That time we hiked for a day on an isolated path with all of our stuff without any water.
When? August 2017
With whom? Theo, a friend from uni.
After a night of playing card games with vodka with our new friend Esther, we had an early start the next day as we wanted to catch a ferry to Bratteli, which is a day’s hike to Pulpit Rock. I filled up my water bladder (I recommended it as a product in this post of when I got smuggled into the desert), and the two of us packed away our mats, sleeping bags and tent and slung them on our backs to make our way to wait by the port. On the ferry, Theo realised he had lost his water container, so we had only 1.5 litres between us for a day’s hike, whilst carrying all of our camping equipment. I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you that this simply isn’t enough for two people going out hiking. This was not good.
We said goodbye to Esther after sharing our breakfast of dry biscuits dunked in Notella (not Nutella = Notella). Norway was so expensive that we tried to do everything as cheaply as possible, and thus often involved eating grim concoctions we had bought from the supermarket. Notella and biscuits wasn’t bad on the first morning, nor the second or third mornings, but by this point I was mentally building the willpower to get the food down me.
We jumped off at Bratteli as planned and began our trek. The hike wasn’t a trail that people normally take so nothing was marked out for us, we knew the general direction but had to make a few decisions on the most sensible route. We went up, quite steeply. We desperately wanted to drink as we climbed straight up on our hangovers and measly breakfasts but we knew we had to ration our precious supplies. Once at the top we had the best view we’d seen of the fjord so far. It was beautifully sunny and the water was deep blue below us, glistening in the sunlight. We stopped for a break to take in the view.
Onwards! We came across some epic places to camp if we had wanted to spend the night but we were meeting a couple of friends up in Bergen to go onto Troltunga so time was limited, and then there was the water issue! We trudged on, checking the views as much as possible but also being careful of our foot placement. I hike a lot and I trust my balance when climbing, but being this dehydrated I could feel that I was wobbling. We both fell a couple of times and by the time we got to lunch we were completely out of water. So now we were who knows how long from Pulpit Rock and other humans, without any water or phone signal, and a vague idea of the direction of the path, both hoping we were heading the right way.
We ate micro noodles like it was a biscuit purely for its calorie content. With the flavour sachet it was the dryest thing I’ve ever eaten, and made us both even thirstier.
We felt so lightheaded even after lunch, and it didn’t help that our “trail” had us crossing rivers with few stepping stones and shuffling along tiny rock faces over an escarpment. Good job we both had decent hiking boots (for more information on mine check out the recommendation in this post when I accidentally went to Kosovo).
It felt like days when we were making our final ascent towards the tourist trail, and as did we heard the sound of other people. We rounded the corner to find everyone and took a break there; we were so exhausted. As we were resting, we clearly looked Norwegian (I’m taking this as a compliment), as a man started talking to us in Norwegian. We stared blankly back at him and in an American accent he then asked us whether we were okay. With words rather than sentences we explained our predicament and the man, who was called Scott, told us that he was waiting for his family who had lots of water so we could have his. Our eyes lit up. I moved the fastest I had moved all day to get my empty water container out and handed it to Scott. He decanted his litre of water into ours and I can only imagine the joy that must have been on our faces, that is until he spilt some as he screwed on the lid! Despite the small size of the spillage, we were both a little bit heartbroken to see the water for which we were so desperate go to waste, but still massively grateful for his generosity. We alternated in taking massive gobs of water and it felt so good. We were happy.
We continued up to Pulpit Rock, which wasn’t quite in sight but we knew it was close. It’s famous because of the 604 metre drop over the fjord so it was quite recognisable when we found it, and the hordes of tourists with selfie sticks was another giveaway.
We were suddenly so energised as we ran towards the drop to get a good look down! We peered over the edge to be faced with a drop that felt like it went on forever. We lay down and pushed our bodies off the edge as far as we could before chickening out, we dangled our legs over the edge, we even queued up in the line of tourists to get a picture in the best corner.
Our day had completely turned around from being terrible and feeling horrific to being reckless and having the time of our lives.
We walked down the tourist trail which was so much easier than our way up! At the bottom we splashed out and rewarded our stupidity with the equivalent of £8 for an ice cream, munching on it as we waited for the bus that would take us back towards Stavanger. What a day.
Info: The ferries run daily between the different points in the fjord. The first stop and last stop are guaranteed but the more obscure ones like Florli and Bratteli are done by request, so it’s worth booking your tickets online to ensure that they stop where you want it to. I used this site. Make sure you translate it to avoid making mistakes in your booking! The trail information is available here. There are absolutely tons around Lysefjord and I am sure it’s the same in other fjords too. If I had more time I would have hiked from Preikestolen to Florli and then on to the Kjerag, getting the ferry back from Lysebotn. There are buses between Stavanger and Preikestolen that go quite regularly and you don’t need to buy tickets in advance.
Tip of the week: Be prepared. We put ourselves in a dangerous situation without any water to drink when hiking and carrying so much. We were lucky to find Scott the mountain hero. Take plenty of water and snacks for energy! Nuts are good but make sure you don’t get salted nuts as they make you extra thirsty.
Product of the week: I love my Lowe Alpine Diran 65+10 backpack. It’s 65 litre capacity which is fab for someone as small as me but still has room to pack all the things I need. I took it to Norway and took it with me when I camped my way across Asia it fit everything I needed for 6 months including my tent!