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I’ll Be Back Stavanger

By Phil 2015.08.02 in Norway

Well the Norwegian adventure has come to an end.

Had a great last night of our Norwegian adventure with a night out in Stavanger. Found a great bar called the Cardinal serving an excellent range of strong real ales, so we did our best to work our way through them all followed by a shot of Norway’s national spirit Aquavit. Ended up in some rock club of all places. A different kind of rock we are used to.

Woke with a bit of a hangover so decided to walk it off with a stroll around Stavanger. It was a stunning day and perfect for exploring this beautiful city as you can see from photo below.

We then headed back to where our adventure started over a week ago, Sola beach.

It’s been a cracking adventure covering over 1100km and had some amazing experiences, such as Trolltunga, Preikestolen, Hardangervidda, Rjukan, Uburen and meeting up with my Fjällräven Polar mate Jostein and Britt Victoria.

“I’ll be back Stavanger, you heard me say…”

Nee Bother

By Phil 2015.08.01 in Norway

Had a great night out in Stavanger City last night. Wandered around the streets in the sun and having a few drinks along the way. At one point we were even being followed by a drone as we walked along the harbour front. Not sure what that was about.

View from rooftop of our hotel

After food we headed back to Nåløyet bar where we had met Jostein and Britt Victoria on Thursday night and where they play cool music and also have the most knowledgable bar staff I have ever met.

As Jason was getting our last drinks of the night he noticed he had no Norwegian cash left in his wallet so had to pay with his card. He then asked the barman if anyone had handed in any cash as he thought he must have dropped it at the bar earlier. Luckily enough someone had handed in the 1000 NOK (£80) he had dropped along with his hotel room key.

This morning I woke with a pain in my knee so didn’t really fancy a hard hike today, plus the weather forecast was for rain most of the day so we decided to head along coast and to Jaeren beach.

On the way to Jaeren beach we had to pass the place where we got our hire car from, so we thought maybe we should pop in and tell them about our little accident.

We weren’t going to mention the car incident as we had hoped to fix it ourselves, but after visiting the local scrap yards and the Toyota dealers with no success, we decided to tell the hire car company about the smashed fog light after reversing into a rubbish bin at the car park at Trolltunga.

Anyway the girl at hire place said its was no bother and was pleased we were honest and mentioned the light damage and even gave us discount on the rental for being honest, though we will still have to pay the cost of repair.

We continued the drive along Jaeren beach stopping off at various points for photos. One part of the beach in particular was packed with surfers and kite surfers all dressed like ninjas. It was a stunning coastline just a shame about the weather

Tonight is our last night in Stavanger so may as well have a few beers to end a great week of adventure. I love Norway!

Skål

Flying Visit

By Phil 2015.07.31 in Norway

After nights of mountain huts and wild camps, it was only right we continued our accommodation standards and booked our final 3 nights in the Radisson in Stavanger. Though don’t think anything will live up to the 1000 star plus accommodation we experienced on Hardangervidda and Trolltunga.

A twist of fate provided me with the opportunity of meeting up with my Fjällräven Polar mate Jostein before he left Stavanger for Oslo, so we arranged to meet up for a few drinks at their local skydiving drinking den along with his friend Britt Victoria who taught me how to fly her plane last year when I visited Jostein. Despite Jostein’s attempts to get me drunk enough to agree to go skydiving this weekend with Britt Victoria and some friends in BV’s plane, I decided to decline their kind offer and wait until Jostein is around himself to do it with me. So I escaped skydiving yet again, for now! Although it was only flying visit reunion it was great to catch up with them both and tell them about our adventure so far.

Stavanger looks to be a great place as we wondered through the city. There was an American car convention and a huge cruise ship docked right in the middle of the harbour. Looking forward to exploring more of Stavanger over next few days as we use it as our base.

This morning we decided on a shorter hike to help us recover from our drinks last night and got the ferry over to Oanes and headed to do a hike up Uburen.

It’s been a stunning day and much hotter than previous days so a good job we didn’t have a big hike to do. Was also great not carrying as much rucksack weight as we have done all week.

The views from the summit of Uburen were once again stunning. I don’t think Norway do bad views. I have yet to see one in all my visits. I just love this country!

Time to get ready for a Friday night in Stavanger on a glorious summer night.

Farvel for nå

From Hobbits to Trolls

By Phil 2015.07.30 in Norway

After our Hardangervidda wild camp we assessed the weather situation for our next planned hike, which was going to be Gladhøpiggen, the highest mountain in Norway at 2469 metres. With snow forecast, strong possibility of poor visibility along with the 6 hour drive, we decided to abandon that plan and head to Odda a day early

On the way we spotted a roadside help yourself Bakeri, so we pulled over for refreshments. It was a really cool place with lots of tiny cabins scattered around. So we wandered into the Bakeri cabin to choose our freshly made cakes and had a coffee while swinging in the hammocks provided. The smell was amazing and reminded me of my Dad’s bakery the Bread Basket from a few years ago.

As we were about to leave and continue to Odda, we noticed you could hire Hobbit sized looking cabins, so we did. We managed to get the last one which slept 4 for only £31! The beauty of not having a plan and playing it by ear helps you find hidden gems like this. Though having to duck your head as you entered the cabin took some getting used to. Especially for Jason who banged his head a few times, which I thought he would have been used to coming from the Shires, Worcestershire to be precise.

After raiding the freshly made products from the Bakeri and a few coffees, we headed to our next destination of Odda, the start point for Trolltunga.

After doing Trolltunga the same time last year with Jostein, I was telling Jason all about that epic weekend adventure, though he did ask if we could avoid a repeat of last year and not having to spend night in rescue hut as me and Jostein did. You can read more on that adventure here.

We arrived at the at a packed car park at around 14:00, which is what I expected as a lot of people do it in a single day but we had planned on doing another wild camp up Trolltunga.

As we started making our way up the very steep ascent at the start, it wasn’t long before the day trippers were coming back down past us. We spoke to an American couple who told us to expect a lot of snow while they were standing dressed like they had come out of a Disney theme park. They had set off at 06:00 and were limping after injuring themselves. Which was hardly surprising given their attire.

The weather wasn’t great but still made for some stunning views. The big difference I did notice from last year was the amount of snow still around. There were many large patches which we had to cross.

As we got about 5km from the summit of Trolltunga we passed the rescue hut that me and Jostein had stayed in last year after walking 2 hours in the dark back to our abandoned rucksacks. We had planned to leave 2 gas canisters and 2 tins of baked beans as a thank you for me using he hut last year. However I was devastated! Someone had ransacked the rescue hut. The window glass was smashed, the front door ripped off its hinges and left on ground, the bunk inside totally removed, rubbish everywhere. It was disgusting. There is no way weather could have caused that damage.

After seeing the state of the rescue hut had put a bit of a dampener on my day. The weather also stated to change with clouds coming in and the wind picking up, but luckily the rain held off.

We finally arrived at Trolltunga and luckily for us there wasn’t a single person on it. Just a handful hanging around and one guy camped right next to it. So it was straight on the rock for our photo sessions.

A few others did turn up and one girl in particular brought her poodle dog. It was tiny and she took it on the rock on a lead and posed for photos and then took the lead off! I was honestly thinking the dog would try and look over the edge and go! Just glad nobody threw a stick or a ball! Would have been the craziest game of fetch I would have ever seen.

We then headed a little further past Trolltunga to find our camp spot. Once the tent was up, which Jason helped me with this time, it was time for dinner and more freeze dried meals. My chicken korma was delicious so will be changing my food order for Iceland trek to have more of those and Jason had brought a chocolate chip freeze dried desert for us to share. Not bad while camped on a mountain looking down on Trolltunga. I’ve had worse digs. The big plus of this was camp was no Mosquitos!!! Hurrah!

I decided to head back to Trolltunga from our tent at about 22:45 to see if anyone was around and what the sky was like. It was amazing. There was nobody there and although the sky wasn’t clear it was still stunning. Then a young German guy appeared from nowhere and asked me to take his photo on the rock. He offered to return to the favour but told him I’d had my photo session earlier. Plus the wind had picked up a bit so wasn’t taking any chances. 

Had a great night sleep after finally convincing ourselves that our chosen camp spot wouldn’t be hit by falling rocks from the massive sheer rock face towering above us. Was great having breakfast above Trolltunga looking at the snow capped mountains around us.

We were packed and ready to go by 08:00 so we headed back to Trolltunga for one final look before heading back down. Once again a great idea as there was nobody around so took a few more photos. Was great seeing it in a different light as the sun was shining and blue skies breaking through.

After a couple of hours we started passing the crowds heading up toward the rock. It was a constant Hey Hey, Hi Hi and even a Mon Mon thrown in as we passed fellow hikers. With the occasional Eastern European greeting which was hard to reply to so I threw in a few local Aye Aye’s in return.

It was a great hike down as the weather was a lot sunnier than yesterday. We finally arrived back at the car around 13:00 before heading to Stavanger for a well deserved few nights of luxury and more casual hiking. We are on holiday after all!

A Night at the Hardangervidda Hilton

By Phil 2015.07.28 in Norway

I decided to try and do our 30km wild camp hike with only my Kaipak 38 litre rucksack, which had to include tent and my sleeping bag, which as my usual hiking mates will tell you is a tough challenge for me, as I quite easily fill my 38 or 45 litre rucksacks on my normal day hikes with all my gadgets.

I decided I could probably sacrifice some usual essentials like my DSLR camera, tripod, solar panel charger, Bluetooth keyboard and my comfy pillow. Anyhow I managed it, though I’m now thinking I really need a 58 litre rucksack for future overnight wild camps.

Not long into the hike I noticed a wooden sign of a stick man hanging from a tree. It looked like a sign for the gents in the woods. This reminded me of my Fjällräven Polar mates Jostein and Phil’s “one sheet” sketch during our Polar adventure in 2014, which I re-told to Jason. As when you are out in the wild and you need to go to toilet, you really do only need one sheet. For more information on how it’s done, watch Jostein and Phil’s video demo below.

As we continued on our hike onto the Hardangervidda plateau I noticed the rocks looked a lot like the ones I saw when doing Trolltunga last year with Jostein. So I started telling Jason the story about that epic adventure where after getting slightly lost and miles away from Trolltunga we decided to abandon our rucksacks as they were slowing us down and Jostein covered them with his camouflage sleeping bag which was identical pattern to the rocks we were seeing. The camouflage was so good we couldn’t even see it. So we left a banana on a high rock next to it. Jason said that was a great plan as long as there were no monkeys hiking Trolltunga that day. Which he had a point.

Anyway back to the hike. It was a cracking day and by far the best weather we had experienced so far during our trip. It was so good it brought the mosquitos out in force. There were hoards of them and for some reasons they bloody love me! So it was time to try my new Fjällräven Marlin all one mosquito hat, which seemed to do the trick.

We had decided to take the route direct from the quirky mountain hut Fjellstue that we stayed in the night before rather than start from the more popular Rjukan along the road. This was a masterstroke as we had the hike to ourselves until it joined the path from Rjukan after about 12km. Even then we only saw about another 10 people throughout the day.

Along the way we kept picking out spots which we thought would be ideal for our nights wild camp. We were spoilt for choice to be honest, such a stunning place.

We continued to hike across the plateau before heading towards one of the spots we picked out earlier.

After I pitched the tent while Jason watched, we dove inside to avoid the mosquitos and rest. It had been a Hardanger of a day but a cracking one. 

To see how to pitch a tent in 30 seconds while your mate watches, checkout video below.

Camping on the Hardangervidda plateau is like staying at a Hilton. A very spacious room, surrounded by 100s of infinity pools, acres of bathroom space, very attentive staff (if mosquitos can be classed as staff), stunning sunsets and we even had coffee making facilities in the form of my Primus Lite+ stove and ground coffee press. All for free! I guess that’s the beauty of the outdoors and nature. It also has a hell of lot more than 5 stars! 

Jason below asking the mosquitos nicely to bugger off!

Woke early and had our fresh coffee fix before we headed back down towards Rjukan. On the way we decided to take a detour and take in the Sabortøstein route, which was a route used by the saboteurs allied forces during World War II who crept down from Hardangervidda to Vemork to blow up the heavy water factory occupied by the Nazis. It was a cracking alternative route and can’t imagine what it must have been like doing it during WW II in winter conditions. The film Hero’s of Telemark starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris tells the story of the saboteurs.

On another note. My theory that mosquitos bite in symmetry is still holding true as I have bites on each cheek (face cheeks not backside), on top of my head as if I had horns sticking out, on each shoulder and each forearm.

I Can’t Get No… Sat-Navigation…

By Phil 2015.07.26 in Norway

Yesterday we spent most of the day driving to get to our next destination of Rjukan at the edge of Hardangervidda National Park.

Rjukan is known to be the southernmost area where you can find the Arctic Fox. Which as many of you know I’m a bit of a fan. ;)

Despite the long journey, we were once again blessed with stunning scenery along the way and also the sight of lots of snow capped mountains. I was heaven! Not so much for Jason though as he isn’t as much of a fan of snow as I am.

During the journey Jason decided to play around with the car dashboard system and discovered it actually had a built in sat nav.

We had been using my own GPS device which I had bought Norwegian maps for when we didn’t need to. We had managed to connect our phones so we could play our music and listen to The Rolling Stones greatest hits as well as use the builtin bluetooth phone system but never thought of seeing if it had sat nav, something which is actually of use. Well thats 2 supposedly IT Consultants for you. Guess we should have RTFM (one for fellow techies ;) )

We stopped off at the Rjukan Information Centre to speak to a very helpful guy who helped us to plan our next few days. More on that in later posts. All being well they will be epic!

He also told us what kind of plants we could eat while out on the mountains should be get that desperate. “Eat these. They may taste bitter, but it’s like having 3 cans of Red Bull” he said. With my sleep history I won’t be having many of those before bedtime.

We arrived at a rather quirky mountain hut called Fjellstue with all mod cons as recommended by the guy at the info centre to spend the night and plan our epic hike for today and the rest of our trip. We now have a actual plan, which will be awesome if we can fit it all in.

Jason was happy with his bed in our quirky mountain hut as you can see below

You know the saying “When in Rome”. Well me and Jason have decided to dress like the locals on the rest of our adventure. Though it’s not made from G-1000 which I’m accustomed to.

 

Been up bright an early this morning and the sun is shining, ready for our 30km hike and wild camp in Hardangervidda.

Welcome

Welcome to my blog about hiking, trekking, Fjällräven Polar 2014, in fact anything where you require boots and the outdoors.

My name is Phil, and following my outdoor epiphany which started in the summer of 2012 I’m now hooked on everything outdoors. So far my biggest treks have included the 250km Cathar Way, the 170km Tour du Mont Blanc and best of all, winning 1st place to take part in the Fjällräven Polar in April 2014.

I plan to use this blog to write about all my adventures, which will include my personal goal of becoming a Munroist (completing all 282 Scottish Munro mountains), summer treks, weekends in the Lakes and many more.

I like to try and make my blog posts humorous so I hope you enjoy reading and that I can put a smile on people’s faces while showing you some amazing places.

If you have any questions about the blog or the places I'm writing about, don't hesitate to contact me on: phil@philyourboots.com

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