Sunday, 24 August 2008
"That's a negative ... and right now I need two positives: one to cancel out the negative ... and one just so I've got a positive"
We took a trip out to the Hardanger West region this weekend to get some fresh air. The road up to the mountains has some of the steepest, curviest roads I've ever driven on. I could see Clarkson testing some new Audi beast on these roads (except he doesn't like Norway). Some of the tunnels literally corkscrew their way up and down inside the mountains. Exhilarating stuff. We spent the first night in the unintentionally kitsch Fossli Hotel, positioned directly on top of the pretty spectacular Voringfossen waterfall. On Saturday we headed out to Sysenvatent lake which we were informed was a stunning, full day of a hike to circumnavigate. Well, after a few hundred yards walking along the unbelievably pretty but tame shoreline we headed for the ridge above the lake in order to find one of the DNT paths that we could link together to create a slightly longer but more aesthetically pleasing trip. We started bushwhacking and bog hopping up the steep slope hoping to find the DNT path that was clearly marked on the map but after an hour and a half of scrambling with scratched legs and soaking wet feet we sat down at the top, had a snack and decided to get back to the car, drive down the road and try and find the start of the path from another car park we could see across the valley. The way back to the car was no easier. Just because we were heading downhill didn't make for an effort free return. The scrub was thick, the rocks were big and the steep gradient and almost complete lack of visible tracks made for a hard slog. The mood was black, we had wasted a morning and despite the awesome scenery we somehow felt down.
Back at the carpark we gunned the hire car up the mountain road and half an hour later we were back out of the car and finally onto the DNT path that lead out into the mountains. The sun started to shine and we found ourselves smiling again as the wild countryside spread out before us. Even my shoes started to dry out. The mighty Hardangerjokulen glacier (where they filmed the Hoth scenes in the Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back!) which in the morning had been shrouded in cloud, sat in the distance shimmering translucent blue in the afternoon sun. We walked deep into the undulating hills for a couple of hours before stopping for a fresh brew and snacks. We wanted to continue to one of the hyttes to spend the night but our overnight gear was sitting in a roadside lodge lower down the mountain road. We reluctantly headed back to car, jumping over streams, still remarkably full of energy (thank god for Norway's answer to Peanut M&M's!). The sun had started to dip lower in the sky as we got back to the car but we still managed to catch the last rays of the day whilst enjoying a cold Newcastle Brown which we discovered in the campsite shop. Result!