Sunday, July 30, 2017

Nedre Skavlegiltjernet - Slettningsbu

Massiv day 12.
Distance: 14.9km (265.9km), time spent: 7:09 (101:37).
Ascent / descent: 679m (8475m) / 609m (8144m).
Altitude (start / end / highest): 1242m / 1312m / 1407m.
Weather: Overcast most of the time, but the first day without any rain while walking, came in the evening.

And then I might have exaggerated a little bit too much when it comes to not exaggerate. After having decided to calm down a bit and not to go so long days, distancewise, I ended up with quite the short walk today. Overly short perhaps. The time still disappeared though, I took my time on the way. I chose to go to Slettningsbu, since I could not see that there would be any suitable place after the cabin to camp at, until a long walk after it. From Slettningsbu, you go down to the cabin field between Tyin and Torolmen and I do not want to camp there, I was unsure of the possibilites alongside the shores of Tyin. I stopped at Slettningsbu.

On the way down from Nedre Skavlegiltjernet towards Kyrkjestølane, a view across the valley towards the mountains on the other side, where the clouds lie low.

It had rained during the night, but a break in the weather and wind in the morning made it possible to pack down the tent quite dry. It is grey outside anyhow. From Nedre Skavlegiltjernet the trail goes down into the valley to Kyrkjestølane. Parts of the descent goes through a wonderful birchwood, which provides for a welcome break from the more open scenery you otherwise walk in. With the leaves around me fluttering slowly in the wind through the trees.

Path through a pleasant birchwood down to Kyrkjestølane.

Down in the valley, the route then offer some church history, as it passes right next to the St. Thomas Church at Filefjell, originally a stave church inaugurated to Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterybury from 1162. In 1808, the small stave church was torn since the priests no longer could handle all the fuss related to the church, due to a myth that you could be healed by visiting the church. The church standing there now was built in 1971. The visit at Kyrkjestølane gives me the possibility to waste more time for two waffles and a little bit long awaited cup of hot coffee.

The Church of St. Thomas at Filefjell.

From Kyrkjestølane is Massiv crossing over the mountain area around Slettningsegge, from a road to another road. The ascent is relatively steep, but the terrain after is easier for the feet. It strikes me that if I had not decided to calm it down, I could have made quick headway of this part. The most cumbersome part of the day's stage was the walk next to Austrefjordtjerne and the descent down to Øvre Årdalsvatnet (which Slettningsbu is situated next to).

Going to the summit of Kyrkjenøse, at 1308m, is well worth the short and easy climb up from the path. The opposite side of the summit, the southern side, is very steep, but that provides you with a great view over the valley below and further behind towards Suletinden and Sulefjellet. There is a sting from the wind at the top. The whole edge of the ridge from Kyrkjenøse, past Støgonøse and to Skørsnøse is steep and precipitous on the side facing down towards the valley.

View from the summit of Kyrkjenøse.

Now that I walk at a leisurely pace, take my time and do not rush ahead, I get better time to take in my surroundings. That I usually rush ahead might be an exaggeration, but I am often driven by an urge to keep on walking, to continue further. Too curious to stop at times, and hence do not take a closer look around me where I am then. That being said though, even when I do walk in my usual pace, I still pay attention to what I can see.

A small stranded bush on a mossy rock, at a tiny lake near Slettningen.

You are not quickly done with Slettningen anyway, even how fast you walk. Unless you take the other option at the junction between Slettningen and Grønevatnet. I an pondering if I should take the path that goes through Grønedalen and around the westside of Slettningsegge to Slettningsbu, since it is slightly longer, but my choice still fall upon the route past Austrefjordtjerne. Across the river between the two lakes, I get no quarter, the shoes has to go off.

View over Slettningen with Sulefjellet and Suletinden behind in the horizon. Straight across on the other side is the trail coming up from Kyrkjestølane right next to Kyrkjenøse.

I share my place for lunch with a slightly anxious lemming where the path are moving away from Slettningen, it runs back and forth from behind the stones. As soon as it spots me, it strikes a full retreat. Alongside Austrefjordtjerne is the landscape again dominated by rocks, but much simpler to walk on that in the desert two days ago. Someone has forgotten a cloth doll, a small dog, it now functions as a guardian of one of the cairns.

Another stony landscape, at Austrefjordtjerne.

You get the reward for taking this way to Slettningsbu at the top of the pass before the descent to Øvre Årdalsvatnet. Even with clouds, both bright and dark ones lingering over the mountains, is it a massive and powerful sight. Where the peaks of Jotunheimen reaches towards the sky and are pushing themselves up through the layers of clouds. Another way to say it, is that the clouds are cutting off the top of the mountains. On the other side of the lake below me there are two small dots, the two huts at Slettningsbu. Must be a wonderful view here underneath a clear blue sky.

Magnificent view towards the peaks of Jotunheimen at the pass above Øvre Årdalsvatnet. Slettningsbu is visible on the other side of the lake below.

Along the lake, it is not first and foremost the short, but nice ridgewalk before the cabin that catches my attention. In the air above me, there is now a buzzard circle over me, with its high-pitched howls and wings in full span. It gets an answer from another buzzard shortly after, and then there are two of them sailing through the air, sceptical to what this wanderer on the ground is up to. They fly away just short of before I arrive at the self-served cabin. It is conspicuously quiet there after the howls from the birds.

A buzzard sailing on the air above me, following my every move.

I have fortunately lost so much time on my walk today, that I do not arrive at Slettningsbu too early, which also sort of reaffirms that I do not walk further today. It is a pleasant small cabin. And if I may say so, when it comes to the cabins of the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT), I do like the self-served cabins the best. There is always more of a mood of its own on these cabins than on the staffed ones, which might be attributed to the fact that here you have to do the things yourself to stay (like preparing dinner). For my part, I spend some of the time to wash the clothes I walk in. An excellent excuse to stay one night at a cabin.

A short, but nice ridgewalk next to Øvre Årdalsvatnet before arriving at Slettningsbu.

Later, I see some others coming from the other side of the lake and I do not become alone as I first believed. Yet another couple doing a part of Massiv, they started their walk today from Sletterust at Torolmen (a short walk from here). It turns out afterwards, as repeatedly has been proven, that the world is small. One of them has been the girlfriend of one I played football with from my homeplace and is also the second cousin of some friends of my family (this I first found out when I saw the surname in the protocol). It is however nice with more people at the hut. For dinner I prepare the best canned food DNT has on their self-served cabins, bacalao.

Outside, the wind is increasing and there are never a day without rain on this hike, but this time it luckily comes in the evening only. I escaped any raindrops on my walk. A comfortable walk today, almost for a rest day to count. Which suited me just fine actually.

Map of the trail for the twelfth day on Massiv, from Nedre Skavlegiltjernet to Slettningsbu.

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