One is spoiled for choice in the Hardanger region. Trolltunga is dubbed ‘the epic hike’, and from the pics it’s easy to see why. And the Hardangervidda plateau proper seemed beautiful in its own right. But as rain was forecasted for the next few days in the region I decided to pack up and head further north to Jotunheimen, another mountain region I’d been keen to explore for a while.
The drive north is again stunning. A pod of dolphins bid me farewell as I crossed the Hardangerbrua bridge again toward Road 13 north and Granvin. The road turns eventually into E16, which meanders beautifully through the dramatic Laerdalen valley before reaching the southern end of Nærøyfjord. Epic is probably an understated description for this nature’s wonder. Towering mountains separate narrow passages. I stopped in Gudvangen for a break and had to resist the temptation to take down the board for a paddle-about! One to save for another time.
The road then steadily climbs on the E16, passing the world’s longest tunnel (the Laerdal tunnel, 24.5 km long!), and toward Ryfoss I cut across the hills to Rd 51. Ok roads, though steep and occasionally very uneven - think I left the soul of my suspensions on one of the road bumps. Once on Rd 51 it’s yet another beautiful drive north, the mountainous profile of Jotunheimen gradually emerging after Beitostølen.
Endless green vistas interdispersed by mountain lakes and jagged peaks characterize the eastern parts of the Jotunheimen National park. Plenty of possibilities for freecamping with the campervan - lots of small car parks on the mountain plateau to spend the night with epic scenery surrounding. And if you’ve got a tent, the possibilities are truly endless given Norway’s right-to-roam-approach that’s similar to the one in Sweden.
I didn’t get a chance to pick up any topomaps, but Ann-Katrin and Per-Arne, my two neighbors for the first night on Valdresflye warmly recommended the Bessegen ridge and Bitihorn as good starting points. And they recommended the Outtt-app which is a great database of hikes in Norway. While I’ll still like to use maps proper, it’s a nifty little aid to get a good handle of what the hikes are like, I really liked and recommend it.
I looked up the Besseggen ridge walk and it definitely looked like a splendid one so decided to walk it the next day. Most people seem to opt to hike it west-to-east, taking the boat in the morning to Memurubu and hike back across the mountains. Perhaps it’s to have the peace-of-mind that you won’t miss the last boat back across the Gjendes Lake. My own preference is east-to-west, you’ve got the sun in your back lighting up the lake beautifully, and you can see it most of the way toward Memurubu. While not easy, it’s a hike that could be suitable for most people in good shape (and again, with some basic hiking gear, incl good mountain boots), though parts of the ridge are quite narrow, steep and exposed, so not much fun in wet weather (or if you’re afraid of heights).
Was relatively lucky with the weather as the hike up to the top of the ridge was mostly in partly cloudy conditions. Rain made the third quarter of the hike somewhat cold (and wet), but the rain stopped upon descending to Memurubu. A leasurily 6-hour hike with breaks, before enjoying waffle and coffee at the Memurubu hut while waiting for the boat back to Gjende.
The next day I hiked the Bitihorn, a relatively short, steep walk up to the 1609 masl top for great 360 degree panoramic views across Jotunheimen and the Valdres region.
Beautiful region, one to return to.