Since we last typed, Liz and I have moved on from Bergen - a lovely place full of history, rich people and expensive boats, but not really worth a 2 day stop - to a little place called Olden at the foot of Jostdalbreen Glacier. Our picturesque campsite is right by a lake with views to a glacier 'tongue' at the end of the valley (Geez Norway, could you be any more repetitive??). Not too bad a place to hang your hat.
Today we went on a 5 hour guided hike up onto the Briksdalbreen 'tongue' of the glacier (one valley over). We started with a 20 min drive up the hill to a small summer farming village (where the farmers used to take their cattle/sheep/goats for summer grazing, now more a touristy thing). From here, we grabbed our gear, harnesses, cramp-ons, ice axes, gloves and helmets, and hiked around 30 minutes to the base of the glacier.
As we walked, our guide pointed out several small ridges that marked where the glacier had previously been and how far it had retreated. He said he had a hard time accepting 'global wariming' as over the last few hundred years the glacier had actually expanded and retracted several times; around 200 years ago the glacier was massive, but only 30 years ago it was much smaller than it is today. weird.
After a quick break, we geared up, tied ourselves to one another in typical ice hiking style and set off up the blue ice face. At first the going was really tough, it felt as though we were walking straight up a wall. It was made all the more difficult by having to try and walk flat-footed (so the cramp-on spikes would give you maximum grip). Soon we were used to walking like ducks, and were on our way up.
We climbed around 200 vertical metres before stopping at a plateau for something to eat and a rest. On the way up, we passed several cracks, crevasses and holes in the ice. There were several little rivers of melting snow flowing over the ice, and quite a few that had turned into mini waterfalls, cutting through the ice to the rock beneath. As with the rest of Norway, the surrounding scenery was fantastic. The colour of the ice was an amazing blue (I don't think my camera really did it justice, no matter how many hundreds of photo's I took!).
We headed down and in no time, we were back at the base, stripping off our gear and heading back to the car. 3 hours felt like 15 minutes!! Now we are back at our campsite, abusing the free internet, and about to head to a bonfire celebration for the midsummers eve at which there will be typical Norwegian treats for us to try. This place has everything!!
Tomorrow we head East towards Sweden, where there are no tolls on the roads, and then North, North, North to the Nordkapp.