Day 8: Austdal Glacier

What do you do when your muscles are no longer sore? Go kayaking and hike on a glacier, of course! The day began as usual… pack up, eat breakfast, squirrel away some food for lunch, you know the drill. Driving north from Gaupne into Jostedal Glacier National Park — in the usual rainy weather — we made a pit stop at the the Breheim Center entrance to meet up with our Ice Troll company guides for the day.

The road to Jostedal Glacier National Park

After the necessary paperwork signing our rights away, we got back in the car and drove in a caravan further north (and ever-rising elevation) to the lake where we would start our kayaking adventure. Tour guides provided us with the gear we needed, and we hiked about ten minutes over the dam to our launch point. Though still raining, everybody persevered (even the family that decided it was a good day for jeans). Two paddles and one quick kayaking lesson later, we were ready to go.

Launching the fleet

The dam was built in 1990, causing what was previously two lakes to merge into one. The lake is the highest glacial lake used commercially for kayak tours in the world. The kayaking portion of the trip was six kilometers, and it rained the entire time, but it didn’t stop our fun!

Glacial ice is served!

After arriving at the terminus of the Austdal Glacier, we added more layers (it’s cold on a giant sheet of ice), stopped for lunch, and geared up for the hiking portion. Turns out, walking on top of a glacier can be kind of dangerous – slipping on the ice and falling into crevasses and all. The use of crampons, ice picks, and ropes helped keep us safe.

Geared up for a glacier walk

And that’s why they gear you up

Heavy snowfall last season means several snow bridge sections are still in tact

Apparently the snow bridges were still safe enough to venture across

But again… giant crevasses!

Thank goodness for crampons!

Near the end of the hike, we were surprised with hot chocolate! An excellent addition to an already awesome day.

Bringing hot chocolate makes Michael a legendary guide

As the hike came to the end and we geared up to kayak back, the sun started to peek out of the clouds, providing some clearer views.

Austdal Glacier

Next group of hikers take to the glacier

Ready for another 6km row!

Largest ice berg chunk we saw floating across the lake

In summary, the verdict on our glacier kayak and hike trip

Pulling our kayak onto the shore at 6pm, we walked back down to the parking lot, returned all our kayaking gear, and changed into dry clothes. Now we were ready for the day’s final mission, driving to our next pit stop in Lom.

Here’s the alpine National Park scenery we missed in the morning rain

View of the Nigard Glacier from the Breheim Center

To get to Lom, we first needed to drive south back to the town of Gaupne where we could turn to the east and begin making our way north (stupid mountains in the way). Along the road back to Gaupne, we encountered a 30-minute delay where a car had driven into the ditch on a one-lane portion of the road. It was kind of surprising we made it this far into the trip without seeing any automobile accidents, given the Norway roads.

Well, at least the guy next door has a tractor to help out.

After passing back thru Gaupne, the rest of the three-hour drive to Lom was on the Sognefjellet scenic route. Again, slightly foiled by the weather, we couldn’t see many of the mountain peaks and glaciers in the distance (we assume they were still there), but it still was very scenic and worth the drive.

Waterfalls, evening mists, reflecting lakes, etc

Mostly cloudy and rainy on the route, but still gorgeous

This glass telescope is a great way to realize how many mountain peaks we are not seeing in the clouds

We finally arrived to our hotel in Lom at 10pm. There appears to be another Stave Church across the street that we might check out tomorrow morning. Otherwise, it’s off to Andalsnes with a stop in the Geiranger Fjord.

4 Comments on “Day 8: Austdal Glacier”

  1. Again, terrifying pictures I’m glad I didn’t know about before you went! But really beautiful!

  2. Wow! Looks like an exciting day! Great shot of the two of you kayaking….as well as the beautiful photo with the fireweed in the foreground. As for hiking out on those glacial ‘fingers'(between the crevices!)…perhaps there are some photos that parents shouldn’t see. LOL! Nerves of steel to walk on such a narrow space.

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