Day 29. Garden to Kjeldebu

Posted by: James on January 29, 2009

Distance 15km | Time 5.5hrs | Ascent 520m | Descent 190m

Day 29. Garden and its many cabins in the morningIt seemed the forecast for the next days is great and the atmospheric pressure is going up and up. It stands at 1020mbar now. Given this I did not have to hurry, but wanted to be at Kjeldebu cabin in time to enjoy it. So I left at 0830.

The lady who ran the hut camp I stayed at, explained the route to me yesterday. Initially it went through the rest of Garden keeping beside the frozen river. It was a good skiers path and although icy was easy to ski along until the next leisure cabin village of Maurset. Here the skiers track crossed to the north of the arterial, but deserted, road.

Maurset was a village of about 500 leisure cabins built up round a downhill ski resort. Generally the cabins fitted in and many were with log walls with turf roofs. Some however were quite incongruous with the environs. The ski track then left this village and crossed to the south of the road again climbing adjacent to the road up to a pass.

Day 29. Typical Hardangervidda landscape of upland plateau in untypical weatherI made good time and was at the pass by 1100. Here I crossed to the north of the road for the last time and started across the plateau to Kjeldebu cabin. The ice of the last few days was soon replaced by soft drifted snow. My skis which had been noisily clattering across the icy surfaces of the last 2 days to my relief fell silent. My tendons tense from digging the skis edges into the icy surface could also relax.

The weather which was a bit grey when I started suddenly cleared up. I was soon in my element again pushing one foot in front on the other, gliding whenever possible, across the increasingly sunny plateau. At the end of Sandtjorna lake I came across a line of branches or twigs stuck into the snow. These “kvisters” are an ancient way of marking a route.

The kvisters are placed about 30 metres apart along a route. In the Easter time when ski touring is popular with many Norwegians these kvistered routes are set up between many cabins. They are a godsend as even in poor weather, up to a small storm, one can push on to the cabin if caught out. They have saved many lives in their time.

I liked this kvistered route because I knew they took the most sensible and easy way to Kjeldebu cabin. I could forget navigating and concentrate on the simply marvellous scenery. At last I was in skiing heaven. I have had many emails and comments where people have said how jealous they were. If only they knew the reality. However this afternoon they would have had good reason.

Day 29 Hardangerjokulen icecap en route to Kjeldebu cabinThe sun was out in full force and I was shedding clothes quickly as I rose and glided down across the glistening white landscape. To the north rose Hardangerjokulen, a large icecap some 10 km in diameter. Its smooth surface coming to an abrupt halt at its circumference with a line of cliffs and crags. Between these crags flowed the occasional glacier which petered out quickly on the surrounding plateau in a series of moraine ridges.

Day 29. Kjeldebu cabins near HardangerjokulenBefore I knew it I crested a rise and below me lay the cabins. It was only 1400 and absolutely marvellous to arrive with such good time. I leisurely lit the fire and melted water and then basked in the comfort of the self service cabins main room. It was too cold to go and bask in the sun outside.

It seems January has kept her best to last. Tomorrow is a very long day of some 30 km to Finse and it is perfect I have the best weather to do it in. I can now look forward to the wonderful green orange hues of a cold sunset and a cosy evening in front of the fire.

5 Responses to “Day 29. Garden to Kjeldebu”

  1. Mark Beaumont Says:

    It’s wonderful to read your diary and I’m delighted that the weather is improving.
    I’ve got £500 for you but it has to be channelled via a UK charity – I’m working on how to do it.
    I looked into ways to get self & kayak to Narvik in May but have given up.
    Best wishes,

  2. Deanna Campbell Says:

    Hi James,
    I am happy to hear that you have reached a point of smooth skiing. My heartfelt thanks for your extraordinary effort for the kids of Antahkarana. First Giving has already forwarded the first month’s portion of the funds you are raising and the kids are already enjoying the benefit. Our many, many thanks and good wishes to you on each leg of your journey. Best always, Deanna

  3. Uli Stock Says:

    Hi James,

    at first: it’s nice to follow your trip through Norway … sometimes I’m with you in my mind … the way from Kjeldebu to Finse with good wheather is just great … I made it with Christian and Thomas on my first walk through the norwegian mountains 1978 in the opposite way …

    Go further on and “let the good times roll” … 😉

    See you

  4. Paul Clough Says:

    Some inspiring reports from the frozen north!
    Congratulations on progress so far.

    Hope February brings clear skies,


  5. Camilla Wikström Says:

    I am following your progress with interest. What are your future plans? Which is your planned route through Jotunheimen? I follow you on my own map with all the huts and stations. It is amazing to see that you have walked for 33 days and so far always found a place to sleep indoors. Norway is fantastic! I am glad you have better weather now, so that you can see the lovely mountains, that you have described in your book (if you are passing Hurrungane). This winter we are going back to Olavsbu to possibly see the surroundings that we did not see anything of last time (2006). Good luck!