Day 7 - Gudvanger to Jotunheim


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Europe » Norway » Western Norway » Jotunheimen National Park
September 5th 2008
Published: September 5th 2008
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Friday 5th September


What an absolutely superb day - clearly illustrating the benefits of loose planning, which to be frank is all I am capable of. Still today it paid off in droves.

Started my morning ritual of unpacking fetid newspaper stuffed tight into my boots to try and dry them overnight - lovely. Had brekky and then scooted back up “the road” to try and take some pics before the ferry and as is often the way with mega scenery couldn't do it justice - but maybe you can at least see from the picture how steep the cliffs were, I couldn't even capture them fully on wide angle. The road is mega - both from a scenery and rideability perspective. Some of the magic of yesterday had been lost though, as the clouds lacing the peaks had gone. Still my feet and I weren't complaining - no rain was a welcome relief. Also it was whoop-de-loop on the bike as the road was dry.

The ferry ride to Kaupanger was 2 hours - Naeroyfjord was as pretty as expected, and duly I have posted a picture. Also one of Sognefjord.

I decided I was slipping behind schedule - yes you may mock, but there is a schedule,well sort of. I have to be in Arhus for the 10th. So I figured I had better push on and complete the Sognefjellet road, the highest pass in Europe, to stay down in Lom. The first 20kms or so you ride past the most perfect turquoise colour fjord (Lusterfjord) it was as if some Chemistry student oik had dumped a ton of copper sulphate in it. No pics as I figure we are on fjord pic overload, but it was a great ride. I'd just stuck some more air in the tyres and the bike was flowing round the bends - luggage 'n' all. As usual you'd come through a tunnel the road would be wet and it would rain, and vice versa. The weather is worse than a woman for consistency but overall it was more dry than wet. Hoorah! I'll refrain from the obvious joke here in case Ellie is reading...

At the top of the pass it was a chilly 3° and with a cruel wind, so with wind chill it must have been well below freezing. Some f*cking nutters were actually camping up here. Sod that, it is clear now (8:20 pm) and it must drop well below freezing over night, even without the windchill. Anyway having crested the top of the pass a couple of km or so later I pulled in at a vista point and there was some info about a place called Leirdalen and Leirvatnet 20 km or so down some track heading into the snowy mountains in the distance. I'd made really good time, it was only about 5pm and I was only 30-40km from Lom so I figured I had time to check it out. The Beemer earned its bacon down here, it was a really rough surface, complete with wooden plank bridges criss crossing over a stream of turbulent white water and the road deteriorated further down. The ZX6 wouldn't have had a chance. I had been going some while when it dawned on me there wasn't anybody around for miles and miles - the largely empty Sognefjellet Road was like the M25 compared to this and for the first time on the trip I felt alone and started to feel nervous of breaking down in a very remote spot. Having lots of tools is fine but only if you know what to do with them! I passed a large erected stone which I fancied had been the grave of some other poor sod on a bike who'd broken down or slipped on the road and hadn't been found till the next vehicle passed through months later. Oh well in for a penny. I was heading right into the heart of Jotunheim - not that I could pay much attention I was concentrating on the road too much. Finally the track ended at a beautiful small lake with surrounding snowy topped peaks - we were pretty high up here. There was also a bleak looking cabin style place, but I figured a cup of Rosie was in order - I was chilling and didn't fancy having to concentrate my nuts off going straight back. Once sat down I realised I was pretty knacked. I had been riding for some time and most of it demanding and/or technical. I was also ridiculously hungry. I considered the merits of staying - I could hike round the superb scenery, a short stroll this evening and a longer one tomorrow and then bypass Lom and head straight to Geraingerfjord and beyond. (I had already decided to skip Alesund and instead spend a day at Jostelbreen - Europe's biggest icecap.) Today had made me more comfortable that you can cover reasonable distances in Norway.

And stay is what I did - so here I am typing this in the middle of nowhere, probably the most remote place I have ever been. Also as luck would have it they got internet last week and are happy for me to sneak onto their wireless network, so the blog will even go up tonight. Considering there is absolutely no mobile reception at all, that is some result. Didn't get my evening stroll though - as soon as I started to unpack the bike a snow storm moved in and reduced the visibility to bugger all. Glad I wasn't riding in it. It didn't last long and was way too wet to settle but it brought home just how short the season is here. It all shuts up on September 20th, because the road becomes impassable. It was also a reminder of how the weather can change suddenly in the mountains

And did I mention the nosebag, F*cking top tip. First time I haven't had meatballs for ages too. The chef took a pride in his product - it was simple but beautifully cooked and presented and used fresh ingredients, in particular vegetables. To date I have just had frozen cack lumped on my plate. It is possible my judgement was impaired by hunger but I don't think so. However it is the first time I have actually starting eating butter before the bread arrived - weird, but I felt like I was digesting my own stomach.

Am getting a much better rhythm at packing the bike, so that all I need is in the topbox - crucially including the camera. I sensibly bought a good, space efficient but waterproof camera bag for my kit and then in moment of poor muppetdom decided in my wisdom that I shouldn't take the strap to save space. What a lunatic! How much space does a f*cking strap take up for Christ's sake? Balance that against the enormous roll of duck tape I have brought - so much that I could remove every bolt out of the bike and hold it together with it. So now I can't actually carry the camera bag, save like by the handle like some metro with his man-bag. Perhaps I should tape the bag to the top of my head? Anyway we'll have a kit review later, I think that'll do for tonight.




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7th September 2008

Nice scenery, but can you also take some pictures of the local girls as you pass through your travels - just to add a further dimension of interest to your pictures. - Thanks.

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