2010-06-20 60 9
East of Gol, near Vardefjell.
Today's battleship location is: I 4
Since it is the weekend, I thought I might as well go expeditioning. And since that graticule is still on my list, I don't even have to venture far.
- Trains to Gol on Saturday: 8:13, 9:38, 12:22, duration 1:30.
- Walking distance: ca. 15km.
- Trains back on Sunday: 11:41, 14:23, 19:38, 20:28
Still hoping that the weather gets a bit more interesting than just now.
 Packing list
things actually brought (due to planning)
- sleeping bag
- mosquito net
- five tent pegs
- duck tape
- a Swiss tool
- a spoon (like a spork, but without fork)
- cookable food
- non-cooking food
- water bottles
- plastic bags
- kitchen paper
- camera equipment
- spare phone battery
- hiking poles
things remembered just before cycling away
things to remember next time
- a lid for the pot
- hiking boots
- a hat
- actually charge the second phone battery
- a map of the area
things tempting me to be brought along
- the raft that had arrived in the mail the morning I left
 Day 1
So, the weather report turned out to be alright (or outright sunny), and since I had brought lots of outdoor equipment from home and it was the weekend, I think there was little that could make me not geohashing. The backpack was packed already on the evening before. As you can see, I brought all the necessary things to reach an outdoor geohash in unmarked terrain. By definition, everything else is unneccessary weight, isn't it? It still took me a good while to get up in the morning, so that I settled for the 12:22 train indeed. I cycled to the train station...
...where I comforted myself into an amazingly spacious (as I realized on the return trip) 'comfort wagon' of Bergensbanen. It did not seem to be something like 'first class' or the like, since they did not charge me more. In the train, I started to consider live logging my expedition. But what was that? Despite having good signal, the Internet was gone! I settled for looking out of the window instead. I don't know where or when I realized that the only way to get the coordinates was to go online. I hoped that I would be able to fix the connection problems eventually, when I was no longer in a moving train.
After reaching Gol station, I set out on foot, along the river and using some of the maps I had fortunately cached in one of my (non-geohashing) android apps. Knowing that I had not remembered to recharge the second phone battery, which therefore was of dubious quality, and not having uplink anyway, I switched to airplane mode for most of the time, only turning on GPS signal once in a while to confirm I was on the right track.
The first decision to take was whether I would follow the main road from the station to the mountains, or a small track on the other side of the river and the railway line. I decided for the latter, as my map tiles showed me both a railway crossing and a bridge near where I wanted to go. Now I know from an authoritative source (I happen to work at the mapping authority) that the tiles I downloaded were from 2008 and from previous experience that the course of roads changes easily during a hectic Norwegian summer of construction. Hence, I was only mildly surprised, when the level crossing I expected had a fence on both sides, the catwalk over the neighboring ditch was broken, and the signage unimpressedly told you to look out for trains when crossing there. I could even see a path on the other side descending straight towards the bridge. Fortunately, a solution was soon found
The roads I followed were tarmaced at first, but I knew from past hikes that they would soon enough end at a toll station and continue as privately maintained mountain track. I enjoyed...
I reached the toll station (I told you there would be a toll station) at about the time where my maps indicated that I should disgress from the road onto a "minor path of vehicle width", which usually means a ski run. There was no such thing crossing the road. However, I heard a lawnmower nearby, and went to ask the friendly lawnmower driver for help. He was obviously confused by the map I showed him (phone screens are not really good for the overall orientation, if you do not zoom and pan around), but told me there was a ski run right behind his house and that I could just walk through a gap in his fence. And indeed, that one was pointing in the right direction. I had a short chat with his two girls, who seemed to be building a ski ramp for winter (or something out of wood that looks like a small ski jump) in the backyard, which, due to my restricted knowledge of the Norwegian language went like this:
- "Hi, where are you going?"
- Me: "I don't know... to the mountains."
- "Good luck!".
- Me: "Are you building a ski-uhm?"
That did not really help me figure out what it was. I should have asked them if I can take a picture. On the way, I enjoyed...
Now, ski runs may be as wide as a vehicle (the one that lays the tracks, usually), but they are not specifically required to be walkable when there is no snow. Hence, the quality of the path switched from dry to muddy to dry to in the middle of a swamp. It took me several hours to cross that bit, hopping from one largely dry bush to another, balancing over stones, and crossing the worst part (and a river along the way) bare footed. Fortunately, the sun was out, so that I could stop on the odd rock to re-heat my feet. And I do love my hiking poles, which made the balancing parts a lot easier (and the climbing and downhill parts too). I still managed to get my shoes rather wet, which promised a lot of fun when I would eventually reach camp.
Eventually reaching the other end of the ski run, I was back on mountain tracks again. For the first (and the last) time I saw two people, which were fishing near their hut in a mountain lake. It also had this cozy bridge/jetty.
This was also about the time I realized that my Internets would not just magically reappear, and I decided to text for help. (Reception was fine. As I realized later, it was just a runaway dash that has appeared in my access point settings) According to my logs, that was 18:20, which means I had been walking for about four hours now. My journey went further along another mountain track, where I decided to take a break. I also would have to decide soon whether to take the hiking trail north of the hash, on the other side of a chain of lakes, or the one to the south, that was significantly further away. Coordinates here would have been helpful. Given that I still had about four hours to walk on the shorter route, and no idea whether the swamp would be walkable off of the trails anyway, and still no coordinates to reach I decided for the shorter approach. (On the map below, the decision was whether to continue South roughly where it says "Fuglehaugen", to reach the hash from the other side of the water). After all, if I did not make it today, I would still have half a Sunday to try to swim / crawl / scramble through whatever the swamp could come up with. So I could just as well set up a base camp as close as I could get on the other side of the lakes.
I continued on along the track, then switched to a hiking trail through the forest, until I reached said trail crossing near Fuglehaugen. I do not know if it happened before or after this, but eventually, the Danatar service replied with the coordinates and a rough localization. Woo for Internet by Proxy! The decision was set for the Northern trail anyway, since I began to feel my legs (and the still wet feet and whatnot). After a little more forest, I eventually reached the highland swamp area that should contain the hash. There were less trees and more moss. The hiking trail continued as before (i.e. unmarked, except for a pile of stones where someone took pity) right across the wetlands, pointing however to some of the safer fords and dryer pieces of land. The landscape continued to amaze me. It was mostly swamp.
Somewhere along the route, I felt that all this discussion of whether to be Mother Nature's bitch or the other way around was completely futile, when it was just so amazing to be together. It must be then that I confessed her my love. (And that I vowed to remove all MNIMB/MNB ribbons from my user page.)
Eventually disgressing from the hiking path, I crossed a few mossy rock plains (easy to walk on, but the dry bits of moss tend to get into your shoes all the time) separated by stretches of swamps and small lakes, some of which made me think of taking off my shoes again. However, jumping fast enough from one hill of grass to another, I managed to cross the swampy parts with no much wetter shoes than before. I eventually reached the river and chain of lakes that would be the greatest obstacle between me and the hash.
I was about to set up camp and call it a day. I knew I had forded a river earlier today, but this one was deep, and the temperatures were clearly in the lower single digits again. I was just curious where that animal track I had been following would lead to. And then, there was this:
And that meant I was about to reach the coordinates. Today, without swimming, and before midnight. I celebrated. I turned on the compass, which gave me about 400m to go.
Walking distance today: 18.87km.
Now, it was still Saturday 21:18 o'clock. So I had the time to set up my camp, whip out the cooker and cook up a celebratory meal before midnight. And, best of all, the sun would be around (if not exactly above the horizon) all night long!
The location of the hash around the tree stump was not totally flat, but there was a sufficiently level place nearby. Hence I decided to make it my cooking site instead of the camp site itself. The whole lay beautifully (and dry) on a small hill with a view onto swamps in three directions, between a forest of pines and dead wood. I found a few to attach my tarp to, rolled out the mattress and furnished the kitchen.
I spent the time until midnight exploring the area (which was mostly swamp, hence:) and reading. I took a picture on the first second of the new day, and went to bed.
 Day 2
Amazingly enough, there were almost no mosquitoes in the swamp. I had brought a mosquito net, which was specialized for the vicious kind of mosquito inhabiting the Norwegian wilderness, and set it up under the roof of the tarp, but since I hadn't seen and slain but one or two of the beasts, I decided to go without. I woke up at about 4am to slay a third one before it could bite me, and went back to sleep until quarter to nine. No bites.
By the time I had packed my stuff it was half past nine. I guessed I would have to hurry a bit to reach the afternoon train. But Danatar's message had reminded me that there was another train station to the south that might be closer - or at least not be separated by any more rivers to cross barefooted. It would mean to have to walk along a stretch of road, but that could allow me to hitchhike for a bit too. Such was the decision made to return to Nesbyen instead of Gol.
I spent the time on the way back attempting some more nature photography. Mother Nature surprised me again, as the animals just did not seem to flee me anymore. That picture of the bird was actually taken from some 50cm of distance, since my compact camera has a fixed lens. He just held up his nose and eyed me with all the spleen he could muster. If some of the images on this page seem a bit dark, that's mostly because I developed them on a somewhat ducked-up screen at home. I'll try to calibrate it some time.
I eventually reached a place towards the bottom of the mountain, where the road forked. I could either take the road to the north, which on the map zoom level available to me connected to the main road to Nesbyen (but would be about 4km longer), or test my luck and walk downhill along the other road, which mysteriously stops before crossing the train line. I decided for the latter, assuming that there is always a way to cross a railway line for a pedestrian. The residents on the wrong side of the rail would see to that. Halfway down, I met a local, whom I could ask if the road continued. He confirmed my theory, and that it was just about seven kilometers to Nesbyen. Calculating my walking speed, I estimated that I would just about miss the afternoon train. As soon as I reached the main road (which is not the main road, as the highway is on the other side of the river), I decided to try my luck with hitchhiking.
I walked for about 4km without seeing a car.
The first car I saw pulled out of a forest track in front of me about as far as I could see. It did not see me.
I walked for two more kilometers.. the train should be around in the next 20 minutes. A car passed me, but the driver was apparently in a hurry (maybe trying to reach a train?). The second one took me by surprise. The third one to pass me was the train.
The next one going at quarter to eight, and with my legs complaining, I reached the train station at a more relaxed pace. I took off my shoes, and found me a bench in the shadow to sleep on. A little later, I discovered what the problem with my Internet was, and was able to post the following message:
- Coordinates reached! Everything else follows. I am currently sitting Nesbyen station waiting for the evening train, after having barely missed the afternoon one. -- relet @60,5762,9,1068 17:19, 20 Juni 2010 (MESZ)
Walking distance today: 18.98km
I also met the resident of the train station, when he was about to clean the platform from cigarette butts. He told me of his life as a truck driver all over Europe, and that this is the cleanest and most beautiful train station on the whole Bergensbanen. Having only seen three of them, I could easily agree. I also discovered that the other battery I had brought along was actually almost fully charged, which allowed me to spend the four hours of waiting time surfing the net. They passed in the blink of an eye. Still, I managed to hike for two days, hardly using much of the valuable battery life for either GPS or uplink, which is a valuable knowledge for future expeditions.
I eventually reached home at about 9:30pm.
|relet earned the Virgin Graticule Achievement|
| relet earned the Midnight Geohash achievement
| relet earned the Camping geohash achievement
| relet earned the Picnic achievement
| This user loves Mother Nature
| Danatar earned the Gentleman's Achievement