Hiking & Camping Solo in Norway: Vending to Voss near Bergen
I continue my reporting on a fantastic hiking trip in the mountains of Norway (btw - if you need any reasons why Norway is awesome as a destination for solo hikers and campers- read this!). Not far from Bergen, this area is pretty easy to get to and provides mind-blowing views and challenging terrain.
I started in Dale, walked through Tverrdalen to Høgabu and then from Høgabu through Gullhorgabu by the Øvsta Dukavatnet lake and down to Kjerringadalen to the mountain shelter in Vending and a wild camp not far from it.
Today, I will take you on a hike from the wild camp spot, down near the lake of Hamlagrøvatnet and then in the direction of Torfinnsheim mountain shelter and then through the magnificent rocky heights of Gråsida range and steep descent to Voss.
Gloomy start into a fantastic day of hiking
The night before I stopped earlier because I worried there would be some serious raining. There was – but gentle and by the morning, thanks to strong wind, everything was dry.
The day started off gloomy and dark, with some dramatic sun rays playing through thick clouds. I packed my camp while munching on some knekkebrød and moved on onto the direction of Torffinsheim.
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The landscape around me changed significantly – as I moved onto lower heights, more trees appeared. Mostly dwarfed and twisted beech trees with some bushes.
On the map I saw there was some kind of a village ahead of me - I saw a number of houses. I hoped for a grocery store or maybe a cafe to stop by. Oh, how wrong I was! Just because there were houses marked on the map didn’t mean it was a village! When I got closer I realized these was exactly what I saw on the map - three dozens of houses spread around a hill or two. No other buildings - no stores, schools or anything of that kind.
I stopped by a small lake for a coffee and breakfast and had to give up on dreams of a cafe!
Pretty soon I had to climb up again and leave the tree line behind me.
Again and again I was surprised how the Norwegian built houses in the middle of nowhere. Far from any kind of transportation route, on land or water. Do they just drop them from the air? I can’t even imagine carrying it all on people’s back! But they were so charming!
Reaching heights - in meters and views
After a while I started to climb again, mostly on pretty easy terrain but sometimes requiring more attention and care.
With every stop toward Torfinnsheim, the views got better and better. I was hiking with my jaw around my ankles and I just couldn’t believe how stunning my surroundings were.
Switching between trails in the lower parts of the mountains and the higher ones, I have no doubt that I prefer the latter. I don’t need trees or bushes - give me vast views of majestic mountains, raw rocks, fast flowing streams with water from melting snow patches and I am truly happy. My heart is filled with awesomeness of the Nature and I could walk through such landscapes for ever (or as long as my legs can lead me and wallet support). Pure beauty.
Another fantastic wild camping spot
For the night I stopped around 2 km before the mountain shelter at Torfinnsheim. It took me a while to find suitable spot as the terrain was covered with low thorny bushes and it was difficult to find more or less flat spot.
There was a lot of sharp stuff sticking out from the ground and I worried I could puncture my sleeping mat. I used the backpack cover bag I normally use for flights and put it under it. I need to bring a footprint Next time.
The view I had from my camping spot was fantastic (again). I stopped right next to a big lake Torffinsvatnet. Because of the draught much of the water was released to other reservoirs and you could see how much higher the regular water level was.
My plan for the next day was to go as close to Voss as I could, as I planned my day off there.
Finding the best spots for wild coffee brewing in Norway
The next day, when I finally reached Torffinsheim and turned to follow the trail to Gjelle (which is a village before Voss), I noticed that the views changed for the worse for a while. There was a man-made dam and you could see human influence on the area. It became somewhat grey and sad.
I didn’t take any extra water from the big lake, assuming there would be a lot of smaller streams on my way, as was usually the case.
Well, I was mistaken. I had to walk for quite some time before I could finally refill my water bladder. It’s funny to be thirsty while still seeing the huge lake not too far from the place I stood. But the climb down to it and back did not seem to be worth the effort.
I stopped for a coffee and breakfast after a big challenging stream crossing. It required jumping and it was not easy to do with a big backpack. Later I saw other hikers struggling with the crossing. It was a lovely place for a stop, right before a longer climb up a rocky mountain.
My coffee gear setup:
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The trail around Torffinsheim seemed quite popular. I had a chance to see a number of hikers – alone or in small groups. On other stretches I hardly ever saw anyone. I guess the proximity to a big town like Voss makes this trail available for hikers up for 2-3 days of hiking.
At one point I walked toward a peak on which, as by magic, a diamond-shaped boulder was balancing. It looked truly unreal and looked like it could start rolling down with a stronger breeze. It’s been probably looking that way for the past few hundreds thousands of years…
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Up, up, up! Onto unbelievable vistas
The first part of today’s hike was quite diverse, with streams, easier paths, some boulder walks or stream crossings. Later, the trail climbs higher to about 1200 m and goes over vast fields of boulders and rocks, with not much regular flat terrain, requiring jumping from one boulder to the next, worrying about loose stones and moving rocks. In addition to it, there were also a number of snow crossings, which were always a source of anxiety for me.
If anyone wanted to pitch a tent anywhere around here, it would be simply impossible – unless it were on the snow. There simply was no regular ground visible, like crossing huge field of ruins. I was afraid I would never find a suitable spot to pitch my tent!
Wild camping spot over the Voss Valley
Finally, when the trail started to lead down toward the valley, I was able to find an even piece of land covered with low bushes. Far from perfect but would do. What the area didn’t give me in comfortable pitching spot, it provided in views. I had simply magnificent view toward the whole valley of Voss. Even a few annoying flies couldn’t take away my pleasure of watching the vista.
I had such a fantastic evening, preparing my meal, walking around the area and taking photos of the views… even the dark clouds didn’t kill my mood and they proved to be only for show - no storm or rain came.
Down, down, down! And down… down… down does it ever end?!
The next day I couldn’t sleep in – the sun shone so strong from the get go that I had get out or would bake. That day I had over 1000 m of height loss to cover! The steep trail down was exhausting and I can’t even imagine doing it the other way around. That’s a hell of a height difference!
As you can imagine, I had amazing views for most of the time. On the way down I misstep (there was a hole in the ground I didn’t see) and bent my left ankle sideways. I’d never had any issues with my ankles before, although I always hike in high boots when on difficult terrain to prevent issues. The pain was strong but disappeared almost completely within minutes. I still had a long way to cover till I would be safely in Voss, so worried if I were able to do it.
Walking slowly and carefully, I was able to continue. To be honest, the descent was boring. 11 km of walking down to Voss… nothing special. From the spot where the trail officially ends/stops (in Gjelle) there is still a long way on a road to the town itself. I booked a small hotel on the other side of the valley in Voss, so had a lot to cover.
First part of solo hiking in Norway completed - time to rest!
I was exhausted when I finally got there and my ankle was swollen and I hoped it wasn’t anything serious. I stayed in my own tiny room and had a nice view over the town. I treated the ankle with Voltaren and ibuprophen… not really all that much I could do about it. But I could rest and, finally, take a shower and wash my clothes. Yay for rest days!
Vending to Voss in maps and distances:
The screen shots below come from a fantastic interactive website UT.no, which was extremely helpful for me when I was trying to figure out the trails.
First day - from a wild camp spot about 2 km from Vending to a wild camp spot about 2 km before Torfinnsheim: 16 km, height gain: 910 m, height loss: 816 m; max altitude: 917 m
Second day: from a wild spot before Torfinnensheim to a wild spot at the beginning of descent to Voss: 14 km, height gain: 641 m, height loss: 432 m; max altitude: 1286 m.
Third day: from a wild spot at the start of the descent to Voss (through Gjelle) to my hostel in Voss (on the other side of valley): 11, 5 km, height gain: 133 m, height loss: 1177 m; max altitude: 1111 m.
Do you wonder what gear and clothes got me safely through the Norwegian mountains? Check here! Or maybe you wonder if hiking and camping solo is a thing for you? Discover all the possible pros and cons of solo backpacking to make your mind!