And this is Jim's story, reporting on the same events, but with different eyes. He has got some interesting poetry in his text, poetry that he has composed himself.
Svalbard-trip diary - Thursday 18 July to Monday 26 August 2002
Th18 Off to Heathrow! Links' Jeep dropped me off at Joburg International at 4.40pm, and my bag was away to I hope Oslo by 5.30pm, then Horst arrived and I queued with him. After departure-lounge coffee we browsed, and it was good too see (as pre-Iceland here!) my Finance Week letter 'Greedy minerals grab'. On the 8.30pm flight I watched The Shipping News (Kevin Spacey), got briefly faint and sick from the turbulence, slept then watched most of Brassed Off before breakfast.
F19 We sat around in Heathrow Terminal 1 for 9am take-off to Oslo after air traffic control delays (again like the Iceland trip). And BA didn't forward our bags, so we faffed around Oslo airport hoping they'll come and follow us to Tromsø. Starting Wittgenstein. Bought Laxdæla Saga. Floss and doze. Flying up Norway to "Tromsø to be 15degC, overcast, no precipitation". What a pretty town, walking to the beach and out along a spit, then back to await Oslo arrivals - no bags. Braatthens girl Tina kept trying. At 1am only H's rucksack arrived so they taxied us to the Scandic Hotel to shower and sleep.
Sat20 After glorious Scandic breakfast, walked back past Polarsenteret shops to the airport. So what would we like to hire me in LYB? Tent, bag, clothes, food, cook, eat, raintrousers? Ah says Tina, my rucksack's coming. So we walked over the bridge and away up the hill to see dams and 29 reindeer and eat berries in drizzle. And at 5.15pm Tina bless her has my rucksack! Which she loads. Small Kr21 coffees at Katie O'Connor (wannabe Irish) pub - H "it's Kr10 over there" - blonde "we're open" (over there was closed). H decides Norwegian girls have round ones, unlike Iceland girls who have pancakes. I should pay more attention. Probably bras. The pub had interesting junk including a barrelful and chain of padlocks left by home-going conscripts - women can join but rarely do, as in Germany. Costly brief phonecalls. ColinP and H 'blame me' for Dow/FTSE share-collapse! The Øystein Haraldsson (1152-1157) flew us to nice wee Longyearbyen airport. Light wind, not so cold, putting up the tent as Arctic terns buzzed us. Cocoa in camp hut at 10.30pm. H helped strange Winchester-armed German Irene with her tent. A good day - nice hike, glad about rucksack and here. Warm and dozy 11pm.
Sun21 11am porridge in cosy tent then walked to town for kaviar tube and coffees. Supper in camp hut then walked along the beach road - dive-bombing terns and snow buntings. Chatting with Irene in the hut, and reading Laxdæla Saga (Wittgenstein's unexciting as yet, laying foundations).
M22 8am hut porridge/coffee, H still sleeping. Walked into town again with H/Irene by 11am and hired for 7 days a 1938 Mauser (and 7 bullets), not buying flare-gun and caps. Then we hired 4 Snubblebluss trip-flare-bangs and wires for my/Adam's corner-wands, went back for camp-hut noodles/coffee and some of Irene's sweet dark-brown goat cheese, hefted and parked her suitcase/guncase at the airport, and hiked away west. My rucksack with rifle attached was heavy, and we didn't get far, sitting by the roadside, plodding on into Bear Valley (Bjornedal) past a shut mine-shaft until H found a sheltered campsite. Soup, soy/Smash etc, cocoa. Fired the rifle once across the river, scaring a distant drum. Set up the hired trip-flares and my beercan/pebble rattles mid-wire. Saw a large male reindeer, 2 small ones, 3 dead white reindeer fur/bones, 2 (mottled) arctic foxes across the river, and 5 hikers with dogs. Cool but sheltered, nice wee wood fire.
T23 Kept peering out of the tent flap at rucksack/food 100m away. 11am packed ready to hike in misty morning. H has the whole tent now. Low clouds, peaceful. A few torpid flies. Wee white flowers. Passed 6 reindeer and some snow buntings. Managed under 5km over wet and weary uphill ground in chilly mist. Stopped at 4.30pm above first snow-crossing. Noodles/cocoa, set up tripwires and cans again, then I went uphill to crap overlooking upper river and snowfields in calm and beautiful evening, and down with H to look at the river and walk on snow. Two amiable passing Danes advised about reaching Russian mining town-ruins Grumantdalen.
W24 Awake at 5.30am for wet socks, porridge, biscuit/Kaviar, cocoa after disarming tripwires. Read Witt, then dozed until 8am, then stomped my cold damp feet around finding a few small chocolate-brown mushrooms to fry - delicious - hope they're not poisonous. Coffee, heard ptarmigan calling. Dry, high cloud. 11am - H/Irene wouldn't risk the Danes' snowbank-crossing, but further up we paddled (brrr) easily. Met 2 young Czechs back from Barentsburg. 1pm at 360m, "noodles im schnee" up a side-valley. Blundering around on soggy 452m top in mist with compass, H used his GPS to guide us to steep snowbank down into Grumantbyen - Irene battled (double-roped) to traverse it. 6pm in Russian miners' town blockhouse, upstairs. Picked then discarded many big mushrooms and fried more of the small ones, which were nice. Shacked up in swept upstairs rooms after soup/soy-Smash/cocoa and bits. Crossed stream with H to check seagull-building (nursery paintings) and walk on the gravel beach. 4 Norwegians and 2 Danes camping nearby. Coffee then 9pm bed.
Th25 Drying socks on Gaz after porridge/tea breakfast, coaching Irene about the tides for her beach-walk back to the campsite. Bought her 2 trip-flares from her. Then, before noon, along 500m of beach, past only one incoming-tide tiptoe, to a river-wash after 4 Norwegians had moved on. Clean, new clothes! Then along the old railway tracks, so much wood, seagull-sounds on screes, white reindeer fur in tunnels, ice, calm sea, distant blue with sun on a far fell but low cloud. 2pm at an empty Russian hut and museum for noodles, cocoa, Brie, biscuits, butter - yum. Walked on through collapsing wooden rail-tunnels to Colesbukten mining town - almost deserted - coupla Russians working, selling crappy crab-shell souvenirs. Through and out past old coal-handling buildings, sheds with drill-core samples galore (their oil-search), sad hillside graveyard. Camped after 7pm - 2 reindeer around - rather cold, but I had a warmish night and strange dreams.
F26 Not so cold today, Colesdalen breakfast at 10, H doing the wire-winding today. Talk of multiverses, in situ coal-to-fuel-gas, nuclear energy here, mining, gold ingots, etc. South of Colesdalen (W to E) are 1015m Karl Bayfjellet, Bayfjellnosa, 880m Nathorstfjellet, 873m Sandsteinfjellet and 1005m Ringdalsfjellet. This Coleselva river is S of 550m Russekollen. Then Fardalen (next) goes NE (S of 900m Háberget, 1031m Hábergnuten, Dryadbreen glacier and Endalen's 878m Lars Hiertafjellet and 837m Trollsteinen on our NW, with 712m Finnesaksia, 910m Bingtoppen and Bogarbreen on the right. Sitting before the bend, I can see Finnesaksla's sharp ridge, and the 4 hikers heading further up Colesdalen. Rested by an old Russian wooden bog on stilts, 7243 miles from H's plot. Noodles and cocoa above the river bend, then a few kms of wet-terrain trudging to find a grand flat campsite. 6 hikers passed on the opposite bank of the deep river valley. At 5pm I set off upslope of Háberget to a very steep outcrop of loose rocks. Posed my stick but had no photo left in camera. Then on up to snowy ridge and misty view down the back to Hábergbreen snowfield and river/lake above Bjornedal. Back down after 8pm. Saw the good H was starting up with rifle, so I ran down the grit slope. Set up tripwires but not flash-bangs, since reindeer galore. Supper in tent, bed by 9.
Sat27 Sunshine, clear sky - even at 2am. Happy birthday Adam! Slow breakfast after 9am then shirts off in warmish wind for photos. Talked of English supremacy, German socialism, Mbeki communism/fascism. Washed a few dishes but not bodies - only two days since that beach waterfall wash! Good to sit scribbling in the sun and an almost-warm breeze. H thinks his German homeland somehow trapped in socialism - Bismark's state pension scheme, 20% Ossies, dependency, group-think. NB: need to persuade Ad & Laura to save a monthly chunk (eg 1 KR) all their lives, on the/my assumption that no collective (public or private) insurance/health/pension scheme can give good return. H says German pension scheme survives - so does UK's NHS - but not good value returns for pay-ins, especially later on (pre- eventual collapse).
Barefoot 2-rope kneedeep river crossing below Dryadbreen, then screes, dry moss, bogs. 4pm noodles/biscuit/cocoa lunch at 354m below Bogarbreen outflow at top of pass. Not too windy but clouding over. Crossed 2 rivers, the second by jumping off snow, whereupon H slipped, got gloves/knees wet, and broke his hiking pole - shame. Later his R99 Dion mini-leatherman knife ('Swiss' from Taiwan) sprang apart, tiddly wee bits in the lichen. 6pm soup in tent at 200m amsl near top of Endalen, deciding not to relax too much about bears, so wires and cans up again and food away from tent as usual. H says that was a 7.9km day. Reading saga on and off during the night, tossing around on mossy/rocky ground.
Sun28 but at first H thinks it's Monday. Let's go up Adventdalen a bit - 3 more nights out then 2 at camp/hut. Grey skies, little wind. Washed pants and me. After noon, approached unused (since maybe 1971) coal mine and climbed ramp for self-guided tour into two adits with ice stalactites, workshops, rails etc., then down via huge hoppers for soup and biscuits. At 4.30pm we neared the Adventdalen road T-junction and camped over stream on cottony reindeer flats. Explored old overhead coal-conveyor junction building and liberated some old reindeer biltong chunks - hard carving, but tastes OK not spicy of course. Bed after 9pm.
M29 H headed off into town after 8 while I lay reading about Store Norske, sewed pillowcase crudely, had porridge, carved more biltong, roped the tent versus the wind, and read more. H got back at noon with Daily Telegraph (Kr30!). Hoorah, a good read until 7pm! After a bit we packed up and trudged across sog and rivers around the corner past Svalbardhytta into next (Todalen) valley-mouth and upped tent quick as rain began. Then read until supper. Out in drizzle for river water and a wash, back in for coffee and flash-photo. Hah, Dow's had a huge slump (to 7700) and rebound while we were away.
T30 Stopped watch. Up 6.30-ish to de-tripwire, then back in to read saga, when (10th century) 1 oz. Au = 8 oz. Ag = 1 mark = 4 milch cows. Now R3200 Au implies R400 Ag, not R50-ish. Must be the Spanish/American Ag discoveries since then. Sunny/windless outside, but had coupla hours in tent reading. Then walked up Todalen to old iced-in shaft for wee hessian/plank/coal fire. Saw 8 reindeer, still no bears. H with the rifle. Slight rain, then we packed and moved downriver to camp off the road nearer to town. After midnight 20 barnacle geese outside flew noisily away.
W31 Porridge after 8, then into town past (expedition, sleigh, cart, VW) kennels - dogs needing more affection. Took back the gun and flares, shopped around wildly in all directions, checked pricey café Kroa then ate curried pork and rice at café Busen, the original company canteen.
|Du gjør oss||You will be doing us a
|En stor tjeneste dersom du tar||great favour if you take the tray|
|Brettet med til ryddevognen||with dishes and cutlery and place it|
|Nár du gár.||On the cleaning-up trolley after your meal.|
|Takk for hjelpen!||Thank you for helping us!|
|Kafé Busen AS|
Called home, spent mid-afternoon happily in the museum, then got back to the campsite by 6pm. The Norwegian 4 who had gone on up Colesdalen to Bodalen/Todalen heard 15 shots and saw paw-prints of a small bear at Todalen-top. Cutting up DT - Springsteen's 'heartfelt testament to ordinary heroism' (The Rising) looks good. Showered, chatted, read, hand-washed clothes all evening, bed at 2.30am.
Th1 August 2002 Up at 7am after windy night. Coffee in hut reading advertorials all about Federal's bullets - a whole world of responsible NRA environmentalist killers! Porridge, cocoa, carving biltong - yes, the tied-up dog outside likes it. Irene gave me some 14-shot Winchester magnum training for our hill-walk today. But it was cold, windy and wet so we snapped the big artillery piece outside the airport, visited the airport and returned for lunch at the hut and a free-market chat with a Norwegian post-grad. geologist. Noodles, Suddeutsche Zeitung, doze. Did Gray steal his first Elegy in a Country Churchyard verse from Burns' The Cotter's Saturday Night? Sure looks like it! As H says, so what?
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way
The toil-worn Cotter frae his labour goes
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea
The miry beasts retreating from the pleugh
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day
The short'nin winter-day is near a close
And leaves the world to darkness and to me
November chill blaws loud wi' angry sough
In the evening we walked shortly both ways along beach and track, returning for more reading. The dog got more biltong. Write a poem about cold and the Depression? Read more Burns/Saga first!
Then, Jamie, I shall say nae mair, but quat my sang, Content with You to mak a pair, where'er I gang. Could stand as my Dad's valediction, since He remains with/in me, Bene Gesserit-style. An only slowly fading structure of memories and moral precepts as lived and imagined - a root-set of traditional commonsense wisdom and prudent decency. Judgemental but kin-tolerant. Quietly dignified.
8.35pm Th 1 Aug 2002 - Longyearbyen - 78°N
(-backpacking north of Vikings-)
While men of wealth may go in style
Each taxi, sled or kayak mile
Of this cold Svalbard Arctic isle,
That's not for me.
I'm happy walking round a while,
The more to see
(-sphagnum and snowbanks-)
Bear Valley hikers plod a soggy way.
Chill winds and drizzle make it no child's play.
Though some may push to Grumant in one day,
We made it three.
In rests and lengthy camps we lay,
Content to be.
(-high misty moor traversing-)
This Burns-like rhyme scheme disnae do it.
I doot I'll mak' a decent poet!
Gie's a rest, Jimmy!!
F2 5am pee, 8.30am start with hut porridge/cocoa. Then up behind airport past mine 3 (seems hardly operating), up drizzly/windy/misty road to top of platåberget - mist - to NASA weather station's big dishes in geodesic protection domes. And back down for soup/cocoa lunch at 1pm then read/packing. Lovely supper on the plane, of salmon/lemon, beef, rice, jam & pancake, 2rolls/butter, vann (water), free beer - I cut up the can. No Tina at the '10° and raining' airport, so we abluted then studied Tromsø handbooks and started walking. Cool but 15° and the drizzle soon stopped. Blueberries on the island's hill, ducks/gulls on central lake, cemetery, standing bear at the weather institute. Café, town centre, over the bridge to Tomsdalen and found the campsite for Kr15 coffee at reception, a Kr5 refill, and bed at 11pm. That was a good day.
Sat3 Used wee kitchen from 7am for breakfast and coffees. Why do folk tolerate conscription/religion for their children? Why do Norwegians tolerate high taxes? Why is progress so slow/erratic/insecure? Why do (which?) countries still have conscription? Or non-military compulsory (profession-linked) community service? Or tax, come to that!! Walked off for the day, over bridge into and through town for shopping and to Tromsø Museum - very good. The (circum)polar bear (ice bear, isbjorn) is a marine animal eating mainly ringed/bearded/harp seals. 150-250kg females, 350-450kg males (max. 1003kg, Alaska). Sexually matures in 4-5 years. Pregnant female hibernates in snow den in winter. 1-2 (usually 2) cubs born in Dec/Jan - 0.5kg, leaving den in March/April to follow Mum for 2-5 years. Can reach 30 years old. Protected internationally since 1973. About 3000 around Svalbard. Scandinavia's big 5 predators are wolf, bear (brown), lynx, wolverine, man - the museum has all 5 skulls but no manskin! Back by bus to shops. Nice (not like Iceland's abstracts) wee statues here and there - little sitting lady by bus shelter, small reindeer on grass. Quaint houses, nice colours, sometimes nice flowers. Huge 'Tromsø palms' - 8ft high weeds. Smart modern buildings, Polaria museum on foreshore like fallen dominoes. VAT (MOM) is 24% food, 12%, 0% museums. Then over the bridge, with me making a wee coastal detour. Knackered leggies back at campsite by 6.30pm. Evening walks in drizzle, bottle of red preiselbeeren to stew to syrup. And redcap mushrooms (rotkappe) to fry up evening & morning with butter, yum yum. Bed at 10.30pm.
Sun4 Slow 5am start after rain, leaving campsite at 6am to walk for 7am bus just into Finland to Kilpisjavi. All the huge steep mist-capped mountains along the fjord-sides. Birch then grass then scree/cliffs/snow and mist. The falls. 1 euro coffees at Kilpisjavi, and Kaytos is Finnish thank-you. By 1pm we were frying multinational redcap mushrooms for breakfast of champions with Korrimo fullcorn biscuits and butter and cheese and kaviar and cocoa at the start of an 11.5km hike to the Finnish-Swedish-Norwegian border point. How dry and warm with birches, moss and stream, and all's well wi't'world. At 5.30pm we reached the triple point, tired, and waited while 3 guys left the hut. Four mattresses in a row, and two others coming in - a young amiable Finn couple. Nice evening, cooking on gas. Finland has 6% VAT, 6-12m army (6 volunteer females in 800), 10% unemployed since the '90 recession, and is much cheaper than Norway - food supermarket here for border-crossers.
M5 7.30am porridge/coffees, Swedish walk, sunshine, climbed on triple point but didn't swim. Stewed up cowberries to juice. Fried mushrooms before packing.Lotsa young folk arrived, and we left at 1pm after pretty sunny warm peaceful sitting. Many stops and a snooze by the Kitsijoki waterfall on the walk up to an old German hut, then visited other ruins and picked red and yellow berries. Spread flysheet across back collapse, ate in hut, then I walked up the Iso-Malla hill, seeing 3 adult & 4 young grey/white ptarmigan - no, willow grouse. Four more German huts, destroyed by Finns in '45.
T6 8am after porridge, cocoa, cheese/PV, read, pack, crap. Good wee hut. Nice walk down and along, meeting 42 Poms in a youth group - ex army hospital, Duke of Edinburgh, all-UK 160km hike. And at 11.15am a grand burger and coffees while scanning foreign papers at the hotel. Then walked 5km, picking blueberries and reciting Tam O'Shanter, to the shop. Had seen flying and dead raptors buteo lagopus rough-legged buzzard, and two choc-brown (grey-bellied) mustela erminea stoats, but no alopex lagopus arctic fox here. Lake Kilpisjärvi (500m) has (stocked) whitefish, plus greyling, trout, char and burbot, the last two since the last Ice Age. Read papers at Hotel Kilpi - 'FTSE100 went below 3700 last week', 'that may have been the bottom', no guarantee, don't rush to buy, don't rec. anyone to buy any shares at the moment'. Taiwan plans referendum, China warns disaster, Iraq kowtows US Congress, Germany declares neutral. 5pm Tromsø bus for Kr226 and a great ride, clear skies, huge views of fjellets and breens. Then hopped off at the kirk for easy walk to campsite, dried the inner tent. Collected and fried mushrooms with chicken soup, then soy, TV and a shower.
W7 7.40am porridge in Tromsdalen hut, trying to dry socks, shirt, pants while reading with cappuccino and cocoa. Drizzle as we walked over to Polarmuseum. Hey, reindeer wandered across the ice from Siberia via Novaya Zemlya and Frans Josefs Land to Spitzbergen - did stone-age people not follow, hunting them (as usual)? Climbed around moored Polarsjerne, then walked N by not-shore roads to Univ. botanical gardens - free, driech, partly under reconstruction. Then up to bus terminal, too tired to walk over the hill to the airport. Found a Kr20 International Herald Tribune, so bought a Kr23 large coffee. US and EU now divided by Kyoto protocol, steel tariffs, farm subsidies, death penalty, ABM treaty, ICC. Tasty light (hot reindeer-mush, redcurrants/custard) meal on the plane, with a window-seat and clear mountains, lakes, snow, and a road round one side of each lake with wee houses, the odd green field, and all uplands barren. Oslo at 7.30pm was clear, bright and 26°C! Killing an hour at Oslo station, I walked up Karl Johan's Gate and elsewhere. Then onto the 11.11pm Bergen train for Finse, and at 4.10am we got off rather groggy in the dark, walked a little, and camped on moss by a "no camping" sign. H had left his Hawking book on the train.
Th8 Up at 10am, ate, packed by 11, shopped by the station, booked Kr 418 Ustaoset-Oslo seats on the 10.44am F18th train, then ate red fruit Tine yoghurt outside the Sports Hotel. Norway's railways are state-owned and very efficient - "UK sold to too many firms". Oslo-to-airport trains (not track) are private. The station hotel shop girl seemed neutral/unhelpful over red spirit & benzene, but then talked and smiled and helped H with the route map. Maybe like Swiss/Icelanders they're just reserved/shy until engaged. One low-cut cycling girl really beamed at us (for looking?). Off we walked past Finsevatnet lake, and camped (at 2pm!) up towards the nearest Middalsbreen glacier for noodles, coffee, reading and dozing. Walked up to the glacier, wading across a bloody-cold stream. Onto ice for a photo, and a big crack sound gave me a great fright. Back 'home' by 7pm in sunshine for soup-soy supper. Cocoa, reading in light breezes.
F9 9am porridge coffee bread smor kaviar, then downish to Finse-fetene bridge and the red-marked T (tourist?) path and uppish for 2km by Hansbu-flattu to east of the breen by 11.30am, with low cloud northeast and here just overcast and breezy at 15°C. Runny nose and the odd sneeze, dammit! Nice rocky paths, blonde lass ('89 Botswana tree-planting), Aberdonian chap (daily 15km-plus from Stavanger), two sheep with a bell. At 4.30pm we put the tent up under a cliff overlooking stunning lake Brattelon-vatnet. H snoozed as I made coffee outside and read and ate and walked and read and made blueberry juice-making into wee ex-booze bottles. Up the hill were 3 blotchy willow grouse, super views, and I saw a big black plane banking low down valleys.
Sat10 Cawfee/porridge in tent at 8.20am, with H trying comparative boot-waxing tests with his first-aid creams. At noon after 3km (GPS) we were sitting in wetsuits in light drizzle, looking across a grey-blue lake at a large glacier outfall with a very broken bluish surface, and to the left a treacle-flow outfall with wavy dark lines. Lunch an hour later was soup, after 7 more willow grouse, 2 lads, 1 couple, lots of black sheep with a bell or two, wonderful falls, rapids and views, a few blaeberries and red/yellow cloudberries, and one mushroom. At 7.30pm after a wearying 10km we were reading by our campfire on a nice grassy ledge with Sysenvatnet dam below. Strolled to falls, working out that cloudberries when soft and orange are ripe not rotten. Still cloudy with blue bits. H found a water bottle - a change from breaking hiking pole, leaving book on train. This is the life - no rush, pressure, thoughts!! Bartered coffee for sugar from H, and bought his one unloved soypack for Kr5. At 9.25 pm while I floss by the embers, H announces from the tent (I thought he slept) that since Saddam Hussein pays $10000 to Palestinian suicide bombers' families that makes him an accessory so I can go ahead and bomb him - right I'll do so tomorrow. And so to bed.
Sun11 Up at 8.30am, drizzly, so ate and packed in tent and away before 10. In and out of rain trousers all day. Torrents, and fortunately also bridges. Past Kjeldebu hytta and up Kjeldedalen - hytta, farm, sheep (bells), few berries. 4.30pm fine flat camp by path by upland lake, for cocoa and biscuits. Reading to finish not-so-epic House Corrino (from Tromsø bookshop). An 11.2km day, but only plus-250m or so. Cool outside in the breeze, so read inside.
M12 Overcast at 8.20am - 2nd day of bombing of Iraq, says H, and Baghdad is flat! Porridge and tea and finishing Corrino which has been too long, likewise this last hike? Maybe it's only the wevver? H checks his 1st aid kitcream for 7 days - try it on bread? A tube of something I don't know what for - 'for use when you get something you don't know what it is'?! Eyecovers, Eleni's suggestion since when will we know how to sleep. Ah what fun. 4pm back in tent in the rain after squally cloudy day mostly in wetsuit along by various lakes - over Olavsbu-heii, visiting Krækkjahytta between Dragoy-fjorden (NW) and Storekraekkja lakes, not seeing the howling dog - H bought juice and biscuits. Round past ned Trestiklan dam and lunched under a rock by öv Trestilkan. Noodles in the rain. 4 merry kids by the lake then off (leaving a half-circle calm surface) past us to Haugastöl. Sound of rain hissing to and fro on the lake. Horsepoo but no hoofprints. Coffee and back to Laxdæla Saga. H's Finnish veg/chicken pack supper was a thick soup at 5-10 times the price of my just-as-good soy/Smash, which we should fancy-pack maybe with dried onion/carrot for colour/crunch. Rain gone, dampish but cosy, reading Vikings - flash photo of me lounging, more typical than me hiking! Let's hope Haugawotsit has some interest tomorrow, or even news of Saddam-bombing nearly over!
T13 7am cloudless sky at last, with low doubled sun by last might's washing-lake. Laid out damp papers, socks, matches to dry, and got into clean clothes. Back into tent for porridge with Wittgenstein, having finished the saga. H still curled up. Ah yes, finished Witt, feeling profoundly satisfied. Now I only need to get and read Nozick's Invariances, then I can write. What? I'll decide. Agreed that if Eleni'd read W she'd also be satisfied, but (we agreed) she won't. Notes to potential W readers - don't be deterred/worried by the 'p' and the equations - focus on W's verbal examples - substitute a simple 'p' such as 'matter consists of atoms'. Maybe I could simplify what W says, referring back to his numbering? Better arise and pack and slowly go - where many have gone before - i.e. Haugastøl. Lovely sunny morning drying stuff, slow hike over and down, great views, to lake and shop, then along towards station and offroad to lakeside pine-birch-heather-dwarfpine. Sock and boot drying with sunny cold lunch of Kornvol/butter/kaviar - too idyllic. Now then, if no books/papers in town, what to do with the mind? Read my cuttings again? H says we learned another lesson - don't use that sort of telephones! Stick-boat races, dry clothes - ooh! Through 'town' and up trail from 3 to 7pm, taking the wrong path towards the Magaliesberg-like Hallingskarvet ridge, but so what. Frying more redcaps plus H's cheery brick-red Knorr 'oxtail' soy and Norwegian Smash (normal). H cold in tent, me OK outside in jersey in breeze. Time for bed, not yet dusk, nothing to read. Saw stars during midnight pee, sheepbells at dusk and dawn.
W14 Coffee and porridge, H doing crosswords in tent, me packed ready and reading Burns. Some clouds only to the west over Hardangerjökulen. Noted names on H's map. Then away along Langetj ridge, crossing/missing the NE Haugastøl trail to Embretstølen. Lunched by an upland lake with a wee fire, watching a mustela erminea stoat hopping around us then catching a squeaking wee mouse and hopping away with it. Then I split my black-cord breeks at back, and sewed them up. Had coffee, two dives into the brrr lake, then cocoa/biscuits right now! Later we perched on sunny rocks 50m above Embretsvatnet, with sheepbell family moving below. Silty inflows, Ness deeps, red farm, green barn, cows and boatshed, blue green grey brown slopes behind, up to rock-strewn shoulder-ridge screes, 200m cliffs, snow patches. Camped by another upland lake, collecting more rare dead wood for another wee evening fire. Saw a wee mouse scampering, so translated Burns' Tae a Mouse for H, who dozed off unimpressed. Supper by the fire, berrypicking and stewing, then finished off my cocoa and coffee by halfmoon-light, slight breeze, clean dry peace fire flickering, sunset at Tranquillity Base! Many memories (prospects not drear, mousie) and hopes (we guess and fear!).
Th15 Wee breakfast fire and lazy porridge while H washed in the lake. Sheepbells and mirrormere. Then down the hill and path to Ustaoset supermarket , and down by the lakeside had yoghurt/noodle lunch before hiking out to the end of a 'no camping' peninsula. Sunbathed and swam and read, then went back to the hotel kroa/bar for refillable coffees before supper on the spit (of land) and another walk ending with a limp and an uneasy sleep (memories, prospects drear).
F16 Up peeing early as usual, then later for breakfast, with easier packing as the gear shrinks.
Leavin' Usta ('Oosta' - lake of Haugastøl/Ustaoset)
So whit wad Rabbie tell these lappin' waves?
Oh fare thee weel as I tak' train tae fly.
It's been jus' grand tae walk your lichened braes,
In cauld an' drizzlin rain an' sun forby.
Frae Arctic isles wi' lourin' glacier heads
By dreechie Tromsø's arms an' Finland's thumb
Tae Norway's heart, where every hiker treads
My trusty cronie Horst an' I hae come
An' walked a while in peace, and left no clue
But bootprints on the mosses by the stream
As wispy sky-beasts blossomed in the blue
To pull us to the present from each dream
O' bygone prospects drear an' futures vile
But now we're leavin' Usta wi' a smile.
Washed well at the station and sewed on two waistcoat buttons before the train came. Coffee with brown cane sugar - caution contents hot. (punctuation?) Preaching to 2 Coloradan ladies (who have our seat numbers but got in the wrong vogn) that US should keep up the WoT. They - why only USA, Blair not 'with us' - don't know of the Barbary pirates - need to stop Saddam - not use nukes unless he does. Good for them! Nice train. From Oslo station we found a nearby bednight with shower, a paper, McSnacks and coke (and free chips), and phoned home well and happy, yeah. TV film until 1.30am, to H's dozy irritation.
Sat17 Grand hotel breakfast. Packed tent and more of my junk into H's rucksack, and walked around (leaving H at botanical gardens) to post office museum and stamp collections, picked up photos, sat by castle-pond on harbour, then collected rucksacks for 'Eidsvoll' airport train and 17.40pm flight, leaving H at Heathrow for Joburg. Bus to Reading, luckily just caught the last train to Newport, and reached Lindsey's in Hereford after 11pm.
Sun18-Mon 26 Drove via David and Kate Gardiner's Redhouse Hotel outside Matlock, and Uncle Bob and Pamela in Morpeth, to Coldingham Youth Hostel (St Abbs and Eyemouth), then Mum's in Haddington. Jen and Ben took me into Edinburgh. The week rushed past with shopping and shows and Mum and Betty and Linds and the Tatoo with Ben and bookshops and whisky-buying and meals out and fish 'n chips - general good living and pounds rushing out (or back on). Left rather too late, Stockbridge Thos. Cook rushed me a record £156 for single Turnhouse to Heathrow - that'll teach me, Ann! And Links was there waiting on a cool sunny Monday morning, home again, what a trip it was!
Sign on Ustaoset station platform
|Din tryggleik vedkjem oss!||Your Safety Matters|
|Stopp - Sjå - Lytt - Tog kjem stille||Stop - Look - Listen - Trains are quiet|
|Tog kjem til alle tider på døgeret||Trains arrive at all times|
|Tog treng 1 km for å stoppa||Trains need 1 km to stop|
|Høgspenning livsfare||Danger - High Voltage|
|God tur!||Enjoy your trip!|
|Jernbaneverket Region Vest|
|But try not to trip on the track! JMHarris (Scot) Jo'burg|
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