Vidden Trail from Mt Ulriken to Mt Fløyen

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August 25th 2016
Published: September 20th 2016
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I wake up and find that yes, it really is still grotty weather, but not chucking it down like yesterday at least. It's just drizzly and grey and not looking like clearing up any time soon. After troughing on a buffet breakfast - all part of the price at this hostel - bonus! I sort myself out with a packed lunch and then saunter off to find the Ulriken cable car to take me up the to the top of the mountain. Unsurprisingly I'm the only one there and work out I have to get myself a ticket at the self service machine. I bravely get a one way ticket, assuming I'll be able to complete the walk across the mountain to the funicular railway about 12 miles or so away.

When I first get in the cable car and it starts to move up the mountain everything is looking ok. I take a few photos looking down towards the city of Bergen and the harbour all laid out below me. Then I turn around to take a photo looking up the mountain. Oh dear, it's looking pretty misty. Did I say misty? Haha I'm soon surrounded completely by white fog and can't see a sodding thing. What AM I doing? Hooray a 12 mile hike in fog, with a rubbish map, all on my own! I must be insane. I get out and get my gps working so I can at least find some geocaches even if I won't get the stunning views I'd been hoping for. Having my gps also has the added benefit of leaving a trail showing where I've been so if the worst comes to the worst I can at least retrace my steps or give an exact location if I hurt myself. I quickly find my first cache right near the cable car station and empty shop/cafe then set off in the mist in the general direction I think I should be going, but it doesn't seem to be heading towards the lake as I'd expected so rather than walking for miles out of my way I instead go BACK to the cable car place and ask the lady in the shop. She explains that the path down to the lake is really, really, really steep, with metal bars put into the rocks to help people so recommends I take the much easier, but much longer route all the way round - in other words the path I'd just headed out on! I really should trust my instincts.

So I set out again on the long route, figuring I don't really want to be slipping and sliding down steep rock faces on my own in the fog. I get to a fork in the path and it isn't really obvious which way to go. Sigh! Am I really going to have to go back AGAIN. But I see a man and his dog so go over to ask him for directions. He's a lovely guy. He points out the green metal marker posts that go alternately on either side of the path and says to follow these as a guide, but to also look out for a red house and go left when I get to it. Hooray I don't have to turn back and I start tramping up the rocky hillside into the fog. Luckily it's not so dense that I can't see the next post and soon the little red house comes into view. All very reassuring.

I begin to enjoy myself now I know I'm on the right track and really get into the eerie stillness of the place. It really is very trolsk up here today. I keep looking out trolls but none jump out at me from behind the rocks. Instead I hear the clang, clang, clang of a bell. I wonder what's going on at first until I realise there are some blurry, furry bundles on the hillside where the clanging is coming from. It seems Norwegian sheep have bells tied around their necks. Well the unlucky third sheep of every group does anyway. At first it seems lovely and quaint but after about half an hour of the clang, clang, clang and the novelty has completely worn off! I'm literally swearing my head off at them. F**k off you f**king sheep, leave me alone! It would be completely silent up here except for your sodding clanging! Are you actually following me you bloody beasts! Go the other way, leave me alone! Argghghhhhgh!!! I distract myself with some photography efforts. Everything is so pretty covered in tiny droplets of water from the mist. I hear voices in the distance and a family appears out of the fog. Luckily they are going a different way to me and I get the mountain back to myself again. I always get irrationally annoyed with people spoiling MY mountain when I'm out walking. Obviously this is supposed to be just for me for the day. You can all go away and come walking another day when I'm not here. You don't mind do you? Today is MY day.

From my gps I can see that I'm getting closer to another geocache spot and emerging out of the fog I see a little lake and next to it is a first aid post. Well it's more like a big rectangular box up on stilts. It's made of metal so I'm looking all over the box, particularly underneath it, as I'm expecting the cache to be one of the little magnetic micros that are usually stuck underneath metal objects, but I can't find anything. Then into view comes the same man and his dog I'd met earlier. I ask him what the clue for the geocache means as it's in Norwegian - inni is inside he says. Ahhhh, it must be inside the first aid container. I never would have dared to open it if I hadn't found out that inni meant inside. I find the cache next to a stretcher and various other first aid bits and bobs inside the box and show my new friend what I've found. Another muggle inducted into the ways of geocaching. He then sets off again dissolving into the mist. I wonder if I'll catch up with him again. After sorting out my find and having a glug of coke and something to eat I too set off along the next section of the path. The metal post markers seem to have been taken over by cairns made from the surrounding rocks. Every so often one will have a pointer fixed in the top with Floyen and various other places written on it. All very reassuring when you're heading off towards a cairn that you can barely see through the fog ahead of you!

Every so often the fog clears a little bit and I can see some of the landscape around me. It's pretty steep in places so I'm glad of enough visibility to keep marking out the next cairn to aim for. I keep trying to catch a couple of little birds on film but they seem photo shy and evade capture just at the last minute before I take a shot, flittering deftly off to the next bunch of rocks. I'm going to call them mountain pipitty wheatear warblers since I've no clue what they actually are!

There are some really boggy bits to negotiate and I'm glad of my waterproof walking boots. Luckily some kind person has placed handy rocks in the gloopiest wet bits and I take to tritting across the stepping stones really quickly to lessen my weight making my feet sink in too far. Sometimes there isn't a rock and I just have to trust I've picked a firm piece of ground. Every so often I get it wrong and shriek with laughter as my boot starts to sink into the peaty, muddy marsh. I have a bit of a steep, rocky climb to negotiate next and the fog is really dense up here. I get to the top and realise there is a huge drop to one side and a very steep climb down slippery rocks and muddy bits. I stop to admire the 'view' before attempting the scramble down to the bottom where I can just about make out a couple of large lakes. As I'm climbing warily down the steep bit an old guy in a faded yellow top comes slipping and sliding past me, obviously in a great hurry to get to the bottom. I realise why when I see he is aiming for a prime picnic spot on a little bit of land that juts out into the lake. Ah well he can keep his perfect spot. I'll just sit and eat my lunch really noisily just a few metres away. Oh is my crisp packet annoying you, crumple, crinkle, crunch, crunch, so sorry! I see my friend with his dog again and he stops to have a chat before setting off along the next flatter section of the path. It's good to see people heading off in the same direction as it makes me more confident that I'm actually going the right way and might, just might, make it to the funicular railway before it gets dark!

After lunch I carry on my way passing lots of Christmas trees as I go. It still looks really weird seeing so many of them just dotted about the place. You realise they charge over £50 for one that size at my local garden centre don't you? I seem to reach a more used section of path with some intersections and realise I must be getting nearer the funicular railway. I come across a couple of cyclists who pass me really, really slowly - we are on a very steep section. You know you really could get up the mountain in virtually the same amount of time with a lot less effort if you just got off that bike and pushed it up the hill. We are going at almost the same speed and I don't exactly go fast on the UP sections! But no, the lycra clad arse wends its way slowly and painfully up the mountain disappearing into the mist. I have a stop at a handy seat and get into silly mode taking 'nice but dim' photos of myself. I think I'm starting to get a little hysterical. Must be like cabin fever because of being enclosed and trapped in by the fog. I can see it below me literally moving across like a curtain being drawn. It's really eerie and quite ominous. I decide to crack on and keep myself going on up the steep mountain. My face is burning up and my hair is wet with sweat. So attractive. Luckily I have a hat to hide it all.

It turns out I'm right about almost being there as some more organised mountain trails start to cross my path. The surface is better here and there's a metal barrier along one side of the track to stop us throwing ourselves off kamikaze style. It's here that I see the weirdest thing, something I've never seen before. I kid you not, there is spit on the side of the mountain coming out of cracks on the surface. It really looks like some troll has been gobbing down on the mountainside. There isn't just one gobby spittle, it's repeated in many places. I wonder what really causes it.

I eventually make it to the funicular railway where there are loads of holidaymakers who have just come up to have a look around, see if they can see a view of Bergen below them, have a beer or a coffee and then go back down again. In other words they aren't covered in boggy mud, bright red in the face with a head full of sweaty hair covered by a sodden hat. I feel like such a mess in comparison with these smartly kitted out tourists. Obviously I'm not a tourist. I'm a proper hiker 😉 I treat myself to a cuppa and a cake and settle down to get my breath back and do a spot of people watching. And boy is it worth it. A guy sits down at the table in front of me with his girlfriend. His hair is ginger and sooooooo long it comes down to his knees! I wish I'd taken a photo, but couldn't really as his girlfriend was sitting opposite him and therefore facing me. I should have just gone up to him and told him how amazing his hair was and did he mind if I took a photo. Guess I thought I might just frighten him the way I was looking right at that moment.

I go off to bag another geocache which is offset from the main viewing area before getting into the queue to go down in the funicular railway. I get my ticket from the self service machine and when the carriage arrives get in with the hoards to get back down to civilisation once more. I'm really knackered and know I have big blisters on my bunions (still not completely settled into my new walking boots!) so decide to go straight to the bus stop to get me back to the hostel up near where I started my walk earlier in the day.

When I finally get back I jump straight into the shower for a very welcome soak and hair wash. Feeling human again I grab myself another quickly cooked omlette and have a chat with my Aussie room mate. It turns out she and her friend had done a similar walk to me only they had walked all the way up the mountain from the hostel then risked the really steep section so they wouldn't have to do the long walk. She said it was very scary and they had to cling on for dear life to the metal rails fixed into the rocks. She'd got the bus back but her insane friend had even walked the 5 or so miles back to the hostel, most of which is uphill!

What an amazing day. Not quite how I'd planned it in my head before coming to Norway but a brilliant experience none the less and I got to witness the whole 'trolsk' atmosphere thing too.

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