hiking, and we even got to stay at the lighthouse.