Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Wednesday 21 June - Lillehammer and E of Hjerkinn

Where’s Bertie? He's in a small informal parking area, at an altitude of around 900m, alongside a dammed lake to the E of Hjerkinn (exact position: 62.2120, 9.6010).

There are 936 metal-mesh steps leading up to the top of the Olympic ski jumps at Lillehammer and we started our day with a walk up and then back down them.

Many people were met along the way. Coach loads, in fact, but only a handful were seen to be walking upwards, the popular choice being the chairlift up and a walk down.

Taken looking down from between the take-off point and the start of the landing zone. The area at the bottom is where the 1994 Winter Olympic opening ceremony took place, and the tower where the torch was held is at the bottom in the middle.

Back at Bertie, we turned his nose northwards once more, not currently being at leisure to sit around for a day: we're on a mission to reach the Artic Circle before the sun starts dipping down below the horizon at night.

The next five hours were spent feeling like we were taking a long time to make little progress. Before we even left town there was a stop for fuel (footnote 1), then another for bread/failed attempt to use McD's wifi. A while later, on a single carriageway section of the E6 main road, which joins Oslo and Trondheim, we ground to a halt. Roadworks with a convoy system in place was the cause and it must have been three quarters of an hour before we got through. We did have a good view for some of the engine-off waits for movement, so it could have been worse.

SatNav was throwing a bit of a fit trying to get us back on course as we then enjoyed a large section of new motorway (of which the SatNav was unaware; it thought we were driving across fields and woods), and it was along there that we enjoyed lunch at a brand new picnic area with quite a view:

The new road and the continued ire of SatNav made navigating to our next stop (an LPG station) a bit trickier, but we managed it. We also managed, without any trouble, to obtain LPG from the unmanned station. Provided it stays warm enough not to need the heating, we are hoping that the small top up we bought should see us through the rest of our time in Norway.

More new motorway ensued (and accordingly more toll charges, about £13 worth today) before SatNav was finally happy when we rejoined the old road. We had gone about another hour and a half, along and beyond the very attractive Gudbrandsdal river valley, when it suddenly occurred to me that, after I'd isolated the gas bottles prior to filling them, I hadn't shut the gas locker door (which is inside the garage) and nor had I latched, never mind locked, the garage door. Fortunately it's design is reasonable tolerant of such stupidity (air pressure and a hydraulic arm keeping it closed) so no harm was done, but we still stopped at the first opportunity to rectify the omission. I'll wager we'll be doubly careful about that in the future.

A very long steady climb (that doesn't do the MPG any good!) took us up to and across a high plateau (900+ metres). It's a vast area of open ground, liberally scattered with stunted trees and less liberally scattered with wooden houses, many with grass roofs.

Naturally, as we had gone up the temperature had gone down, all the way to 9 degrees. Seeing plenty of places we could have pulled off the road for the night we agreed that it would be lovely to spend a night in such a place, but that it could get a bit chilly. We both expected that any moment we were going to start a long descent and that the parking spot for which we were aiming would be lower down. Gradually it dawned on us that the distance to go was small and that there was no sign of descent.

We have no complaints though. The location is spectacular:

I took these snaps when we arrived. Since then Bertie has been surrounded by about eight billion flying insects. We won't dare open the door again tonight.

From what I can work out from the large scale maps we have available to us, we are sitting just to the north of Norway's first National Park, Rondane (a high alpine zone that is apparently a very popular walking area (footnote 2)) and to the south of Dovrefjell National Park. It's possible that we are within one or the other, but even if we're not, their proximity explains why it is so nice here.

Footnote 1: the price of diesel was down 0.3NOK to 14.2NOK/litre this morning. By later afternoon we were seeing it at 13.1.
Footnote 2: we would have liked to have stopped to see more of Rondane National Park, but our desire to get to the Arctic Circle by the end of June is greater. We will be visiting another highly recommended National Park later in the trip, and as we have maps for that one, it's probably the wiser choice for exploration.

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