Friday, 22 August 2008

Tough day at 'work'....

A couple of hours off from my new role as ‘house bitch’ gave me the chance to have a little run up Ulriken, one of the ‘7-fjellsturen’, seven hills that surround the city of Bergen. Every year the citizens of Bergen get the chance to prove themselves in the annual ‘7-fjellsturen’ event that takes participants along a recognised 35km route over the seven summits totalling 2300m elevation gain. Although the event is not timed some people manage it in under 6 hours.

At 640m Ulriken is the highpoint of the 7-fjellsturen. I started my walk a couple of miles away from the recognised route. I parked the car at the end of a residential street and walked straight into the forest. The path is graded and wide here but still brutally steep. There is no easy warm-up, you’re straight into huffing and puffing your way up the side of the hill. After 20 minutes the path ends and you’re out on rugged trails weaving between glassy tarns and granite slabs. I didn’t follow the map too much, heading in the general direction of the huge tower and ski station that crown Ulriken. After traversing a boggy valley with ankle turning tussocks I got to the bottom of a huge rock ‘staircase’ that climbed straight up the side of the main ridge. After another half hour of blowing my lungs out I was on the ridge heading north towards the summit tower. The views over the city were breathtaking. The bright sunshine afforded views from the lake studded suburbs round to the oldest part of Bergen with the docks and central shopping areas. The outlying suburbs squeezed their way outwards from the city centre through the valleys between the hills, the whole shape of the city defined by the surrounding geology. Unfortunately the peace and quiet of a wild hill top was missing due to workmen busy jet blasting the exterior of the cable car station in readiness for next summer.

I headed out north east across the plateau, for no other reason other than I didn’t want to walk back the same way. I passed people well into retirement age jogging along the gnarly footpaths. I was having trouble trying not to slip into a stream or roll my ankle on the rocks but these oldies were running along with a deftness of foot carrying nothing but a small water bottle and a couple of energy gels. I stopped for lunch and soaked in the views. I watched planes landing at Bergen Airport over in Flesland. I watched ravens bickering overhead and I said ‘Hei’ to yet more grandparents jogging by. Fell running certainly beats spending your golden years at the lawn bowling club in my opinion. It was time to head home back along the ridge and down the tricky rock steps. I was frazzled when I got back to the car. I downed a litre of water and sat in the shade of a tree wondering where all this rain is that Bergen is famous for. I’ll regret that last statement soon enough.

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