Monday, 27 August 2012

Viveli to Stavali



One of the perks of these Norwegian huts was that a lot of them provided sandwich-making materials at breakfast, along with a roll of parchment paper. You can make your sandwiches for the trail in the morning and skip the granola bar diet completely. It was pretty luxe, and the bread was always homemade and fantastically grainy and good. Since you tend to calorie-load during hikes, I had no guilt at all chowing down on a blue cheese and pate sandwich for lunch. Having good food on trail gives you a nice mid-day break to look forward to.

At this point in our hike, my body started rebelling a little bit. I stubbed my big toe at the breakfast table, which broke open a blister that was under my nail bed which just bled like crazy. Both of us had a great deal of painful blisters on our feet. No matter how broken in and trustworthy your boots are, if you are wearing them all day every day in hard terrain, your feet are going to suffer. My ankels were so swollen, they turned to cankles, my knees were making popping I won't even get into the cramps I was dealing with. Usually I'm curled up with a hot water bottle doing recumbent yoga poses, not trying to balance from rock to slippery rock trying to get myself across a stream. Putting on your boots and taking those first few steps in the morning was the hardest part, but pain can be ignored.

Still, nothing beats the euphoria of being able to wake up in the morning, hit the trail at a leisurely pace and see amazing things that you won't get to see if you didn't put all this work into getting there.

We left the Viveli hut in a steady rain, which cleared up as soon as we had struggled to put all of our rain gear on.


We were climbing steadily all morning.

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We reached a high tundra plain and for the first time since we left Finse, I reached for all of my winter woolens, all at once. It was cold and windy and very exposed.

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It was some lovely hiking though.

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It was one of the easier days of hiking we had, but it still took us more than 8 hours.


The trail descended rather steeply into a valley that was filled with lakes and roaring rivers and waterfalls. It was spectacular.


It was a lot of work to cross all this water. Stream crossings take up a lot of energy and time. With a big pack on, it can be hard to balance. Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that your feet are getting cooled off, and sometimes your legs as well.

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Being able to spot the Stavali hut down the valley was an encouraging sight. Even after a relatively easy hike of 8 hours, you still just walked up a mountain 8 hours more than you do on your typical urban day.

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Stavali ended up being my favorite hut on the trail, despite being quite rustic with no hot water or flush toilets.

They had a hot pot. You had to hose off with ice-cold stream water before you hopped in, which made it all the better.


After a half hour soak, I was feeling no pain and even forego the dose of Advil I was taking every night. It felt amazing.



Cows! They were running a summer dairy farm with three beautiful cows and a calf. No powdered milk in my coffee here- I hadn't had really fresh milk like this since I was a kid, and I hate the fact that I have to go back to the ultra-pasteurized homogenized crap in a bottle. Real milk is amazingly good, with hints of the flora the cow has ingested. Happy cows make really great milk. The cows were docile and allowed to roam around all they wanted. I could watch them without end.

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We also got fed (a rarity for a self-service hut in the middle of nowhere) a really dairy-rich meal of a creamy porridge called Romagraut.


All the traditional Norwegian fare we had was meant for people who spend a great deal of time in the elements. Everyone else we knew was probably eating fresh corn on the cob, watermelon and peaches while we were grateful for rich winter food.

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