Sunday, August 25, 2013

Trepid Explorer & TSK 1st Wedding Anniversary 25th August 2013

After long deliberations about Lysboten the night before, we decided to see if the Vanu could make it up the mountainside to get us out of the valley.  The Lysfjord just didn't have enough to offer us at sea level that we could both enjoy on our anniversary.

After much worry, we were awake early, fed and on the road before most Norwegians were out of bed.  The Vanu was fine (if a  little noisy) on the climb but there were no eventful moments.  We didn't even stop at the rest-stop on the way up but pushed on the extra 750m to the traditionally expensive parking lot.

Since we'd actually managed to get there (and put so much effort into doing so) we weren't too phased about paying the 100Kr to park in the official car park for the day.   Besides, we'd saved at the Priekstolen.

We made and packed lunch and headed out with the already amounting crowds.  The only people walking anywhere near as quickly and confidently as ourselves were a group of Norwegian youths who also ambled up at a fair pace.  Tall, blonde and beautiful (three women, two men).  I'm not being big headed, it's just most of the other walkers were people you'd normally see down the park with the (grand)kids on a Saturday, not on a mountainside.  If the 60 degree rock faces were scaring me in my Saucony Peregrine fell-running shoes, I'd hate to think what it was doing to their heads.  At least I could make it without using the fixed chains, though there were times I made sure I walked quite close to the chains in case I did lose my footing. 

When we reached the top of the third steep (scramble) I intimated I would like to stop for lunch soon.  Andrew spotted the perfect place - already taken by the Norwegian youths, they quickly moved on, not wanting, "to be passed by a man who climbs mountains like a French goat-herder" (his words, not mine).

Most people go out for dinner to celebrate their anniversary.  Me, I'm content with a peanut butter sarnie - so long as I'm on a mountain-top.
 The third climb really is the last.  After that, there's a long hike across a lunar landscape.  All lava flows and gritstone shelves as far as the eye can see - except for the 4000ft drops into the Lysfjord of course.  

The identifying features of the Kjerag stone are a chain of people heading in the vague direction.  I'd hate to be up there trying to find it when there's no-one else around.  I don't think there's ever no-one else around though.  There were two tents pitched nearby which were the dead giveaway.  However, it still took us some time to find it was we followed the wrong people from time to time and then finally retraced our steps to join the masses waiting to go out on the rock.

The temptation to paddle and climb snow, all in one walk in August.
First I went, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  Ok if you don't look down and don't look at all the other people worrying about going.

Me, blisfully unaware that some bitch is photo bombing me on a slackline behind
I gave the lady in front of me a hand down then got out there, did my thing and ran back again as fast as I could.  TSK was next.  I waited to take his photo - which was more fun - looking at other's expressions as they walked out onto "the rock".

We had our second first anniversary lunch then descended back to base.  I was tiring towards the end - wondering just what the attrition rate is of those who attempt to walk the route and those who don't make it.  It's well marked and easy for us but we saw many unfit people heading out at 3pm wearing nothing but deck-shoes and carrying only a bottle of water.  It was a 4h:16 trip for us in total.

Back at the visitor centre we drank a very expensive cup of machine coffee and looked / took pictures of the road down the mountain - then drove off in the opposite direction, waving goodbye to the Lysfjord, our 200Kr for the night and a quite depressing out-of-season town.

We made the 1 hour drive across country to the next region on our list.   Navigation was easy, driving less so with the average motorist choosing not to stop for the oncoming vanu but merely to squeeze as close to the grass verge as possible.  The biggest laugh of the day was reserved for the woman who gritted her teeth and squinted and pulled in her shoulder blades as she came by as if to try and make her car thinner.

Most places we passed through on the way were disused ski resorts - the same sort of dire atmosphere one gets in Folkestone in November in the UK so we decided against it.  Eventually in the Sandnes region, we found a campsite half way up the valley side which also doubled up as a farming museum. 

There was one other vanu on the site and we were later joined by a Volvo with three lads camping.  It was perfect.  The perfect end to our anniversary day.   Pasta, wine, cliffs, privacy, an ability to clean our teeth together like we have done nearly every day since we've been together and a chill, clear evening huddled under a blanket and sleeping bags with the love of your life.

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