It’s been four days since I left Trondheim and already the weekend feels like a distant memory.
The weekend itself was incredible. Relying mostly on luck we managed to see loads of what Trondheim has to offer – climbing the local peak, hiking across the forest, kayaking down the river in the dark, and sampling our fair share of the local dining options.
On top of all this the girls brought gin, loads of goodies (thanks to everyone who sent things) and were happy to have a night in on Saturday – complete with face masks and duvets. Normally I’d be one to opt for the night out, but given that a rest was well needed, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect evening.
As I left I was convinced the next few days would be psychologically tough and found myself feeling a little nervous when pitching up on the outskirts of town. Yes I was over 1700km into this journey, but there was (is) still an extremely long way to go.
Day 69 – Monday 10th October – Trondheim to Lundamo…
So Monday morning came around and so did I.
The after effects of too much gin coupled with the sad realisation that I was once again on my own made for a slow start to the day. Were it not for the fact I was pitched on someone’s front lawn, I probably would have wanted to lie there a little longer.
The promise of a hot coffee across the street however did eventually get me going, and I found myself plodding across to the petrol station before 9am.
Having arrived to find that the petrol station was in fact just a pump with a sign, a slightly more grumbly Sophie plodded on, following a bike route heading out of the city (apparently via the most convoluted route possible).
Two free coffees later (I bought a refillable cup back in Levanger – more on how this is the best system ever another time) I found myself on the outskirts of the city facing the first sign I’d seen pointing to Oslo. Yes it stated 20km more than I was expecting, and yes, it was still 527km away, but this was actually quite exciting. I was now properly on the road to Oslo. Which meant the end of Norway was in sight. Sort of.
This day saw me walking at a fairly slow pace – the added goodies (chocolate/gin/energy balls) making the bag heavy and a mental battle of how far it was to go not helping in the slightest. Around 5.30 I decided to make the 5km dash to a campsite before sunset – arriving in time to see the sky turn from blue to pink.
The campsite was closed but I thought I would try my luck anyway. The owners appeared and despite a huge language barrier I was offered a pitch for 200kr. Shocked at how expensive it was, and at a new found self confidence, I said no thanks to the pitch and carried on down the road, now in the dark.
About 15 minutes later this confidence was wearing off however, and I decided it would be best to knock on somebody’s door and ask to sleep in their garden. The first house I knocked at saw me coming through the window and decided to ignore the door (quite understandable). A few doors later however I did get an answer, and an old man smiled as he said, ‘aren’t you a little afraid of knocking on people’s doors?’… I hadn’t been, until he had said that with a grin on his face, but it was a little to late to dwell on that now so I simply smiled and explained that it was better than not finding a place to stay in this cold.
He led me through his house to a flat area behind his house (also referred to as a garden) and said I was welcome to camp here, or as he raised his arm and pointed down into the valley, he mentioned there was a bigger campsite down there where I could try my luck.
Feeling slightly rude for knocking on his door in the first place, and slightly concerned he was a psychopath, I thanked him for his help and wandered down to the campsite. It was cold and almost pitch black when it came to setting up the tent and I was glad to finally be able to crawl inside and sleep, even if it was notably colder than the previous night.
Day 70 to 72- Tuesday 11th October to Thursday 12th October – Lundamo to Driva (via Soknedal/Ulsberg/Oppdal)…
Apologies for lumping these days together again, however I fear that if I described each in turn then you would not be able to face reading all three, as in reality they were really very similar.
The only things that seemed to be changing as I progressed down the road was the scenery, which was becoming increasingly dramatic by the day, and the temperature, which was falling (also fairly dramatically) particularly during the night.
The towns were also changing slightly, losing the industrial feel of some of the coastal towns I have been through since Mo, and regaining a sense of character and charm. Stepping into Soknedal I instantly felt like I had walked into a community as opposed to crossing an urban boundary.
Soknedal is (according to a couple of signs I passed on the way in) the Salmon capital of Norway. This was like music to my ears and I decided there was no way I could walk through this town without sampling the local delicacy. I arrived at lunch time (perfect) and strolled into a café looking forward to some fresh salmon. It was here that I remember another change you face when leaving the cities and returning to rural Norway – the use of English tends to fizzle out. Now I’m not complaining about that at all – I love languages (even if I am appalling at speaking them) and I fully support this.
I also wasn’t going to be the person who walks in and asks for an English menu – so I did what any confident lone traveller would do. I found the menu board with a fish painted on it, and confident that I would enjoy salmon in any format, I ordered at random from the board. My only clue was the response of the waitress, who asked if I would like eggs with it, and I enthusiastically said yes. Salmon and eggs is one of my favourites. I couldn’t believe my luck. Satisfied with my order I went to sit with a cup of bottomless coffee (love this) and wait for my meal.
30 minutes later I was sat with a plate of steak and eggs in front of me. I chuckled to myself at my ineptitude before tucking in. It was still delicious. And it had cost me less than 100kr so I couldn’t help but be happy, even if I had failed miserably at sampling the local dish.
The day after the salmon failure I was due to reach ulsberg, which I now know is not so much a town as a road junction with a train station and a bus stop, along with three or four houses. I needed to pitch up soon but I didn’t have any water, so I decided to approach one of the houses to ask them to fill my bottle for me.
Luckily, I had chosen well (which with a 1 in 4 chance isn’t that unlikely I suppose) and the lady behind door one answered my knock, pulling the door back looking rather flustered and wearing just a top and a blanket tied round her waist. After explaining I was English she repeated and apology, talking fast about the fact she had been working.
I was clearly interrupting something and I felt bad immediately, apologising but asking if she could fill my bottle. She did so and offered me another bottle but I explained I couldn’t take on any more weight. She then asked about what I was doing, proclaiming in shock that I couldn’t possibly camp in this weather and that it is ‘awful’ … I stood and agreed with her for a few minutes, hoping that she might offer a sofa to sleep on, however unfortunately she didn’t, and so I left searching for a space to camp.
During the day here (so far) the sun works miracles, letting your body believe it is warm, even if it is still in low figures. The minute the sun goes down however, all warmth disappears in an instant, and you have to layer up immediately. I did so when leaving this ladies house and spotted a train station up on the hill – slightly away from the road, but the chill in the air inspired me to go and see if I could get in, and lock myself in a toilet for the night.
I reached the train station when the sun had well and truly disappeared, and found it was completely locked. Bugger. Still there was a nice spot of grass just outside, and though it was right by the railway, it made a nice spot to pitch up on and I was soon inside my tent – choosing to cook inside the porch to warm the place up a bit.
This it turns out was a bit of a mistake, as my stove seems to be developing a personality, one of an arsonist, and I nearly set the tent on fire. Inducing one of those moments where once the threat has gone you sit and curse yourself for a good 15 minutes, during which time my luxurious dinner of pasta with chicken cupasoup went cold.
The final day in this three day saga followed the same pattern as the previous two.
A lot of swearing whilst trying to fold up a tent which was frozen on both the outside and the inside (cold hands tend to make me swear a lot it seems), followed by a lot of running/walking to make it to where I need to be.
I passed through Oppdal on this day, stopping for coffee and to ask the locals what I was getting myself in for over the next couple of days. Turns out I had one big day of climbing ahead of me, and after that it is all down hill to Oslo.
Oppdal seems to be a charming little town. There are a number of ski runs dotted around and the centre seemed to have a buzz to it, with lots of people sitting outside (madness) chatting, laughing and just relaxing. I liked it here and I was sad that I had to move on so soon, however there was a need to get further up the road before stopping, as otherwise I would not make it to the top of the pass the next day.
6km later on I arrived at a campsite and spent my first night in a campsite toilet. The room I got was actually fairly spacious (for a loo), it had a shower, a toilet, a sink and a shelf for all my stuff. All in all it wasn’t too bad – like a miniature studio apartment – and I was just really glad to have a warm place to stay.
Safe to say I slept awfully. But I wasn’t cold, so it was still better than the past few nights. I awoke early, and made my way to the campsite kitchen to witness the mountains around me appear as the day dawned. I was half excited to get going and half nervous about the big day ahead.
But in terms of places to be suffering such conflict, the bottom of a beautiful frosty valley in Norway, with the dawn breaking around me, whilst being warm with a cup of hot coffee, was up there with the best, and it hit me once again that even though I was facing a tough and cold day, I was so lucky just to be out here.