Aurlandsdalen, Summer 2001

Day 0: Finse, the Place to Be!

In July 2001 Paul and I walked some days between Finse and Flåm in Norway. Through this incredibly beautiful region leads the classic footpath from Finse to Vassbygdi, which we walked with some alternatives detours. However, before we reached Finse we sat in Oslo and drank some beers, thus slamming a big hole in our budget, but with the shining sun and some refreshing beers our spirits went up. As well as the train to Finse later on and with our heads in the clouds we arrived at a wet and cold Finse: finally holiday!

After pitching up our tent at the other side of Finse Lake we went straight to bed. During the whole night the rain poured down the sky, and understandably our spirits had a hard time resisting.

Day 1: Refreshing Water.

The next morning we took it easy by walking straight to Finse Hytta, less than 1 km away. There we wrote our family and friends that we were having a wild holiday with terms like "Where the going gets rough, the rough gets going." Finally at 1 p.m we left Finse in the direction of Klemsbu and Geiterygghytta. In the mean time the weather had cleared up a bit, and we thought ourselves lucky, especially when we saw some awesome reindeer with gigantic antlers below us. Of course the weather got even with us, and when we reached Geiterygghytta we were soaking wet of the sweat while wearing our raincoats.

After a wonderfully refreshing gulp of water we ordered the soup. "No soup now!" answered the host. We got scared we were already too late, but in fact we were too early. After a delicious soup we went further in the direction of Kongshelleren. During this part the weather had forgiven us, and the sun was laughing behind our backs. At the feet of mountain Bolhovd we pitched up our tent and while the rain was trying to attack us again I tried to wash off today's sweat. Back in the tent we enjoyed a Glen Talloch to finish of a perfect first day.

Day 2, Refreshing Spirit(s).

Although I had a good night sleep I vaguely rembered that the rain was pouring down the sky during the night. Happily it cleared up in the morning. I think Paul was impressed with my smell the last night, because he decided to take a bath as well. There is not much to tell about this first part of the day, though the weather and the view were both beautiful. Halfway the day we met three Norwegian girls, who seemed to be walking through these mountains as well, though they were having a big laugh about the fact that they were missing some sort of bus. (??)

We decided the miss the bus with them, and indeed it was quite funny, especially after the steep decent to Steinbergdalen when we shared Aquavit and whisky. In the mean while one of these girls, Solveig, phoned her boyfriend to ask if he could give them a lift to Østerbø, apparently because the next part would be boring.

As soon as Solveig started talking about her boyfriend, Paul and I stood up to attack the next part of the track...I mean as soon as we finished our drink, of course. Though the weather was really good during the next part, the path was muddy and slippery and everything but boring. The terms we used on our postcards were in my head, the view was incredible and at the in end of the day, while the sun was still shining we pitched up our tent in Sauavaddalen, 3 km from Østerbø, on which we had a nice view during diner.

Day 3, Red Lips.

After a quiet night, possibly without rain, we awoke from our coma. As if we were doing this already for several weeks we quickly packed our 'backs' and left for Østerbø. There we enjoyed the sun and some juice. That felt so well that I went inside to get another one. One my way back outside a met Solveig with here red lips. Later on her friends appeared as well. They would make a short but steep walk around without backpacks.

Paul and I left some time later to walk another alternative route around the lake near Nesbø and into Kringledalen. This is also a steep but beautiful climb, where it is difficult to keep track of the path, because not many people walk there. The only draw back was that we walked straight into the rain again and when we reached Øykjabakkvatnet we had to pitch up our tent quickly.

Even though it was a rather short day we were tired and cold, and so we cooked some soup and crawled into our sleeping bags at 6 p.m. After one hour or so we awoke, wondering where we were. While the rain was still keeping us company, we decided to cook a good hot meal: goulash. After that we fell into a deep sleep.

Day 4, Camp,..sigh.

The next morning rain was still enjoying our company, though the view on the valley we were heading for, promised us that the day would be one with enough sun, and while we were breaking up the company of rain was exchanged by some curious sheep. The way back to Aurlandsdalen was not much of a path and the rocks were slippery, and as a result the descent went slow. Well, the more time we had to enjoy.

In Aurlandsdalen we had to cross a suspension-bridge to get back on the original path. Though I have crossed such bridges before, this truly was an amazing experience. From the middle of the bridge we had a tremendous view, worth a picture, though it is impossible to get this right: deep down, between your feet I saw white wild water fighting itself through the valley, while beside me and in front of me mountains proudly stood straight with their heads in the sky. While looking through the camera and deciding what part to take a picture from the bridge rocked like a cradle.

The last part through Aurlandsdalen is quite popular, and not without reason. Aurlandsdalen is a narrow and steep valley with exciting views. Sometimes the path is rather steep and with the combination of a backpack this was not exactly good for my knees. Right after the descent from Vetlahelvete we interpreted that as a good reason to take a break and wash ourselves at an idyllic spot where the stream was broad, blue-green and quiet, and where the rocks still stand proud. I regret we didn't take a picture there, but we could keep taking pictures all day with all these idyllic spots, like Sinjarheim, an old farm with friendly goats.

After this farm there was a steep descent with an incredible view. However, my knee started complaining again. Alas, there as only one way: down, down, and down, until we finally reached the friendly meadows near Vassbygdi. In Vassbygdi we expected at least a terrace where we could enjoy a well deserved cold beer, but before we knew it we had passed it and found ourselves on the road that with the help of some tunnels leads to Aurlandsvangen. While waiting on the bus we exercised our thumbs and actually got a lift by a cool guy, who did the Finse-Vassbygdi route in the winter!

In Aurlandsvangen we did some shopping and walked to the nearest campsite with a beautiful sight on Aurlandsfjord. The only problem was that it turned out to be a campsite where where it was not allowed to pitch up your tent. (??) Therefore we were forced to walk back to Lunde Camping, where at 9 p.m. we finally could pitch up our tent in the company of our good old friend rain.

Day 5, Two Guys on a Rock.

In spite of the flat underground we had a good night sleep and in the morning we relaxed a bit; our last walking day was going to be an easy one. We had a delicious breakfast with Kefir and took our time to dry our stuff in a friendly sunshine. Later on in Aurlandsvangen we quietly sat at the quay and enjoyed the weather and the view.

Around 1 p.m. we decided to walk our last 9 km to Flåm. The first and the last part we had to follow the road, but in between it was possible to walk on a narrow path through the woods. There was a sign that indicated where the path left the road, but entering this path was like entering a new world with no going back, though we had to walk back several times. At one point there was an opening in the wood with a clear view on Flåm. We sat on a big rock and quietly looked down on busy boats in the fjord. Who had expected such a spot there!

After this last rest we walked straight to Flåm, where surprisingly there was a big terrace. Understandably we spent the rest of the afternoon there. We even tried the pizza, and that tasted so well that the left overs at the table next to us somehow disappeared as well. With the campsite only 200 meters further, we spent the rest of the evening at a cosy pub, which actually was an old train carriage, and so we spent out last night until we were kicked out...Flåm, the place to be!