Executing a google image search for Norway and/or fjord, retrieves two quintessential fjordy images. One of an impressive flat rock overlooking a fjord, and the other of a boulder, often with people doing stupid stuff on it, wedged between two cliff faces also overlooking a fjord.
Both images are taken from the Lysefjord, east of Stavanger. The Lysefjord is unusual in that it is not only an impressive fjord in its own right at 42km in length, and 500m deep, but it is a fjord, off another fjord. It is characterised by towering steep pale cliffs the entire length, and comes complete with its own micro climate (read: If it’s sunny in Stavanger, it probably rains in the Lysefjord, if it rains in Stavanger it probably rains in the Lysefjord).
The fjord is to Norway, what the Tongariro Crossing is to New Zealand. No visit to Norway is complete without trekking to the two famous sights, and so we too had to check them out.
However, we decided to take the off-the-beaten track route to avoid the tourist stampede.
Our carefully planned tramp had us starting at a near abandoned village, Flørli, half way up the fjord. Here we met the last residing local, who proceeded to give us an in depth tour of the disbandoned power station there. (The Norwegian government decommisioned the power station in 1999, in favour of building a bigger and completely automated and remotely controlled station embedded deep inside the mountain some 50m to the left of the old plant).
We learned of working life in the old power plant, and had the opportunity to view the control room. A massive room with complicated dials resembling a spy movie from the 60s. It’s humbling to realise that today my mini netbook would be up to the same task.
After completing the tour, the lovely local man farewelled us with two souvenir T-shirts (which we would later become very grateful for), and we started our tramp up a steep ascent on an old rickety staircase following the now obsolete water pipeline.
At 4444 steps, the staircase is apparently the longest in the world.
We embarked the exhausting and sometimes daunting two hour stair climb, finally arriving at the top, in full embrace of the Lysefjord micro climate.
The scenery is impressive – drmatic, remote, and rugged land, peppered with mountain lakes and patches of snow. Sheep graze these territories, and are equipped with locator beacons in the form of big brass bells. Presumably the sheep are smart enough to escape the snow, and head down the hills in the winter, where they will be herded to warmth by the local farmers.
Tramping along this vast open area, we had the land all to ourselves, completely silent, except for the occasional oddly homely ringing of sheep bells. It’s hard not to get philosophical, but unfortunately I have nothing meaningful to impart here.
Thor blessed us most of the way.
We were on our own the entire tramp, until we passed the final hill, where suddenly our trail was marked by hundreds of tourists, reminiscent of our Matemateonga tramp to the Bridge to Nowhere.
Kerag is an impressive 1000m vertical cliff overlooking Lysefjord, and also popular with base jumpers for whom several it has been the ultimate terminal leap.
This is what photos of Kjeragbolten are supposed to look like:
Here is my attempt:
I tried to convince Brian to scramble onto the boulder, but he muttered something about gale force wind, heavy rain, and having to scramble across a thin, steep ledge, over a 1000m drop.
Photos taken, we joined our fellow hikers on the 2 1/2 hour trek back to the village. The track was demanding and the weather worsened.
As we reached the track end, we were cold, hungry, and soaked. It was apparent our NZ tramping gear was not up to the task of withstanding the Norwegian climate.
We acknowledged defeat, and took a passing bus back to Stavanger in search of warmth, dryness, and a yummy bed.
It was time for a new plan.
All photos below: