So I finally got to set off on the second stage of the trip a couple of days ago. I was so excited to finally get on skis and have the mountains all to ourselves – it felt fantastic to finally be there in the winter wonderland (well almost, but more on that in a minute) and just listen to the sounds of the wind and my skis sliding through the snow.
Things turned out a bit differently though. To begin with I followed a road that would take me further in and then eventually head down on a lake and cross it. The conditions there were sort of ok – a bit icy, so started off with snow shoes that I borrowed from Brian Desmond (http://www.destination.setesdalnett.com/) with help from Mark and his lovely family. Thank you so so much. I quickly changed to my skis instead cause on the actual road it was fine and the lake had a bit of snow on it as well, so wasn’t too bad, really. Once I’d crossed the lake I had to follow a stream/river going north up towards Gaukhei, my first planned sleeping spot. Was supposed to be a fairly easy day with a somewhat short distance. I had in mind that I could cover it in about 6-7 hours. If I could’ve followed the stream and the lakes further up, that is.
The locals I had spoken to the day before said that the lakes should be ok, but I would have to be a bit careful and that the streams/rivers probably wouldn’t be frozen, but maybe I’d be lucky. So I decided to give it a go and see what the conditions looked like in there. A couple of days earlier, two girls had tried to go in but came back out again. As I reached the stream it was all open obviously, so I had to go through the woods and follow a summer trail. Not particularly nice when you have a pulk and skis and it had started to snow a fair bit. It was only round about 0 degrees celcius, so the snow was crazy wet and heavy and dragging the pulk was hard hard work. My pace was ridiculously slow. So I obviously didn’t make it to Gaukhei cause nothing in there was frozen and solid to walk on. At around 4.30 pm it started to get dark and I decided to put my tent up, have a good solid rest after a really tough day and then see what the conditions would be like tomorrow and hopefully have a better day.
The night that followed was one of the really funny ones. It snowed a lot, so had to get up 5-6 times during the night to clear off snow from the tent, so that there wasn’t too much pressure on the poles. At the same time, Jossi was half snowed in at some stage, cause he still thinks the tent is a bit scary. As I was pretty done with getting in and out of my very warm and comfortable sleeping bag (Mountain Equipment Glacier Expedition) I kind of just pushed him into the tent and had a chat to him until he finally was lying down and realized that it wasn’t actually that bad after all.
When I woke up at 6.30 am it was still coming down hard. The temperatures had gone up though, so it wasn’t snow anymore but rain instead. Not particularly great for the conditions. It took me a while to pack down my tent and get the pulk ready and as I set off everything was already soaking wet. My mood wasn’t really good as I kind of knew what was gonna happen. My plan was to go a little bit further and see what the terrain looked like and then make a decision there whether I should try and continue up and over the mountains or turn around and look at my options. The pace was exactly the same as yesterday. Super hard work to just go a few hundred meters and every tiny little hill seemed like it was the biggest workout of my life. The snow kept on building up in front of the pulk, so I wasn’t only dragging the weight of the pulk, but also a good amount of wet and heavy snow. Oh, and also the pulk tips over really easily in these conditions, so I had to deal with that every 5 minutes almost. These are all things that happens every now and again, and that’s a part of the whole trip. It’s annoying obviously and it was, by far, a new record for me in yelling swear words in Danish, English and Norwegian. Maybe also other things. It’s a part of it all and I’m happy to experience this, cause this is what makes good conditions so much more fun.
Anyway, so I made it probably 2-3 km’s further in to where the climb starts. As my plan originally was to go via the lakes, it was a bit of a hit or miss with this plan B. The climb was way too steep for me to do as it was the summer route and the conditions made it even worse. There was no way I was getting up there. I sat down on the pulk and went through my options and out of the blue a guy came on his snow mobile. He’d been into another cabin somewhere with supplies. We had a chat about it all and I told him that my thought was to go back and maybe try to start out a bit further north where the conditions would be better. We quickly agreed that it was the right decision. It’s a really tough call to make when you’re out there, cause there’s nothing that you want more than to just keep on going. I told myself so many times, that of course I could get up there, but it would probably just take me a whole day itself. And the chance of pulling an injury this early in the trip was something that stressed my mind a lot.
So a bit moody, Jossi and I turned around and went back to where we came from. The pace was a bit slower than yesterday with all the new wet snow. To give you an estimate of how slow it went, I roughly covered 5 km’s in 6 hours. I had to go a bit further than yesterday as well, cause the lake that I had crossed yesterday wasn’t frozen anymore.
Got back into an area with mobile reception and called Mark. He said he could come and pick me up, take me back to his house in Evje and then we could look at the options from there. This was about 4 in the afternoon and Mark said he could be there around 10. So I pitched my tent, made some food and had a cuddle with Jossi while I waited for him.
As I’m writing, I’m sitting here in Evje and waiting to set off again. The new plan is to drive to Hovden and start out from there. I can get back on Stage 2 a bit further north, where the conditions are much better and I can follow a proper route. I can’t move to fast though, as I have to meet my mate Torbjørn at Haukeliseter on the 23rd and then set off on Hardangervidda the day after. I’ll leave tomorrow morning and then spend 3-4 days hetting up there.
It’s been really nice to have some time with Mark and his family here in Evje. They are so lovely and welcoming and have just opened up their door for me. Their two kids are great and we’re all having so much fun. They have an amazing Instagram-page that you should all check out: https://www.instagram.com/wild_with_child/ and a YouTube-channel with some really awesome videos about traveling the world as a family. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSvtMdQvf9ead4gqB3iAK6Q?view_as=subscriber I’d definitely recommend it!
I’ve only been in Norway since the 3rd of Jan and I’ve already made so many new fantastic friends here. Even though it really sucks to walk into a major obstacle and turning around, it’s all a big part of the adventure. And meeting all these people and making new friends is one of the major reasons why I wanna do this trip. Things happens and they usually turn out really good in either one way or another. So I try to keep my head up and continue on the journey very soon.