I crouched by the side of the path
My fingers weaving through the hardy bush, separating the fronds and pulling it close towards me for inspection. A small dark berry, the size of a pencil eraser, dangled on the end. I plucked it off and, after momentarily considering whether it might be poisonous (I’m Australian), popped it in my mouth. The skin was bitter, the inside sweet.
I leaned back on my haunches, contemplating my discovery. I scanned around and my eyes grew wide. The dense, twiggy shrubs grew everywhere, their dark gems twinkling with morning frost. I don’t know how I hadn’t realised before. I was in berry paradise.
My stomach gurgled in anticipation as I pranced among the bushes. I stockpiled blueberries until my hands overflowed. I leaned back my head and poured them into my mouth, a few strays tumbling down my chin and hand. I bent and picked them up again — money doesn’t grow on trees.
▣ Highly recommend ▣ Boring but safe ▣ Shit. Boring, strenuous & dangerous ▣ Incomplete
What I thought’d happen
I’d take it easy because I was tired
What actually happened
Because I was tired it was far from easy
Back at the car park
The buses had arrived, spitting out brightly dressed tourists like a broken gumball machine, spilling across the carpark in their activewear.
I sighed with a mixture of relief and pity. Those tourists would soon scuttle shoulder to shoulder up the path, a human millipede, all the way to Preikestolen. They’d stand dutifully, patiently, waiting their turn to take a picture on the famous rock. They’d proudly show everybody what they did. Good for them. I’m just glad I wasn’t one of the masses.
If you really want to appreciate the beauty of scenery/hiking then experience it on your own. There’s a much greater sense of achievement when you do it yourself. I have some tips on how to get the most out of the Preikestolen hike here
Back at the campsite
The showers were steamy and squirming with children, but I felt the water cleanse my grimy body and energise my empty muscles. I dripped back to my tent, slurped down some cereal and broke camp, following the lead of two motorcyclists nearby.
Two hours later, after three attempts at packing my bike in the hot sun, I was ready. Having to wear my 30L backpack again was torture. It perched atop of my luggage, pressing into my back, hunching my shoulders forward, cramping my arms like a t-rex. How I wished I could afford to buy a tank bag. How I wished I’d know where to buy one in the middle of nowhere.
Preikestolen to Hjelmelandsvågen
The first part of the journey was pleasant — bloody beautiful but not up to Norway standards. After a while the road started winding through mountains and splitting valleys like a deadly straight arrow. I opened the throttle and my bike thundered down the hills into the open land, the warm air licking my cheeks.
A few kilometres ahead I noticed three specks, motorcyclists, shimmering in the haze, whizzing around corners in what seemed an unnatural hurry. I raced around the coast, catching up to them at tight corners before they sped off again down the next straight.
I reached a quiet seaside town, Hjelmeland, white wooden houses and ornamental steel fences lined its residential streets. Here the highway is decorated with perfectly green lawns, patterned with hearts of red and white flowers. I caught up to the motorcyclists one last time at a round-a-bout, and together we took a left down to the jetty.
The road split into 5 lanes, each with a long chain of vehicles waiting patiently, their engines humming softly. A ferry, with it’s mouth agape at the end of the cement dock, readied itself. The motorcyclists I’d been shadowing zipped around the line of cars and paused in front of a man with an Eftpos machine, before being waved through to the space in front of the cars
I followed their lead. Then realised their hurry. The ferry was boarding.
The ferry from Hjelmelandsvågen to Nesvik
There were eight of us in total, and like a perfectly timed convoy, we rode our motorbikes up the metal ramp and parked neatly in double file on the front right of the ferry. The journey was short, taking only 15 minutes, so we dismounted, slid off our helmets and stood next to our bikes, casually chatting as the ferry chugged across the water. As simple as taking a ferry is, and although I couldn’t see over the high metal walls, it was exhilarating all the same.
Nesvik to Odda
The most incredible road starts about a kilometer up from Nesvik – highway 13. It started as a simple curvy road bending around the beautiful Jøsenfjord. The warm sea breeze floated into my helmet and mingled with the smell of earth and damp ferns. A coastal road that was a pleasure to ride.
Shortly after crossing route 46, I started to wind down through the hills following Sudalslagen, a rushing river that runs all the way from Sudalsvatnet (a large lake) and flows out to the sea near Sand. It tumbled violently next to the road and was fed by a series of magnificent waterfalls, some of which I stopped to admire, others I zoomed past and giggled as the spray misted my visor.
The last leg of the journey took me back onto a flat coastal road around a deep green, glassy lake – so flat, the only disturbance was the soft ripple of a swimming duck. Quaint red and white barns nestled atop the small grassy islands and promontories that bottlenecked the lake. If I ever had to pick an image that screamed Norway this would be it.
Odda is a city built on the thin strip of land that separates Sandvevatnet from Hardangerfjord. The roads are like twisted veins that branch upwards and wiggle over the mountainous terrain. Houses perch on the edge of the mountains overlooking the fjord. The town was bigger than I expected, but later understood when I found out it is home to the famous Trolltunga hike.
I fired up my offline maps app to find a campsite and checked into ‘Odda Camping’ – and it was amazing. It was the first campsite I’d been to with great facilities (including luxurious wifi) but most importantly it was on the very edge of that glassy green lake, Sandvevatnet.
I pitched my tent right on the waters edge. Magical.
If only it finished there
After dinner (tomato soup and noodles ergh) I took my bike for a spin around town to take some photos. It was light without all of my gear and I zoomed around gleefully. I zipped up to the highest point I could find on my maps, darting up and around incredibly steep residential roads with the tightest turns imaginable. I swung my camera around my neck, feeling extra confident without all my gear to weigh me down.
I took a glorious photo and swelled with pride at my adventurous spirit. I felt like an explorer. But then it happened. Like it always does. My happiness came crashing down.
I touched the brakes a fraction too hard as I turned right around a really tight downhill turn. I toppled over in slow motion. Full force onto my expensive Sony A7 camera. The shame.
I scuttled to my feet, dusted my hands and sighed with embarrassment. The streets were deserted. I hoped nobody saw. Alas they had and a man on a scooter with two children hugging tightly on the back zipped over and offered to help. With scarlet cheeks I humbly accepted their offer.
Arrived home. Went straight to bed. Hating myself.
Incase you were wondering, my camera survived (I have no idea how), but it has large chunks missing from its side. Poor thing — having to put up with me.
What I learned today:
- Money really does grow on trees
- Safety is no accident