From Ringebu there is a wonderful route going North through Rondane Nasjonalpark. Rondane is a highland and is the oldest national park of Norway. Last year I drove through it with the car and it was my wish to cycle over this route. Even though is is counted as one of the eighteen touristic car routes, the experience was frustrating. Locked behind a windshield, not able to go for a quick stop for some pictures and going much too fast. We decided to cycle the route, how ever, it is not the St. Olav’s Way…
Since we’re not puritans who ‘have to go over the St. Olav’s Way and I cycled the route myself already. I told Remy what he would miss out on, and that the St. Olav’s way was easier than the route through Rondane, which was much harder. The latter part made the decision: we’re going trough Rondane.
I think that words can’t describe how wonderful it is. Even pictures fall short to pass on the overwhelming feeling we had while cycling through it.
Yes it was hard. In the way of: leaving Ringebu in the morning and climbing up to three o’clock in the afternoon with four kilometers per hour. After that we were on the plane at an altitude of 1000 meters and above the tree line. We saw impressive mountain tops in all directions.
Because of the dry climate and the barren soil, the vegetation is quite barren as well. On only a few places we saw flowers blooming. The park is mostly rocky and is covered with lichen mostly.
At the end of the day we find a sheltered spot to pitch our tent. At night it gets cold. Very cold… The next morning we find frost on our bicycles and ice crystals in our bidons.
The northern part of Rondane is connected to another national park, the Dovre Nasjonalpark, and between the two parks lies Grimsdalen, a valley where the river Grimse flows through and where the tour de Dovre goes through. This is a bicycle route wich can be found in the bicycle guide and connects to the Olav’s way in Dovre. From here both routes go parallel to each other to Dombås to Hjerkinn.
We cycle through the wonderful Grimsdalen and arrive at an altitude of 1200 meters. There we camp on a Fjellcamping, a camping without any facilities and get our coldes night yet. No only are our bicycles covered with frost, but also our tent.
That day we wanted to cycle all te way to Hjerkinn and cycle the next day over Dovrefjell. The highlight and highest point of the St. Olav’s Way. I wrote in the guide that DovreFjell is dangerous with bad weather and that the climb should be done after a good rest since it is the heaviest part of the St. Olav’s Way. Since we saw that the weather takes a turn for the worst with wavy rain and a strong wind… We decided to climb up to Dovrefjell that afternoon anyway. The weather was fine and by this time it was twenty degrees C and the sun shines. Perfect weather! We were quite tired of the many earlier climbes that day, so we kind of ignored our own advice to start he ascent well rested.
The first couple of hundred meters are not cyclable. Very steep and loose rocks and gravel. To my astonishment is see Remy stepping up after the first twenty meters and starting the ascent slowly but surely by bicycle… There’s no way he wasn’t a mountain goat in his previous life. After a couple of hundred meters I’m able to step on my bicycle as well and so we cycle over the wonderful and impressive Dovrefjell.
We forgot the fatigue and enjoyed ourselves immensely.
After we arrived down at a parking lot, we cycled a couple of kilometers more to Kongsvoll, a hostel for Pilgrims as well where we spoil ourselves with good food and a nice bed.
The next day it started raining….
We’re invited to stay with Tom and Janke. They live in Ringebu, but in the summer they stay a couple of weeks in a so called seter to take care of the cows. A seter is a simple wooden cottage in the mountains with a barn where Norwegian farmers bring their livestock herds (cattle, goats, and sheep) to be milked after a day of grazing in the mountain pastures. Historically, young women (ei seterjente = a dairymaid) brought the animals to the seter and remained there for the summer, caring for the animals and making cheese until September, at which point they return to the valleys.
These days more sætre are disappearing. In the sætre that still remain, the farm family manage the work them selves, but often so-called seterbudeie(r), like Tome and Janke, are hired.
The promised downpour did not come today (how many times have I said that this summer?!) there was some drizzle and the sun was shining. The wind did blow quite hard, so we were glad we could stay for one more night.
Today we were in the car(!) with Janke and drove through the Gjevilvassdalen. A wonderful valley in Trollheimen, west of Oppdal. A route I would have loved to cycle like Rondane, but it helps that this road is quieter, and if you’re not the driver, you can ask for a stop anywhere to take a few pictures…