Tuesday 21 February 2012

Norway, HardangerJokulen: Day 5

It was quite a windy and cold night, most likely it felt more so than it really was since we'd gone a bit 'soft' from the hut experience. I removed my ear plugs once it got light and just lay there snoozing to the sound of the water lapping up on to the rocky shore. The wind was still there but there was certainly no rain this morning and for that I thanked the Gods and offered Paul as a sacrifice in the hope that it would continue.

Soon, there was a soft warm glow through the tent fabric, casting a strange hue inside the tent making all of our clothes look aubergine in colour. It was the tell tale sign of the low sun on a clear morning. The tall slope rising up from the shore of the fjord meant that we'd not see it and nor would it super-heat the tent until much later. Neverthless the prospect of both was enough for us and we both just lazed around in our bags, being immature and generally yawning a lot. This ritual happens most mornings when Paul and I go away and its more about who will crack and make the mornings tea rather than our enjoyment of lazing around on our Neoairs. I generally find that its nothing to do stubborness either and more about how desperate you are for that morning wee!

Drag tent sunrise

As usual I caved first because the feeling of kidneys and bladder aching in protest isn't something I enjoy, whereas Paul does this sort of perverse thing for fun. I didn't mind really as I wanted to get out and take a look around and do a weather 'reccy' as it were. What I did mind was cold, wet shoes...

On the way out of the tent I passed a strange looking spider just on his (or her) way in. Since I didn't want Paul to be too lonely in the tent I left the mesh open a bit so he could have some company. I obviously didn't make the entrance obvious enough as it clearly never made it into the inner tent owing to the distinct lack of dramas or sounds of Paul scrambling around inside trying to get out. Shame really, it might have been a beautiful friendship but now we'll never know.

Me dragiedfjorden

It was pretty damn cold and the clear air seemed to nibble at every bit of bare skin. My Western Mountaineering Flash Jacket was proving to be an incredible addition to my kit list and the hood (though making me look 'special') was needed and very welcome this morning. It really is incredibly light and warm (considering its weight) and is thoroughly recommended.

The Jetboil Sol Ti took no time at all to boil some water for tea and was already boiling itself to oblivion by the time I returned with another full platypus from the nearby stream. Paul hadn't moved and he complained that his legs were still aching from our pilgrimage on day 3. Eventually he found the energy to raise a hand from within his bag and take ownership of his cup of tea. My new insulated aluminium mug was working a treat and causing burns to my lips way after I ever expected. Paul likes to point out that it isn't as pretty or technical as his insulated Hurtigruten mug, complete with lip guard and lid, but I like to remind him just how much he paid for that mug and so it can be as technical as he needs it to be to justify the enormous expense! I'm not at all jealous of it you understand and nor have spent hours on eBay trying to find one before the trip. That didn't happen*

Pitch dragiedfjorden 2

The sun was just peeping over the top of the hill behind us now and we were feeling the warmth spreading through the tent until the wind would come along and replace it with a fresh, cold air. Whilst we sat and ate breakfast and drank numerous teas, we decided that today we could probably just sit tight and spend two nights here. It was a nice spot, the weather looked good and we could spare the time. In the end we couldn't commit so decided to see what the morning would bring and how we felt before writing up the minutes and finalising the whole deal.

I, for some reason, decided that I would go for a swim and a wash, you know, seeing as it was soooo nice out. The problem, as I quickly discovered, was that bare skin was like a meal to the cold wind and as such as I stepped out in Icebreaker boxers I immediately regretted it! Cut back to minutes earlier when I'd shaken off Paul's (now quite wise) words of discouragement thinking I was the bigger man. At the waters edge I was suddenly feeling a bit sheepish. It wasn't that I was bothered so much about the imminent cold that the water would bring to my goose-pimpled skin but more the issue of getting warm afterwards. Paul and I had struggled to get warm in the tent in the early part of the morning and I could see that 'x10' happening after this little adventure. Soon I got bored of procrastination and just got in.

Shivering, back at the tent, I sold Paul the dream that it had been a life changing experience, the freedom, the freshness and most all the thrill - whilst he played back the video he had taken of me and laughed like a girl. He was right, it was a bit ridiculous, but I took smugness out of the fact that I wouldn't be using wet wipes today, oh no sireee Bob. "Only fresh vatnet water for me these days Paul. Im all about luxury my alcohol-wipe-dependant friend"!

After my little dip I proceeded to put on all of my clothes. All of them. Not for any reason and definitely not because I was feeling hyperthermic - just because I could. We lazed around for a few hours, listening to iPods and enjoying the warmth of the tent. I came around from my snooze to see Paul sat up with the map. "What dya reckon? Lunch and then back on it?" he said. I nodded and before we new it we'd eaten lunch and the tent was back in the bag. It had been amazing to leave the tent up until gone midday and just take the decision to move whenever we liked. No people passing by, no fear of angry land owners popping up out of nowhere. We were literally nowhere and we were kings!

Dragiedfjorden panorama

We decided that we'd just walk north along the rest of shore and then head north-east along the trail to Finnsbergvatnet below the peak of Finnsberg. It looked like a great spot, nice and sheltered and may even get a view of the Jokulen from the top of Finnsberg. The distance was a approx 3 miles and was an easy walk over nice terrain.

It was all going well along the trail as we approached the falls and the bridge near the hut at Larsbu so it was nice when things got mixed up a bit as I slipped, got my pole wedged in a rocky crevice and hit the ground to the sound of splintering carbon fibre. The casualties were adding up on this trip. and for those who may need a reminder, the things broken so far are:

  • Expensive Lightweight Tripod
  • Expensive DSLR Camera
  • Expensive Carbon Fibre (Titanium Goat) Walking Pole

Now lets move on…..

Afternoon trail

Me, storming off in a mood, having broken my pole!

I wasn't happy about this but nonetheless took comfort in knowing that this incident was probably the end of failures or breakages for me. Thing come in threes and as far as I was concerned that was me done. I cursed the Gods and vowed to get my revenge and walked on in silence trying to work out just how and what it would be.

Approaching falls

The trail crossed the bridge, passed by a number of unnamed vatnets and climbed up to cut the eastern shoulder off of Finnsberg. We were now walking in base layers and celebrating with some mountain beat-boxing and odd musical improvisation. Our pace was slow and relaxed as we knew we'd be at our planned spot in no time. Standing at the crest of mild climb, next to a large salt-lick, we could see wild-camping paradise below. Next to the lake was a large, reddish, flat area just perfect for a tent. Provided it wasn't a bog it would most certainly be spongy and flat and lovely and lots of other adjectives to help visualise the scene.

Finnsbergvatnet tent

Spot the tent

We dropped down along a rocky path heading straight for the small stream as it met the trail. Jumping across it told us everything we needed to know and we just dropped the packs and out came the Scarp II. The only distraction from our tent erecting objectives was the argument about who was sleeping on which side. This was important, you see, because Paul had made it so when he 'bagsied' a particular side on the first night - claiming it was a 'preference thing' and nothing to do with the view or wind direction at all. I thought it was rather unfortunate that Paul's preferred side faced away from the late afternoon sun and into a slight wind - and so did Paul! So much so that when I stood my ground and explained the principal of why I wasn't swapping, Paul threatened to allow me to keep my side but would unpeg the tent and rotate it 180 degrees so he could have the view and I the wind. As tempted as I was to let him do this, I walked to the water's edge for some quiet time! When I got back there was an apologetic tea waiting - which I drank with a smug grin on my face until we both just creased over in laughter!

Early pitch finnsbergvatnet

Paul enjoying the view from 'my' side

We sat on a some large rocks listening to and watching the nearby falls, chatting and taking photos (with my flippin iPhone) and just relaxing in the evening sun. I sat in the tent and called Charl (I still had a mobile signal!) and Paul scrambled up Finnsberg to see if the Glacier was visible and to watch the sun disappear over Helvetashorga.

Finnsberg boulder

I noticed as soon as the sun went down by the plummetting temperatures inside the tent. It was such a strange feeling to be away so long and be so far away in the wilderness and still be able to call Charlotte. It made me homesick and I missed her. It's strange how you can be having the time of your life but yet it doesn't seem 100% complete without loved ones to experience it with - No offence Paul.

It was about 40 mins after leaving for the ridge line that Paul returned out of breath and looking cold. He was happy he'd been but admitted he was chilled to the core. There was only one thing to do and that was to cook and eat - which we did and then proceeded to climb into our Cumulus sleeping bags and pondered the map to work out a plan for the morning. It had been an easy day with a total result with the weather and the pitch so there was nothing left to do to complete such an awesome day other than to drift off listening to Phantogram (mixed in skilfully with Paul's snoring) followed by about 12 hours sleep. "Goodnight Norway".

Finnsbergvatnet dusk

*It did.


Alan Sloman said...

Wonderful stuff!
"The wind was still there but there was certainly no rain this morning and for that I thanked the Gods and offered Paul as a sacrifice in the hope that it would continue."


Marcus said...

I thought folks might like that! I've really enjoyed having to remember the details and review the photos in detail for each post. Great for memories.

venator said...

Funny, enjoyable stuff.


Marcus said...

Thanks Venator, thats very kind. Glad you enjoyed it.