Friday, 17 July 2009

Day Two: Falkeberget to Skøgadalen

I awoke to the sound of light rain on the tent and a little breeze so after breakfast in bed I packed up and stuck my head out the tent to look at a misty view of the surrounding mountains, extracting myself from the comfort of the tent I soon packed the tent and was off down the Utledelen which would ultimately take me to the DNT hytte of Skogadalsbøen which is also the lowest altitude (831 m) on this hike having started at 1270 m the previous day. The descent which was steep at times through the gorge provided views of the mist shrouded peaks to the south as well as the many snow drifts on the sheltered northern sides of the mountains. The cacophony of sound from the glacier fed river roaring through the gorge ensured that all other sounds were inaudible.

Waterfalls are everywhere to be seen on the sides of the mountains as well as large waterfalls in the valleys such as the one in Utledelen, crossing these fast flowing rivers can provide for an interesting challenge, in some cases there is a bridge but often it is stepping stones which at this time of the year may be covered by fast flowing water up to 20 cm in depth. Whilst my Salomon Fastpacker boots were goretex lined it did not take long before my feet had that damp experience every time I crossed the stream, though they did not fill with water thanks to my Integral Designs gaiters. It was along this section of trail I met my first hikers for the day, a mother and teenage daughter, with day packs heading to Krossbu, having spent the night at Skogadalsbøen. Which is the normal trend the hikers stay in the DNT huts which are either catered, self catered or completely uncatered. Huts normally have a warden and whilst some are permanent wardens others have a 2 or 3 weeks at the hut, which may form part of their summer vacation. Further along the track as I passed some old stone shelters being used by the sheep to protect them from the wind I met a second couple heading north to Krossbu. The trail met up with the trail from Turtagrø (accessible from the same bus as the one I used) which includes a side trail to the twin peaks of Fannaråken and the highest DNT shelter of 2068 m. By now I had descended to an elevation of 800 m and as a result I had entered a forest of sorts with its beech trees and bushes. Crossing the Utla River on bridge I climbed to the DNT hut of Skogadalsbøen and lunch. Whilst eating my lunch on one of the picnic tables the warden wandered over. Now according to Connie Roos “The hut is guarded by a large black Newfoundland dog”. However, all I saw was a very young puppy. The warden looked at my Hagloffs Lim 45 and asked if I was staying the night I said “no” his reason for asking was the size of my pack seemed too small for camping. I then explained that all my gear was compact and thus I used a smaller pack. In fact as I hiked through Jotunheimen many of the day packs I saw were bigger than my pack, albeit they may have weighed less (the max weight of mine was 13.5 kg on the scales at Skogadalsbøen). This was another conversation that was often repeated over the coming days. Having had lunch and spoken with 5 Swedish guys who were looking fitter, leaner and more energetic than I, I headed off up Skogadalen looking for a campsite at around 1300 metres which meant a walk of about 8 kms, up the valley. The trail followed the Skogadøla river and passed through some wonderful beech forest with flowers blooming, it was a very pleasant change from the sparse rock and grass of the high country. It was at this time that the sun sort of came out so it made for a pleasant, warm windless walk with views back towards the high peaks to the west. By 6 pm I had found a campsite on the banks of the Skogadøla river. Having erected the tent I sat down outside wondering whether with the increasing grey cloud I would get to have dinner before it rained. After having eaten dinner and having prepared my green tea, the Swedish group walked past they were looking for a campsite and continued on (I never saw them again, though I saw their prints in the snow. Yes the rain did come and the tent became my refuge again. By now I had developed a theory that at around 4 pm there would be a few drops of rain and around 7:30 pm the rain would increase, this theory was based on 2 days data which is more than some politicians would need.