Day 5: To the top of the fjords
I learned about a hike up a 3,000 ft mountain behind the hotel at Balestrand. The trailhead was pretty much at sea level so I had to ascend the full 3000ft. The mountain is called Raudmelen (the peak on the left).
My mission was to go to the top, take photos, and descend all the way down. From hotel to hotel roundtrip. The challenge was to return before breakfast was over; 10 am. However, I couldn’t start until there was sufficient sunlight in order to see where I was stepping in the forest below. So 4 hours tops. I spoke to a man who completed the hike 2 days ago and he told me it takes 6 hours. Ugh, I hope he was wrong.
Off I went into the unknown, solo, with a backpack full of extra (unused) layers, and one bottle of water (should’ve brought 2). It took about 45-60 minutes to get above the tree line and another 45-60 minutes to ascend to the top. Well, I underestimated this beast. It starts out steep, and then it’s not, and then 2/3 to the top, its steep again. Although my pace was moderate, I still had to take breaks every few minutes toward the top. A little over 2 hours.
Taking photos of yourself is quite tiring with a 10 second timer, running back and forth and such. It took about 20 tries and finding the right rock to place your camera, frustrating. But as always, the view is worth the work. To be standing on top of the world’s largest fjord with nobody in sight, ahhh, nothing else matters. The moment is yours!
Getting back down is rough on the knees. And once you get back below the tree line, stay on the trail or else you’ll end up in someone’s back yard instead of the trailhead. So I made it back to the hotel 10 minutes before breakfast ended, yay. I thought it was a good idea to cool off by swimming in the fjord. That was the coldest water I’ve been in, and didn’t even last 3 minutes.
There’s not much else to do in Balestrand. The rest of the day was a recovery day.