Day 52. East Aursunden to Stugudal

Posted by: James on February 21, 2009

Distance 53km | Time 11hrs | Ascent 500m | Descent 500m

Day 52. Storeelvavollen summer farm lies on a large and somewhat bleak plateau covered in birch woodsAfter way too little sleep I got up a bit before 0800. Lars, Robin and the girls had breakfasted and were cleaning up. I decided not to take up Lars’ offer of the Helsport Rondane 3 tent, as although bigger and also lighter than mine it needed many more anchors and was also quite exposed to any side winds.

While they packed their cars I packed my tent away and prepared my rucksack Eventually at 0900 we were all ready to go. Them to Trondheim and me towards Stugudal. I waved them off. They had been very kind.

The weather was not at all good. There was heavy snow and due to this the visibility was only 200 metres. In addition there was a good breeze towards me. I put my balaclava on pulled my hood up, half closed my eyes and set forth.

There was no chance of going over the mountain to Kjolihytta cabin due to visibility and deep snow. There was also no chance of going into the woods. It would be a km an hour in knee deep snow. The road was the only option for progress. Indeed with some 10 cm of new snow on an icy base it was good. The traffic was minimal with a car every 10 minutes.

I made fast time in these conditions at about 5 km per hour. The skis were gliding well. I moved forward in a bubble of visibility that was at times just 100 metres. The smell of wood smoke heralding a farm or cabin long before I could see it.

There were quite a few farms along this stretch. Very few were old and most seemed to have been built in the last 50 years. The buildings were quite modern with sharp edges and pragmatic doors for large modern farm implements There was also a dearth of trees around the farms and this gave them a bleak appearance.

Between the farms were birch woods. There were no pines or spruce despite it being only 700 metres. Within the woods there were many leisure cabins, and the occasional older farm which abandoned in favour of newer buildings nearby.

I skiied from hamlet to hamlet along the lake for 4 hours until I reached the hamlet of Brynildsvollen in 19 km. Here there was a junction and another very snowy road headed north for 34 km to the village of Stugudal. The weather had improved slightly but it was still snowing and breezy. This second road climbed up to 1000 metres across a windswept plateau.

It was just 1300 so I paused a bit before starting a gradual climb through birch woods to Rein lake. Here I thought I could leave the road and head onto the lake. The reality was vastly different to the map which did not show the deep snow. Again it seemed the road was the only option. It was just 1400 now and the option of following the road all the way to Stugadal where there was a simple hotel seemed possible now. It would be dark when I arrived but with the snowy road to follow it would be easy enough.

I carried on past quite a bleak landscape of thinning birch woods and occasional simple summer farms. The birch woods eventually petered out on each side into scattered copses and then bare white mountain which looked grey an uninviting in today’s poor weather.

After the collection of summer farms at Storeelvavollen the road climbed out of the thinning birch woods and past a couple of clusters of leisure cabins onto the bare mountain. It was a tough climb for my weary thighs. It was more exposed here and the wind had blow a lot of the snow from the road leaving icy gravel to skirt around.

In fading light I skied down the other side back into the birch forest again. There was a car every 5 minutes now and I was concious I would be barely visible to drivers in the spindrift and dusk. I reached a ski trail which crossed the road and went down to Stugudal I could safely follow this in the quiet of the forest.

The ski trail was poorly marked and barely visible. It seemed a snow scooter had been recently and it had sunk into the snow considerably. I had hoped for a trail similar to that from Tyset to Vingelen and was disappointed. After falling twice in the near dark in just a half km I at last came to my senses before the point of no return. It was still 10 km to go and I was way too tired to ski on a poor trail in the dark. I could camp or return to the road and walk down it for 2 hours to the hotel. I retraced my ski in the difficult snow, took of my skis and put of my weak head torch.

The occasional traffic could not see me but I could see it from a considerable distance. Each time a car came I climbed the drifts at the side of the road and waited off the road until it passed. I must have done this 20 times until I reached the village at 2000. It would have been a nice ski down the road but I could not climb the steep banks at the side with my skis on. The wind on this section was now about force 4 and there was spindrift everywhere. I at last reached the village and congratulated myself I had the sense to turn back on the ski trail and was not floundering about in deep snow in the dark forest.

My reward for taking the road was soon apparent. Vektarstua hotel had a cheap room, buffet supper, powerful showers, as close a thing as you are going to get in rural Scandinavia to a pub and even a slightly redneck country dance band playing. I had a wonderful shower which stung my chaffed areas and gorged myself at the buffet. The country band was given a wide berth as I returned to my room and tried to write. 2 paragraphs later my eyes shut and I had to crash out at 2200.

It had been a very long day. My longest yet. I am sure this record will be broken in the coming months. This day also brought to an end the awkward river Glomma section from Folldal to Stugudal which was a kind of missing link between the Langfjellene mountains of south central Norway, which I followed for the first 6 weeks, and the Kjolen mountains along the Norwegian Swedish border which I will now follow for the next 6 weeks.

While this Glomma section largely followed ski trails, country lanes and occasional roads and was bereft of the high Scandinavian mountains, it passed through some wonderful cultural landscapes in a lovely winter setting. The weather had been poor but it was barely noticable and did not hinder me or my appreciation of the farming communities.

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