After a small detour I entered the Jotunheimen National Park area and decided I would walk the Bessegen Ridge, A famous -you guessed it- ridge hike that runs all the way along a large lake.
It was a beautiful sunny day, blue skies and barely any wind. Quite rare conditions for Norway. So I thought that was a perfect moment to spend a couple hours video calling with my brother and his girlfriend. So in the late afternoon I decided to drive up to the trail-head and have some dinner before starting my hike.
At the trail-head there is a parking lot for both cars and campers for which they charge 250NOK (25EUR) per day! Since I was planning on hiking 2-3 days I decided I am too Dutch for this and drove on to the first free parking spot available, just ~1km further up the hill. So loaded up with a beefy backpack and my folding bike I sailed down to the parking lot and locked my bike to a tree. I just saved myself 50+ euros.
After these delays I was ready to start the hike somewhere between 18:00 and 19:00. “Why so late, are you nuts!?”. Well, it’s not like there’s much of a difference between day and night there, remember. So I didn’t have to worry about a loss of daylight whilst up there. The only danger left was probably bears trying to eat me.
Contrary to what most people do I started to walk first and take the ferry back from Gjendesheim the last (of 2) stops. Most people take the ferry to the first stop which is Memurubu and then walk back to the trail-head. So while walking I would mostly come across batches of humans that came from the same ferry moving the opposite direction as me. Once they passed I’d be pretty much alone again.
After a steep start moving uphill I reached the ‘top’ of the ridge and from there on the walk was pretty flat until right before Memurubu. After a few hours of hiking and taking a moment here and there, and there, and there to take in the amazing views. As I arrived at the highest point overlooking two lakes I thought to myself: “Why not stay here?”. So that’s just what I did because the weather forecasts were good, no rain and barely any wind and good temperatures.
This place has been hands down the best view I’ve ever slept with. It was so quiet and felt deeply peaceful. Just being there, cooking a meal, prepping a coffee and slowly winding down to sleep. I walked roughly 7km with 700m in elevation gain.
After quite a relaxed night in my tent I woke up around 9 and slowly got up and made myself some breakfast: oats with raisins and cinnamon and of course water. I was in no rush as I had until 5pm the next day to get to the end of the lake, which is about 17km of hiking left and 1500m-ish in elevation changes.
I made my way to in-between those lakes in the pictures above. I was chatting with an old colleague (Yay, 4G!) and we even had a call over an IT problem. You can’t lock me inside an office because most of what I need is already in my head anyways ;). Moving on I entered the true wilderness where few men (and even fewer IT-people) dare to walk: places without cell-signal. But I can tell you I survived, seemingly unharmed.
After a couple hours I reached Murumburu (I know, this placename sounds a bit like trying to pronounce a city while eating a sandwich to fast). There’s a cabin/hotel there that also sells some great coffee which is a warm welcome after a hike of 14km and 1700m elevation gain and loss. After enjoying this coffee I walked to the lake where there was a pebble beach that was part part of a riverbed. I decided to go in to freshen up. And fresh it it, because most of the water is fresh melting-water from nearby glaciers. It gets better after the tingling feeling of the whole body fades a bit. Then when you get out, you feel GREAT!
I still had plenty of time left so most of the afternoon I enjoyed the sun on my face lying on the grass. Not complaining…
When the sun started to get blocked by clouds I took it as a sign to move on. Hiking up the next part of the hike (the second ridge) and finding a camp-spot somewhere up there. I had roughly 24h left for this 10km ~1000m elevation gain/loss section. I was mostly taking in the views on this part:
I basically walked until I would find a suiting spot that was somewhat protected from the elements and ended up next to a small lake that seemed to house more mosquitos than water. But it was a pretty place nonetheless. Surrounded by glaciated peaks and lots of snow.
Last stretch! On to Gjendebu, where I would catch my ferry back to the trail-head. Just before starting my descent down from the platform I met the last of the very few signs, as 99% of the trail is just following the red T’s. This descend was very much as steep as it looks in the picture down below. I didn’t have much of a chance to take pictures as I needed all my focus not to slide down the bare rock when descending using several chains. Maybe without a backpack it wouldn’t have been too bad but keeping your stability with 10-15kg on your back takes a bit more effort.
When I made it down and stepped foot in Gjendebu it started to rain, so it was a perfect moment to go inside and rest for a bit. I asked my inner voice if I deserved a beer. I did, because I saved so much money on parking and did a good job hiking. So this 9 Euro costing beer was enjoyed to the fullest.
The ferry was still an hour wait and to kill the time I went outside to sit down at a (covered) picnic table and made some soup. I wasn’t alone as a Norwegian family with kids aged ~1 and ~5 was also there prepping some food. We talked a bit and then the oldest girl -in her best English- offered me one of the pancakes they were making. Of course I couldn’t say no to that.
I really appreciate how they as a young family take the extra effort to bring out their kids to places like this while they could’ve just done the ‘made for kids’ activities in the area.
Sorry this was a bit of a long one. Writing these blogs isn’t always as easy and can be a bit intimidating at times. But it’s worth the effort, thank you for reading 😉