Day 6: Relaxing, Mountain Museum, Staying out of the rain

After returning to Spiterstulen soaking wet on day 5, we decided to change our itinerary. The plan had been to drive to another spot after the glacier hike, spend the night there, then take a ferry out in the morning, to a spot from which we could do a two-day hike. Given the rain, our wet clothes, and the forecast for continuing rain, we decided to spend another night at Spiterstulen, and relax on day 6.

Hence we slept in, and after breakfast, got in the car to drive back to Lom. There's not all that much to do indoors in Lom, but we did our best to check out all of the options. Number one on the list: a rock museum. No, not a place to learn more about Jimi Hendrix or the Rolling Stones, but a place to find out about the kind of stones that don't move (and look even older than Keith Richards, if that's possible). Now don't get me wrong, I'm a dork, a nerd, an intellectual snob, you name it. But I have some standards, and a rock museum falls just under that line.

Option two: mountain museum. This is where we spent a couple of hours, reading about the first people who climbed Norway's mountains, seeing the equipment they carried, etc. It was interesting to see some climbing pictures from around a hundred years ago, with men wearing slacks and dinner jackets, and women wearing skirts to ascend Norway's highest peaks. It was also amusing to read Norwegians contrast themselves with Brits: people from Norway enjoyed being out in nature, and welcoming a challenge if it was enjoyable, while the British wanted to climb everything, regardless of whether or not they would actually like it.

The world-famous Mountain Museum in Lom, Norway.

A stream gently cascading through Lom's lush countryside. They do a lot of rafting around there. I was very tempted to partake on that free afternoon, but no one else was as enthusiastic as I was, the logistics would have been a pain, and we might have gotten wet.

The new, roomy station wagon from Volvo! No matter what the weather outside, you'll be happy an comfortable in its cavernous interior (in other words, I have no idea why I took this picture).

When we arrived at the hut where we would stay that night, Elaine and I went out for a walk. I felt like I'd been taking too many "big picture" shots - landscapes, mountains, vistas, etc. - and needed to shoot some smaller scale stuff. Hence the plant and wildflower shots.

These blue bell flowers were all over our various excursions in Norway.

This rock was completely surrounded by water. Completely.

It seems that someone else must have taken this shot, because it looks somewhat decent, but I think it might actually have been Elaine. If that's the case, I think it should give a clear indication of who should be doing the photography of the two of us on future trips.

Day 7: Besseggen

Besseggen is one of the most famous hikes in Norway. As you can see from the pictures, it's beautiful: a green lake to your right along most of the trip, a blue lake to your left along part of it, and a backdrop of mountains throughout. I was surprised to hear that Trond had taken his 65 year-old mother along it, given that it is fairly challenging: 15 kilometers (9.5 miles), but more importantly, some very steep ascents, and moderately steep ascents.

The plan had been to take the ferry out along the lake, and then hike back along the Besseggen route. 15 kilometers and six hours of hiking really isn't enough for me, though, so I managed to convince Elaine that we should hike out to the ferry stop, where we would meet Trond and Adam around 8:45 AM. The hike there would be easier: we'd go right along the lake, taking only around four hours. Going along the lake would cut some of the distance of the hike. And, just as important, it would be completely flat, since it was right next to the lake. Or so we thought.

We got up at 4:45 AM, our bags already packed, to head out the door. Trond had asked the night before if we were in fact on vacation; he should know as well as I the need to challenge oneself. Our challenge level was increased by the fact that neither of us had slept much: at this hut, there'd been no choice but to stay in a room with 18 people, at least one of whom has probably won numerous snoring contests

Our nice stroll along the lake turned out a little more strenuous than planned. The rain continued to come down pretty hard, which aside from being a nuisance, made streams turn into waterfalls, and paths turn into streams. That meant doing some wading. And midway through, we found that the flat route along the lake wasn't completely flat. Mind you, if it hadn't been raining, this wouldn't have been a big deal, but given the rain, it made for an unpleasant ascent, and a dangerous descent. Sure enough, on the way down, klutzy Mike fell down, banging leg, bruising hand, and hitting head. Both Elaine and I were a little freaked out, and we continued on carefully. By the time we reached the ferry stop, it was 9:15, and Adam and Trond had been waiting for a half hour or so.

After apologizing profusely, Adam, Trond and I started up the hill, while Elaine decided she'd had enough rainy, stressful hiking for the day and took the ferry home. While the Besseggen hike didn't give us much better weather (until the last few kilometers), there were no big waterfalls to cross, and the views were astounding. Rather than further describe, I refer you to the pictures which follow...

At 4:45, it was just starting to get light, but Elaine and I were wide awake and ready to go.

One of the streams we had to cross in our hike along the lake.

The green lake along which we walked, with big waterfalls in the background.

The last shot before we started to get really wet, and I hit my head. After that we were eager just to get to the end, and stopped taking pictures.

The first shot along the Besseggen hike, a little ways up a hill. Pretty amazing, I think, to be able to see glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, and mountains all at once.

Note the muddy water in the lake, right near the bottom of the stream. Trond said it doesn't normally look like that: this was the product of a lot of runoff, from all the rain and the increased flow down the hill.

Unlike the walk along the lake (from which there are of course few pictures, the Besseggen hike was pretty much above the tree line.

Adam, with umbrella, was more prepared than I was.

If you look on the top of the mountain, you can the fresh snow that had fallen the night before (and might have still been falling). That mountain wasn't that much higher than we were, so you should have an idea of the crappy, wet, cold weather we had :)

This picture should give you an idea of why I went into mathematical modelling, as opposed to the other kind.

One of my favorite shots, even though it's a little grainy. I think it appropriately captures the day.

At this point, we'd finally neared the top of the hike, and could see the blue lake to our left.

This is the last part of the climb we'd have to do. As you can see, it's pretty steep at points, especially given the rain and the wind. I wouldn't say it was overly difficult or dangerous, but some of the people there surprised me, and I could certainly see people getting hurt if they weren't properly fit or agile.

Adam navigating down a steep descent.

That's the lake in the background, not the sky!

The famous shot of the two lakes, one on either side. You'd think the two lakes were co-planar, but the one on the left is actually around 500 meters lower than the one o the right.

Ascent to the top, by far the toughest part of the climb.

Alas, the top, and the inevitable Norwegian path marking it.

Trond taking a picture, and the strap of my camera, blowin' in the wind.

Adam, almost to the top.

The two lakes, from the top.

The descent, towards the hut and Trond's car. Finally, some decent weather seemed to be coming.

I can't remember what I was trying to accomplish with this shot

Nice photography, Trond.

More wildflowers.

Little stream towards the end of the hike. Things had calmed down, and the sun was peering through the clouds.

After 10.5 hours of hiking (for me), the hut! At last, a shower, less wet clothes, and back to Oslo with a stop for some Norwegian pizza which tasted damn good...

Some purple wildflowers for Elaine, to finish off the day.