The colour green and a big change of plans

Sunrise in Rondane when there was still a bit of snow.

I’ve been writing so much about reflecting and trying to figure out how I feel about not having a dog on the trip. Last update, I said that I couldn’t figure out how I felt, so I wanted to continue and see if I could figure it out while being out. After all, there’s more thinking space in the mountains – no wi-fi but great connection as they say!

This is one of the longer ones – I hope you’re wanting to read all of it, but if not, then you can see what the change of plans are at the end.

So I did – I sat off again from Sulseter towards Hjerkinn, my next stop – and what a trip it was. Had a lot of mixed feelings and couldn’t make up my mind – I kept on changing my mind about whether I liked it or not without a dog and if I wanted (and could) continue.

The day I sat off Gry joined me for the first 4 or so km’s. It was a beautiful but very windy day and the conditions were very icy. We had a long stop after those 4 k’s and had something to drink – right in the sun and we managed to find some shelter for the wind behind a broken down shed. We said goodbye and off I went towards Mysusæter – a portal to Rondane. Managed to have a fairly good day on proper ski tracks the whole way – windy, but crazy warm cause the sun was burning.

Just before I came to Mysusæter I met two Danish ladies on the track. They were on their way back to their hotel where they were spending a week with loads of Danes, all arranged by Ruby Rejser. We chatted for a bit and then I sat off and said that we’d probably see each other again in Mysusæter. And we did – one of them, Inger, told me to come by the hotel and at least have a coffee or so. I kindly accepted the offer (who can say no to a coffee offered by lovely people?) and we went inside. Within the next 15 minutes I had met half of the people there and was offered to eat dinner with them and sleep in the basement. Even though I was looking forward to a night in the tent I said yes, cause everyone seemed so nice and lovely.

Breakfast at Rondane Fjellstugu with the guests from Ruby Rejser.

It was a really good night chatting to so many interesting people and hearing stories from around. Everyone was so kind and made sure I had something to drink at all times. Wine and whatnot! Good stuff. Dinner was served and it was so good. We sang a song and then ate. Afterwards Inger asked me if I could tell a few stories from the trip as my kind of ‘pay’. So we sat down at the fireplace and I told a few stories and answered a good handful of questions. Most of the questions started with ‘why?’. I was invited to have breakfast the next morning too and oh my dear lord that was amazing. What a brekky. Danish øllebrød, porridge and the best breadrolls I have ever had. No, really. EVER! I still fantasize about them. I need to get the recipe. They were also there so you could make your own lunch to-go. I was told to do so, so I did!

I took off straight after breakfast. Said goodbye to everyone around and gave Inger a million hugs for being so nice and welcoming. What a lovely woman. Some of the people there even gave me some money towards cabin-stays and more butter (yes, there’s been a lot of butter-eating on this trip)! That is so so so lovely and I wanna say thank you to all who did so. You really shouldn’t have, but I also really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Inger. I asked if I could take a photo of her. Not many people are so welcoming and nice as her. Hope to see you again in Copenhagen.

The rest of the trip towards Hjerkinn was quite a trip. Going up to Rondvassbu from Mysusæter was fine but icy and going over Rondevatnet wasn’t a problem either, apart from the pretty rough wind. I reckon Mr. Windy decided that he was going boxing that day. He’s quite good at it too and knocked me out a couple of times. Super beautiful and great weather apart from the boxing match though.

Rondevatnet, southern end.

As I came to the other side of the lake it was like I had stepped into spring straight away. I’ll let the picture speak for itself:

The place is known to have little snow in winter, but this is more than usual. It got way worse though! Quite hard work dragging a pulk in this kind of terrain. Plus I get so worried about deep scratches and stuff from the sharp rocks.

I sat up camp in a nice sheltered spot where a lot of snow had drifted into. Had a good night with loads of reading and snack-eating and I lighted a candle and drank a cup of tea. Felt really weird to not have Jossi there. The whole day I felt so alone cause he wasn’t there. I kept on having this feeling that I was missing something. I kept on checking if the pulk was alright now that I couldn’t check if Jossi was.

Camp for the night.
Snacking in the tent

The next morning I continued towards Dørålseter. It wasn’t loads of fun getting there without any snow. There was some, so it took quite a while to sort of scout for a good route at the top and then set off and try to remember where to go. It went well until the end where I had to cross the river – came into a pretty shitty spot where I had to get myself down to the river, cross it and then go back up. It was steep as hell, but managed to get it to work. I don’t have any pictures of it cause I was so busy swearing and fantasizing about a backpack rather than a pulk!

Dørålseter is a self-service DNT cabin. I decided to stay there for the night. After an hour or so two guys from Oslo showed up. They came from Hjerkinn and said that the conditions were just as shitty pretty much the whole way. A little section was ok, but rest was bad. They decided to stay there for the night as well. Super nice guys – we started off well cause I offered them a cup of coffee straight when they came inside. A few hours later another guy from Nordland showed up – he was doing the same trip as me and his name was Einar. He had started the same day as me and we hadn’t met each other until now. We all had a lovely night playing cards and chatting.

No snow and 8 degrees

The following day Einar and I decided to stay in the cabin due to high winds (26 m/s). We then had the whole day to discuss what we were both thinking about our situations – Einar had had a good trip so far but had been struggling with the lack of snow since Jotunheimen and I told him how I felt about the lack of Jossi. Einar decided to get his dad to come and pick him up at the first possible open road that we would meet a bit before Folldal. He would then go home, fix a few things and then set off way north and just enjoy being on tour. I decided to join him going out and then get to Hjerkinn – the terrain was so rough on the pulks, so instead of spending 3 more days in the same terrain it would be better to spend 1 towards Folldal instead.

Idyllic cabin life. Fresh coffee, candles, books and Suduko’s. And yes, I did finish the hard one. I promise. Maybe.

We spent the day having so much fun. We got a long really really well and had so many good and deep chats. A mountain cabin does that to you, eh. We both went for a little walk in the morning on the snowless road and then we had two individual walks in the afternoon to stretch the legs and have a look at the area. It was a beautiful day nevertheless.

Einar on the road
The bottom part of Dørålseter

We spend the night making pancakes and have a feast together. Pancakes with brown cheese and chocolate (not together though!). It was such a fun night with great music and maybe a little dancing!

Pancake night!

We sat off the next morning after a good coffee and didn’t know what to expect for the day apart from no snow. My watch said roughly 16 km’s in total, so not a long day distance wise. I’m assuming that you can imagine how the conditions just got worse, but I’ll just let the picture speak for itself again:

The mood was quite high. It was a beautiful day, the wind had settled a bit and I had made a new friend. I still felt really weird about not having Jossi here though. We managed to get through the day and meet his dad at the end. They then drove me straight to the door in Hjerkinn. Thanks so much. The pulks didn’t look particularly good after that stretch. It was so nice to get to know you, Einar! Had such a good time with you. We spoke lots about adventures that we wanted to do and decided to try and find a way to do some of them together one day.

Einar’s pulk after the road stretch.

So here I am. In Hjerkinn. Øyvind, the guy that lives and works here with his wife Trine and their daughter Vilja, is a guy that I know from Finnmark. They both worked the same place as me but a couple of years earlier than me.

Driving dogs in super icy conditions just near Dovrefjell. 4 dogs was more than enough!

So I’ve had some time to think and reflect again and I’ve tried hard to figure out how I feel. It’s been on my mind for some time now after Jossi came off the trip, and I’ve discussed it with a few good people that are close to me – I have decided to end the trip here. Spend the first two days at Hjerkinn thinking it through one more time. Maybe a thousand times.

I don’t feel like continuing without a dog. A dog was a reason that I could do it alone and that reason is simply not there anymore. Despite this, the conditions aren’t really helping on this – apparently it continues like this for a fair while. There’ll probably be more snow during March but I don’t have time to wait for it if I wanna make it to North cape in time and I don’t feel like skipping a big part. I’ve been feeling super weird about it, but I think I’m finally starting to accept it. The motivation for the trip is still there, so it feels weird to stop, but for me to have a good time, I need the company of either a dog or a human on such a long stretch.

The trip will always be there (hopefully climate change doesn’t kill it!) – so the possibility to try another year is definitely there and I really feel like doing that. Unfinished business, you know? I could keep on writing about my reflections and thoughts cause there’s been a lot of them. So I’ll leave it at this: I’m happy with my decision!

Øyvind and Vilja (1,5 years old) earlier today.

Øyvind has offered me to work for him both here in Hjerkinn and at their new place in Randsverk in Jotunheimen. They are starting up a new business called Jotunheimen Husky Lodge (https://www.facebook.com/jotunheimenhuskylodge/) and has offered me to help out. They are offering dog-sledding tours in and around Jotunheimen – everything from a few hours to multiple days – and you can stay there as well obviously. A really cool and beautiful spot.

The really cool thing about this, is that I can go on as many trips as I’d like (almost). If I wanna take a dog-team out for a week, we will work our way around it. I can be on tour pretty much every day, whether it’s sleeping out or just for a day. Both Øyvind, Trine and Vilja are super super lovely and fun to stay with. It’s nice to get to know them properly as well. Besides that I’ll work here and there and help out guiding the tours when there’s tourists. And obviously take care of the dogs with feeding, training and whatever else. So it all turned out nicely after all! So if you wanna come and visit, then be my guest – just bring skis!

I’ll most likely still update the blog every now and again with pictures and good stories and whatnot. I quite like all of this. Hopefully you all like it too.

Thanks for reading and for following the trip so far. It’s been so nice with all the messages from so many people – every single one has been appreciated. I’m not finding this a tabu or anything, so feel free to ask or say whatever you feel like. Thanks again,

/Mads

Extra pictures of course:

Camp Fjeld & Fritid!!!
Denmark is still standing but Norway is down! Sorry Einar, I had to do this.
Øyvind showing me around the area
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