Four Seasons in Four Months – Part 10

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
– Confucius
Junkerdal Turistsenter – Umbukta Fjellstue
01 August 2017 – 07 August 2017
6 Days
148 km
TOTAL: 1496 km
01 August 2017 (Tuesday) — by the E1 path, about 4 km from Lønsdal
Distance: 15.6 km

After the wet night came the wet morning, so we ate breakfast in the tent. About 9 o’clock we went to the reception hoping it would be open. And there, a dead silence, everything was closed. We stood for a moment under the roof, trying to call the phone numbers of the information board, but nothing came of it. We walked around the park and when we met a gentleman pottering about the cabin, we explained our situation and asked about the possibility of doing laundry. The gentleman explained that the centre is closed for good, but he could give us his key to the laundry room with coin operated washer and dryer. He also exchanged the money for coins, and we were good to go. We probably not read the instructions properly (in Norwegian it was difficult after all:) and after 10 minutes the washing machine has turned itself off and did not want to start again. We put more coins in, setting it only for rinsing, but the washing machine stubbornly would not start. The time has passed, all coins used, and our laundry neither properly washed nor rinsed. We decided to rinse the laundry by hand in the sink and put it in the dryer, in order to dry it a bit. Marcin was rinsing and wringing, and I went for a run around the campsite trying to exchange the money, as we had already managed to use all the coins. After several tries, I managed to get some coins, and we could start the dryer. We stood there staring at it, but fortunately it sprung into life and began to whirl and dry. When we were sure that everything was working properly, we went to the kitchen and made our dinner, because it was already dinner time. To our surprise, the laundry was dry and it nicely refreshed.

Junkerdalen valley, Norway

Even though it was already 2pm, we decided to pack up and walk at least some distance. As if to confirm that was a good decision, it stopped raining. We gave the key back to gentleman, thanked him, and we were ready to continue our walk. From the beginning we were climbing uphill, and as the vegetation was wet, we walked in the rain jackets and trousers, which made walking bit difficult because we were heating ourselves from inside. After a short time we took a coffee break and once again discussed our food situation. We checked our location on the map and changed our plans a bit, deciding to shorten this stage, thus increasing the food rations, which we needed badly at the moment.

Later on the walk was nice, and although we started quite late today, we moved quite a distance. Shortly before we set up our camp, we met a group of hikers, including one Pole, walking across Norway. We talked for a moment, and then we went our ways. It got cold again, because we were a bit higher now.

02 August 2017 (Wednesday) — by the E1 path, about 6 km from Krukkistua
Distance: 31.6 km

We got up quite early and after breakfast we set off, gradually uphill. First we walked through the forest and marshes, and then across rumbles, stones, rocks and slush. It was a strenuous climb, it wasn’t steep, but it went slow and hard, and it was getting colder. Finally, we got to the saddle and although it was cold, we found a place near a big boulder, and we took a coffee break, having of course our down jackets on.

Few kilometres further on we started descending towards the valley and there was more and more meadows, and soon it was all green around and it got very warm. We went down to a big river, we crossed it over the bridge, and then following the path along the river, we began to look around for place for the tent. Our walking day got longer thanks to it, because as it often happens, when we are not looking, there are plenty of good spots, and when we are looking, we can’t find any good one. There was plenty of water and swamps around. Finally, we came to one of the tributaries, and we camped on the river bank.

03 August 2017 (Thursday) — by the E1 path, about 10 km from Bolna
Distance: 32.6 km

The morning was hard, especially for Marcin, who to tell the truth, had not had such a bad start of the day for a long time. From the morning we were going steeply uphill. Our overall exhaustion took its toll, lack of food, overall lack of power, as the food did not fully fill us. It all accumulated and when, to add to this, we had to put our rain coats on, it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. We took an early coffee break, or more like a mental break. It has just stopped raining. We talked a bit, drunk coffee, topped it off with chocolate and it got better.

Marcin having difficult moment, Norway

We came to a small hut Raudfjelldalskoia, where we stopped for dinner. A good boeuf stroganoff can put ones back on ones feet, after all. Several dozen meters behind the hut, we crossed the Arctic Circle. Later on it went much better, it was relatively flat and dry. We went down to Bolnastua, where we ate our second dinner, and because we were doing very well and the weather was good, we decided to carry on. We spotted on the map, that a few kilometres away there was a shelter, and we wanted to get there. Not really knowing what to expect from that kind of shelter, so we walked with some uncertainty, not knowing if there would be anything at all. Motivated by the prospect of spending a night in the shelter, we quickly arrived at the place marked on the map. However, there was no sign of the hut, we looked and searched, then we set more precise coordinates on the GPS, we got into the bushes and through the marshes we reached a sign that pointed to the shelter. It turned out that the shelter was a tiny mud hut, hidden somewhere in the middle of marshlands. We quickly decided that for this night we prefer our tent after all :)

04 August 2017 (Friday) — by the E1 path, Kvepsendalskoia
Distance: 30.4 km

After yesterday’s long day, we got up a bit later and after a big breakfast, we started our climb. All the time quite gently, but steadily uphill. Our pastime for the last few days was to look for shelters on the map and try to get there either for a coffee break or at dinner time. We also hoped that at some point we would find a shelter at the end of the day, where we could spend the night.

On the E1 path, Norway

Although we climbed to about 1000 meters, we did not feel like it, there was no snow around, only gentle slopes with grass. It was almost like walking on meadow, and the hill looked like in Wales. The wind was quite strong, and this only reminded us that we were high in the mountains. We climbed to 1200 meters above sea level and in the Corraskoia shelter we stopped for coffee. We used the Sun and the wind to dry our sleeping bags. They became fluffy and light again.

At lunchtime, we arrived at Virvasshytta, where we met a couple of anglers finishing their few days stay by the lake. We talked for a while about fishing, of course. In the evening we managed to get to Kvepsendalskoia shelter, and we were happy that finally we had the opportunity to spend the night in such a small hut. After a quick bath in the river, we have settled in the hut properly. Marcin started to light the fireplace. Unfortunately he did not notice, that there were candles on top of it, which quickly began to melt and soon the hut was filled with smoke from the burned wax. Instead of a quiet evening we were forced to clear the hut of the smoke. We had to ventilate and to try to get rid of the wax that was steaming all the time. In addition, we had to fight with mosquitoes, which happily flowed inside making use of the open windows and doors. In the end we managed to get it under control, and we could sit back and eat dinner in peace. All in all it was a good evening:)

05 August 2017 (Saturday) — by the E1 path, about 2 km from Sauvasshytta
Distance: 24.3 km

Contrary to our hopes, the night in the hut was not the most comfortable. We both could not find good sleeping position on wooden benches, and we woke up early after little sleep. In the morning we could not warm ourselves for walking, it was hard for us to lift our legs, and to add to it the mosquitoes were attacking us mercilessly. Therefore, it took us a little longer than we thought, to walk the next part. At the lunch break it started to rain, and we had to rush to hide ourselves under our bivvy shelter to finish the dinner. We packed up and moved on in the rain. As the path led through the forest, bushes and tall grass, we took all the water of it, and soon we were all wet. Meanwhile, the cloud poured out down and went away to be nuisance to someone else. We thought that the difficulty of the afternoon section would be in big ascent, but it turned out to be the quality of the path — bushes, marshes, stones and the water. We slowly moved forward. In the evening we started climbing to the pass and the bushes and marshes gave way to snow and slush. Our boots were wet all throughout and it already got colder. On the pass, we were welcomed by a stunning view of the high Norwegian mountains, which was worth every minute of this laborious climb. The visibility was fantastic. We did not walk much further that evening, we found a place for a tent and managed to set it up before the first drops of rain. We could feel the coldness, after all we were at about 900 meters above sea level. It had its advantages, because so high there were no mosquitoes, especially if there was so much snow around.

06 August 2017 (Sunday) — Umbukta Fjellstue
Distance: 13.4 km

We woke up to a beautiful morning and even better view. It was so good that we were eager to get up and walk. We started very well and quickly we got to Sauvasshytta hut, where we chatted for while with people that stayed there overnight. A Norwegian family of four, including two children (5 and 6 years old) stayed in the hut. Later in the day we met them few more times. The path was very well-marked and of good quality, and when we started to descend, the snow was giving way to more and more greenery. We stopped for coffee by the river and this time we had our bivvy shelter ready. We prepared our seating area under the rock, because we saw dark clouds on the horizon. As soon as the first drops of the rain fell on our heads we quickly hid ourselves under the bivvy shelter, and we finished our coffee. It turned out that we found a good shelter, as not only it poured down, but also there were some thunders and lightings. We waited patiently for the rain to stop.

When we began to pack up, the family which we met before, caught up with us. We watched with awe how quickly they were crossing the river. First, the father crossed on his own, left his backpack on the other side, came back, carried his first child piggyback, came back, carried his other child piggyback to other side, then helped his wife to cross, and swiftly they moved on. It was a quick and organized action. After a few kilometres we caught up with them, and then we talked to them about family walking, fishing (because they had fishing rods with them, obviously) and about everything else. Then we took the lead and although we walked quite fast, we had them in sight almost all the time. We were full of admiration to the whole family. Later on we met them again, in the mountain hut.

View at Umbukta lake, Norway

In the early afternoon we arrived at Umbukta Fjellstue and after a short conversation we were given a small hut by the lake in the price of a tent. We paid for two nights straight away, because we planned a longer stop to organize more supplies. We sorted ourselves out and went to a restaurant in the hut, to treat ourselves with goodness they offered. First, while waiting for dinner, we ate dessert, then the main course that filled our tummies. In the late afternoon we did our laundry, unfortunately by hand, because they had no washing machine, but there was a good place where we could dry everything nicely. We spent the evening drinking coffee, to which we were given free waffles and sweet rolls. In peace, we could discuss the logistics of the next stage.

07 August 2017 (Monday) — Umbukta Fjellstue
Distance: 0.0 km

We slept long and soundly laying on soft mattresses and in peace we ate breakfast in our hut. The previous day we managed to agree on and arrange transport to the city. With a gentlemen working in the mountain hut, we went to Mo and Rana, about 35 km away. He had some errands to deal with and also some post and shopping to pick up. He left us at the shopping centre, and we had 2 hours to do our shopping. As we had our shopping list ready, we quickly run through the supermarket, putting the items from the list into the basket. Then quickly we went to the sports store and several minutes later we left with a fishing rod and two pairs of shoes. Never before we bought shoes so quickly, and that, as it turned out later, was a very good choice. We spend the rest of the day packing, sorting, repacking and packing. We made a delicious dinner, and then we had the evening for ourselves. Marcin tested his new fishing equipment, and I made some notes in our travel journal.

About the simplicity of things — like simple cheese and tomato sandwiches, they taste great, if for long time the only thing you have eaten was crisp Wasa bread; the simple things gain in value when you do not have access to them for a long time.