Posts Tagged With: walking

Kjerag Bolten, Norway

After Logan’s 40k(!) run yesterday, we are off on the big Kjerag Bolten adventure (pronunciation: Sherag). The Bolten is a boulder trapped inbetween two rock walls; it is suspended over 1000m above the Lysefjord.
To get to the Bolten, you start the walk from a restaurant up the serpentine road from Lysebotn.
Whether you get there with your own car, book a bus from the camp site in Lysebotn or hope for a hitch hike from the cars on the ferry.
We got here via the long southern road along the fjord. For photos please see previous blog post.

The parking fee for the day is 100NOK which is over 10€ or $16. You can pay in the restaurant. There are toilets and showers provided but at the end of the walk I have to find out that the showers (which are an extra 10NOK) don’t even work. I’m very disappointed about that looking at the overpriced parking fee that is “supposed to help maintain the car park and facilities”.

The walk is rated “very difficult”. After a few meters we have to make our way up a steep and sometimes slippery mountain. There is a chain fixated to the ground so hikers can hold on for safety. I like treks like these with a bit of a challenge. Red T-markers sprayed on rocks lead the way but there is no actual track. The views are fantastic from the first mountain. The end of the fjord, the town of Lysebotn and the mountains are visible from here.

(Bottem left photo)

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After the first mountain the T-markers lead us into a valley (upper left photo) where we need to cross a creek via a wooden bridge. There is so much mud around, it doesn’t take long until I step in a puddle (to Logan’s delight) and have a wet foot. Oops.
Proper trekking shoes would do a better job in this kind of terrain.

To be honest, I was hoping that there was only one mountain to climb but standing on top, we could see there was a second mountain behind the green valley.
Again the chains are helping the steep and treacherous way up but I’m getting exhausted and slow down Logan (who really should be more exhausted than me after his long run yesterday). He get’s a bit impatient with me, trying to hurry me because he thinks we may not make the ferry in the evening. But hey, I’m not THAT slow!
So on top of the next mountain, I realise there is a valley with a river and ANOTHER even much bigger mountain! It’s still so far away that the people climbing up, look like an ant colony to me. I’m uncertain about my abilities, especially because I can’t keep up with Logan anymore. He’s always about 50-100m infront of me, impatiently tapping his foot from time to time until I get closer again.
So down again, crossing the river aaaand up again! The monster mountain! Step by step, with aching legs, I’m climbing meter by meter
until we finally reach the top. It’s gotta be the end! We must be at the Kjerag Bolten finally. And then I see ant-sized people again! Oh no!!! It’s not a mountain this time, just a long way to walk over a rocky surface with crevasses and even some meter thick snow in parts. Tourist-made rock piles are decorating the landscape and a sign post is pointing the way to Kjerag Bolten.

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From the sign post it’s only a stone’s throw to the Bolten but the way down is precarious! A thin line of hard-packed snow leads through a crevasse towards the platform and the Kjerag Bolten. Right and left are big bolders below and falling or sliding off the thin snow track, wouldn’t be pretty. Walking very slowly over the very slippery snow, we make the crossing and get a first sight of the Kjerag Bolten. I immediately get an adrenaline rush thinking about going on the rock, as anyone here does, for a spectacular photo.
Logan is first and coming back, he re-assures me, it’s not all that bad. There actually is a line up of about 5 people before its my turn. A young women gets dizzy and goes right down on her knees, leaning backwards onto another bolder. A young man reached for her hand to pull her back on the main platform. Right infront of me is a dad with his maybe 5 year old daughter who is slightly freaked out. I can’t blame her, I’m scared too! Looking down the 1000m chasm didn’t help much either.
Now it’s my turn. “don’t look down and keep smiling for the video camera” I keep telling myself. I can feel my legs shake from the strainiousness of climbing for three hours and now the adrenaline adds to it. Logan seems
to keep filming for aaaaages. Finally he is done and I try to communicate to him to also quickly take a photo. He makes hand signs: “with what?” Then it seems
come to him that I gave him my phone.
“Click”!

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..Ok back to safety!!!
Wow that was exciting. We unpack our lunch and enjoy the view while eating.
Logan again asks for the time and I can proudly say: we made it in 2 hours and 30minutes. 3 hours is what it is supposed to take! I’m NOT slow Logan. 😉
A few more photos and we are making our way back over all three mountains which takes approximately the same time or a bit less. My legs start to get weaker and I slip a few times, adding some more mud to my shoes and pants.

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Exhausted we arrive back at the car park and I check whether the showers are working but as already mentioned they aren’t! So we have to make do with the sink and warm water tab in the disabled toilet.

Back down in Lysebotn, we are lining up for the tourist ferry to Forsand. The ferry is 640NOK = about 88€/$105 one way for two people and car/mobile home.
The trip takes 2 hours and we get to see the steep rock cliffs of the fjord, a seal baking in the sun, the Kjerag Bolten from below (see in photo), several waterfalls and hear stories about the locals here at the fjord.

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Arriving in Forsand, we find a perfect little spot to camp right at the fjord. Tomorrow we’ll try our luck fishing again!

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Hiking on the Seiser Alm/Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites


“Francy, get out the van and look at this! You won’t believe it!” I hear Logan saying in the morning. I open the door and see a snow line in the trees only about 100m above us. Oh, so I guess there will be fresh snow on the Seiser Alm then?! Looks like our walk will rather be a short one today anyway after Logan ran up there yesterday and I’m still fighting off my light headache.

The Seiser Alm, or in Italian: Alpe di Siusi, is Europe’s highest alpine pasture at 1680 – 2350m above sea level. It is very big at about 57km² and surrounded by mountains like the Schlern and the Langkofelgruppe (long-peak-group).

The Schlern:


We drive up the serpentine mountain road to Compatsch, the only village where cars are still allowed on the Alm and discover that much of the snow is already melting due to the warm sun. Looking at the tourist map, we realize there are literally hundreds of different routes to choose from, some of them particularly designed for hiking, some for cycling and some for running. We choose a 1-2hour round trip and start our easy walk:

The Langkofelgruppe with Logan looking at the Plattkofel (flat-peak) 2969m:

 

 

Within 10 minutes we lost the orange track we wanted to follow and find ourselves getting further and further away from the van. What started off as a slow walk turns into a hike, then a power hike, up and down hills and soon steep up towards the Langkofelgruppe. After 5(!!!) hours of hiking I’m suddenly being screamed at. I have no idea what it is or where it’s coming from and start screaming myself. Then I see it! A groundhog! I’m so excited, I can hardly get a word out to explain Logan what I see. A very confident ground hog is standing up right in front of me, trying to scare me off. We slowly get closer and sit down on a rock. After a few seconds we see another one, and another one, and another one… The whole groundhog family is coming out from it’s den to check us out too. I really love watching animals, especially in the wild. We stay for a while, watching them play, feed and ring the shrill alarm whistle another time, when a large bird flies past.

Finally we arrive at the Plattkofel hut. My feet are wet from the melting snow and I’m exhausted from the long hike. We are looking forward to a drink and some warm food in the hut when soon it dawns on us: The hut is closed. We already expected it as we haven’t seen any hikers for a long time and there were no tracks in the snow either.

Plattkofel (flat peak)                                                                            See the ground hog?

 

So instead of sitting down for a nice warm lunch, we get out our emergency cookies and some water and sit down in the grass. A black bird joins us, being quite pushy about getting his share of our lunch.

Plattkofel hut                                                                Black bird and Plattkofel in the background

 

The tracks up the Plattkofel weren’t open yet due to the snow and quite frankly we didn’t feel like hiking/climbing any higher. We had a long way back to our van and didn’t want to arrive back in Compatsch after dark.
Fortunately going down works out to be quite fast, especially slipping and sliding down the melting snow.

Soon we arrive in a valley and realize that we need to walk back up again. There are no buses going, so we have no choice but to keep going!

 

Here you can see the Plattkofel (the snowy flat peak on the right), the mountain we walked down all the way into the valley and then back up to where I took this photo. Only about 20min to Compatsch (and our van) from here!

The sun is standing low when we see the first houses of Compatsch. It has been 7.5 hours since we left for the walk.
Absolutely exhausted but happy about this amazing hike, we fall into the door of our camper van and have a decent portion of Spaghetti to fill up our hungry bellies.

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Dolomites, Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm)


After a nutritious breakfast…

… we leave beautiful Villanders to drive further into the Dolomites, hoping to start a 5 day trek.

Here’s a photo of where about the Dolomites are (the lower white end in Northern Italy).

And our Camping spot with beautiful views over the Dolomites…

On our discovery route, we drive through Kastelruth (or Castelrotto) and get to enjoy fantastic views at the Alpe di Siusi (or Seiser Alm). Kastelruth is a lovely Tyrollean village with mural art on the buildings. During winter this is a snow resort town and during summer the gateway to an adventure land full of activities like mountain climbing, hiking, running or cycling.

  

Driving up to the Seiser Alm, an amazing plateau, we have to discover that there is no way we can possibly spend the night here. Cars are only allowed to a certain point and there is only one car park which is monitored by rangers regularly. We return to the village “Seis” at the bottom of the Seiser Alm and try to gather some information on possible hiking trails for the next days. Here we find out that the refuge huts are still closed and that there is still snow in the higher parts of the hiking trails. Our planned 5-Day walking track will not happen but we are still quite happy to go for a day-trek tomorrow.

For today we decide to just go for a walk from our campsite in Seis to a lake we found on the map.
It is a rather cool but sunny day (with clouds) and I’m struggling with a light headache caused by the cold winds, so I end up wearing a beanie.
We first walk through dense forest and just when I’m reminded of my childhood stories of witches and dwarfs, I discover a large rock in the middle of the woods with a sign telling a myth about a pastor who was once killed here by witches. Soon after, we come to an open alpine pasture with dozens of cows and bulls roaming freely. The cow bells are ringing everywhere and one cow curiously walks right up to me, smelling me and my hand. I think I have never been so close and vulnerable to a cow before but even though we were both slightly afraid of each other, I felt very close to this lovely creature. The soft nose touched my hand and the big eyes looked at me with curiosity. I think I really fell in love with cows and I’m glad that these ones here have such a wonderful live. They all were very active, running around, jumping and moo-ing loudly.

Not far and we arrive at a lake surrounded by forest. We walk around it once and then return to Seis via a different route.

  

     

  

This different route leads us past a restaurant and we can’t resist but follow our noses…

    

So after having filled our stomachs with Schnitzel and fries, Logan got stylish for his run.
Here, a photo of the 2012 sport’s outfit:

Logan actually ended up running all the way up to the Seiser Alm and back, he’s just that crazy guy from Down Under who can’t get enough!

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Climbing Vesuvius and Busking in Naples

Mount Vesuvius is a stratovolcano about 9km east of Naples and a short distance to the shore. It is the only volcano on the European mainland that has erupted within the last hundred years. Climbing a volcano that has destroyed and buried the Roman cities Pompeii and Herculaneum AD79 is very special but the fact that Vesuvius is also rated one of the most dangerous volcanos in the world, makes it a little more exciting.

 
Vesuvius has erupted many times since AD79, the last time being in 1944. On occasion, eruptions from Vesuvius have been so large that the whole of Southern Europe has been blanketed by ash; in 472 and 1631 Vesuvian ash fell on Constantinople (Istanul), over 1,200km away. Today there are more than 3,000,000 people living nearby, which makes it the most densely populated volcanic region in the world. The volcano is being monitored by the Osservatorio Vesuvio in Naples and the government’s evacuation plan assumes between two weeks and 20 days’ notice of an eruption. The evacuation of 600,000 people by trains, ferries, cars and buses is planned to take about seven days.

So after paying 5 Euros for parking and an additional 8 Euros per person entrance to the Volcano, we are allowed to start our walk and even receive a walking stick – borrowed of course.
While we are walking up the volcano as one of the first 30 visitors, we look down on the many bus loads full of people arriving. Hundreds of people are lining up at the ticket office during the day, large groups following us.

Franzi on top of the Vesuvius Crater Logan at the crater

 

The views from the volcano down to Naples and the bay are spectacular. Also the view into the crater is fascinating. Even though Vesuvius is not currently erupting, we see steam rising up from the inside. A group of students from America is lined up at the rim and shouting into the crater. The sound travels around the inner wall and comes back to us in a circular movement seconds later. This is so cool, we have to try it ourselves. It even works when you call out into the crater on your own, but as loud as you can! You are allowed to walk around the top for about ¾ of the rim but then have to walk the same way back. There is even a small coffee shop and tourist shops up the top.

 

Click on the following picture and you’ll be able to move it around with the cursor to get a 360 degree view!

Adventurous as we are, we climb up some volcanic rock and look even deeper into the crater. People at the bottom stop, stare and point. But they always stare, so not sure what their reason is this time.

It is then time for us to move on to Naples.
I was told Naples is the real Italy. Not as touristy as Rome, it is supposed to be a nice Italian city.


In REALITY Naples is a hectic and crazy city with an accumulation of Italian freakazoids without driving skills. Somehow we are trying to find a car park in the congested and loud city but soon realise we need to get out of here. A man on a scooter tries to sell us an iPhone while driving. Even though we shake our heads he keeps harassing us, driving in front of us, turning backwards, then next to us, then again in front of us. We almost hit him accidently; what’s the matter with these Italians? Window washers catapult themselves at our campervan at traffic lights and mopeds outright cut in front of us. Beeping horns everywhere and constantly! Getting out of this chaos is difficult and very stressful, so stressful I ask Logan to please stop on the side of the road and figure out where we can go to escape this craziness. Eventually we make it to the marina at the outskirts of Naples. Still loud and hectic, we decide this is as far as we can go and still be able to ride into Naples via bicycle tomorrow. Since it’s a busy Saturday night, I convince Logan to go busking for the first time in his life. Along the esplanade we see many people busking, selling roses, mimicking and so on. Logan sets himself up across a restaurant and I can feel the eyes on us. It must be strange for people to see a white person with blonde dreadlocks busking on the street.

The African ‘fellas’ all come and say “hello”, “rastafari” or “Bob Marley”. They love him. It’s so funny to watch. During the first 5 minutes, Logan gets about 5 Euros, then it slows down for the next 55 minutes. In the end we walk back to our Campervan with 8 Euros and a laugh about the new experience.

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Malerweg Day 4

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Malerweg
Day 4

By Logan Foote

What a night!!! I knew I was in an exposed location but didn’t really have much of a choice yesterday. Every other spot that was sheltered was waterlogged or too steep.

The temperature dropped well below 0 and the wind was so strong. Perched up on the edge on a U-shaped plateau, the sound of the wind howling through the trees was intense. I could hear the massive wind gusts approaching from one end of the cliff top, heading in my direction like a freight train on steroids and then continuing on past me. . At times I had to hold my little tent together as I feared it would buckle under the stress.

I then started to hear the sound of either raindrops or ice being pelted against my tent. I tried to sleep but not much was to be had. At one stage I dosed off only to be awoken by the tent collapsing onto my head. I couldn’t understand this because the wind was not gusting at the particular time. Other thoughts of a branch, an animal or person ran through my mind in that split second as I awoke. I realised no one else in their right mind would be up here at this time and in this weather. I pushed back against the tent before grabbing my torch to inspect what was going on.

Upon opening the zipper I quickly released that it was not raining during the night but snowing. The snow had built up around my tent and due to the weight made it partially collapse.

I arose from my tent around sunrise to be confronted by a completely different landscape. The supposed mild winter had taken a turn and now a new set of challenges lay in front of me. The main one being: Could I still follow the track? It would be easy to take a wrong turn and be wondering around these rocky mountain cliffs and forests with almost no food left. After studying the map I weighed up my options. I could see another track that lead down to the river and a little village but was not sure exactly where it started in relation to my position.

After packing up my tent and dealing with the unpleasant business of a sudden bowl problem in the snow I was ready to go. The track was very hard to follow. At times I was guessing which direction to walk and with very steep cliffs all around me that were now covered in snow, now was not the time to be complaisant. I came across what looked like a small person’s footprint that seemed to be following the track. I knew that it had to be some kind of animal but no idea what. At times when I didn’t know which direction to walk, I followed these little footprints. I think if they were not there it would’ve been much harder to keep on the track and make it down safely to lower altitude.

I was very relieved when I managed to find the other track that lead to the river. So with that, I then decided that the wise thing to do would be to not continue along the Malerweg. The next two stages were through similar terrain with steep rocky cliffs, gorges and the unknown. My luck on the food front was not any better. The map only showed the odd little village along the way and a very low chance of a shop. I contemplated cutting across the river and linking up with another section of the trail but decided against it once I couldn’t find a bridge. I rang Francy when I had reception and filled her in. She offered to drive the 3 hr trip down to pick me up, which gave me time to walk the last 12km to the village “Bad Schandau”. I dragged myself into town searching for two things high on my list. Lip balm, as my lips were in bad shape and food. I was in luck. Once my lips were given relief I found a café and even though I hadn’t really eaten much over the past four days and was not really hungry I ordered a hot chocolate, salad roll and a donut. Awesome. I’m not sure what the locals thought of me or where I had come from but I didn’t care.

Francy eventually arrived, greeting me with a big smile and suggestion that I take a shower ASAP.

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