hiking FOR NON-NORWEGIANS – A reality check
Norway, land of the Vikings, next to the North Pole with Norwegians born and raised in the wilderness... What to expect when you venture beyond the beaten track in such a country? The remoteness of the Lysefjord area has some implications for a wannabe hiker, so come prepared!
Norwegians may be proud to call their tiny hamlet a city, and you may come across a decent cappuccino a few places, but generally Norway is made up of wilderness. Norway was the last part of Europe that showed up from under the ice, and most places not much has happended since. That’s why you came to visit, right?
That's all well and good, but the remoteness have some implications for a wannabe hiker in the Lysefjord area, so come prepared!
Trails are maintained mainly by a four legged maintenance crew. You may have to cross streams and rivers that may quadruple during floods, and mud and heavy rock gardens are parts of the experience. Welcome to Norwegian hiking
A few places around the Lysefjord modern civilization has made an impact, but that is the exception, not the rule.
Following the crowds from Preikestolen Mountain Lodge to the Preikestolen plateau you will follow a groomed Sherpa-made stone trail. During the main season you will be accompanied by the same crowd that visited the Eiffel tower last week. A stunning trip, quite a mountain hike, challenging unless you are fit, but in Norwegian terms this is literally a walk in the park.
As soon as you dare to leave the trail to the Preikestolen plateau, you will experience the Norwegian wilderness as it truly is. Trails are maintained mainly by a four legged maintenance crew. You may have to cross streams and rivers that may quadruple during floods, and mud and heavy rock gardens are parts of the experience.
All around the Lysefjord, volunteers from the Norwegian Trekking Association has marked the route for you by red T’s, and that is pretty much the grooming you can expect. The rest is raw Norwegian nature. Routes are graded with colour codes like the alpine slopes, but in the Lysefjord area most of the mountain hiking is done on red trails. Most trails are fairly accessible, but come prepared for an occasional climb, some balancing acts over rocks and some muddy and slippery areas where you may have to find your ways through the shrubbery.
And the weather ...? Look around you on the lush green hills on a sunny day. Why do you think the hills are so green and the streams are trickeling down every mountain side? Yes, Southwestern Norway receives it’s fair share of rain, and then some. On the higher altitudes wind often is freezing and it may even happen to snow in the middle of the summer, even if you experienced sunbathing conditions the day before.
And the weather … ? Look around you on the lush green hills on a sunny day. Why do you think the hills are so green and the streams are trickeling down every mountain side? Welcome to Norwegian hiking
You need to come prepared with all those not-so-sexy hiking boots, warm underwear (Norwegians wear wool year round) and the national costume of bright colored gore tex to keep the wind and rain out. For longer hikes at the higher altitudes, unusual summer accessories include mittens, a warm hat and other things considered winter stuff in more habitable climates.
Although the red Ts are a great guidance along the path, you should always bring a map and compass (alternatively a GPS if you have upgraded), and learn how to use it! It is easy to loose the Ts, and at points where several trails cross you want to pick the right one. (If you are too cheap to buy one, maps can be printed from www.ut.no).
Here at lysefjordhikes.com, estimated walking distances are given for your guidance, but remember that those who set the estimates are Norwegian. Also remember that those Norwegians are unable to tell how long you plan to spend picnic lunching along the route, so times are estimations of the time an average Norwegian would spend walking, without any breaks. A 5 hour trip normally means that anything between 4 and 7 hours is quite normal, if you need more than 9 you should start exercising.
As you will see elsewhere on this website, there are numerous accommodation alternatives around the fjord. They come in every shape and size, from the modern and comfortable lodge by Preikestolen, to the more shabby than chic shelter in the barn of Bakken Gård. Check out the options, and be prepared that facilities vary, and so should your expectations and the gear you bring.
They come in every shape and size, from the modern and comfortable lodge by Preikestolen, to the more shabby than chic shelter in the barn of Bakken Gård. Welcome to Norwegian hiking
One of the great features in the Lysefjord is access to public quays dotted around the fjord, with public ferries that gives you a trillion options for combination trips along the fjord. What is not so great are the timetables and booking procedures. Study the timetables (all links to be found at lysefjordhikes.com) carefully, book in advance and be prepared for an early rise to catch some of the options.
Did we remember to tell you to bring supplies for the entire trip? Although some places are marked as villages on the maps, don't expect to find a supermarket around the corner. Those driving to Lysebotn for fuel supplies will be disappointed, but there are a few kiosks around that may sell you an icream and a plastic troll if you fancy that.
If you are still reading, and this reality check does not put you off, please continue reading these websites that are designed to prepare you for a unique Norwegian hiking experience. There are numerous options that allow you to choose your own level of hardship.
If you do venture beyond the beaten track, you will leave the crowds behind and you will be rewarded by a authentic nature experience unlike no other!