This weekend we drive north from Bergen to one of the most beautiful regions in Vest-Norge, Sunnmørsalpene. The weather forecast looks quite promising for the 4 days that we have estimated to complete our trail running trip around the whole fjord: Hjørundfjorden rundt - 120km and ca. 6000m of positive elevation gain. We bring light backpacks and intend to sleep in the DNT cabins on the way.
On Thursday we started running from Barstadvik around 17:30 under a light but persistent rain. 20km and 1500m elevation gain ahead of us and only 3-4h of light to reach Standalshytta. It gets dark when we are only half way. It is quite challenging to find the way because there are no clear trails in this section of the route, but thanks to the GPS (and Tom’s knowledge how to use it) we manage. It’s already 11PM when we finish the last climb of the day. It has stopped raining and the perfectly full moon is strong enough for us to continue in the dark and enjoy the beauty and the silence of the night in this valley surrounded by towering mountains. The last km’s of downhill running with our headlamps are so much fun and magic that we stop listening to the complaints of our legs. We are stoked and we start singing and screaming while we make our way through rivers, trails and rocky sections. Finally we get to the cabin around 0:30 am and we experience one of the first setbacks of the trip (not the last one though). The cabin is “ubetjent” and we have forgotten the key in the car. The guys are convinced of just sleeping outside with our thin liners but after some teamwork and using a bit of brain power we break into the cabin. We have a shower, prepare warm dinner and Lander decides to burn his 3 pairs of socks putting them on the fireplace (smart guy) so he will have to run the rest of the trip with semi-destroyed socks.
We wake up on the 2nd day already a bit sore in our legs. Today is going to be a long day: 40-45km to the next cabin. It is really sunny and warm (it would stay like this for the rest of the trip). After an easy climb and really fun downhill we reach Sæbo already quite tired after “only" 15k in our legs. We stop for food and charge the batteries before we would do the last 30k. We start complaining about how tired we are and check the map to realize that we will have to run about 20k on roads to reach the next cabin. We are all allergic to running on asphalt, so one of the trip leaders comes up with the idea of changing the plan a little bit: having a beer and a siesta here in the sun while waiting for the ferry to bring us to the other side of the fjord, to Urke. The new plan involves running/fast-hiking on trails up Slogen with a number of beers in our (previously light) backpacks for tonight in Patchellhytta. It takes 2h30 and 5 Stoltzens (our particular way of calculating how tough our climbs would be) to get to the summit of Slogen. We reach the top just 10 minutes before the sunset. The shape of the north face of this mountain drops vertically almost all the way to Norangsfjorden, just like the mountains we would draw in our notebooks when we were kids. The sunset from up here is the most amazing one we can remember. We are alone up here contemplating in silence how the last sun-rays of the day paint the whole fjord and some of the steep faces of the Sunnmøre Alps in an intense red. It is getting quite cold up here and we don’t have many warm clothes, but we are captured by this magic moment and we don’t start heading downhill until it starts to get dark. We reach the cabin in the dark again.
Saturday morning we wake up to a surprise: Emelie Forsberg is here as well! She brought some friends and a camera crew to have a Salamon shooting by Patchellhytta. Kilian has left earlier this morning to run a VK in the area. We are excited but head the other way, going back down to Norangsfjorden and up Jakta (1588moh), one of the nicest mountains in the area. The way up is quite steep and exhausting (not very runnable) and we decide to hike fast and save some energy for the way down. The view of the whole fjord and of Slogen from the top is the reward for our innsats after another 5 Stoltzens. The way down is a lot of fun and we enjoy ourselves doing some fast downhill running on trails and snow fields.
The last day we have an alpine start to run down to the only ferry of the day at 9AM from Leknes to Trandal. Lander misses to get off the ferry in Trandal, but the captain is nice enough to drive back and not let him swim through the fjord. We are lucky enough to hitch-hike a few kilometers up the gravel road in a pick-up truck. Then we complete the last 35k of the trip, first through a beautiful mountain landscape and then through some marshes without trails, which is tiring. We feel our thighs when we run the last 10k downhill on a gravel road. It starts raining just when we make it to the ferry to cross the fjord back to our car. We feel really lucky for the nice weather we’ve had these last 3 days. 100km on trails and more than 7000m of positive elevation gain are the numbers of our particular version of Hjørundfjorden-rundt. Our legs are much better than expected and we spend the 7h-drive back to Bergen singing, laughing and talking about how nice the whole trip was. It is probably the ecstasy of having completed this challenge, which makes us not feel too tired in this moment.
Nora og Lander