Norway | Rondane & Dovrefjell
After spending a warm glamping holiday in Southern France at the Verdon and Vaucluse, I headed to Norway. Before departure, I read 2014 was among the best summers in Norway. May, June, July and up to mid August where proper summer weather. Of course I arrived on August 14th, just in time for the early autumn weather. The plan for this trip was following DNT paths and combining two of the most beautiful National Parks, Rondane and Dovrefjell.
Rondane: Rondvassbu (15/8) - Haverdalen (18/8)
After arriving Tuesday evening in Oslo, I took the train on Wednesday morning to Otta to continue by buss to Spranget. The next 6k to Rondvassbu was done by foot (although you could rent a bicycle to get there). I continue a bit further past Rondvassbu, and come across the first problem of the trip. My Therm-a-Rest mattress refuses service after ±10 years of loyal service. The upcoming nights it would become very clear a mattress is not so important for comfort, but mostly to provide insulation.
The next morning, I head straight up Rondslottet, with 2178m the highest summit of Rondane. Apparently, you should be able to see Glittentinden and Galdhoppigen in Jotunheimen with good visibility. But today I'm happy to see the summit I'm on. The path is clear and easy to follow, and with the current lacking visibility and rain I'm quite pleased with this. On the summit and after quickly taking a picture, the rain turns to snow so I don't spend more time and head down the other side of the mountain.
Because of the weather, I choose to follow the bad-weather alternative instead of Høgronden - Midtronden - Digeronden. I follow Langglupdalen to Dørålseter on a foggy and wet day, during which I seem to be in a cloudy bubble during the whole day.
When the clouds part for a brief moment, Rondslottet comes partly into view, making it even more impressive than in clear weather.
From Dørålseter I head up the pass to Stygghøin, with rocky terrain and boulder-fields. It takes me an hour to pass this kilometer over these rocks, which have become pretty slippery with because of the rain. Mountains are a heap of stones anyway, but this is to be taken literally here. Descending on the other side whilst sliding down snowfields fortunately goes a lot quicker and easier. I pitch my tent just before the next pass and high above Haverdalen, the next valley.
I haven't met a lot of people these last few days, and the vast Haverdalen seems deserted except me. I almost feel guilty having this beauty al for myself.
Haverdalen is also the border between Rondane and Dovrefjell. If I should write a travel-guide to Rondane based on the last few days, I would have to name it "50 Shades of Grey".
Dovrefjell: Haverdalen (18/8) - Hoemsbu (26/8)
So far, no success regarding spectacular views, so hopefully the weather will clear a but the coming days when passing through Dovrefjell. I also wouldn't mind getting my gear dry again. When leaving Rondane and entering Dovrefjell, only my hat and sleeping bag are still dry (which are the most important items of course).
The first two days in Dovrefjell don't bring any changes in the weather and the rain continues. The first night I sleep above Grimdalshytta in a very bleak area. There seems to be no life here, except for mosses. And Earth itself of course, on her own steady pace. I guess being in an area like this makes you look more as it presents fewer diversions.
Because of the steady rain, I decide on sleeping inside the hut at Reinheimshytta to get my gear dry and have a fresh start. In order to get there, I have to cross Kongsvoll (where there's also a train station) and climb in Stroplsjødalen. Once above the tree-line, I make out some grey cubes at the horizon. When one of the cubes sets off galloping, I realise these are musk-oxen. As the warning sign says, it's best to stay clear of these animals. Within 200m, they are known to attack. Running away doesn't help, as they can reach a top speed of 60km/h. And weighing in at 400kg, I wouldn't want to experience the impact (f=m.a, was it?). The good news however, it's been a while since the most recent serious accident (not so long since the most recent not-serious accident though).
The problem with the path between Kongsvoll and Reinheim, is that the musk-oxen don't seem to care too much about the path going through the valley. They are spread out evenly so it's difficult to find a route which avoids coming too close to them. Although I haven't met a lot of people lately, I'm glad when I see a group of walkers coming closer and heading the same direction of me. They all seem to have shorter legs than me as well, so we team up to cross the valley together. Zig-zagging through the valley does get some reactions from the oxen, but without any consequences.
Reaching the other side of the valley, the Germans and I go our seperate ways. It is still early afternoon when I reach Reinheimshytta, but I decide on staying here instead of sleeping in a wet tent in a wet sleeping bag on a non-inflatable mattress. I'm on holiday after all...
That evening my positive view on Norwegian mountain huts is confirmed again. A couple from Belgium, a local hunter, two Dutch girls rolling down from Snøhetta... The worse the weather outside, the better the ambiance in the hut gets. After a dry night, I'm offered bacon and eggs by the Norwegian for breakfast. I still have granola left, but...
The next few days are a bit drier, but still pretty wet in general. The plateau to Åmotsdalshytta is fairly flat and easy going, and the next few nights I have some great camping spots. And I actually might be getting used to the rain!
When I arrive in Grøvudalen I encounter the second major issue of the trip. My Kindle is broken. No more 1Q84 from Murakami, so no more descriptions of miso-soup or sandwiches with cucumber and wasabi. The next morning I pass by Grøvudalshytta, where I try to find a decent book, without succes. The bridge leading to the hut also looks like it might need some repair, but with some sense for adventure I get across without problem.
The next few days are more gorgeous walking, and I continue to Hoemsbu without meeting a lot of other walkers. Getting down at Hoemsbu, I hitchhike to Visdalen, where I can take the bus to Åndalsnes and take the train back to Oslo.
All in all, this has again been an incredible journey. Nature in Norway is just so vast and varied, while still made accessible by public transport, basic footpaths and enough huts. And the Norwegians prove to be super friendly every time. Although the weather was "bad" according to normal standards, I enjoyed the solitude and fresh feeling this brings. I definitely hope to have many more Norway trips coming up!