Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Day Four: Olavsbu to Langvatnet

Staying in a hut ensured a good nights sleep as well as a slow start. When I looked out the window I noted that the ice and snow on the peaks glistened in the morning sunshine. Later in the day these peaks would again be shrouded with cloud.
Olavsbu lies in the Rauddalen at an altitude of about 1450 m, there is a wonderful panorama from the veranda with views of the lakes to the east and west as well as up to Mjølkedalstinden. There was plenty of snow in the valley though the warden said that it was melting fast. Olavsbu is also the junction for several different trails, including Gjendebu to the East, Fondsbu, Leirvassbu and Skogadalsbøen.
Many hikers pass through or stay here on their travels in Jotunheimen so I was lucky to have a quiet night there. I climbed steadily away from the hut on the trail to Leirvassbu to the saddle which is about 100 metres higher, the climb through the well trodden snow was straight forward with more boulder hopping near the top of the saddle. I took shelter from the wind behind a large rock and admired the views back towards the hut. I stood up and started forwards to be suddenly confronted by a 150 metre snow covered steep drop. Hmmm. I looked at the trails others had taken and my natural instinct was to sidle down the slope in the snow, in doing so I found my self slipping sideways in the soft wet snow. After some reconsideration I decided that walking straight down the face, digging the heels in as I went was the best option. So after a few minutes I was at the bottom looking up at the snow covered slope, thinking that I was glad I was coming down, going up would be more of a challenge in my view.

Once at the bottom the trail passed around the edge of another ice covered lake followed by more tramping through snow and boulder hopping. There was also the frequent crossing of flowing rivers which ensured that my boots which were dry when I left the hut were no longer so. Ultimately I met up with the trail between Leirvassbu and Gjendebu and with a view of the mountains and Langvatnet in the foreground it seemed like the ideal lunch spot. While I sat there contemplating life 3 groups of hikers walked past seemingly intent on getting to Gjendebu (and possibly the ferry) it made me wonder just how many hut to hut walkers really took any time to look at the surroundings. Probably quite a few but with the weather a little gray and the breeze a little strong there was less incentive to stop and admire the view. Heading in the other direction but about 100 metres up the hill and not on a trail at all a lone hiker with 2 dogs was heading towards Leirvassbu. I waived, he waived I went up to see if there was a more pleasant walking trail there, there wasn’t. Then I wondered was it the phantom backpacker from the TGO?
After lunch it did brighten up a little so I decided to take a wander up the hillside a little to the alpine grasses and I spent some time just admiring the flowers and herbs, it was noticeably warmer here and less windy.

Finally it was time to wander on, I had decided to find a campsite on the banks of Langvatnet, providing views across to Skarddalseggie as well as east and west along the lake. The site was only just off the path but I saw no one that evening, it was sheltered by a raised bank from the breeze blowing down the valley. Further away on the cliff overlooking the lake I was able to find a comfortable spot to set up the stove and cook dinner whilst looking out over the lake. I longed for some afternoon sunshine, but also recognised with warmth there could also be mosquitoes. It was a pleasant spot and certainly ensured for a relaxing evening.