[ blog » 2022 » 07_Tour_Norway ]d20: Skjolden to Dragsvik (by Philipp Gesang, location: A Campsite Kitchen on the Sognefjord )

Sognefjorden, un songe d'un fjord

After the mountain frenzy of the last two days, today is best described as a recovery ride to appease the legs. Starting from Skjolden at its innermost tip I rode about half the length of the massive Sognefjord from east to west.

Around the corner from the campsite I spotted Wittgenstein's hytte on a steep slope about a hundred meters above a lake. Kind of a low-key demonstration of both perfectionism and wealth beyond measure at the same time, commissioning the construction of that mansion in a remote location like this.

Had a chat with four touring kids from Poland in Skjolden who were basically following the same itinerary as I. They were going ultra-minimalist so I assumed they'd catch me later on but didn't.

The weather was playing nice all day for a change. Blue sky and sun all day; not a single drop of rain and I didn't have to dress up for the cold either. Amazing. As was the ride along the coast to Urnes with its famous UNESCO certified timber church. A narrow, single-lane road with little traffic and a bunch of unlit tunnels that were the only times during this day when I had to take off the sunglasses.

Interesting tidbit: The Urnes-Solvorn is privately operated so this was the second time during this trip that I had to pay for the crossing.

A small climb was necessary to get out of Solvorn to the road to Sogndal, but these 200 m were all the altitude I would be getting today. At that point the scenery around the fjord and its minor branches got Switzerland-ish again, like a scaled version of the Interlaken or Luzern regions.

The Phantom Campsite

After crossing the fjord again on the ferry to Dragsvik I headed for the middle one of the three campsites that OSM listed between that village and its neighbor Balestrand. I got doubts about whether I actually wanted to stay there as its purported location was at the far end of an eastern branch of the fjord that I realized while approaching was cut off from the sun in most directions. The place seemed rather dark and uninviting so I was kind of glad when the campsite turned out to not exist. A few lonely hytter on an unmowed lawn were the only signs that there must have been a campsite there once, probably before the Covid.

Ingen problem! The map showed another campsite close by in Balestrand what seems to be some kind of resort town. So I went to Balestrand, passed by the fancy looking beach houses, arrived at the location and ... again, just a lawn with a bunch of old cabins. No reception, no people. Where the hell did I end up, the land of ghost campsites?!

To add insult to injury the Balestrand ferry doesn't seem to be operating most days. The pier appears to be a kind of fallback in case the road to Dragsvik has to be closed for traffic during winter. So I had little choice but to return to Dragsvik the same way I had come. It was getting late. This was supposed to be the first day in a while that I finish my ride before 20 h and I saw that deadline close in on me fast. My options included camping wild -- not great as I was running low on water and needed to cook some rice; or taking the ferry back to Hella and then the other one to Vangsnes where there were several campsites listed -- rather time consuming but feasible; or checking out that camping ground in in Dragsvik which I had dismissed earlier because it had the tent sign crossed out and a panel on the road indicating they were full and not taking any more guests.

That last option turned out to be a win: I got a nice pitch on the tent area which actually did exist that crossed out sign notwithstanding. Showers and bathrooms are exceptionally clean too, even by Norwegian standards. What a pleasant surprise after an 18 km detour!

The sky still looks innocuous, here's hoping for the first rain-free night since the Nordkapp.


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