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After an incident with the knee last week-end on Ådni, I had been indoors all week. Fortunately, it was raining all week also. A test hike to Ulriken the night before indicated that I could walk down a mountain without a twisted face. In addition to an incredibly restless body, the weather forecast promised a gorgeous day. Now I only had to pick a mountain and I was all set for a Saturday hike.
For a long time, I have been wanting to visit the mountains near Bjølsegrøvvatnet, and defined Gråeggi and Storegrøeggi as a good round-trip hike for the day. As I drove towards Hardangerfjorden this morning, I noticed that the snow in the mountains was 300m lower than last week-end. Still, I did not expect the snow to be any issue. The snow on Ådni last week was barely noticeable.
I drove up to Bjørge and talked to a local farmer. A pleasant fellow. The farm had a wonderful view towards Hardangerfjorden, and in exchange for good trail information, I mentioned the names of the mountains he could see from the farm. He was particularly content about learning that he could see Englafjell in Uskedalen.
We started walking 09:05AM and followed the tractor road up to Nyastølen. Troll gave up walking just after the farm, and was firmly seated in the backpack. I had problems locating the trail from Nyastølen, but found it higher up on a forest ridge. Very soon, snow covered the ground, and the trail disappeared. The original plan was to follow the high ridge to Storegrøeggi, make it across to Gråeggi and follow the ridge across Fagreseteggi on the way down. This plan was now abandoned. I was happy if I could make it to Storegrøeggi. The snow got deeper and deeper by the minute and my knee was now giving me grief.
When I got Vetlegrøeggi in sight, only the beautiful weather and views gave me the necessary "drive" to proceed. I repeatedly fell into holes and ended up with snow up to my hips. "Swimming" seemed to be the only way out of these pits. I wondered what sort of terrain that I was walking across. I was getting wet on my feet, and wondered if I was walking across ponds or just boggy ground. After a while I learned to read the terrain and through detours, I managed to establish a working rhythm.
Having passed Vetlegrøeggi, I had restored the moral and could enjoy the hike. The summit was in sight, and the wind had blown away some of the ridge snow above 1000m. We reached the summit 12:40PM. The walk had taken 3,5 hours, and the break for lunch came at the right time. It was a bit chilly on the summit, but we found a nice spot just below. Sunny and no wind. I looked towards the east side of Gråeggi. I didn't see any obvious route up here. If one is able to get down to the valley from Storegrøeggi, it is probably wisest to descent a bit down this valley before heading up the east side of Gråeggi. This was useful information, as I will be back for Gråeggi later on. Perhaps not before spring/summer. The ridge over Fagraseteggi didn't strike me as excellent skiing terrain.
It was time to return, and it should come as no surprise that I chose to follow my ascent route, track by track. My suspicion about wandering across wetlands or ponds was confirmed on the way down. Unfortunately, I realized that I would take at least one more week before I could enjoy a pain-free hike. Still, it was all worth it. A sunny November day by Hardangerfjorden is priceless, and there's not a doctor on this planet who could have talked me into staying home.
The hike down took of course much less time, and I let Troll out in the snow well above Nyastølen. Even if the snow was a bit too deep for him, he seemed to happy to be out of the back-pack, and showed off rabbit qualities on the way down the valley. We reached the car 14:45PM, after a short chat with the local farmer. I always enjoy driving home after a long and nice hike. Today was no exception, but my knee made snapping sounds every time I hit the clutch. This was a bit annoying, but the functional workaround was to drive all the way to Bergen in 3rd gear.
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