Hiking & Camping Solo in Norway: Høgabu to Vending near Bergen
I stopped my previous reporting in Høgabu – a lovely mountain shelter run by the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT). I met three families with kids there and two of them were heading the same direction as me, so we kept bumping into each other every now and then.
The morning started really chilly and gloomy. A few hours later there was hardly any sign of it – the skies cleared and the visibility became absolutely fantastic. I had a feeling I could see to the Earth’s corners and loved every minute walking this trail.
I left Høgabu in the direction of Gullhorgabu. As I was carrying my tent I had the absolute freedom to walk as far or as short as I wished. The families I hiked with at times headed to Gulllhorgabu for the night. They had little kiddies with them so the 6 km or so it takes to get there was more than enough for a day.
The trail between Høgabu and Gullhorgabu is far from easy. It takes one over huge rocky slopes and wide rubble of boulders and rocks. In addition to the very challenging terrain, it was very easy to miss the trail. When all around is rock, it’s hard to discern where the path goes. In such areas the trail is marked by the letter “T” painted on rock, sometimes with the addition of a cairn. Sometimes it was really hard to see the next “T” and I missed the trail a couple times and had to retrace my steps to find the correct direction. I can only imagine how much harder this task must be during thick fog.
But the views were more than needed to forget any kind of difficulties. I am a lover of big views and Norway can provide big views with the capital “B”.
After climbing for a while, I took a break at the most stunning spot. I wanted to let the family who was also resting some fifty meters ahead of me to move on, so I could walk alone. But first of all, I wanted to feed my eyes with the incredible vistas all around me. I was really lucky that the weather got so brilliant. I sat at the top of a mountain, some 1100 m above the sea level and stared at the views for quite a while. I enjoyed a snack, taking photos and reading a book for some time.
This was another perfect moment during my trip through Norway.
The path down from this spot required constant attention – it lead from rock to rock and it was very easy to misstep. The loss in height was about 150 – 200 m to the lakes below.
There were also snow patches which caused me some anxiety. I could see the side of them – sometimes a few meters thick, but also places where the snow broke off or melted through creating holes. The sides of such patches when close to big rocks looked like the bottom of a ship, so I knew that the sides were often the least strong.
You can see on the photos what I mean about the stunning nature. Everywhere I looked, I loved what I saw. The raw rocks, moss, small mountain lakes with brilliantly clear water, melting snow feeding streams, waterfalls and beautiful blue sky above it all. The sounds of trickling water, birds singing, tingling of sheep bells… It’s really hard for me to describe the enormity of my experience, you needed to be a poet to capture all of it in words.
When I reached a trail crossing, I decided to move on towards Vending without stopping at Gullhorgabu (you can see it on the photo above). I could see the shelter but there was really no sense for me to go there. There was a lovely stream with waterfall so I had a chance to fill my water bladder up. I was walking slowly because of the challenging trail and I knew that I would be looking for a spot for wild camping within the next hour or so.
The Gullhorgabu shelter is built between two lakes: a small one called Nedre Gulltjorna and a much bigger one called Øvsta Dukavatnet.
At that moment the path was circling Øvsta Dukavatnet. I could see the shelter for quite a while from the trail. Some parts of the path were again challenging and I could see no spot to pitch my tent. I had no other choice but to keep on walking.
You can see on the photos what the terrain looked like - hardly any flat and dry spot for a tent!
After leaving the big lake behind and a steep climb through and then over a stream and under snow patches, the trail goes very steeply down. The view was great but I was scared of the downhill walk. The soil was unstable and rocks moved easily under my feet. At the bottom of the steep hill there was a lovely flat area leading to a lake – perfect for camping! Unfortunately, some other people also thought so and I could see two tents pitched already.
So I kept on walking… I was tired and accepted that maybe this night’s pitch won’t be as perfect or picturesque as others. Whenever I could see a bit of flat ground I considered it for pitching spot. But as it was still light (duh, Norway), I pushed myself on.
I reached another trail crossing and turned left toward Vending. Pretty soon I could see some acceptable camping area. On the right there was the towering Grahorga Mountain and the trail was leading up in another 200 meters – I decided to stop and find something in the area as there was no way to know what would be behind the next climb.
There was a stream not far from the trail and I soon found a nice little spot for my tent. Even though it was late, it was still warm. But the moment the sun set behind the mountain the temperature dropped significantly. It was still absolutely gorgeous around and I enjoyed the evening preparing my meal, walking around the camp and taking photos of the area.
The next morning I had to deal with heavy condensation in the tent. The Grahorga Mountain provided heavy shade and there was no chance for natural drying.
I had lovely guests visit me in the morning - a ewe with her lambs came to see me. She sniffed my Jetboil drying on a rock and got scared when it moved and rattled.
I dried the tent as well as I could with a small towel, packed and moved on. The trail was taking me up right away and I had a hard time climbing. I had no strength whatsoever! Maybe this idea of postponing breakfast until later in the day was not the best idea after all?
I was walking so slowly that it wasn’t really all that far from my camp when I decided to stop for breakfast and a cup of coffee. I had a wonderful spot next to a fast-flowing stream and views for miles around.
When I was enjoying my coffee, a man came along. He didn’t speak much English and my Norwegian was non-existent. He tried to say a few words at least and I think he was working around here – maybe a shepherd? He didn’t look like a tourist, that’s for sure. After this not-too-perfect conversation he continued on his way and I went back to my coffee and book reading.
I really enjoyed walking to Vending through Kjerringadalen. There was some downhill walking which was a nice relief but also there were some longer stretches of well-established paths that allowed for building proper speed and momentum. As I lost some height the surroundings changed a bit – there were even some trees around.
I again met a few friendly sheep which came running to me. They sniffed me like dogs and kept following me for a while. I took a few selfies with them, of course. I wish I knew what they were expecting of me! Maybe they hoped for a treat? No idea. But they were the cutest.
When I reached Vending, the shelter was empty. As I was going through their food pantry an elderly couple came in. They planned on staying at the shelter; I was just looking for some gluten-free flatbread. I found a box and also a GF can of soup which I was happy to eat right away.
When you stay at the shelter or use the facilities or buy anything, you pay by filling in forms with your credit card information or by putting cash in special envelopes. I really love this honor system, it feels good that the society trusts you to follow the rules and be honest.
The soup was supposed to be for 2-3 people, I ate all of it :D. It was nice to eat something a bit different. It was late in the afternoon so I didn’t have to do any dinner that night, a snack would suffice.
After this nice afternoon break, I moved on to find a place for my tent. I went north and soon the trail split – the left leg goes to Magneknolten, circling the Hamlagrøvatnet lake from the left, and the right one taking the hiker around the lake from the Eastern side.
I didn’t walk all that far when I noticed heavy clouds gathering. I checked the weather forecast and indeed, heavy raining was in the future. I decided to call it a day and find a spot sooner rather than later.
It was not an easy task as I generally try to find my night rest place away from the trail. Here, there wasn’t really any chance to “hide” off the trail. Finally I just crossed a stream and pitched on a dried up bog.
I saw some bones in one spot – probably a small mammal or maybe young lamb. I wondered what the end for this poor animal was. And then pitched my tent a few meters further away from it.
In the end the rain came but pretty late and soft. But it’s all good, I had a lovely evening reading book and observing the changing drama above me.
Høgabu to Vending shelter is about 17 km, then another 2 km or so to the wild camping spot.
The above maps are screenshots from the fantastic maps on UT.no website, which I used during my hikes. It’s in Norwegian but with the help of google translate I could use it with no bigger issues.
Over the two days I had quite a few ups and downs: I gained about 1200 m and lost about the same.
To make sure I was safe and comfortable, I prepared my clothes and gear with a lot of care. You can read what I had with me in this post - packing list for women hiking and camping solo in Norway.
Have you hiked solo in Norway? What did you think about it? Let me know!