Well. That was something.
We headed out early on Sunday, picking up our rental car and making our way to Lysebotn, a tiny village at the base of Lysefjord. It was a long, but beautiful drive and we stopped a few times along the way to take photos of something that was particularly enthralling, usually waterfalls. The roads are narrow and winding, particularly as you head into the mountains so our last few kilometres seemed to take forever. Or maybe it was because we hit Norwegian rush hour, in the form of a flock of sheep on the road? But soon we found our B&B, just outside of Lysebotn, in a very old, beautiful farmhouse where we hunkered down for a home-cooked Norwegian meal and to get ourselves ready for our first of three hikes, Kjeragbolten.
We were expecting this 10km round-trip hike to take around 5-6 hours, not fully appreciating how rugged the terrain was. We quickly started scaling the first of three mountains, with the help of chains bolted into the side of the mountain, or if we were lucky, stone steps or switchbacks. Even then, there was some three-points-of-contact-at-all-times scrambling up the rock face. The trail was also an active grazing location for sheep so we had several sheep cheering us on (actually, some sounded like they were booing us) and it wasn’t long before we were up the first, albeit shortest, mountain. After getting down the other side, and up and over the second mountain, we stopped to refill our water at one of the little waterfalls before heading up the final and largest rock face. Then the terrain flattened out and we headed across the top of the mountain before tucking into a bit of a crevice and finding kjeragbolten. Kjeragbolten is a giant boulder, shmushed between two cliff faces, at 1084m above the fjord. It’s been there a while and not going anywhere but still terrifying. After some well-deserved snacks and rest, including putting a few more layers on since it was quite chilly at the top, we headed to the boulder for photos. My Ativan was still working so I actually made it out onto the boulder but was too afraid to stand up so I just gave it a big hug. EDP was far more daring, not only standing up but pretending to be about to fall over the edge. He didn’t but I was glad the insurance was paid up, just in case. Also, it isn’t quite as death-defying as the photos make it look. While it looks like you have to climb down onto the boulder, in reality, the rock on the left has a fairly wide ledge behind it so you only need to step out onto the boulder. Or in my case, sit with your back pressed firmly against the rock and slowly inch yourself over to the boulder before maneuvering yourself onto your stomach with the intention of getting onto the boulder in a crouch before very, very slowly & carefully raising to a standing position but end up hugging the boulder instead.
Then, because we had to climb up and over three mountains to get there, we had to climb down and over three mountains to get back. I had been hoping for a secret escalator to bring us back down to the parking lot but no such luck. And those rock faces we had to scramble up now had to be scrambled down. That was. Ummm. Fun? EDP was smart enough to use his hiking poles almost the entire time but I didn’t pull mine out until far too far into the trip. And my knee is proving it. I definitely also went over on an ankle but we upgraded to ankle boots instead of just hiking shoes so it was well-protected and isn’t causing nearly as much grief as my knee. I must be getting too old for this stuff.
In all, the round-trip hike took us about 5 1/2 hours and between heading to the boulder and back, we climbed (and subsequently descended) a total of 570m.
Once we were safely back at the car, we invested in some well-deserved hot chocolate and headed back onto the road to drive into Jørpeland, a small town near Preikestolen, our second of our three hikes - and expected to be the easiest. It can’t be harder than Kjeragbolten so here’s hoping for an easier day.