There are 206 UNESCO World Heritage Nature sites around the world, and I plan to visit as many of them as I can during this trip. The first one was Geirangerfjord. It’s the famous quintessential Norwegian fjord landscape.
In order to get there from Eidsdal I had to first climb a 620m tall hill as a warmup, then descend down a fun serpentine road with views of the fjord to the village of Geiranger. It was clearly a tourist town, consisting mostly of camping grounds, hotels, restaurants, and trinket shops. And of course masses of tourists everywhere. That aspect doesn't really interest me, so I only stopped for restocking, general maintenance and photos:
From Geiranger the road continued up, at or near a 10% incline all the way to 1000m above sea level. That’s where I wanted to be. Knowing I’d mostly be walking the bike, I preferred to go up during the night. There would be no traffic, and a comfortably cool temperature. I started somewhere around midnight.
At 700 meters and 4am the visibility suddenly dropped. All I could see with my headlamp were tiny droplets of water floating in the air. I wasn’t sure if this counted as a cloud or just fog. Is there even any difference between the two, when you think about it? I suppose they are basically the same thing.
In any case, I thought if I could get to 1000m and above the fog/cloud, there might be some pretty cool photos and time-lapses available. I’ve always wanted a video of a thick layer of billowing clouds seen from a higher elevation. It was a couple hours until the best light at sunrise, so I picked up the pace a little.
On the top the conditions cleared only slightly, and another layer of clouds/fog above me was blocking any sunlight. That video would have to wait. But I’d made it to 1000m! The highest point of the journey so far. The landscape had changed quickly into nothing but barren rock, partially covered by a thin carpet of green moss. The snow up on the peaks was still melting even in late August, with many resulting streams and ponds and rivers tumbling down towards the sea.
On the high plateau there was a film crew taking advantage of the first light of morning. Their project had a much higher budget than any I’ve ever taken part in. They had a truck carrying a car, with cameras, lights and actors sitting inside pretending to be driving. A couple support vehicles with walkie-talkies were behind and in front.
It was a commercial shoot, but I didn’t get a chance to ask what for. Certainly not a car commercial, judging by the age of the vehicle they were sitting in. But if anyone in Norway ever sees a TV ad where a brown [insert car knowledge here] is driving in the barren mountains of Geiranger and some dumb cyclist is wandering in the background of the shots looking for a place to camp, do let me know.
The entire plateau was outstanding for camping. Almost anywhere I could just walk off the road and disappear behind a rocky hill into wilderness without well-worn paths or any other signs of humans.
After examining my surroundings I settled down by a small pond that still had one persistent 10m long snow bank to the side. There was no cell phone coverage - so no distractions. Nothing to do but rest, eat, take photos and relish in the freedom I had.
I love places like this. They nourish the soul in a way that isn’t possible in civilization. The bicycle kind of ties me down to near the road, where these experiences aren't usually as easy to obtain. I think I need to figure out a way to combine bicycle touring with overnight hiking so I can enjoy mountains and other deserted places more often. Just a very light backpack in one pannier, I suppose? If any of you have done this and have suggestions, please let me know!