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Trip Day 3: Preikestolen

August 7, 2015

No time to waste, we have so much to do!

We got up about 6:00 and had the most wonderfulest of breakfasts–a smorgasbord redux, which is exactly how it’s done, with the addition of coffee. Happy happy.

This was going to be a hike-to-Preikestolen day–considered by most to be the premiere Norwegian tourist attraction. We decided we’d stay the night at Leslie and Svein’s cabin–about an hour and a half from their home in Sola–so we gathered a sack of clothes and sundries for an overnight.

Leaving Sola, we drove through some typical rolling farm and graze land:

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Norway is really just millions of waterways and islands. The coastline is incredibly jagged and fjords are just everywhere. This means you’re getting from one land mass to another via bridges and ferries.

Drove aboard a short ferry:

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With views in and out of stunning passages like this:

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With quaint waterfront neighborhoods like this everywhere:

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We arrived to the trailhead for Preikestolen at about 10:15, ready to hike. It was cloudy and misty and we were not sure what kind of view we might get, but decided to go for it anyway… us and a few hundred others! How often does one get to Norway?

For me, it was the first real hike since messing up my hip. Real up, real steps, real irregular terrain… this was kinda it… was hiking going to work? All the babying and body work and physical therapy and cortisone and heavy doses of ibuprofen over the last seven months was about this moment. I was incredibly nervous, but also like, well, it’s going to work or it isn’t. 

Never mind the two jammed nails I was in the process of losing after a benign hike in Yosemite the week before… for a few days, that was the more incapacitating pain. Sigh. (It did subside after a couple more days, however.)

Preikestolen Hike facts: 2.5 miles each way. You climb about 1100 feet. The trailhead is at an elevation of about 900 feet. At the top of Preikestolen, you will be 2000 feet above the water. 200,000 people do this hike each year!

I went slowly, favored my good side, and it worked okay. Not perfect, but good enough to get there. And back!

We were very much elbow to elbow with people all the way up, but that was fine. The trail was really pretty. This was early on–as the trail starts in forested sections–then we crossed this boardwalk-protected meadow…

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Then started breaking out into more granite-y areas…

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And finally reached the cliffs that border the Lysefjord… some 2000 feet below. Gasp!!

This is looking west….

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And this is looking east….

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Here are P & me, definitely more of a view than we’d expected!  And it got increasingly clearer…

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And here we are on the famous edge of Preikestolen… Pulpit Rock!

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For perspective, here are some other shots…

The corner we are sitting on above is this one–just to the left of all those people… dangling our legs, sorta, over that edge:

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We hiked up a hill a bit and got this view of the rock. Fabulous!

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A couple things to note: 1. There are a LOT of people up there!  2. There is a huge fissure that runs diagonally across the rock; one day, after a few (hundred? thousand?) more incidents of expanding ice, this thing is going to break off and tumble spectacularly into the Lysefjord. A real treat for all the cruise ships that sail beneath!

Here’s what it looks like when you’re having lunch atop and among the masses.. Leslie, Svein, Jim and Peter…

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It’s worth mentioning, neither the Norwegian government nor land owners (of which there are many) go out of their way to protect people. Largely, it’s on you. The country is one big nature thrill… high mountains, precarious edges everywhere, deep canyons, crazy exposure. You choose to venture to the top, the edge, whatever. People are expected to take responsibility for their own safety; the risks are obvious. Nobody expects to sue anybody for anybody’s stupidity. It is kind of refreshing.

It’s also worth mentioning that Norway has a THRIVING hiking culture. There are trail maps, trails, signposts, trailheads, huts EVERYWHERE. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s like one huge national park. The country is so huge, the network so extensive, you can hike places where you’ll never see a soul.

And then there’s Preikestolen!

I did not mind the people at all. I truly could have stayed up there for a few more hours exploring the area. Very fun scrambling thereabouts, even with all the tourists.

Here’s Peter on one such spot… (not as exposed as it would appear):

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We hiked down a slightly different way, rejoined the main trail (all trails are marked with a red painted T). Peter and Svein took a short cut on the way down…. a zipline!

Svein getting suited up:

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And Peter, disappearing into the mist…

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We all met at the bottom, got ice creams at the visitor center, then headed out. Crossed back via ferry, then on to our next stop, the far less-visited Manafossen.

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This is a 300 foot, very meaty waterfall! Definitely worth the short but steep hike up. The trail became a friction climb in places, so steep there were numerous places where cables were placed in the rock for support.

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Here’s a pic of the falls:

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The water is dropping down into a very deep narrow river canyon that is hard to appreciate in this picture. Quite a spectacular sight. That is not a trivial edge we are standing on! I have an iron grip on Peter.

We saw only a couple other folks during this entire hike.

We stopped at the Coop to stock up on some groceries for the next few meals… typical, grass-covered buildings.

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And then drove along some gorgeous, typical Norwegian country roads, up a valley whose name I’ve forgotten, to get to Svein and Leslie’s new cabin.

A fjord along the way… maybe the Frafjord?

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Some from-the-car shots….

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And then we arrived at their brand new cabin!

Had we driven straight from Sola to the cabin, without hiking and shopping stops, it’d have taken about 90 minutes. They will spend most weekends here, all year ’round. This is typical of many Norwegians. We passed hundreds and hundreds of cabins along the way.

Typical of many (not all) cabins, theirs is a walk-in, in their case, a half a mile. We managed to haul everything in one trip. (In the winter, they ski in–albeit from further away because the road is not plowed–and use a sled… and believe it or not, the snow makes the terrain easier to travel.) Here’s Svein with full wheelbarrow and backpack… down rickety steps, boardwalks, strategically placed planks, across wet and boggy meadows, up hills, through tall grass and brush… all of that!

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The cabin finally comes into view! It’s surrounded on two sides by lakes–one small, one large. New grass roof…

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Stepped inside and took in this view:

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Here’s from the loft above:

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First order of business: drinks on the back deck. It is about 8:00pm

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Here is the view:

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We ended up deciding to stay two nights because the weather improved so significantly (opening up the possibility of another hike the next day). In this time, we learned a lot about Norwegian cabin culture. So interesting.

WHATTA DAY!

These Norwegians know how to live.

2 Responses to “Trip Day 3: Preikestolen”

  1. Michael Ann Says:

    Enjoying your trip posts and photos so much!!


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