The moment we emerged from the last tunnel, and our eyes adjusted to the light, I knew we had picked a great town to stay in. A huge mountain range that pierced into the clouds, dropped off into the fjord where the town of Åndalsnes stood. For two days, my girlfriend Courtney and I stayed in a cabin at a campground with the intent of seeing and doing as much as possible while in Åndalsnes. All around us towered an incredible, vast landscape of snow capped mountains, views of a serpentine river, and the endless expanse of the fjord. It was only our second day of the trip after driving from Ålesund and we were hungry to get into the mountains.
The adventures started within minutes of being there. Once we unpacked some of our bags into the cabin, we headed up the trailhead that starts in the city center. The trail leads up to the infamous Rampestreken, which is a suspended walkway that protrudes from the mountain and provides a stunning view. Courtney reassured me that this was supposed to be a family-friendly, “easy” hike and that we wouldn’t water or food for it. And she was right, except I think they meant that the hike was Norwegian-family-friendly, because it was tough. The stairmaster-like climb takes you up a root filled trail but is filled with view points and lookouts of the town and fjord below. After a casual 1500′ of vertical later, we rounded the turn that lead us to the walkway. After waiting for a Canadian couple to finish taking their pictures, we walked out. For just a moment, before the fog & clouds rolled in, we were able to feel the exposure of a thousand feet of nothing below our feet but a thin metal grate. Even as the weather rolled in, it was still an unforgettable view.
After heading back down, we made our way into the town to get pizza and beer at a local spot before heading back to the cabin for the night. Since it was summer and the sun never really sets, it gave us the chance to wander the riverbanks and stare endlessly at the huge wall of a mountain that towered over our campground.
After an eyecover-requiring sleep, we were back in the rental car headed south to have a chance at hiking The Romsdalseggen Ridge. A hike which has been hailed as one of Norway’s most beautiful treks. The non-technical, but very difficult hike takes about 7-8hrs to cover 10km, across a few exposed, sharktooth-like peaks, ending back in the town of Åndalsnes. Needless to say, we were stoked when we parked at the trailhead; unfortunately, Norway’s winter snow had different plans for us. We should have known right away that there might still be snow on the ridge when two Norwegians, that parked next to us, headed up the trail prepped for a day of ski-touring. We crested the initial hill that puts you onto a plateau above the valley below, and it was entirely white. Everything was covered in a dense layer of spring snow. It looked like ridge was not going to happen for us on this trip. But we still wanted to hike anyway. So we made our way across the snow field trying to avoid snow bridges with runoff below as much as we could.
We made our way to an outcropping on a hill that sat on the plateau looking up at the ridge above. The sun was shining bright and we felt like it was a great place to stop for some snacks and soak in the panoramic views. We sat there watching a group of mountaineers hack their way up the steep grade and onto the snow covered ridgeline. Next to them were the two Norwegians from earlier, skinning their way up the slope in a zig-zag pattern, unfortunately we didn’t get to see them ski off the top.
Eventually we headed back down, across the snow covered slopes, and headed further up the valley to the Venjesdalsvatnet. A crystal blue mountain runoff lake which became the perfect backdrop for our staple lunch of salted meats and cheese. A place that made me truly stop and appreciate everything I have and how I got there. Snow capped mountains stood in the distance as we walked along the blue waters at the base of a lush green mountain. After lunch, we headed further up the valley were waterfalls cascaded overhead until the snow blocked us from passing further up the road. From there, we walked on top of the exposed rocks to what we hoped was another lake we found on a map, but once again the snow halted our progress and we were forced to turn around.
Even though we didn’t reach any summits or towering vistas, just being surrounded by the landscape in Norway was good enough for us. We still had plenty of days left in Norway to hike and explore. So we headed back to the cabin again for another night of beers and the midnight sun. The following morning would be highlighted by one of the most stunning things I’ve ever stood upon, the Troll Wall