A trek through Aurlandsdalen
Aurlandsdalen, Norway, 2011-06-04 12:00 by Martin
From Aurlandsfjorden, a tributary to the great Sognefjord, which is one of the great fjords of Western Norway, the Aurlands Valley stretches inland, following the river Aurlandselvi. It is a dramatic and diverse gorge like landscape formed by glaciers, which are so typical for Western Norway.

Having spent a lot of time driving along the Snow Road (see former blog entry), we set out late in the afternoon. We had planned spending the night a couple of hours in at Sinjarheim, an old farmstead 2-3 hours in from Vassbygdi, where we parked our car, donned our backpacks with tents, sleeping bags and food and set off.

As we sat out the sun was luckily starting to break through the clouds, breaking the last days of grey, featureless clouds. We hadn’t walked for more than 15 minutes, before we were smack in the middle of a breathtaking landscape of waterfalls, ravines and lush forests, with snow specked on the steep slopes.

Walking was pretty easy; a narrow, but pretty good path followed the river, slowly climbing uphill with the river up through the valley. We had to lose our shoes a couple of times, as waterfalls or streams crossed and flooded the path. Once we had to take of our shoes and pants, wear our raincoats and pack our backpacks in their weather protection gear, because a rather large waterfall fell almost directly onto the path – we got quite wet anyway, but as the sun was shining, we quickly dried up!

The path twisted and turned, sometimes ascending rather steeply, but there was no parts that were too problematic. After around two and half hours, we arrived at the small Sinjarheim farm, perched high on the mountain side. Now the farm is unoccupied, but it is used by students of an agricultural school as a summer learning camp, and by trekkers as a convenient stopover. Luckily, we were the only ones there.


Most people do the this part of a greater trekking route from Østerbø in the east to Vassbygdi in the west, taking advantage of the downhill direction, likewise many start in the morning and walks the 7-8 hours trek in one day. We had planned it a little different, leaving from Vassbygdi in the afternoon/evening, spending the night en route and walking the major part the day after. This way we could enjoy the mountains better by sleeping in the wild, have the trek more to ourselves and avoid walking to much downhill (which I find annoying).


I set up camp, raised our tent and started cooking, while Lily was busy taking a lot of photos. We hadn’t brought a lot of water (we didn’t wanna carry it), but the many streams had plenty for the taking. Unfortunately 2011 was declared “Lemming year”, meaning that there is a massive rise in the Lemming population. This leads to mass migration, which in turn leads to many Lemmings drowning when crossing rivers, which again gives a slight risk that the normally so clean mountain creeks may be contaminated. Boling the water, before using it solved the problem though.

Again, the Norwegian summer gave us its best. The sun was setting behind the mountains, but at that point it was around 22:00 and it didn’t get dark before midnight, so we had plenty of time to enjoy the magnificent scenery and quiet evening.

After a good night’s sleep, we set out again late in the morning. Again the path was pretty straight forward, but climbed somewhat more steeply, all the time following the raging river. After a couple of hours or so, we reached a fork were you could choose to follow the river or walk up the mountainside over Bjørnstigen (“Bears ladder”). We choose the ladder. The path up the Bjørnstigen was steep, but again, any reasonably fit person could do it. Arriving at the “summit” we were blessed with another great vantage point and beautiful views – we had lunch overlooking the valley and spent some time enjoying the perfect day, with blue skies and warm sunshine.

Walking on, this time we got to walk downhill for a bit, but luckily not too much. Lily has problems with her knees when walking downhill, so we like walking uphill more ? We reached the farm at Nesbø in the afternoon; and fell quite in love with its cuteness and perfect setting right by the glittering lake. Half an hour or so more and we had finished the last part of the trek and reached the small community at Østerbø.


From here, we had to get back to our car in Vassbygdi; as it wasn’t high season yet, not many busses left from Østerbø; so we either had to wait 3-4 hours or try to get a lift from someone. So we sat down besides the main road and waited; unfortunately not that many cars passed and none picked us up. But 20 minutes or so later, a small bus came by. The bus belonged to an elite sports college, whose student literally ran the stretch we had just walked. Luckily the students had been dropped off and the bus was returning to the other end of the trek to pick them up, so we got a perfect ride and were dropped of directly at the small carpark were our car was parked! Couldn’t have been luckier - a big thank you to the driver of that bus.

And so our trek through this part of Aurlandsdalen was over, and we drove on to the next adventure.


Fjords of Norway
Western Fjords, Norway