“Day 3…hiking the Besseggen Ridge…Memurubu to Gjendesheim…”
Emma & Nathan’s Travels
So, I last left you when we had pulled into a lay-by overlooking a beautiful lake, with the darkness being the same at 1130pm as at 240am as we attempted to sleep in the car. We were unprepared to say the least, naively not thinking about the night time temperature, just thinking we’d be ok! WRONG. WRONG. WRONG!!!! Wrong on SO many levels!!You know when you’re SO tired but then can’t fall asleep? That was me. Tossing and turning (as much as one can in a little Hyundai) and then all of a sudden it got FREEZING. Like we’d gone from 27 degrees at dinner, to 5 degrees, in the space of about four or so hours. We were there in shorts and t shirt in the car with just my hoody and the towel we removed from the windscreen to keep us warm. That meant for the remainder of the night we started the engine, turned the heaters on, including the seat warmers, started to fall asleep until BAM, the heat disappeared and it was back to freezing. Repeat this until about 430am as we watched the sunrise (which was beautiful) and the result is a very, very grumpy me.“I’m not climbing that mountain on one hours sleep.” ” I feel like crap.” Whinge whinge sodding whinge. Now I look back on it I wish I’d have slapped myself. Anyway, we decided to drive to the actual car park by the boat and see if we could get a couple more hours kip there. It worked. Got about another hour. Woke up and munched a handful of crisps for breakfast washing it down with some Pepsi max (told you we were prepared 🤣🤣).
As I (still groggy) attempted to wake up a bit more, more and more people were turning up in their full on hiking gear – waterproofs, layers, hiking boots, bags full of food and drink, hats, sunglasses, you name it, they probably had it. There we were, getting out the car, bed hair, no sleep, barely any breakfast, gym trousers, bikini top, gym top and trainers. Boom. Oh and don’t forget the Superdry hoody. I mean we had this nailed! Right! God only knows what the rest thought of us. Hey ho!Car park ticket purchased, we took the 5-24 hour option at 150NOK (good job too) and then went through the gate, had our tickets scanned and got on the boat. There was literally NO turning back now. I did however feel surprisingly awake. I mean how could I not with the mirror-like lake reflecting the mountains surrounding it. It was stunning.The boat took us from Gjendesheim to Mumurubu and took about 20 minutes. It was from here we’d begin our hike. The fact that it went uphill as soon as we got off the boat pretty much should have given us enough of an indication as to how the hike would go! So, off we went. I would say we started off at a pretty good pace considering it was all uphill. I kept looking up at the top thinking we’re nearly there and then the path would just continue to meander upwards and the top would just disappear again.Still, we even overtook some fellow hikers! We had rocks to climb over, red T’s marking the trail that we couldn’t find so at times ended up off the trail and we stopped several times so I could actually breathe. “Let’s hike the Besseggen Ridge,” she said…”It’ll be fun…” she said.” By this time I had stumbled a few times so gave full control of my phone to Nathan. He loved it. “Can you take a photo please?” She said every five minutes.From the top we could see the stunning, crystal clear turquoise water flowing into the river. It was beautiful. The path turned sort of right as we got to the top of the first part and there was even a sign saying “turn round if you haven’t made it here in two hours.” Boom, made it in one. 2km uphill in an hour. 💪🏼Enough bragging. The next part was the easiest part as we hiked across the top heading towards the ridge itself. It was easy until we hit the first patch of snow to cross. It must have been about 5 metres across with a steep slope down into the lake below. It took me a good minute to get across it as well as enduring frostbite in my fingers (slight exaggeration) due to walking almost crab-like along it.The next part was along the side of the lake before heading back uphill again. You can sort of see the paths in the photos. Nathan kept saying we should stop for some food, but at this point I felt ok so was determined to keep going. After about another hour or so we did stop for about fifteen minutes to eat. I didn’t want to stop for long for fear of not getting going again haha! There was another sign we passed saying if you haven’t made it in four hours to turn back. We made it woo!With the easy sections behind us, we descended across and down the ridge that gave us the most spectacular views of two lakes. Two different colours, a turquoise and a sort of cobalt-blue. Stunning. We traversed more snow patches, and no I got no better crossing them as the day went on. At one point, at a particularly long patch of snow where I sort of stranded myself in the middle, a lovely German man came to my rescue with a hiking pole that enabled me to reach the other side. What a true gentleman!Snow done for now, the scrambling started. Looking up at those who had gone before, my legs needed some serious energy to get going again. Every time I almost fell on the snow I twisted something be it my ankle, shoulder or knee. It was so hot but I wasn’t sweating. Instead I was just a blob of salt which had just dried on me. And we were off, again thinking we could see the top.Nope! No sooner had we thought we got to the summit of the first ridge, thinking that was the top, another one, and a higher one appeared. I’m not kidding when I say that we had to climb vertically up some parts of this ridge. I’m not afraid of heights and throwing myself out of a plane last year seems to have curbed my fear of falling but Christ when you’re hanging onto rocks something like 1400m above sea level at this point, on a ridge that seems only two metres wide whilst you’re hanging on, it’s a bit daunting.
My legs were getting weaker and weaker the higher we went. Callouses started to appear on my hands where I’d grip the rocks holding on for dear life. A couple of times Nathan pushed me up, a couple of times pulled me up when I couldn’t find a rock to hold on to. At one point when we stopped to get a drink, a lady passed and said when you get to the top top it’s only two hours down. Great!! Where’s the bloody top top?????Still, the views were just amazing and at times it felt as if we were as high as the neighbouring mountains. The wind picked up the higher we went and those who’d decided to hike shirtless, soon changed their minds. After about five and a half hours we reached the top.
I was knackered. None of my body wanted to move at all. I daren’t stop as I definitely wouldn’t have got going again this time. So many times I felt like I wouldn’t make it to the top and Nathan encouragingly telling me “it’s either up or down and up looks better,” or “well you can’t go back,” or my favourite when I felt sick/dizzy/everything else “it’s all in your head,” I was so chuffed to make it to the top top at 1743m above sea level.You’d think the descent would be easy right? The first part was for sure and it was only a 4km descent but we did hit more snow, that again saw me like Bambi on ice and then instead of a gradual wind down the hill like we’d anticipated, we suddenly went vertical down. I lost count of the amount of times I tripped over my feet, the rocks, nothing and then there were times I did fall. Flat on my arse.As we came down one vertical bit (by now I had given up climbing down and instead just slid down where I could on my bum) we were greeted by three reindeer. Actual wild reindeer! It was amazing. Nathan got a selfie to go with his llama selfie at Machu Picchu last year. It continued to go steeply downhill where we encountered more snow patches. The last patch saw us ‘bum ski’ down into the stream and walk along the stepping stones instead and then heading back up. Only to find we had to cross the top of a waterfall literally on the edge of the cliff.Safely across and the last bit to get down I just slid down again on my bum but didn’t realise it was muddy. Never mind. The last part of the hike was all downhill but along a wider path. That STILL didn’t stop me from slipping over and landing flat on my arse again three more times.The very last part was steps which thankfully were a lot easier and meant I could stay upright. Every single part of my body hurt. We made it back to the car in 8.5 hours. 34000 steps and 15 miles later we had made it. You’re probably reading this thinking I hated every minute, which is totally untrue. The hike was amazing but the hardest thing I have ever put my body through. Harder than the Inca Trail we did last year. There absolutely were times when I wanted to give up but I am SO proud of my unfit self that I didn’t and persevered. It was 120% worth it. You can’t come to Norway and not hike Besseggen Ridge.Once back at the car, I managed to make it into the seat and we began the three hour drive back to Gran. We stopped at the fuel station to fill up and grab a hotdog at which point I did struggle to get out of the car and I have been walking weirdly ever since…