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