Day 9 - Jotunheim - Geraigerfjord, Hellesylt

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September 9th 2008
Published: September 9th 2008
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Sunday 7th September

True to form I missed a 3 pm ferry from Geiranger by about 15-20 mins so now have a about an hour and a half's wait till the 5 pm one - the last one of the day, so could be worse. So I thought I would start the update for today early. I'm cutting it a bit fine to get across the fjord, find somewhere to camp and get pitched up by dark, but as tempting as it is to camp this side I need to press on. I keep staying extra in places and now that I have booked my ferry to Denmark for Wednesday I have to start working my way south. Hence whilst kicking my heels I am writing blog material for the second time today - although at least now my hangover has almost abated. Again I meant to check the times before I left (one or two less photo stops en route would have seen me make it) but I really did feel rough this morning and was incapable of anything too rational. Apologies if yesterday's entry was less than erudite.

Anyway it was a fantastic ride from Jotunheim to here which was just over 100 miles. Doesn't sound far but you can double the time taken for a similar journey in the UK. I navigated the road from the cabin to the Sognfellet Road much more comfortably to be honest and decided I had been a bit of a pussy on the way in. To be fair I was now more comfortable standing up on the bike when the going got rough, but it was hardly a muddied track. Mr Poole senior would have scoffed at it and the concentration I demonstrated on the inbound stretch.

Once onto the pass proper I followed a turbulent river the whole way down the pass into Lom - a much easier descent than ascent, with classic alpine scenery. The bleak treelessness of the park gradually replaced with pine forests and it was more familiar, yet still beautiful scenery. And it has been the best day for weather so far - a completely cloudless perfect Autumn day. The temperature climbed as I descended, up from a parky 6° at the cabin topping out at a temperate 13° in the valley, Once into Lom then the road towards Stryn was a fast flowing road (by Norwegian standards) and for the most part had been recently resurfaced. With views of the glacier on my left and alpine vistas on the right I made good progress till the turn off to Geiranger, which was a hairpin descent down to the fjord and settlement.

Geiranger fjord is supposedly the most beautiful of them all and is a UNESCO World Heritage sight. Maybe it is, it is certainly impressive but eventually you hit sensory overload with all the stunning sights here and I thought Naeroyfjord was equally as beautiful.

Apart from now being able to rival Colin Jackson's hurdling ability re: the effort required to mount and dismount the thing the bike is going really well and my confidence on it fully loaded has improved enormously. So much so that I am enjoying the twisties as much fully loaded as unloaded - well almost. It is covered in road salt and needs a wash, but the chain came up fine with a decent lubing.

Enough for now - the eeePC as amazing as it is, providing me with Virgin radio, Skype video and landline calls, a repository for my photos as well as the means to write this blog has rubbish battery capacity, so I am shutting down before it trashes my work. Shame I had piggy-backed onto a local wi-fi signal too - perhaps the skype calls made from Geiranger port drained it. Maybe more later...

8:45 pm in a pizza cafe

After extensive personal research I can report that swilling RON95 petrol around your mouth and inhaling its fumes is not the new wonder cure for a hangover. But who knows maybe RON98 is better?

The ferry ride was fine and yes Geirangerfjord is pretty but I concluded I did prefer Naeroyfjord. That could just be bloody-mindedness - this is the fjord photographed for all the brochures and is the one you “must do”, but I hate over-touristed things and although it is quiet at this time of year its tourist legacy is palpable. You can just feel it from the gazillion languages the ferry tape churns out all the sights of the fjord - so many that for many nationalities the sight will have passed before their language blasts across the tannoy. Maybe if you're Italian the dialog is relevant at the point in the tape? Any ferry that feels the need to have a tape running has lost its identity and is a wannabe tourist boat in my opinion.

For me Geraigerfjord is akin to the Flam railway. Having seen the coaches pull up at Gudvanger for the ferry to Flam to take the train ride I avoided that like the plague. There is so much evident beauty in this country you just do not have to share it with camera toting nips (bit rich coming from me, but hey I tote mine in relative private.) Anyway have a look at the pics at Geraingefjord and make your own minds up.

Disembarking the ferry I had only a short hop to find a camping ground, which was completely deserted save for one old chap and his family who stayed in a static caravan from May to September. No tents, just a few empty caravans and this chap who had the most amazing haul of fish from just the one day I have ever seen, He was a one-man-f*cking trawler! I took the photo of him published on today's entry, but he had a whole wheelbarrow full to the brim of fish all this size and bigger. I've never seen anything like it. He offered me his rod, but I may as well stick my tadger in the fjord for all I know about fishing - but suddenly this odd sport looked kind of fun and rewarding, maybe I should learn?

Pitched tent fairly easily and got myself sorted for the serious business of making myself a cuppa. And so to my opening comment in this blog of two halves. My plan was to bring a stove that could run on any fuel, including petrol, so that when needed I could just siphon some fuel from the tank. Then when finished I could pour the remainder back in the tank - negating the need to carry bulky fuel on the bike and I also don't like the idea of carrying flammable liquids. The theory I thought was a good one. But in practice it was a nightmare - especially with the tubing I had brought for the purpose which by the time it was shoved down to the petrol line didn't leave a lot of margin for getting your gob out the way and the fuel bottle in. And shove it down you needed to. Probably even more disgusting than filling your North-and-South with hydrocarbons is sucking up the vapour because the tube is resting above the petrol line in the tank.

For sure it was the hardest earned cup of Rosie I had ever had - and hence possibly the best. But it's hard to get rid of the taste of petrol - I am sure they poured some on my pizza.

Sensibly I at least lit the stove well away from the bike and the pools of petrol now surrounding it - I didn't fancy blowing it up. Just as well cos the initial lighting of a bit of fuel to heat the burner was an inferno - oops. When they said let half a teaspoon of fuel in I was looking at the wrong bit - bit of a grass fire which an improptu version of the Haka in my motorbike boots put out. These whisperlite stoves are amazing though, It boiled the water far faster than a kitchen gas hob.

At least there will be enough fuel in the bottle for a cuppa in the morning, but after all that effort I really don't know if I can bring myself just to tip it back into the tank - heartbreaking stuff! And after it has gone I will be buying white spirit and pouring it in - flammable risk or not. Petrol leaves a filthy sooty residue anyway and will only be used when I am unprepared - now when would that be!

Anyway I finished my pizza ages ago, so I had better get out of here. To my tent...


9th September 2008

For the love of god, you're an IT geek - ROTATE THE PHOTOS ALREADY!!!! I'm going to send you the chiropractor's bill for my neck if you don't...
10th September 2008

Siphon Pump
Gary - read your theory re siphoning fuel and the stove thing sounds like a good idea and would have probably worked if you had bought a siphon pump (just a few quid). Basically its a tube with a rubber hand pump in the middle and a one directional valve. They look like they would roll up pretty small. Maybe you can still buy one?
16th September 2008

Now I just fill it up at the pump. Anyway it is a good emergency ration of fuel given the useless on board computer which always registers full. That's useful...
16th September 2008

Yes the sight lets you rotate them, but it then stretches them as if they were landscape and not portrait which is actually worse.

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