Day 2: Lysebotn/Kjerag
Arriving at the hostel at 3am, and having put in some nap time during the Amsterdam delay (suspect nap quality notwithstanding) we decided it was best to lounge around the room and relax for a couple hours rather than actually sleep. By 6:30am it was time for breakfast, and we walked outside to find ourselves surrounded by glowing fjords and cliffs that were hidden by night during our arrival. Like we just appeared in Norway or something.
We geared up for our hike, filled up on food, stocked up on snacks, and drove up the switchbacks to the start of Kjerag. It was quite different than driving under the cover of darkness, but we still pitched a perfect game in encountering zero traffic going the opposite direction (which is nice on 1.5 lane switchback roads).
The hike started off harmless enough – for about three minutes. Then it immediately confirmed it’s “advanced” status by challenging hikers with crazy steep and slippery rock faces requiring chains to help you up (and down).
Kjerag Mountain, as well as the other Fjords in Norway, were created by glaciers carving out the land, then retreating. The resulting mountain surface is mainly smooth, and composed of large boulders with smaller rocks filling in cracks.
The hike features three main uphill climbs/scrambles — the first two of which are followed by equally challenging downhill climbs back into valleys. Eventually, you reach a flatter area on the top of the mountain. Then you then walk another two kilometers to Kjergbolten, the hanging Boulder wedged between two cliffs.
So… we made it up, down, up, down and up again to the top of the third rise. However, the weather report and ominous clouds (and a couple other hikers concurring) did not give us a good feeling about making the flat run to the Kjeragbolten and adding another two hours to our round trip. Going down the mountainside was going to be tough enough; we didn’t want to risk tackling it with wet rocks. And yeah, while we didn’t see the hanging rock or get a chance to test our nerves by stepping atop it, we did completed the hardest part(s) of the hike!
But on the bright side, having made it up all three major rises, we did get all the great views along the way!
While the sheep hanging around the area didn’t seem to have any problems traversing the terrain, it took a while for a couple Midwest-based humans to get the hang of it. Going uphill got easier with practice, but my favorite method for downhill was holding onto the chains and repelling backwards, or the classic butt-scoot action.
In the end, we stayed dry the entire way back. We hoped we didn’t make a mistake, but then, shortly after driving back to Lysebotn, the rain arrived. We would have definitely still been on the mountain had we continued, so even though we didn’t see Kjergbolten, good call by us.
Returning to the hostel in Lysebotn to finish checking out, we drank some coffee and relaxed before getting on a ferry via Lysenfjord towards Jorpeland.
Driving the car onto the ferry was a fun new experience. No rental company’s insurance will cover a car when it’s on a ferry, but thankfully we didn’t get Titanic’d… this time. Phew.
By the time we sat down, I was ready to pass out. Matt, on the other hand was somehow still functional and was ready and able to take pictures of the beautiful fjord and surrounding mountains. Fun fact: You can spot Kjergbolten from the ferry, so I think we can cross that off our list anyway.
Back on dry land, we drove a quick 15 minutes north to our hotel in Jorpeland to shower (finally!!) and get some much needed sleep. Zzzzzzzzz.