This weekend I was the token male on a girl's-day-out on a mountain just a 15 minute drive from our new apartment overlooking the city. We pulled into the car park at around half past ten with the clouds bubbling up and Autumn air palpable as we stepped out of the car. I questioned my decision to bravely continue with my Patagonia shorts. I 'run warm', I'll be fine. The first 45 minutes we fought our way through the crowds (only in Norway is hiking up the foothills of a mountain with brooding weather considered a 'Sunday afternoon stroll' for the whole family) going at a fair old clip as only these regular Norwegian hikers can.
Once we reached and passed the throngs at the Redningshytta (hot chocolate, snacks, lavs and benches for the family outing) the light got dimmer, the clouds lower and the other walkers fewer and fewer. Gullfjellet has two summits, the more popular Gullfjelltoppen (987m) to the north and the Sore Gullfjelltoppen (962m) to the south. As we approached a steep and twisty piece of the trail known as The Corkscrew (where our friend had fallen and broken her ankle late in the season last year, descending at speed) we decided to head towards the Sore Fjelltoppen where we wouldn't see another soul until we returned to The Corkscrew.
This route was not marked on the 1:25,000 map or even described in any detail in the guide book, it was just an old sheep track, not travelled much but was of enough importance for someone to leave a breadcrumb trail of small cairns, often just out of sight of each other and requiring us to stand back or split up every now and then and peer up the rocky hillside looking for a rocky coloured pile of rocks! We scrambled and picked our way over outcrops and followed small stream beds that in spring, full of snow melt, would be raging torrents. As we crested the last ridge our forward motion became a game of giant stepping stones as the summit plateau flattened out. The summit cairn had a Norwegian flag on top and just as we reached it someone turned on the lights. All morning we had been under a duvet of cold greyness and scudding cloud, suddenly we were bathed in golden sunshine as the clouds parted. Perfect timing. We sat down in the shelter of some of the giant stepping stones and recharged with sandwiches,coffee and solar radiation.
We donned hats and gloves as we stuck our head over the parapet of our lunch shelter, watched the clouds roll in again and headed down. It was easier to see the faint path from above and somehow we managed to find easier routes through some of the rocky bits. Walking down one ledge of granite my eye was caught my a flash of colour and movement. Proudly defiant as it was buffeted by the breeze was a lone blue flower, face up towards the sun. Another lesson learned today was that, given their head, Norwegians will pick up more and more speed the further down the mountain they go. By the time we passed Redningshytta again we were practically jogging down the path back to car. I actually broke into a sweat as I tried to keep up, thanking the shit-to-a-blanket traction offered by my Inov8s. At the car I was buzzing by the pace we had kept up for the six hours we had been out (apart from the summit lunch stop), I felt I could have gone on some more but M had school work to do so I guess that meant I was on dinner duty. Ahh, a house-husbands work is never done!