Vassfaret: Slippery and Wet (Part 1)

Posted on 31 Juli 2012

Some month ago Joe asked on Twitter if somebody is interested to make a packrafting and hiking trip through the Hardangervidda this year. After some info mails I made the decision to take part at this interesting journey, because I wanted to know Joe after such a long time and because I wanted to make my first hike in Scandinavia to see all the splendid lakes, perfect trails, streams and snow covered mountains. Marco from Spain was the other one who was interested. Shortly after we made the decision for that trip we started planning our route. Joe organized the maps for that area and we made lots of online meetings via Wunderkit to plan everything. One important point on this trip was, that we shared as much as possible gear to keep the pack weight very low. So we had a Jetboil Sol with a 1.8l pot for the group and my BBU as backup. Maro and Joe  shared a Golite SL3 together. It is a bit too small for three person, so I decided to take my Locus Gear Khufu with me. That was the plan until two weeks before the tour. We still had a look at the weather forecast and the weather won’t get better. Joe has contacted several time the DNT office, becasuse they know more details of the area and finally they advised us on our plans, because there was too much snow and the level of the rivers were very high. That was a shock two weeks before our journey.What to do now??? Joe wrote a help thread on the Fjellforum and somebody recommend the Vassfaret area for a walk. After we had checked some infos of the Vassfaret area we have chosen it for our journey. Now it was time revise the gear lists. The Vassfaret area is a bit warmer so we did not need too much insulation gear. I only changed my shelter for the trip. Instead of my Locus Gear Khufu I put my HMG Echo 1 with inner in the pack, because the area is very boggy and we expected some mosquitos. Joe organized once more some maps for this area and we planned our trip after our arrival on Thurday evening.

That’s the view in Finse (1222m) out of the train. Finse would have been our arrival point, if we had made the Hardangervidda trip. The mountains are covered in snow and the lake is partially covered with ice.

To get to the Vassfaret we had to take the train from Bergen. After fours hours travelling and lots of nice impressions of Norway we reached Nesbyen our starting point. First we walked to the tourist information and bought a one week fishing license. After this we had a last snack and a coffee. We went back to the river Hallingdalselve and started with inflating our packrafts. The water was calm and the weather conditions were perfect. It wasn’t too warm on this Friday afternoon.

It was a relaxed paddling on the Hallingdalselve. The landscape wasn’t really nice because we paddled along the road. Paddling with a loaded pack was something new for me. After some hours in the boat and some small breaks we decided to get out of the boats to find a campsite in the woods along the river.

45min of walking and we found a spot between the trees. We put all our paddling gear on the trees to dry. Joe tried to find the right sleeping place where he could pitch the shelter.

Now it was time for dinner. The Jetboil is an amazing gas stove. 1,5l boiled after a short time and I also used my BBU to make some hot water for snacks.

Marco sitting in the camp. We enjoyed the time where we did not net the headnets.

But the rest was from short duration. The mosquitos came and gave us a foretaste what should expect us.

In the morning I was awakened by the drumming of the rain on my cuben shelter. I decided to snooze a bit until the rain stops. After an hour I got up, because the rest of the group was already awake.

After a fortifying breakfast we put all things in our packs and followed the trail. It stopped raining and we hoped to get some good weather on this day.

Following the trail is normally easy. But we could not find these marked trail which should start behind the railway. We tried several options and walked three hours around, but there was no trail. Disappointment spread. After a short snack break we decided to go back to the river and paddle a few kilometers until the next trail lead us into the mountains.

It started to rain when we reached the shoreline and it was still foggy.

Paddling under Spanish flag. On top the small Alpaca from Marco, the yellow one is my Yukon Yak and the other red one is the Denali Lama from Joe.

Getting into the boat is easy, but sitting in the boat and trying to get out the water from the shoes could be tricky.

Paddling on this morning was easier than on the day before, because we had a small flow. Before we left the the boats near Austvoll we could paddle some light whitewater. But before we paddled this section we stopped at the shoreline to scout this section, because the shit foggy weather hit everything and we could see the rapids in the last minute. No one of us wanted to capsize. We all took the safety route so nothing could happen, but next time I’ll be back for some whitewater rafting.

Finding the trail near Austvoll was not a problem. A big trucktrail was our way into the mountains. Meanwhile it was 5 o’clock in the afternoon and we had to walk some kilometeres with an ascent of round about 600m. I was a bit tired in the afternoon, but I tormented myself through the serpentine road. After a while we reached the first cabins which were next to the trail. There was no campground for us there.

A river crossing took us out of the surplus line and we found a campsite for the night. Getting wet feet was not a problem, because we were soaked wet from the bad weather during the day. The shelters were pitched very fast and we changed our wet clothes against the dry and warm sleeping clothes.

The men with the headnet mask. Protected against these annoying mosquitos and no-see-ums.

Before we went to bed we had a look into the map to find a alternative route for the next days, because the forecast was still bad.

Be awakened by the drumming of the the rain is ok, but getting up and get into wet cold clothes in the morning is not satisfactorily. But we had no chance. Nothing could dry during the night because it was raining the whole time.

Our destination today was to get into the mountains and then to some lakes for fishing and camping. The trucktrail was still present and we had to walk some time on it. It stopped raining, but we could not get dry. Either we were soaked wet buy the rain or by the sweat and our feet got wet from the river crssing early in the morning. A excellent start into a succesful day.

Some sheeps welcomed usin the morning but this was not a good sign. We had to find a small foot trail, but again the was still nothing. This time we could not go back or something else. It was bushwhacking time. Joe navigated our route with the help of the map and the compass. In that moment it started to rain.

The sheeps showed us the way for some minutes and ran ahead. Then we walked on our own. Finding a fixed point where we could orientate ourselves was a problem, because the farsightedness was limited. After a while we found a snowmobile track which brought us to another truck trail.

We stopped for some snacks and fresh water purified water, because we were in a sheep area. Now it was time to walk the last metres on that fucking truck trail near Lyftet. The promise to walk on small wild trails during the woods brought us quickly forward. In the meantime it started raining again and heavier than before. The rain lashed on our hoods. Everyone was annoyed buy the rain and we did not talk anything during this time. We passed large powerlines until we reached this small marked wild trail.

The bad mood was gone. You could see a smile in our faces. That was what we wanted. Small trails, streams, primeval woods flowers and legacies from moose. Could we see a moose on our trip? That would be fantastic. We climbed up into the mountains and crossed some small streams. On top of the Likkistefjellet (1000m) we had a view over the Vassfaret valley and some lakes. Everything was covered in clouds so we could not see very much, but what we could see was splendid.

Vassfaret valley.

On top we made another snack and photo stop. A slight breeze came across the top so my windshirt could dry.

The descent into the valley was initially perfect, but the trail got steeper and rockier. It was slippery and wet. My poles broke and I had no support on this rough ground. From now I had to be careful, because I did not want to rush or brake a leg.

Some ants had their home next to trail. This anthill was taller than Joe.

After a while we passed a big waterfall. The trail got steeper and steeper and finally we reached some meadows and huts. Time for a refreshment and photos.

Where is the trail? After our break we could not find the trail again. We only saw the cabins for our break, left the trail and could not find it again. Three guys in the vassfaret wilderness got trail blinded.

Part 2 Coming Soon

6 responses to Vassfaret: Slippery and Wet (Part 1)

  • Mensch, Benny, sieht nach ner geilen Tour aus!
    Vielleicht ein bisschen viel Regen… aber dafür hattet ihr bestimmt ne Menge Spaß!
    Das nächste Mal nicht ohne mich, gell!

  • Beautiful pictures. Good to hear that the apparently relentless rain didn’t kill the mood. Reading the ‚putting on wet and cold clothes in the morning‘ part made me cringe a bit.

  • John Abela sagt:

    This is perhaps the best hiking story blog I have read in a very long time!

  • […] the PhD socks Mini. I don’t know what was wrong with this brand new pair which I used on my Slippery and Wet trip in Norway. After 5 days of hiking in wet boots both socks had a big hole. Think it was a […]

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