Sunday, September 12, 2010
This weekend we were suppose to hike in Jotunheimen National Park, but the weather turned nasty, and we chickened out. So off to the western fjords we went. The weather was just as miserable, but we spent most of our time indoors enjoying truly breathtaking scenery. The drive was an adventure. Route 50 travels through a high mountain plateau (Hallingskarvet) very reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, looming granite, dark brooding lakes and small alpine plants that are now in their fall colors. We expected Orcs to start lobbing boulders at us. From there the highway descends about 2000 meters to sea level in a scarily direct and narrow manner. In some places and without warning the road would narrow so only one car or large truck could pass. There were several ancient dark tunnels on the descent, and I started to believe in trolls. The view of the fjord below was fantastic and made it hard to concentrate on driving.
We stayed at Skahjem farm, in a converted sheep barn that sits in a narrow river valley surrounded by steep mountains. The sheep still live on the property, and they greeted us in typical ovine fashion (stares, a few bleets). Kiwi was intimidated by their lack of respect for her size. The accommodations were spotless, but the beds were hard and lumpy...
Saturday we took a state ferry from Flåm to Gudvangen, which took about 2 hours. Mid-September is the tail end of the fjords tourist season, so the boat was not too crowded. We were joined by several tour groups- one from India, another from Japan, and one from Wisconsin. The Japanese tourists were particularly taken with Kiwi, one gentleman took at least a dozen photos of her.
Despite the rain the scenery was breathtaking. Nærøyfjord is the narrowest fjord in the world, at one point only 250 meters across, the mountains above reach 1800 meters. UNESCO has recently granted this fjord and another farther north (Geirangerfjord) World Heritage Status. Nærøyfjord is an arm of the Sognefjord.
Sunday was also damp, and we went out for a short run in the ran alongside the fjords. Juliette noted that running was more enjoyable with such dramatic scenery! On the drive home we stopped in Borgund and briefly admired the stave church that was built in 1180. We can't wait to return to Western Norway.