The day to end all days continued…
…For kilometres I drove through vibrant green strawberry fields, with strawberry slanties dotting the road, their red rubies for sale and that familiar thick sweet perfumed air.
I was on route to Norway’s famous road – Trollstigen.
Excited was an understatement.
▣ Highly recommend ▣ Boring but safe ▣ Shit. Boring, strenuous & dangerous ▣ Incomplete
What I thought’d happen
I’d take my time, see where I end up
What actually happened
I took my time and ended up amazed
I approached Trollstigen, shuddering at the two cliffs marking the entrance. Like two stone faced guardians, their immense height cast dark shadows over the road and into the valley. As I neared closer, the road twisted so sharply around a cliff and then so steeply into the valley it seemed to vanish. Did it go down? Did it continue straight? What was coming?
It was like the world had been scooped out by a giant spoon, leaving a deep valley that stretched on for eternity, braced either side by giant stone warriors. There’s not much I can say. It was humbling.
The way that the landscape interacts with the road is just as incredible. Waterfalls cascade and tumble down incredible lengths, whilst the road winds under and over and next to them. It is the grandiose simplicity of it all that gets me. I had never seen nature look so perfectly balanced. Not symmetrical. Balanced. Waterfalls are inherently awkward. They sort of appear out of nowhere and fall in strange ways. Often they are just a white stream or pathetic trickle in photos. These ones felt so natural, so powerful and so beautiful. A perfectly choreographed scene of nature.
I hate tourists and I hate the things that tourists do, but this, this was worth it. You have to see it to understand.
I looked up at Trollstigen from below, considering whether I should ride back up for fun. But I could feel the cold creeping through my jacket signalling the afternoon would soon draw to a close. If I was to reach Bud by nightfall I would need to make haste.
The problem with heading west in the afternoon is sun glare. At that time of day the sun cuts through even the darkest of visor. I furrowed my brow and dipped my helmet, peering back up at the road with shadowed eyes. But soon pain seared behind my eyes from the perpetual squinting and my surroundings became indecipherable – one big burning white flare. I decided the day was almost done. I’d find a place to sleep the next available opportunity.
An unlikely dinner
I reached Åfarnes as the ferry was leaving for Nesjestrada. I sped onto the ramp, the sound of steel vibrating and groaning, and slammed on my brakes as the ferry gates shut neatly behind me. A handy tip: if you see somebody riding madly in front of you, assume they know the ferry time. Don’t get left behind.
From Nesjestrada I took the old route to Molde, heading in the direction of Kleive. I considered taking the ferry from Røvika to Molde, a more direct route rather than circumnavigating the entire fjord, but I studied the map and resolved that I’d have a better chance of finding somewhere to camp on a small road that followed an isolated coast rather than a highway closer to town. I was right.
Half an hour passed and the sun sat threateningly on the horizon. I had persevered through dinner, hoping to find a place to camp sooner. But now my body was weak and my mind was cloudy. It was impossible to make a clear decision. I pulled over.
I rolled the last of the potato bread with some cheese and chewed as I inspected my surroundings. To my left there was a large field of what seemed like bracken, stretching all the way down to a small row of pines which crowded around the pebbled shores of a shallow fjord. Across the road on my right there was forest.
There was nobody in sight.
I stepped through the thick bushes, parting their thorny branches as they ripped at my clothes, failing to take hold of the thick leather and nylon. Protective gear is impervious to bites, scratches and mud. I felt invincible.
As I carefully pulled away another barbed limb, I realised. It wasn’t a field of bracken. It was a field of raspberries. My jaw practically unhinged from my face.
I pushed forward through the thick raspberries towards the shoreline, pulling succulent berries of branches as I went. Then, as clearly as the divide between sand and sea, the raspberry bushes parted to reveal a thick covering of blueberry shrubs. I couldn’t believe it.
I ran back to my back to my bike in excitement, a slow plod through the thorny branches and soft ground. Then as I took the final step back onto gravel, my foot leaving the field of gods, I saw them. Glossy red gems, the size of a pinky finger sparkling among the bush. No. Way. Without even trying I found them. Famous Norwegian wild strawberries.
Still to this day I have never tasted anything as delicious as a wild Norwegian strawberry.
Another night in paradise
I packed my pot away and picked up my helmet, poised to leave when I heard it. Amongst the rustle of trees and distant lapping sea was the sound of rushing water. I listened intently, could I be hearing things?
I placed my helmet back down, crossed the road and walked up to the flattened grass path that marked the forest entrance.
I stood there, hands on hips, hesitant to walk any further. Was it a driveway? Could I be charged for trespassing? But then I saw it.
Movement amongst the trees. I rushed up the path into the forest and there, down a small slope, was a waterfall. The water tumbled over a 5m vertical drop onto a perfectly formed horizontal shelf, before running off into a rocky pool below. And there, peeking out from behind the trees, was a perfect patch of soft green grass. I had found my campsite.
What I learned today
The best wild camping spots are found
1. On high ground
2. On roads less travelled
3. Near rivers