A Travellerspoint blog

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Whoops....was that meant to be today

sunny 18 °C

I was having a leisurely coffee this morning and making some notes against my itinerary and noticed that against today it said Stavanger, but that's tomorrow isn't it? I got my phone to check today's date (losing track of time, occupational hazard of the un-employed...) and yes, today I was due to move to Stavanger, 300 miles away. OK, so it's 10.30 in the morning, I haven't yet walked Lexi, I'd planned on doing some laundry today (sadly reality doesn't escape us anywhere) so clothes were strewn across my sleeping tent like a teenagers bedroom and I still hadn't done last nights washing up.....

I spent half an hour deciding whether to move on as planned or stay as my mind was prepared for (yes I know, half an hour! I really am wound down here....) and then on consulting the weather the decision was made, as I've had rain storms, gales, thunder and lightning, but not yet had to put my tent up or down in the rain, so what did I do? put some money in my pocket in case I fancied a coffee and took Lexi into town for a last walk around the lake. I got talking to a lady with a new puppy and when I said I was due to Stavanger today, she said, "but shouldn't you be going, you must have so much to do" well I did eventually get back to the tent, via the bakery, there's a lot of French left in me yet :-)

Amazingly, I actually got everything packed and loaded in just an hour and fifteen minutes, but Lexi was no help, like a petulant teenager who didn't want to leave, as soon as the tent descended to the ground, she promptly went and sat in the middle of it!

The drive was my first of any distance in Norway and was incredible and I could really have done with a co-pilot, to either drive or to take photographs every time my jaw dropped. I would be in a tunnel, a couple of kilometres long, then just emerge directly onto a kilometre long bridge over a fjord, with scenery that you only see in brochures. The tunnels are something else as well, apart from being so many of them, they have antennae so you still get the radio all the way through, the entrances look like squashed tubes and you appreciate every metre of them when you then go through an area without any, the car is struggling to stay in 3rd gear on the 2 mile incline and you're trying to keep off the brakes on the descent and remember all the advice about driving in Norway, use your gears not your brakes.....meanwhile the scenery is doing more than requiring multi-tasking, this was pushing the limits even for a woman.....  ;-)

Posted by Val G 13:15 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Questionable sanity

rain 10 °C

There must be something a little wrong with me (no comment please...) but I am sitting in my tent, glass of Martini at my side, bar of chocolate alongside, the tent is a tiny bit smokey as I've just had to cook my dinner with all the doors closed, and it's absolutely pouring with rain outside, but you know what, I'm as happy as Larry.  Last night I had a terrible nights sleep as it was so cold, but rather than thinking I'd bail out and get a cabin , I just thought about what I needed to do to be warmer tonight. A little bit of cold weather isn't going to beat me, and it's all part of the adventure, no, not being cold, but dealing with these things as and when they turn up, us Harrison's don't give up when the going gets tough :-)

Despite being a 'grown up' I unfortunately don't have as much control over my life as maybe I should, but I'm working on that, in the meantime these 2 months are just for me, my adventure, my experiences, be they cold, wet, exhilarating or just plain spontaneous. Barnaby is coming out to join me in a few weeks, up in the Arctic Circle and I'm really looking forward to that, after that, well I suppose I have to head south, but if I get distracted along the way.......

Posted by Val G 10:40 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

What an incredible day

rain 15 °C

I'd planned to hike up to Preikestolen (Pulpits Point) today and all the literature had said you need to wear strong shoes, take lunch and proper clothing. When researching Norway it says that the Norwegians rarely give advice and when they do you should listen, so I took a couple of rolls and a banana, Lexi's safety harness just in case, my walking poles and full waterproofs. 

Well, it was the most challenging hike of my life and I might be overdramatising if I say Lexi's harness saved her life, but my goodness it most definitely saved her serious injury. There was one point when the route takes you to a right angled rock face, with just a 5 inch ledge around it, it was only a couple of metres on each side and the drop was 'only' 5 or 6 metres, but enough to break legs and Lexi is far too shapely to be considered a mountain goat and on arriving at this point I had no choice but to ask out loud that I needed a man! as someone a lot stronger than me was needed to pass Lexi, using the grab handle on her harness, to someone as equally strong on the other side of the ledge. A very kind American came to my aid and then on the way back down the mountain another man did the honours. 

I'd put her harness on within half an hour of setting off as the terrain was incredibly tough going and after she went head first down between 2 boulders, her legs getting caught up, I grabbed her back with her fur but her harness was on her within seconds so I could grab her more easily but she was understandably shaken and nervous after that. The rope went on her harness shortly afterwards so I could instantly pull tight if she slipped again even if I wasn't right next to her and on the way down there were some parts where I was holding the rope upwards so she was on a taut leash all the time. Me getting over the terrain was almost an afterthought.

By the time we got to the top the weather had changed, it was raining, the clouds had come down and you could hardly see 10 metres in front of you and when it's a sheer drop of 600 metres you want to be able to see a little further than that ;-) 

There were 2 occasions when Lexi just simply refused to move, ironically both on the way down, but after much coaxing and encouragement she carried on and when we were on the last 500 metres she sped up, tail wagging again as if she  knew she was nearly back, what am I on about, of course she did. 

But all said and done it was also the most exhilarating hike I've ever done. Due to the main tourist season being over there weren't too many people, but enough that you kind of got used to the people around you and due to the tough terrain there was almost a camaraderie up on the mountain and once back at the bottom, over 5 hours later, the amount of people that came up to me to say goodbye, hooting as they drove off, or simply taking photos of the mountaineering (and absolutely filthy) white Labrador was unforgettable. I met some really great people and days like today will make this trip unforgettable.

Posted by Val G 11:53 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Going up in the world...

rain 12 °C

I'm now in a cabin. I woke up on Monday, still snug in my sleeping bag and tent, but just decided I was ready to move into cabins. I'd always said I wouldn't make myself stay in the tent because of costs, so now I've gone up in the world, well my bed has, by about a foot :-) still no running water, and although still using my camping stove I don't have to bend over when cooking,  I do have a table and chairs I can sit at, electricity at the walls rather than a wire coming in through a hole in the tent and the rain is most definitely 'out there'.  There is a downside, I'm sleeping in the same space as blondie, which means as soon as I make any indication that I'm awake, she's up, head resting on my bed, huge puppy dog eyes pleading for food, swaying slightly side to side, in response to her tail doing the same motion!

Bergen is our current location and our transfer here was not a happy one, long boring story but the up shot is up that what should have been one of the most scenic journeys lasting 3 & 1/2 hours, took 5 & 1/2 and the most soul destroying and draining drive imaginable. When I finally arrived, my heart sank on discovering the site was by a petrol station and all night store on a main road. Then my bank played up and took the money twice and still the rain kept falling. Never mind, I took the cabin, moved my things in, took advantage of the shop to get supplies and after I got my music playing, some warm food inside me and sat down with Lexi things didn't seem as bad, and I had a real bed to look forward to :-)

Posted by Val G 10:24 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

It's snowing, yes really!

snow -1 °C

Today I knew I had the longest (scheduled) drive between locations and so set off early, preparing for it to take all day, allowing for stops and walks along the route.

What I wasn't prepared for was the jaw dropping experience the drive would give me.  I was driving alongside a fjord with the single carriage road clinging to the edge of the mountain for miles and then started an ascent. I was following 2 quarry lorries and when they turned off and I saw what lay ahead I decided I would have forgiven them spoiling my view for the peace of mind their presence would have given me! The road ahead went straight along a valley bottom, then zigzagged up the side of the mountain in a series of hairpin bends that I could see cutting their way through the hillside until they disappeared into the cloud.  The weather was closing in and I wouldn't say I was scared, but I did think 'oh s**t, OK, so maybe I was a tad apprehensive.......

The temperature dropped, I was steadily climbing until level with the snow, the snow poles that mark the edge of the road had changed from thin 6 foot poles, to 18 foot metal tubes.....and then it started snowing......

We continued to climb and there was a loud crack from the windscreen as if a stone had hit it, but there were no other vehicles to have thrown up a stone. I checked the windscreen for cracks but nothing, then the same noise twice more, from different parts of the car, still no cracks to see, so I can only surmise that we were going higher than my trusty Landy had ever gone before and her ears were popping.....

The descent was directly into Vik, a major town on the banks of Sognefjorden, the 3rd longest fjord in the world, so you can just imagine the views.

Further on I was approaching a valley with a huge mountain each side and wondered which direction I was headed in. Well if you ever see what looks like a pile of pink string on your Satnav screen, it means you're going up a mountain...and it's steep.... The snow started falling again and I'd promised myself that I would walk Lexi at the top of this particular pass that had been mentioned as a 'breather'. Well, ever prepared I put on my waterproof trousers, walking boots and with Satnav and phone in my pocket we set off along a track that ran parallel to the road as a guide. Jolly glad I did, as the snow turned quite vicious when it joined forces with a biting wind. We were out for nearly an hour and boy did we have fun, not a soul around, crunching through snow in September and even with the snow, a stunning, wild landscape.

Posted by Val G 10:26 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

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