stories of life & wanderlust

Friday, September 13, 2013

Hiking Besseggen Ridge: Jotunheimen Part II

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“Are you sure you’re fit enough for this?” , my mother asks as we gaze up to the mountains above us. I nod, but even as I do I’m suddenly not so sure myself anymore. This is one heck of a mountain.

The Besseggen Ridge is one of Norway’s most famous (and popular) hiking areas. Located next to the Gjende-Lake – recognized by the UNESCO as one of the world’s most important lakes – in the east of the majestic Jotunheimen National Park in Central Norway, it has been a symbol of Nature at its finest for decades. How could a nature and hiking lover like me say no this?

The path along the ridge is about 14 kilometers long and the recommended time for the hike is at least 5 hours. The distance seemed harmless enough for me, but the thing I was worried about was the primary ascent. A large part of the path goes straight along the lake – just 700 meters higher above. In other words, the first part of the hike is spent climbing up a mountain. And while I love that in theory, I really wasn’t sure if my stamina would hold up.

The start of the hike is at the parking lot at the shores of Gjende. You can either hop on a ferry to Memurubu halfway a long the lake and then hike back to the Parking lot or – that’s what we did – start your hike here and take the ferry on your way back. Make sure to check times in advance, though, so you don’t miss the last boat. 


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 photo 03_GjendeLakeNorwayBesseggen_zps0cdc5568.jpg  photo 04_BesseggenHikingNorwayJotunheimen_zps3b938045.jpg

The hike starts innocent enough. The ascent is quick, but easy because there’s an even path and you’ll soon see the lake shining blue beneath you.


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But don’t worry, it will get harder soon enough. Or more fun, depending how you look at it. The clear, even path gets replaced with small rocks under your feet and before you know it, you’re not just walking, but using all your limbs to climb up bigger rocks and your eyes are locked to your feet making sure you don’t step onto a loose stone.

And dare I say it? These are the hikes I love the most. I love the inevitable sense of adventure it gives me, the feeling of adrenaline pulsing through my veins… and I am convinced that most (young) people wouldn’t think of hiking as a boring pastime if they were introduced to places like this. Is it scary sometimes? Probably. But the sense of accomplishment you get from achieving something that you weren’t sure you were physically able to do – that’s the best feeling ever. Sounds like I should get into rock climbing! How could you prefer to stay home and watch TV when the world offers so many stunning panoramas?


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One thing I love about hiking up mountains is how quickly you can gain height. I often wonder how I can only have hiked for half an hour and still feel like I’m hundred of meters above ground – talk about instant gratification!


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One of my favorite memories of that day was a Reindeer encounter. We met these two shortly before we reached the summit and I was so captivated that I could have spend hours watching them. I had no idea that there were Reindeer in the area (or any sorts of bigger animals for that matter), so this was a great surprise. I still hope to see a Moose in wilderness one day, though.


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And a big selfie for you all! Can you see that exhilarated, happy look on my face? That’s how I feel when I’m somewhere that blows my mind! I realize that it looks like I'm dressed in my winter clothes, but we were there in the beginning of August. In other words: If you're doing this hike, wear warm clothes. It will be cold and probably rainy as well.

The higher up you get, the rougher the landscape becomes until nothing is left, but rocks. This may not be the most beautiful landscape you'll ever see in your life, but to me it was certainly one of the most impressive things I have experienced in nature. Yes, it does feel a bit as if I'm walking on the moon, but maybe that's the appeal.

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We decided to turn around halfway through the hike because we got worried that we would miss the last ferry in Memurubu that goes some time in the afternoon. I’m a bit sad about that because I would have loved to have gone through the whole Besseggen experience.

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A quick word on orientation: The trail is marked with red T’s every couple of yards as in the picture above. It’s a pretty straightforward practice that is common all over Norway and you probably won’t lose your way.


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I used to believe that hiking up the mountain was the difficult thing, but I have changed my mind over the course of last year: It’s getting off the mountain that can be challenging. You often only realize the steepness of a path when you walk down and I frequently found myself think ‘How the heck did I get up here?’. Point in case: The picture above shows the trail. I know you probably can’t see it, but I assure you that you need to get down there. I promise it’s not as bad as it looks, though. ;)


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Hiking Besseggen can be challenging at times, but if you have some basic fitness you can probably do this. I mean I got up there without any problems and I can barely run a mile! Remember to wear proper Hiking Boots though and to bring warm clothes and a decent rain jacket. 

What's your favorite hiking/nature experience? I would love to know!


But now on to the fun stuff: I’m co-hosting Casey’s Fresh Face Friday Bloghop and I would love for you all the link up your blogs and hop around all other blogs for a bit and get to know tons of other bloggers! It’s all about connecting!




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6 comments

  1. Melanie, these photos are BEAUTIFUL! What a stunning adventure, definitely looks like it'd get both endorphins and some adrenaline pumping!

    ReplyDelete
  2. oh my goodness, REINDEER!? I think I would have died of happiness if I had seen a reindeer. Beautiful photos, I love hiking! No mountains to climb here, though. Guess I'll have to visit your side of the world for some mountains and some reindeer! haha.
    www.thisanalogadventure.com

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  3. Girl, do you speak enough languages already? I lived with a German family last year and LOVED hearing the language/experiencing the German culture SO much! Looking forward to following along with your adventures, and ps- your photographs are amazing. :)

    www.theadventuresofholly.wordpress.com

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  4. What an incredible hike! Love the reindeer encounter.

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  5. Love the pictures of the caribou, or reindeer in Europe. I lived in Alaska for 3 years and was able to see several in the wild there. They are so beautiful! I'm a huge outdoor enthusiast, and we were fortunate enough to have several outdoor adventures while we were there - lots of camping, backpacking, fishing, hiking. I really got in to photography during that time to document our adventures.

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  6. a) I just found your blog and I am a HUGE new fan!
    b) I am super, super-jealous that your mother hikes with you. Mine is too much of a princess.
    c) I am also jealous that you are hiking this beautiful trail! It's made its way onto my to-do list.

    http://lasaloperie.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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