We took the morning ferry Valdall to Eidsdal on the southern shore. Even though it was the height of summer and we were at sea level, there was still a crispness in the air that hinted snow not far away. We could have taken the ferry all the way around to Geiranger town itself, but we decided to opt for a scenic drive and a hike instead.
We headed south along route 63 to Eidsdalsvatnet lake, which had a beautiful reflection of the mountains and valley ahead. “I could spend all day here” I thought. A nearby sign indicated the many hiking routes on offer, some looking very long and technical. But we looked at our map and decided to press on to be nearer Geiranger.
At the other end of what turned out to be an impressive hanging valley, we pulled up at a viewpoint over Geiranger fjord, labelled on the map as Korsmyra. Another well positioned board indicated the hiking routes available. We decided to take a medium grade blue route up to Grandevatnet 1016, which looked like a nice alpine lake. The trail started a long a dirt track which offer gorgeous views of alpine meadows, sheep and mountain tops. After 45 minutes or so the track turned to a path, which then turned into a sort of path through a bog. Damp feet here we come! To our right we could see bankings of stones that had the characteristics of a glacial terminal moraine, the point at which that glacier stopped and pushed all the stone as far as it could before it began to melt. Sure enough, on the other side of the stone banking was a lake. At the other end you could see a series of waterfalls cascading from a hanging valley down into the the bright blue water. Paradise.
We ended up gaining more altitude and cross over another moraine to find another lake – Grandevatnet. We were dazzled, we had finally found that snow we could sense earlier! all around the edge of the lake was snow. I’d never walked on snow in shorts and sandals before, time for a new experience! My travel companions couldn’t resist taking it one step further and proceeded to jump into the lake and swim. Not for too long though I might add!
We ate our lunch and headed back down to the car park. After heading down the hill a few hundred metres, we came across a circus of parked cars and buses around a hairpin bend and viewpoint. Following their example, we got out and looked over the viewpoint. The view up the fjord was staggering. A large ferry, appearing miniscule, put into scale the depth of Geiranger Fjord. Off the side of the viewpoint we spotted a small footpath, and after checking the map, decided to take the short walk to another viewpoint. It was the same view, but this time complemented by a huge waterfall in the foreground on our right, and also silence – no people at all.
Upon returning to our camper we were greeted by something quite unexpected. A group of Islamic women had pulled up in the car park and had begun saying their prayers on their mats. “I wish I had that kind of discipline in my life” I thought to myself. I didn’t pay them too much attention during their private time of worship until we were all sat in the camper. “Why aren’t we setting off?” I said to my brother. Then rather embarrassingly he replied “Because there’s a woman praying directly in front of the front wheel of the van!”. I looked out of the window and sure enough there was the colourful dress and shoes of a woman sticking out from in front of the van. Not trusting the handbrake or the certainty of actually been in reverse gear, we thought it best to wait until she had finished. By which time all the ladies had finished their prayers and waved us off with smiles, thanking us for our patience.
We then headed down the hill towards the town of Geiranger. Just before the town we pulled over for a refreshing swim in the fjord. It was cool, but not as icy cold as the mountain lake we had just visited! We drove on to the town, which was well catered for tourists, and indulged in an ice cream, before we headed east out of the town over the mountain pass. The snow returned on either side of the road, and just as we went over the summit of the pass and wonderful view of a mountain lake stood before us. Let’s camp here for the night! At 1000m above sea level it was a frosty one for sure, but I was warm enough in the tent.