[ blog » 2022 » 07_Tour_Norway ] d18: Andalsnes to Heggebottvatnet (by Philipp Gesang, location: The Shore of a Lake)


Finally, the big day had come. Trollstigen day. Eleven switchbacks up, then roll down at a leisurely pace, that was the plan.

At the campsite I was already delayed by a long chat with a pitch neighbor, a French lady who has pretty much explored all parts of the world on her bicycle. She was sharing amazing stories about having her bike stolen by a Chinese cop and how camping on the wrong side of the road can get you killed in Mesoamerica. Yikes. I kinda prefer Norway.

Though not very remarkable difficulty wise, the switchbacks up to the pass proved a mental challenge due to the sheer number of campervans on that narrow road. Norway should invest in a few more scenic mountain passes further up north so tourists are more uniformly spread out across the country instead of cramming the RVs and SUVs up that one road.

The weather was superb today, relatively speaking. During the morning and early afternoon the sky cleared up and I had a couple sunny hours which lightened the mood considerably. Thus I thoroughly enjoyed the Trollstigen climb with its numerous waterfalls that provided some cooling. The view down the valley was every bit as phenomenal as I imagined it to be. Coming from the north I had fun on the endlessly drawn out descent into Valldal as well.

Down near the ferry I encountered a touring couple from Switzerland who happened to have booked a flight to Tromsø with the same airline as I for the same reasons. We would then re-meet more than once on the climb to Geieranger. However, up on the parking lot at the pass they had to cut short their trip as one of their bikes' rear shifting cable tore. How much bad luck can you have? Geieranger doesn't have a bike shop so they probably ended up taking the boat to someplace else.


And boy, the boat moored at the Geieranger docks was enormous. The Hurtigrute ships would look like toys next to it. Down at the port I stocked up on food for the night and went on my merry way. It was far too touristic down there for my taste; a bit like Disneyland with a fjord every corner of which smelled like a rip off.

I left Geieranger to the south. At that point the plan was to head for that one campsite at 400 m elevation and spend the night there to be fresh for Dalsnibba in the morning. Which was a decent plan, but flawed. Flawed in that on arrival the receptionist of that campsite claimed they were out of pitches and turned me away. Can't fit a two square meter tent on the vast farm lawn? That was odd, I've never had that happen to me in years of touring.

With my evening plans canceled I did the most logical thing and continued riding. A few hundred meters outside the campsite I ran into a tourer from Spain who was stealthing in a roadside hut. So that spot was already taken. Matters were complicated by my intention of cooking something warm for dinner since I had just bought a pack of beans and instant tomato sauce at that supermarket in Geieranger. However I was running threateningly low on water; I had maybe half a bidon's worth left at that point, so far too little for cooking.

Because of the water situation I passed on a number of cozy looking spots where I might have pitched the tent, and was already closing in on the pass. On the final ramp to the 1000 m pass the weather made sudden turn for the worst and hit me with rain showers and punishing gusts of headwind. Up at the lake that horrible weather was completely gone again.

There's a hotel right at the junction where the climb to Dalsnibba starts, but that was as uninviting as it could possibly have been due to a sign "no bikes" outside. Well, you too, I guess. What to do then? It was too cold to pitch up there plus the weather seemed too unstable for my taste. But after coming so close to Dalsnibba I couldn't just ride on and miss out on the climb. At 21:00 h it was getting dark too as I was no longer in polar latitudes.

So I went for it. All the way up to 1476 m. On a 10 % average gradient.

It didn't turn out as bad as I feared: wind and rain had subsided and only returned on the final meters near the summit. The road is clean and there were almost no cars in sight. Perfect conditions for climbing up to the panorama view on the Geirangerfjord. When I rolled onto the platform a bunch of campervans were greeting me. Germans of course, what else. It was crazy up there. The wind was blowing so hard it almost ripped my phone out of my hands.

Nocturnal Odyssee

Pitching on the Dalsnibba wasn't really an option. According to OSM data the closest campsite in the direction I was heading was around 15 km away from the summit. All downhill of course. That sounded doable so I put my rain gear on -- it had started raining again -- and let gravity carry me downhill.

It was now getting really dark and chilly too. The road looks like it could accomodate lots of traffic but at that time of the night there were only few cars on the road -- I passed one every ten minutes or so -- which makes me suspect that it was actually better riding that bit at night than during the day.

That "campsite" I was headed for turned out a dud. Just cabins, no actual camping. Continuing down the valley I found a resting place with an actual toilet a few kilometers after, right by an idyllic lake (or, this being Norway, probably a reservoir) so I finally decided to pitch the tent.

On saving the track the Garmin announced I had broken my PR for elevation gain -- a whopping 3280 meters over 160 km. Half of that carrying a load of bulky foodstuffs intended for dinner. What a day!


gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail gallery image thumbnail