You'll Never Walk Alone(Gerry and the Pacemakers) - Onwards to Pulpit Rock,Preikestolen,Norway - 3rd July Part One

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July 3rd 2016
Published: July 7th 2016
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A good night’s sleep and a peek through our basement window shows the sun is shining out there which means we can do the hike to Pulpit Rock which should make my birthday a memorable day.

We probably won’t get to our apartment in Bergen until after 9pm tonight but then we have daylight until 10.30pm so the chance of not being able to find the place in the dark is unlikely.

First though it is breakfast and then load the car up.

The final check of the rain radar that put us off yesterday shows that there is no rain heading towards the coast as happened yesterday.

Being Sunday we had expected the roads to be deserted and that was the way it was.

Heading south initially we passed a road sign that we briefly caught a glimpse of yesterday and we wanted to make sure that what we saw then was actually what we thought it said. And sure enough it did!

The road sign was pointing to ‘Godsterminal’.This had us guessing. We thought Tauranga was ‘Gods waiting room’ (because of the large aged population of the city) and we think this sounds better than ‘terminal’ which sounds so final!

A check later of Mr Google revealed that ‘Godsterminal’ was actually a trucking firm obviously big and important enough to have a road directional sign on the main highway.

Another road sign in Norway that his tickled our sense of humour is the one that reads ‘Din Fart’.In English this translates to ‘Your speed’ and nothing at all to breaking wind.

The English language is odd at times but then so can the Norwegian language be too!

The sky was still clear overhead as we passed the spot that we turned around yesterday and we motored on down to the ferry.

We had only a short wait and we were on the ferry for the 8 minute crossing to Oanes.

Being my first day as a ‘senior’ I got the reduced passenger fare while Gretchen had to pay the full fare. Now I start to reap a few financial rewards which will help the BBA V3 budget from here on.

Every other car on the small ferry appeared to be heading for Preikestolen which is where the car park to start the hike is located.

It was hard to say how many people were around getting ready for the hike as we pulled into the car park as the area was quite big and we had also passed some people on the road walking to the start of the trail from a camping ground down the road.

It was just after 10am when we hit the trail with a couple of other groups of people hitting the track at the same time.

The first couple of hundred metres was all uphill and that looked ominous. But then the trail flattened out and we got onto what would be the surface we had to hike over for 90% of our time on the trail, hard granite like rock!

However, it wasn’t all bad news for Gretchen dodgy knee or our muscles as Sherpa’s(from Nepal) had been in relaying the trail and for the most part it was a matter of picking your way over relatively flat, large stones that had been laid as a path. Prior to this work being done there was a lot of boggy ground you had to get over and after rain this would not have been an enjoyable experience.

We had a map of the trail with us and so had advance warning of the 3 climbs that would test our endurance. It wasn’t that the distance was far, only 4km to Pulpit Rock from the car park (and 4km back of course).It was more that once we had got onto the trail the numbers of others coming behind us increased very quickly and you had to pick and choose where you were going to put your step so as not to fall over someone else.

Then about 45 minutes into the hike we started to meet people coming back from the Rock. They had been the early morning starters. So this added more care into the equation and generally it slowed our progress more than we had expected it to.

This along with one annoying group of 2 men, who led their party, and 4 woman, who looked decidedly like they wouldn’t make it the whole way, kept on getting in our way. We would take a rest and they would get ahead and then we would catch them up and we started the process all over again.

Thankfully they fell off the pace at the 1 ½ hour mark and we didn’t see them again until after we had reached the Rock, had some time there and were on our way back.

We reached the point where the magnificent Lysefjorden opened up before us. By this stage we were some 500 metres above sea level or the fjord and the vistas were absolutely stunning. To the left of us across a hanging valley was a waterfall spilling down the mountainside from a lake that we could only partly see.

One of the things that pleasantly surprised us was that the stones we were climbing over weren’t slippery even when they were wet from the little river lets that passed over the trail at times.

The easiest part of the trail was where there was boardwalk although even here you have to be careful as some of the boards had holes in them and it could have been easy to trip yourself and end up in the bog it carried us over.

After just on two hours we made the final approach to the point where you can stand on Pulpit Rock which is 600 metres above the fjord. Here the trail got very narrow and we had the choice of taking the path that was about a metre wide with a drop to the fjord on the left hand side or clambering over and around boulders that was further back from the edge. We chose the second option!

By now there was a little low cloud or mist drifting over the 100 or so people who were on the Rock ledge ahead of us. This quickly cleared and we found ourselves a spot to have lunch and watch the activities of all the others who had made it to the final destination.

Most of the other hikers were in the 20 to 30 age group although there were a few older people like us and a number of families with very young children who were being carried in back packs by their parents.

We had seen photos of people sitting on the edge of the rock with their legs dangling over with not a lot to stop them if they fell the 600 metres to the fjord below but to see it actually in person left us gob smacked.

After our lunch we got up enough courage to get a bit closer to the edge but 20 metres was close enough and it still gave us views of the stunning scenery of the fjord.

We spent around 45 minutes watching people do all those funny poses that humans do when they are in iconic places such as this and someone else is taking a photo of them. And of course watched people come and go from putting their bottoms on the edge of the rock and dangling their legs over the edge.

The hike back was pretty much all downhill and it was now that the hard granite rock stepping stones were starting to affect our muscles and joints especially during and immediately after a steep downhill section.

There were still people heading to the Rock as we started back and the trail was quite crowded. We estimated that there were over 2000 people on the trail in the 5 hours we were on it. Every year 200,000 people hike to Pulpit Rock and that would mostly happen over the summer period of 3 to 4 months.

As we got past the half mark on the way back we started to notice people passing us at speed and we wondered if they had had some message that the beer was running out in the bar back at the car park!

Why anyone would want or need to run on this trail is beyond us when there was so much to take in around you as you walked.

We were pleased that the rock wasn’t slippery as the hike down the stepped area would have been very tricky.

It was around 3pm when we finally got back to the car park and we were both ready to put our feet up after the bone jarring and muscle straining hike.

It had been a wonderful experience though and we certainly didn’t regret taking the time out to visit one of the most iconic places in Norway. And to do it on my birthday made it especially memorable.

PS:OK, Gerry's song is really all about the Liverpool FC but it sounds just right for our day on the trail too as 'we certainly weren't alone on the trail'.Enjoy on Youtube

PART TWO covering the rest of the 3rd July to follow.

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