Archive for February, 2009

Day 49. Tynset to Vingelen

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Distance 22km | Time 6hrs | Ascent 580m | Descent 320m

Day 49. The beautiful ski trail north of TynsetWhen I woke at 0700 it was still snowing gently. There was about 10 cm of new snow lying around. After breakfast I tidied up the cabin packed and set off at 0830.

I was told that there was a ski trail just on the opposite side of the street. I found it, and it went straight across the Glomma river under the bridge I crossed yesterday. The trail then went across a road, through some farms and across some fields to reach the pine forest to the east of the very Lutheran looking white church.

Once in the pine forest calm returned. Although it was only 2 km from Tynset it was another world. There were lots of capercallie on the edge of this forest.

The ski trail I was following went along an old road called Gammelallmannvegen, which was also a pilgrims route to the centre of Scandinavian christianity at Nidaros cathedral in Trondheim. It felt very apt I was folllowing a pilgrims route as I often felt this was a somewhat spiritual journey I was undertaking.

The trail could not have been better. It was well prepared and then the 10 cm of new snow had softened all the hard edges. On each side of the ski trail on this forest road were old pines. The road passed through these like an noble avenue. The trees on each side of this avenue were thick with snow on the needles and branches. It was a very lovely scene.

Day 49.A quiet cabin near Milskiftejorna tarnsThe trail climbed gently for a good 3 km and the pines gave way to birch as I ascended. Soon it flattened off and could get a good glide going in the tracks. Before long the birch woods opened up as I approached Milskiftejorna lake. These birch woods would have previously been kept down by animals in the summer months nibbling shoots. In this way the pastures would have been kept clear. Now with less summer farms the pastures are being recolonized by the birch again.

There were quite a few cabins and summer farms up here and many were in use still in the summer. I passed through imagining how idyllic it must have been here 50 years ago during the summer months, and probably still is to an extent here.

After the summer farms I was back into the birch woods. The snow was still falling. The flakes were large and they fell very slowly in still conditions. It was a postcard from a winters scene.

Before I knew it I was at Asvangane where the trail stopped and I was on a forest track again. I passed some more cabins as I descended to Vingelen.

Day 49.A solid horse by an old barn in VingelenVingelen was the antidote to the vulgarity of Savalen. There were numerous old farms here. The more I skiied into it rural heart the more quaint it became. It seemed a wonderfully preserved community. Most of the grand old farms had numerous buildings. Huge log barns and old houses with many windows dotted the landscape. Horses with massive hooves peered at me from barn doors or from the fields. Sledges for the horses were in farmyards. One horse and sledge passed me in the centre of the village, the lady driver under a mass of fur and reindeer skins.

There was another grand white Lutheran church here. It was surrounded by many more old farms. The farm I wanted lay in another cluster of old buildings to the north west of the church about a km away. I skied along the road up to this hamlet.

The hamlet when I arrived in it was an absolute pearl of historic buildings Indeed I have not seen anything as historic, grand and as well preserved as Vingelen since Heidal in Gudbrandsdalen. I later found out that Vingelen was one of 5 national park villages in Norway, so it has recognised status and protection.

Day 49.The old stabburs at Vingelgaard guest house are 200 years oldThe people who ran the Vingelgaard guest house on their old farm were extremely nice and helpful. Their farm was about 400 years old as many of the others in Vingelen were. They explained the most scenic route to Dalsbygda tomorrow and Roros the day after. He even arranged accommodation with his brother in Dalsbygda for me.

Day 49.The farmhouse at Vingelgaard guest house is 450 years oldThere was another person doing Norge Pa Langs in the vicinity. He was skiing with a friend and we agreed to meet here in Vingelen this morning. He started a few days before me and after some 50 days we both got to the guest house at the same time. He was going to camp with his friend but they both agreed to stay here also. No doubt there will be much talk about the experience so far with Andre Spica.

It had been a magnificent day, easily one of the best yet. I had a great ski in idyllic conditions and landscape and then ended up in a cultural gem.

Day 48. Bellsvikvangen to Tynset

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Distance 28km | Time 7.5hrs | Ascent 280m | Descent 670m

Day 48. The welcome summer farms at BellsvikvangenThe inside of the tent was covered in thick frost when I woke at 0700. It was impossible to move without a shower of it landing on my sleeping bag. It was minus 9 inside the tent and minus 16 outside.

It took ages to eat breakfast, then pack up the slightly damp sleeping bag and other equipment. Eventually everything was in the rucksack by 0900.

I continued down through the snow. Luckily it continued down as the snow was getting still deeper. Occasionally it was nearly up to my waist. At one point I disturbed about 5 female capercaille which were gathered in a grand old pine tree.

Soon I came across some barely visible buried old ski tracks. I followed them as they were firm under the loose cover of snow. They led me past a very idyllic cabin in the forest and then soon after I reached the old farms at Bellsvikvangen. There was a cleared road here as I suspected. I had only done a km so far but it had taken nearly an hour.

Bellsvikvangen was a collection of some 3 or 4 summer farms. All were solid old and rustic. They looked like they were still used in the summer. The logs used in the buildings were strongly spiralled pine logs.

From here the cleared road headed north. I followed it for 3 km and then headed east to the summer farm at Grasgodtvangen, which lay tranquail in the pines. From here it was an quick easy descent to Savalen lake. At the lake I got a clear view of the hotel a km to the north.

There are very few, if any, compliments I can say about Savalen hotel or resort. It was a downhill ski centre with a eyesore of an large hotel. The hotel had a spa and arranged father Christmas competitions. There was one very helpful guest however who knew the area well.

He said my intended stop of Vingelen was still 40 km and he thought the trails only went half way. This would mean a long slog in the forest with another night camping. A better option would be to ski down the road to Tynset and spend the night there. Then tomorrow take the ski trail from Tynset to Vingelen along the old pilgrims route. This is what I wanted to hear.

I set off down the road and managed to ski about 8 of the 12 km to Faset before the snow got too gritty and I had to walk. The descent was fast and took me past some wonderful all year farms, especially in Fadalen.

At Faset the skis went back on again as I could now follow the old road to Tynset. It was cleared but very quiet and covered in snow. It was a good 8 km with farms and agriculture on the south of the road and the pine forests to the north. Many of these all year farms were large and traditional with many beautiful buildings. To add to the idyllic setting snow was falling gently while smoke from wood fires rose quietly from the chimneys. The setting almost erased the vulgar memories of Savalen resort.

Day 48. A beautiful stabbur between Faset and TynsetOf the old buildings found on farms one of the most distinctive is the stabbur. A stabbur is a two storey log building, often taller than it is wide or long. The second storey is often wider than the first giving the building a top heavy appearance. The stabbur was used as a food store. As such it was well constructed and often build on mushroom shaped stone supports to deter vermin. Every area in Norway has unique stabburs. I photographed a fine one along this road.

Just before Tynset this old road came to an end but I could follow a snow covered cycle path all the way to the the bridge over the arterial river Glomma, the longest in Norway, to the campsite. I managed to get a very nice cabin in the campsite and did my chores like hang my tent and sleeping bag to dry, wash my clothes and write up 2 days of blogs. I also did some food shopping and gorged myself in the evening.

Tomorrow I will go to Vingelen where I have arranged accommodation. Everyone tells me that there are ski trails all the way there. I hope so as it is 25 km, which is too deep to wade through woods.

Today was really a bit of a dissapointing day. Savalen resort was an intrusion into my peace and quiet and skiing along a road make me feel a bit of a fraud. However there was no alternative. Hopefully the trails to Vingelen will redeem this.

Day 47. Grimsbu to Bellsvikvangen

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Distance 25km | Time 9.5hrs | Ascent 760m | Descent 610m

Day 47. A cabin at Gammelseter with Folldal valley beyondAfter a good breakfast I set off around 0830 after getting some good instructions as to the routes to Savalen. It was a bit overcast and there was the odd snowflake in the air which was relatively warm at minus 12.

Initially I followed the main road for 2 km until I got to the forest road which went up the hillside through the pine forest to the collection of summer farms called Gammelseter. This pleasant track was covered in snow so I put my skis on for the hours climb. Gammelseter was still in use during the summer months as the buildings testified.

At Gammelseter I came across signs of the recent dog sled race. 500 dogs had pulled 40 sleds and there was some debris left by the dogs. Underneath some 10 cm of new snow was a compact trail. I followed it up east of Bjornhoa and down into the birch trees again by a huge frozen marsh to the west of Einunnfjellet.

Crossing the marsh and heading north I passed some summer farms marooned and abandoned in the winter snows waiting for the spring to breath life back into them when the animals return. Soon I reached the Einunna river where there was a small dam at Markbulia.

I followed the dog trail north through birch and the upper pines to the quaint summer farm at Sivilhaugseter. Here the weather was getting very misty and the snow deep. I decided to abandon my original plan to go over Rodalshoa mountain, and head east at once and then cut over to the west part of Savalen lake. So I headed down through the forest to the leisure cabins at Klottvangen.

At Klottvangen I could find no trail heading east. Without a trail I would make no progress as the snow was thigh deep. There was a trail heading north west to my original route over Rodalshoa so I took it. It was a good trail and I made fast progress through the forest to the bare mountain side in thick mist. Here the trail just ended at Stortjorna tarn.

Out came the compass and the GPS as I felt my way through the mist. As always when the sight is poor progress was slow. However I made 4 km and started on the descent down the other side. I realized that the time was now 1700 and I would not make Savalen. I would have to camp.

I continued to descend through deep loose snow into the forest. The further I descended the deeper and looser the snow became. It would be almost impossible to ascend this route. I was up to my knees.

Day 47. The best campsite I could find in failing lightWith fading light I continued down into the pine forest. The snow was still deeper. I spotted a mound where the snow was blown off and some blueberry bushes poked their tops through. It looked a good place to camp.

I stamped the remaining snow with my skis and within half an hour, when it was completely dark, I was in my sleeping bag melting snow for supper. As it was still overcast it was not that cold at minus 9. I fell asleep soon after.

It had been an interesting but hard day. It was the right descision to camp rather than push on as it was still a good 6 km through unknown terrain. It was the first time I had been caught out and forced to camp but the conditions were too difficult to make anything but slow progress.

Day 46. Doralseter to Grimsbu

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Distance 34km | Time 8.5hrs | Ascent 300m | Descent 700m

Day 46. Sunrise over north RondaneWith the encouragement of the other 4 in the cabin we all got up at 0600. It was very dark outside and about minus 10. By the time I managed to do the washing up, breakfast and pack it was 0730 and I was ready to go. It was light now but the sun had yet to rise.

I skied down the tracks the other 4 had made yesterday for 3 km until they veered north. As I skied here the sun came up in a blaze of purple announcing its intentions for the day. I now followed the stony moorland for another 5 km.

There was very little snow here. Apparently the rainfall here is less than half a metre a year and it is the driest place in Norway.

Day 46. Pine forests and loose snow around StorkringlaI decided to take a chance as what snow there was supported my weight quite easily. I cut through the gap between the hills of Storkringla and Veslekringla. It would save an hour but if the snow became loose and deep it could cost me many hours. There were some very old ski tracks which though filled in and blown over were firm underneath.

The gamble paid off and I enjoyed a very fine ski through the upper pine forest. The light was superb and the green pines were almost luminous against the sunny white background. After a good hour of skiing in this high pine forest the old ski tracks became more obvious and plentiful. They led me down to a bridge over the river Grimsa, as it flowed through a gorge encrusted with ice formations.

Day 46. The farms and cabins of Fallet lie at the entrance to GrimsdalenAfter the bridge there was a short section of mature pine forest for a good km to reach the small farming settlement of Fallet. This was a very pretty hamlet. Ponies wandered in the snowy fields and all the barns, houses and cabins were adorned in reindeer and moose antlers.

It was a quick km to the main road. I looked for an alternative but there was none and the snow in the forest was prohibitively deep and soft. I therefore skied along the quiet main road for 4 km until the old wooden farm buildings at Sletti. Just beyond a road branched off to the right which I took.

Day 46. Beautiful skiing along forest tracks south of FolldalThis road was wonderful. It was partly cleared but there was an abundance of snow along it. It was lined by sunny pine forests. There were tracks of moose and fox every where. I stopped for lunch here and tried the self timer on the phone camera. After lunch I continued this on this wonderful forest track to the farming hamlet by the river Folla and Folldal church.

There were some people about and they told me the best way to Grimsbu was to cross the river and main road and head up the hill on the north side of the valley to near Moseng. Here I would find a prepared ski trail which contoured around the hill for 10 km before descending to Grimsbu. It sounded good advice.

The climb to Moseng was hot but only a half hour. Once there I found the wide ski trail. It was perfect. I followed it through a magnificent pine forest above old farms. To the south of the valley were the high rounded mountains of Avdal Vestfjell some 30 km away. It was a very idyllic run, but I noticed on the uphill sections I was tiring. Again moose and fox tracks were everywhere.

Folldal, which was the main valley I was now following, was once a copper mining centre. Operations continued here for a couple of centuries and the place is covered in museums from this pioneer period. All mining here has stopped now because it is not economic.

Day 46. Looking south across some farms in Folldal to the mountains of Avdal VestfjellAfter about 7 km contouring across the hillside the ski trail started a very pleasant and somewhat exhilarating descent down to Grimsbu for 3 km. I had the luxury of being able to snowplough at will to slow my speed round blind corners in the forest. Soon Grimsbu was before me.

Grimsbu was a bit of an eyesore really. It was a small rustic wooden motel with a caravan park. What it lacked in aesthetics it made up for in friendliness. I got a nice cheap room with shower and a fry up of chicken. What was really useful was the local knowledge about the route to Roros.

There had very recently been a famous dog sled race along the valley called the Femundslopet. 40 teams with about 12 dogs per team had just completed a 400 km race. I could follow their tracks and some prepared ski trails to the next overnighting place of Savalen tomorrow. Thereafter there was an abundance of trails through quiet hamlets north of the Glomma river all the way to Roros.

Today had been one of the best days of the tour so far. I think I am still luxuriating in the newness of the pine forests and the interesting things their in, including the quaint cabins and traditional farms.

Day 45. Rondvassbu to Doralseter

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Distance 16km | Time 4.5hrs | Ascent 180m | Descent 290m

Day 45. Rondvatnet lake lies squeezed between 2000 metre mountainsRondvassbu lodge off course provided a traditional breakfast including pickled herring. I had more than my fill and then set off at 0830. It was overcast with the odd snowflake and mist on the mountaintops. It was also windstill and only minus 6.

I went straight onto Rondvatnet lake and skiied the 4 km up the length of it. The lake is long and narrow lying in a deep slot between some of the biggest mountains in Rondane. Huge ice formations dripped from crags where streams had frozen since November.

At the north end of the lake there was some open water where the stream flowed in. Beyond it was a valley full of piles of moraine debris. The snow was sparse in places here, especially on the north facing side of these moraine mounds.

I weaved a path between the mounds, glancing over my shoulder from time to time to admire the magnificent north face of Rondeslottet. It was a 700 metre nearly vertical wall cut by ice filled gullies.

I soon reached a gentle watershed and started down to the Doralen valley through more mounds of snow covered morraine. Through the mist I could just make out the very wild valleys and corries on the north side of the Smiubelgen massif.

As I reached Doralen I skirted an area called Skranglhaugen. This remarkable area was recently a delta in an inland lake. The lake was caused by a glacier damming it further down the valley. Masses of sediment was deposited here. There were also a lot of ice bergs in this lake which grounded here. The sediments were deposited around the icebergs. When the glacial dam melted and the lake vanished, the icebergs remained trapped in the sediments. They melted slowly and where they lay the left a large depression in the sediments. Some 10,000 years later these depressions or craters form a large pockmarked area. As a skier I avoided it.

When I reached the Doralen river I had to cross it. It had carved a deep steep slot into the sediment from the surrounding terrace. It was difficult to drop into this steep slot down the 25 metre deep banks but nigh on impossible to climb out of it in knee deep snow on the other side. The whole crossing of 100 metres took nearly an hour.

Once up on the terrace on the north side it was a simple km ski through sparse birch to the self-service cabin. This area was sparse in snow as it lay in a rain shadow from virtually all directions.

I could see the exposed ground was thick with lichen and reindeer moss. Rondane is a very important area for wild reindeer and a major calving place in May.

The cabin was large but had some small bedrooms and a small easy to heat kitchen. It did not take long to get settled. As I was ensconsed 4 others arrived with 2 dogs. It was the first time I was not on my own in a self-service cabin for ages and I was grateful for the company. They were young but very knowledgable.

We chatted into the evening with the stove going and candles making an easy atmosphere. Eventually at 2200 I had to excuse myself to write this before I got too tired.

It had been a good day. Not many kilometres on the clock but I am set up for the long day tomorrow to Grimsbu. I have changed my plans and will now go along the north side of the Glomma river to Roros rather than the south side. This is because the snow in Avdal Vestfjell could be very deep and uncompacted, especially in the forests there.