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Woke at 8am to another day of bright sunshine and minimal cloud cover. Breakfast was OK, and I was beginning to rethink my initial impression of the Union hotel. I was keen to experience that drive up to the summit of Dalsnibba, and my first task after breakfast was to make enquiries at the reception desk to confirm the time and itinerary. The bus was to leave at 5.45. I met Geoff in the lobby and told him the news, and it kindled his interest also.
The bus was there on
time. The driver collected no money but simply told us to sit down. I
had nagging doubts. This was the service bus to Grotlo and back, the
we'd met and boarded on our way here yesterday. The bus hadn't visited
Dalsnibba summit on the way back. Had I been misinformed?
The Flydal viewpoint
We pulled in at the Flydal viewpoint, and here the fares were collected. The few clouds had all gone by now, and it was already very warm. I took some more shots of Geirangerfjord, confident that they would be superior to yesterday's now that the weather was clearer.
The road up to Djupvasshytta was no less exciting the second time around. I was still nervous. Was it going to wait there for half an hour without going to the summit? We arrived at Djupvasshytta and I held my breath...
The ascent of Dalsnibba
...and up we went! The coach turned off the main road to the left, to ascend the rough vehicle track that was the ascent route to Dalsnibba. The mountain road was no less thrilling than the pass we'd just ascended - a heady cocktail of crazy hairpin bends, steep drops and staggering views down to the lake. I wished I had a movie camera. We arrived at the top, where there was a fairly substantial car park, and we disembarked.
Dalsnibba, the summit
The view was, literally, staggering. We were allowed only five minutes at the summit so I used them to grab as many snaps as I could, just hoping that the composition was OK. I figured I could enjoy the photos at leisure once I had them processed. I can unstuck only once, when my hand crept into the top right corner of shot. I've posted that shot above despite the fault, because it's otherwise such a wonderful view of Geiranger from the summit.
Scenes on Dalsnibba's summit
Descending from Dalsnibba to Djupvasshytta
The bus took us back down to Djupvasshytta once more, and I took the opportunity to grab plenty more shots through the bus window. The scenery was beautiful, a pristine panorama of rock, snow, water and deep blue sky. I was in heaven. We'd only paid to Dalsnibba so we hopped off the bus and waited for it to go to Grotli and back. With no mist to obscure it the lake looked much smaller than it did yesterday.
Djupvasshytta and the lake
It was so warm here, so why wasn't the snow melting? I clambered around for a bit, taking more photos of the lake and its surroundings, and I was surprised to spot a young lady not very far away sunbathing in a bikini among the snowfields. (She's visible in the first shot in the row above). The bus came back from Grotli, and like yesterday it didn't visit the summit on the return journey but parked up at the hut for thirty minutes. We had an overpriced tea in the cafe and browsed in the gift shop.
Descending Djupvass to Geiranger
So we paid our return fare and experienced the thrills of the road for a third time as we descended back to Geiranger. We had lunch in the hotel dining room not long after 1pm.
Climbing the Flydal road on foot
Afternoon. Sunny and very hot. I decided to do two of the recommended walks on the tourist information office's brochure. Deciding on walk 2 for starters, I climbed the Flydal gorge road as far as the idyllic locality of Hole (!) and then followed a farm track off to the left. The sun was strong, the colours were intense, there were bikinis everywhere. How often, I wondered, was the weather this good in the west of Norway?
Mountain road above Hole
The path was described as easy, but it wasn't (probably because of the heat). The road became a path, quite steep, giving way to a gravelly surface typical of heathland. I continued to ascend along the path for ages but was still well below the treeline. The mountains immediately inland from geiranger were fantastic soaring pillars with vast corries between them. The path was heading for one of these - Storseter - now.
I arrived at Storseter, which was enchanting. An impressive waterfall - Storseterfoss, naturally - plunged from the lip of the corrie. The walk guide indicated that it was possible to walk behind the fall. At first I couldn't see how this was possible, but as I arrived at the overhang - to be amused by a roadsign depicting someone falling down the fall - I found the path going down and around the fall.
The walk behind the waterfall blew my mind yet again. It was fantastic. Oh this beautiful, amazing, fantastic country, how can it keep doing this to me? I went down a flight of stone steps and there I was, behind the fall. The sun was just catching the edges, near the top. I trod gingerly, keeping hold of the ropes either side. The path was narrow and steep.
I pressed the shutter, felt something go at my hip, and watched my 50mm lens pop out of its pouch and sail gracefully into the torrent, never to be seen again. It was headed down some 1500ft into the fjord. Bugger. It could have been worse, of course - I could have lost the 28mm wide angle, currently fitted to the camera. Norway was, undoubtedly, a wide angle lens country.
I headed back "upstairs" to the grassy meadow by the overhang, and cooled my feet off in the stream. It was really hot now - it must have been approaching 30 C. I didn't have any food or drink with me but took a chance on the stream water, which proved to be very refreshing. After a fifteen minute rest I started back down.
Mountain path above Geirangerfjord
Back at Hole, I switched onto path 1 - a forest path winding high across the shoulder of the mountain above the fjord to the north. Easy enough at first, it plunged into the forest and climbed. And climbed. And climbed.
The path was heading for a viewpoint far above the fjord but there was no sign of it reaching its destination. I wasn't even out of the forest yet and I reckoned I was more than two thousand feet above the fjord. It was just too hot to go on. Wistfully, I took a single shot of the fjord shimmering far, far below, and then one back along the path in the direction of Storseter, and then turned back to the village and the hotel.
Dinner was excellent, and afterwards Geoff, Zay and I sat in the lounge talking to a couple from Alesund. The girl was charming and was once an au pair in Bristol. We talked until the light failed, and were rather astinished to discover that it had gone midnight. I was tired, and I slept well.