Day 31: Jostedal, Norway.
That waterfall we slept near last night? Yeah it was loud. Very loud. Thankfully the sun actually sets now and we finally have some darkness after 3 weeks of constant daylight. Makes sleeping, or at least getting to sleep, a little easier.
Norway is a funny country. On paper (or the map) distances between places don’t look too far. Oh how deceiving and deceptive.
Today we only had a couple of hundred KM’s to get to where we wanted to get too but I think in the end it took us 3-4 hours to get there.
Once we’d had our coffees, a quick morning shower AND giving Doris a once over after her ordeal yesterday. We were good to go and on the road.
We’ve got a stave church and a glacier on todays agenda, but we might only be able to do one of them as they’re on opposite sides of the fjord!
Josteldalsbreen Glacier, Europes Biggest.
The drive was a relatively uneventful one. A part from more hair pin bends, more elevation, passing a high (1750m) mountain pass with peaks covered in snow and dodging the odd sheep on the roads. After a couple of pit stops, mainly to replenish our hunger but also to give Doris some time to breathe, we made it.
I didn’t initially know it was Mainland Europes biggest glacier, but wow. When we pulled in you could see it’s sheer size and and beauty from 5 miles away.
Having not done much hiking recently we decided to leave Doris at the visitor centre and hike the 5 miles to the glaciers mouth. It turns out it might have been 6 miles, making it a 12 mile round trip.
The trail was one made of small rocks and was slightly uneven underfoot but still was nice to be out in the trees again. Although I couldn’t take my eyes off of my feet, in fear I’d fall over a small stone. That made reindeer and moose spotting a little more difficult!
The hike itself was fairly easy. Flat, without much of a challenge. The only challenge being the flies and the slight rain, but if that’s my only complaint I say it’s a good day!
We arrived at the official car park and it was a further 2.5km to the actual glacier. Basically they’ve created a toll road (£6) to stop as much traffic coming through. So we hiked to the car park where there was a small boat that would take you right to the glacier itself, for a fee of course. WE decided against it and added the 2.5KM onto our hike and got onto the old glacier rocks and closer to the glacier itself.
The river flowing from the glacier is the most green I’ve ever seen. It’s mesmerising and I often found myself stopping and wondering if it’s actually real. Surely water THIS emerald cannot be real?
As we got closer to the glacier the river flowed with more force, the rocks once covered by the glacier itself got more slippery and the ponchos worn by tourists flapped louder and louder in the wind.
For safety reasons you obviously cannot go to the glacier itself without a guide. For fear that ice will move, ice will fall, river water will rise very very quickly and for protection of the glacier too, of course.
But even from the safe distance we were stood this thing is an absolute beast. It’s sheer size and volume is intimidating and the sound of the cascading water down the rocks is enough to give you goosebumps. Seeing this thing in person was awesome and it brought back memories of being in New Zealand and hiking the Fox Glacier.
It’s such a shame that these magnificent natural wonders are disappearing all over the globe. For Ryan’s sake (My 11 YO Nephew) I can only hope these incredible wonders of the world are still around when he’s old enough to go exploring for himself.
The hike back we chose to take the road instead of the trail after spending 6/7 miles on rock and uneven terrain, we wanted to give our feet some rest. However, I absolutely hate walking on roads so that walk back felt like the longest walk in history, ha!
Tomorrow we’ll visit the stave church we missed today as it turns out you can cross by boat on foot instead of having to cross with Doris. Winner!