ARRIVING IN LOM
After having spent some hours in Oslo to fuel up on a decent dose of the black gold we so cherish, we entered a local coach to deliver us to our springboard destination of Lom, a little mountaineering town somewhere between Oslo and Bergen. Upon arriving late after 6 slow hours of being transported through meandering roads of stunning Norwegian countryside, we pitched our tent and soon headed to bed to not miss our early bus ride to Spiterstulen, the trailhead from which we would embark our little hiking getaway.
THE ENTRANCE TO THE VALLEY OF GIANTS.
Imagine Spiterstulen as this picturesque village of cabins at the foothills of Scandinavia’s tallest peaks, solely interrupted by a crowded carpark. The swarm of hikers and weekend explorers is due to being the closest starting point to hike Scandinavia’s highest mountain called Galdhøpiggen. With being only 2469m in elevation it does not sound too impressive to someone growing up in the Alps, but the trip should be quite worth it as we got told. Due to heavy backpacks with provisions for 4 days of hiking through the vast emptiness of the so-called “Valley of Giants,” we decided to tackle this peak another time and better get going to start our little adventure.
FOLLOW THE WATER
Being briefly disappointed by the thought of sharing our trail with the masses of hiking tourists, we quickly found ourselves completely alone in the incessant river banks in the middle of nowhere. in contrast to Austrian trails where one can find signposts pointing to the nearest huts and giving information about the duration of the walk, the only thing guiding us were some marks painted on stones and the silent water flows leading the way to our first day’s planned destination of Leirvassbu, a lodging house somewhere between here and there, whatever this may mean.
The close to frightening quietness of the surroundings accompanied with the sheer endless beauty of this barren landscape, made me feel like Chris McCandless in Into the Wild and it seemed that even without wearing headphones that Eddie Vedder was blasting through my ears on repeat for the eight hours of placing one foot in front of the other.
We underestimated the load of our provision adding up to the weight of our mobile accommodation facilities and found our backs aching and our feet longing for a bubbling bath, although we knew that this was merely a hallucinating wish rather than an anticipatory fact. The naturally difficult state of the trail and the ongoing crossing of river banks slowed our estimated time of arrival. Even the sight of the Leirvassbu hut still kept us walking for almost an hour before we could treat ourselves to a large drink of rotten barley and malt and some Belgian style waffles to regain our spiritual strengths.
LONG DAYS, BITTER COLD NIGHTS
It seemed like the day’s natural light was not yet exhausted, and so we managed to move further for some odd kilometers to find a suitable spot to erect our sleeping pad. We found a place right on the bank of a glacial lake which we thought it to be a picturesque place to call home for the night. Awaking around 6 am to 0 degrees Celcius was a tough start to add to fatigued legs and backs, but we slowly managed to pack up our belongings in search for some much-needed sunlight to warm our cheeks.
SUN, SUN, SUN, HERE SHE COMES.
The second day granted us more warming light and another set of hundreds of creeks and waterfalls which makes you want to believe, this is where life begins. Here in these valleys where everything has its place, its purpose and nothing is too much, nor too little. Simply beautiful.
NO MAPS, NO SIGNS
The beauty of hiking in Norway, as I mentioned before, is that to spot any guiding signposts or touristic indicators is a matter of non-existence. You simply follow the water and trust that it might take you where you want to go. Our goal of the day was Gjendebu. It’s one of the oldest lodging facilities in Norway and located at the south-west end of the navy blue Gjende Lake.
Our backs started aching again, but we knew it could not be too far to go. Cows started appearing, and the sparse landscape morphed into a magic forest like surrounding. The trail became easier and the anticipation of a well-deserved boat ride lifted our drained spirits. Situated amid dazzling mountain tops and an endless array of rushing falls lie the calm waters of lake Gjende, which grants us a passing to the other side of its shore where fisherman emerge in the reflection of the smooth surface. We couldn’t be more thankful to have experienced this piece of land, so placid in its nature, so rich in colors and shapes, almost from another time. A time before technology, wifi, shares, and tweets, solely drips of brisk glacial springs and the rare sounds of unidentifiable fauna.