Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pinse weekend mission

The coolest little hut - Storlisetra!
The Norwegian's have loads of holidays in May, so it is a very nice time for getting away! Last weekend we spent most of our time around Levanger for the Norwegian Craft Cup and Sprint Orienteering Nationals, after I did a rather long 140 km road ride to get there.
You see a lot of these on May 17 - so I felt I had to include one in my post (-:

Monday 17 May is the Norwegian National Day, so we came back to Trondheim to join the parade (Chris was the proud flag bearer at the head of my school's parade!). I did another big road ride that afternoon with Helen and Ally - across the Trondheim fjord on the free car ferry, cycled a 50km loop round the island, then hopped back on the ferry to get home.

The trees have turned green and the buds have come out, but unfortunately the cold drizzly spring weather has continued. Despite a rather unappealing forecast Chris and I decided on a trip away to the mountains for the 'Pinse' (3 day weekend no. 2).

We got away at 5 pm on our bikes after taking all day to get ourselves organised (why is this not surprising?) It was cold, gray and a little rainy on our way through to Orkanger, where we stopped to refuel at the local Bunnpris. Dinner consisted of donuts, tortilla wraps and chips, mmm! Then we cycled on a very quiet E6 all the way to Vinje - about 100 km in total from Trondheim.

We dropped back into the fjord after crossing a high plateau and in the misty evening light, with the green bush hanging low on the steep sided fjord we really felt like we had been plopped into Milford sound! After a short steep climb up an old road we reached Storlisetra hut - which was glowing in the evening mist. It turned out there was a friendly Norwegian family staying in the hut who plied us with hot tea and bread (it was midnight!) before we climbed into our cosy beds with the rain pattering down outside.

Chris outside in the morning - check out the grass roof

In the morning we ummed and aahhhed before deciding to continue our trip with an initial bike push over a pass, so we could leave the bikes in another valley to collect on the following day. One moment the sun would shine down on us and the next moment it would pour with rain. We trudged up over a snowy boggy col, which lead to freezing feet!

Bike pushing up to the first pass - occasionally the clouds would let a little bit of sun peep through.

A little more sun and a very pretty view

Chris rides the bridge

At the top of the col
Chris managed to ride a little bit of the way down, the cloud was hanging pretty low!

The rivers were running high in the rain - while Chris's legs were looking pretty hot in his stripy polypro leggings!

Finally we made it into the forested valley where we stashed the bikes behind a tree, and ate our lunch under the shelter of someone's little cabin basement. After we had sat there for a few minutes we were feeling very cold and the rain started coming down in West-Coast-like sheets, so we trudged off up the mountain feeling a little dejected.

This is a seriously vital photograph - we didn't have a map of the area, but took this photo of the map on the wall in Storlisetra hut before we left. In the mist on the ridge we would have been totally lost without it - the only thing was Chris had to turn the camera on and flick through the photos to see the map and then it was on a squinty wee screen and the camera batteries were going flat!
Fixing up some blisters in the mist on top

We climbed a steep rocky hillside to a snowy col at 900 meters. The wind and rain made for rater unpleasant conditions, so we didn't stop to admire the view! The foggy conditions and ridge travel really tested Chris's navigation skills (especially given his improvised tiny camera screen map) but fortunately they passed with flying colours and after 4.5 hours we stumbled right across the alpine "Hardbakhytte", which was camouflaged amongst the rocks.

White white and more white (this photo was at a moment when the mist actually 'cleared')

The hut was soon cozy and warm, with a wonderful stove and little kerosene lamps. The DNT huts really are fantastic. We cooked dinner and warmed up, before heading to bed.

Charming morning weather at Hardbakhytte

In the morning the rain had stopped - instead it was snowing! We headed away from the great hut and along the freshly whitened ridge line. Sun patches followed snow patches, so we managed to snap some surprisingly sunny looking shots.

New snow in the morning

Enjoying a very rare and endangered thing - a sun ray

After a few hours we finally dropped off the ridge and down the steep hillside back to our bikes. We followed a bumpy 4wd road down the green forested valley and back out to the main road and the fjord. By now I was pretty tired and the prospect of cycling all the way back to Trondheim was not very inspiring - especially given the rain!

Impressive waterfalls on the way down the valley

Heading out on the bumpy 4wd road
We cycled on the busy road in the pouring rain for an hour until out of the blue appeared a warm little roadside cafe that was actually open (it was a public holiday and almost everything was shut). We walked in dripping wet and cold - it was time for a hot chocolate!

It turned out that a bus back to Trondheim would come past the cafe in 1 hours time. Whoopee! What great news! So we had one hour to order some nice food and relax while the rain and sleet poured down outside, then we stood bedraggled outside and frantically waved down the bus driver to stop and pick us up.

We were dropped in Heimdal around 8 o'clock. It was much warmer in Trondheim, almost sunny as we pedaled the last few kilometers home. All and all we had a very memorable Pinse weekend, the kind of weekend that makes you appreciate a warm home and blobbing on the couch, but we did visit some wonderful huts and are full of inspiration for some sunnier weekends in those there hills.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Waffles and skis on wheels...

Skis on top of Vassfjellet

On Sunday morning we slept in a little late (most unusual for us) so when we got up it was kind of brunch time. We have just acquired (thanks to the wonderful Laila) a waffle maker - consequently we sat down to a large steaming pile of freshly baked waffles. We are feeling most Norwegian with our waffles, rømme and jam.

After our waffles and feeling like we had done too much orienteering of late, we embarked upon a most strange and excellent journey. We managed after some effort to secure our skis in a reasonably comfortable fashion to our backpacks, we loaded our boots inside and our poles too and we set off on our bikes towards Vassfjellet, Trondheim's most well known local ski field.

Skis on wheels

We got some strange looks as we cycled in the sun through the town (some people think the ski season is well and truly over and don't even believe that there is still snow in the hills). After just over an hour riding we reached the bottom of the ski field, which has been shut for some time now. There were some young snow boarders mucking about on jumps as we skinned up the slushy snow in the warm afternoon sun.

At the bottom of the ski field

Making our way up

Nearing the top of Vassfjellet

Sunny on top

Looking out toward Trondheimsfjorden

This time last year we biked all the way up Vassfjellet and there was almost no snow on top! But this spring has been a very cold and late one. We enjoyed the view on top for a few minutes, but the crisp breeze had us taking off the skins and enjoying a cruisy descent down the slopes back to our bikes.
The snow was a little bit crusty from the wind at the top of the field

Nice snow on the lower slopes

Trees and snow

Chris enjoying his well earned downhill

The skis were reattached and we arrived back our house in the late afternoon feeling very satisfied with our bike ski bike trip... and it was time for some more waffles!

Julia Visits

Landing in Trondheim

Ten years after we said 'Goodbye' to each other in New Zealand my German exchange partner and I finally reunited in Trondheim - of all places!

Julia is busy studying and working as a doctor in Germany, and since we did the exchange we have always kept in touch and promised that we would see each other again. It was Julia who finally put her foot down, found the time off work, booked the plane tickets and organised her visit.

Of course, it was then that Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland erupted and it seemed as if nature was going to prevent us from seeing each other again..... Luckily Julia was able to take a flight the day later, and we met her down at the train station just after running Sprint Cup number 3 up in Dragvoll.

It was great to see her, and amazing how little we had both changed really. We spent lots of time talking about New Zealand and all my friends and family she met there, and Germany and the people and places I saw when I visited her.

Julia took some nice pictures of boat loving Trondheim

On Friday we did some sight seeing in the town, and then we took the tram back up to our place and walked in the forest round the Kyvannet.

Nidaros in the sun for a change!

At the 'intersection' in the forest above our place
On Saturday we decided Julia should experience some Norwegian orienteering culture, so we all headed out on a trip to Fosen, a ferry trip across the other side of the fjord. Julia completed her first sprint orienteering event with me.

At the finish of the sprint event

After a long day we headed home, and the next day Julia caught her flight back to Germany after a brief but really nice visit. Our new goal is for it not to be another 10 years before we see each other again!