Norway Summer - Day 2 : Galdhoppigen
At night it rained but I slept extremely well. When I woke up at 4:45 it was fortunately dry. Of course I arrived at the bus stop way too early. I spoke a bit with the busdriver before starting the 18 km hike to the nearest mountain cabin. According to the driver I might see some cars which could take me along. Walking went pretty fast, although it was mostly uphill. Of course there weren't many cars at 7 in the morning.
It took 3,5 hours to walk the 18 km to the cabin, which included nearly a kilometer of elevation difference. That wasn't bad considering I was also carrying a heavy backpack. The cabin was huge, it had a campsite and 200 beds. I had second breakfast and took a long break. I was planning to climb Galdhoppigen, at 2469 meters the highest mountain in Scandinavia. According to my map it would take 4 hours to get to the top and another 2,5 to get down. As it was only 11 o'clock I would easily be able to do that the same day. The climb started right away and there were many other people. The first part was nice and the weather was good, but soon it started to get colder and rainy. The higher I got, the thicker the fog became and later it even started to snow and hail.
Climbing went pretty well, after 2 hours I was already 2/3 of the way up. The last section quickly got tough and I started to feel tired and cold. It was rough to walk uphill through the snow. The last hour I couldn't see more than a few meters ahead. Fortunately the route was well marked and I carried my GPS. Now and then I passed children or elderly people. Norwegians really are a lot tougher than the average Dutch person. Ten minutes before the top I wanted to take a break, as I was exhausted and really needed to eat something. A woman came over to ask why I stopped so close to the top, several people had also looked confused as to why I was carrying my huge backpack uphill. Eventually I reached the summit after 3 hours and 50 minutes. Online I had seen beautiful views, but now I almost walked into the cabin at the top because the fog was so dense. Inside it was reasonably warm and they sold hot tea. It was time for a break.
It was really nice to feel warm again, even though I spent nearly 10 euros on drinks. A German couple sat down next to me. They had hiked a lot during their lives and were camping with their mobile home next to the cabin at the foot of the mountain. They invited me over for a drink tonight. I accepted the offer and a bit later starter the descent. The actual summit of the mountain lay just behind the cabin but as I couldn't see anything I didn't bother to go there. Walking down went pretty fast in the beginning. Most Norwegians carried a spoon shaped piece of plastic which they used to slide down large sections of snow. As I was wearing waterproof pants I just sat down and did the same. After the first hour I felt really tired and cold. One of my knees also hurt. Eventually it took me 3,5 hours to get down, nearly as long as the walk up. I had planned to walk some more, but instead camped near the cabin. The showers were reasonable, there were garden hoses in open stalls, but at least the water was warm.
I had woken up at 5 o'clock and walked 30-35 kilometers including a 2100m climb and 1000m descend, all while carrying a 20+ kg backpack. That probably was a bit too much, but at least now I knew how far I could push myself. After pitching my tent and eating dinner I visited the German couple. They had tea and music and told me some of their hike stories. The man asked why I had climbed the mountain with my heavy backpack, instead of leaving it behind in the cabin. Honestly, I hadn't even thought of that and in hindsight it would've been better, but also less of a challenge.
Before going to Jotunheimen the couple had visited a different area of Norway where they had met a hiker who had fallen in a river. All his clothes and his sleeping bag had gotten wet, so he got hypothermia. He had used his stove to dry his clothes but couldn't call anyone because his phone was filled with water. Eventually he had made it to a village and asked the German couple to lent their phone. It turned out that the police had also been searching for him because he had left his keys in his car. Someone had thrown them inside and called the police.
I don't know if it is good preparation or just luck, but I was glad something like that hadn't yet happened to me. The German man told me that when he was young he had been hiking in Scotland with some friends and they had brought way too little food. After wandering through the wilderness for 2 days they had run out and discovered that the 'villages' on their map were just small abandoned farms. They each only had only a chocolate bar left and decided not to eat it until they were literally starving. Eventually they had walked for another 2 days without eating before reaching a store, and everyone still had their chocolate bar.
I need to get some more stories like that as well, but preferably without starving. Around 22:00 o'clock it was time to go to bed.