Thursday 15th June
The original plan for today was to drive to Bergen, but when planning our route Google informed us that a mere hour and a half detour would take us through a glacier-filled national park! Well, obviously we had to go there. Morgan has a long-held dream to fly his drone over a glacier, since a month ago in Georgia when he decided he really, really wanted to fly his drone over a glacier (but rain & snow scuppered his dreams). So Droney went into the hiking pack, and we decided to set off quickly, so we could comfortably fit in the hike this afternoon. We then spent our usual 2 hours doing morning faff, and stopped at a lovely rest stop for lunch, meaning we didn’t arrive at the glacier until 3pm.
The hike up to our chosen glacier was described as a leisurely 3-hour return trip. By our standards we figured this would be at least 5 hours, but nonetheless we decided to crack on. After all, it doesn’t even start getting dark until midnight. We could already see the glacier from the car park, looming above us in shades of blue and grey, with deep blue cracks carved into its base.
We set off past an ice blue river and into a Norwegian wood, steadily climbing higher and higher. Soon, rivers started to run across the paths, with either rocks in the river or small bridges providing the way across. Lex was having none of this. He took one look at the river and ran in the opposite direction, nearly pulling my arm out of its socket in his haste. As for the wobbly bridges, he trusted them even less than the river itself, clearly worried that his tiny paws would fall through the gaps in the wood. This is Lex refusing to cross a small stream he could very easily have stepped over:
So, this happened:
It wasn’t very good for Lex’s street cred, and we had to make sure no other dogs saw him being carried. To preserve his dignity (Morgan wants me to write “dognity”).
Eventually, we reached a point where an old dog couldn’t go – the rocks were so steep, ropes had been fixed in place so you could pull yourself up, and abseil back down. It was yet another situation where one of us had to wait in the cold with Lex, while the other one explored the main event. Still, it was totally worth it because the glacier was incredible. And climbing up all the ropes kinda made me feel like a ninja.
And yes, Morgan finally got to fly Droney over a glacier.
On the way back down the mountain, our pack stumbled into a carefully laid trap! Lex was walking ahead of us, on the lead, and before we’d realised they were even there, we inadvertently found ourselves separating a gang of sheep lurking on one side of the path, from a lone lamb on the opposite side. An angry mother sheep and a few younger ones instantly charged at Lex, running over him as they crossed the path to reach the lamb, but somehow, all of their hooves missed actually trampling him, just like that scene in the Lion King where Simba unrealistically survives a wildebeest stampede. Mid-charge, one of the sheep even tried to bite Lex, but only got a mouthful of fur.
Lex was a momentarily shocked by the assault, but got over it almost instantly. He naturally assumed our pack was going to mount a counter attack on these insolent sheep, and was very disappointed when we left them in peace.
It was about 8.30 by the time finally got back to the car park, and the place was deserted except for 2 campervans, which looked like their owners would be sleeping in them tonight, and two women with huge backpacks. As we arrived, we saw them lug their packs onto their back and sheepishly come up to talk to us.
“Hey, are you heading towards Odda?” one of them asked.
“Probably not,” I answered. “We were thinking of camping up here for tonight.”
“Oh” responded the young woman. “It’s just that we were going to hitch-hike into town, but…”
Her voice trailed off as we all surveyed the empty parking lot.
“We can give you a ride” I said, all of a sudden, feeling like giving something back after all the lifts we’d been offered in Georgia. Odda was only a 20 minute drive away anyway, and was at least in the right direction for where we planned to go the next morning.
They told us about their hitch-hiking experiences whilst we drove, including spending 16 hours travelling from Sandefjord to Stavanger, a drive that took us 6 hours! It was at that moment I realised I wasn’t hardcore enough for that style of travel. We had originally been planning to do this trip without a car, but feeling the weight of their backpacks and hearing about the afternoons they had spent standing next to highways in the rain, I was suddenly very glad we had our trusty Volvo with us.
After dropping the hitch-hikers off at a petrol station (good for hustling rides, they told us), we drove out of town and a little further north, and as we came out the other end of an 11km tunnel, we stumbled upon our most beautiful sleeping spot to date:
And that’s where we spent the night!
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