Monday, 20 July 2009

Day Three: Skøgadalen to Olavsbu




I awoke to another gray day, and I was soooo comfortable on my Neo Air I was in no hurry to get out of bed, the result being a 10 am start. Thinking that it would be an easy day with a stroll up the valley, turn left and the head to the DNT hut at Olavsbu to find a campsite, how wrong I was. The climb begun following the trail which made for easy going and as I approached the 1400 m mark the ice covered lakes came into view. As well both sides of the valley were now covered in large snow patches which made for slow going through the well trodden soft snow. So much for an easy day. The further I climbed the snow coverage increased whilst towering above me to the East stood Mjølkedalstinden (2138m) whose western and eastern flanks of I was circumnavigating. Once into Mjølkedalen the lakes were covered in layers of thick ice with evidence of the ice beginning to break up providing a blue tinge of colour to the otherwise translucent ice. The climb continues and whilst not steep the snow makes for slow and sometimes slippery movement with the occasional “post holing” to further slow progress, I was now glad of my lighter weight pack and I wondered how some hikers manage in these conditions. I was soon to find out as I met 3 Norwegians and a dog coming down from the saddle, they had been out for almost 3 weeks and one commented “they had seen a lot of snow” The golden retriever had his own small pack on and seemed very happy stepping from stone to stone down the hill. Finally the trail reached the junction with the trail connecting the DNT huts of Olavsbu and Fondsbu. Fondsbu is located on an access road and often walkers drive to there pay the 50 NOK a day to park and head inland. Fondsbu is also served by a ferry service along Bygdin. From the saddle the trail then climbs further to the 1600m mark through snow softening in the afternoon sunshine. Yes the clouds had broken a bit and the sun was decidedly warm especially when out of the cool light breeze blowing. As I ascended to the highest point I passed an elderly Norwegian couple happily skipping down the hill with Ice Axes, the wife commented on my Pacer Poles stating that she could never use poles, and preferred the ice axe. The descent from this point enabled me to take in the views to east and north the snow covered peaks and the ice covered lakes, I was also fascinated by the winter snow pole routes marked on the map going across the middle of the lakes implying just how could it was up here in winter. Soon the trail to Gjendebu was passed and I headed north through more snow around the eastern flank of Mjølkedalstinden. Climbing up through another saddle before the steep descent down into the valley through more deep snow ensured that by the time I arrived at Olavsbu DNT shelter I needed little convincing that a soft bed, a pillow, hot water … was a better proposition than a tent. The benefit of Olavsbu shelter is that it is only accessible by foot and is a self catering hut, you can either bring your food or purchase what is available in the cupboards. The warden who was staying at the hut whilst I was there was on a 3 week holiday and for this period of time she managed the hut as well as having time to go out for day walks. The night I stayed at the hut there were 2 young Norwegian guys (camping nearby) and a couple, the hut can sleep up to 48 persons, but for tonight I had my own room. There is no running water (it is collected from the stream) and the hot water is heated on a stove. All in all a pleasant and relaxing night convincing me that the DNT huts have a useful role to play, though they will also attract greater crowds.

11 comments:

Holdfast said...

Brilliant Roger! You can see it's still relatively 'early' in the Norwegian hiking season from those photographs.

The beauty of the DNT huts is that you can take advantage of their comfort and hospitality if you feel you've earned it and from this account no one would deny you a little comfort at the end of a long day.

Alan Sloman said...

These are fantastic landscapes you have captured Roger. Makes me think that it might be wiser to tackle the Kungsleden in August rather than July next year...

It's great reading trips in Scandinavia for a change!

Nielsen Brown said...

Holdfast, certainly was early in the season for Jotunheimen, but at least there were no mosquitoes and further to the east less snow (more to come).

Alan, I would not base your timing decision on Jotunheimen, as the Armchair Adventurer has recognized Jotunheimen holds snow later than many other places. Also when I looked at www.yr.no or http://www.smhi.se/cmp/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=5236&l=sv then I found that the weather was warmer and thus more likely less snow.

Dave Hanlon said...

Great stuff. You've overtaken me, but then again I am a little slow over this sort of terrain :-)

We were also seduced by a hut as you will (eventualy see).

Nielsen Brown said...

Sorry Dave, for overtaking you, but I have a few other commitments coming up which means I need to finish this tale. Gear comments also need to be written : ).

Hendrik M said...

That first photo is brilliant! I am surprised that there is so much snow there still, but it seems you handled it well.

Alan, Kungsleden should be fine in July. Its a completely different set of elements there, so no need to go in August (when there will be heaps of folks).

Alan Sloman said...

Thanks Roger and thanks Hendrik

There is precious little printed word avaialable over here in England on the Kungsleden!

Your blogs are invaluable!

Nielsen Brown said...

Alan my daughter was in Abisko in December last year and I asked her to get me anything she could in English. The answer was nothing. As a consequence I spend a lot of my time reading the a Danish outdoors site http://outsite.org/ Google translate may be useful.

Nielsen Brown said...

Thanks Hendrik the photo was taken out the door of the hut late in the afternoon. While the others sat inside eating dinner etc.

Alan Sloman said...

Thanks Roger for that link - I will try to get it translated!

Nielsen Brown said...

Alan if I come across anything else I will let you know.