Today was to be the ultimate day of the trip, in many respects, it was to be the last day of hiking and incorporated a walk along the famous and popular Besseggen Ridge.
Whether you start at Memurubu or Gjendesheim, the walk requires a climb starting at 984 metres to a maximum height of 1722 metres. However there is not just one big climb, there is a saddle which sits at about 1350 metres. The ridge is a popular day walk connecting the two hotels and the option to either walk along the foreshore of the lake to make it a circuit walk or catch a ferry further encourages walkers to walk the ridge. As a consequence it is suggested that this 17 km walk is completed by over 40 000 walkers a year. Whether they be day walkers or those with larger packs, that is quite an achievement in my view as I will endeavor to explain.
I begun the climb up from Memrubu, and was soon overtaken by two day walkers with very small packs on this was to be a recurring them all day. I stopped to have a look around a little further up and noted that the ferry had berthed at Memerubu and people were getting off and immediately heading towards the start of the climb.
Later I would be passed by many different age groups as they rushed to climb the first hill. Whilst I happily hiked my own hike. As I climbed the views along the lake as well as the surrounding mountains continued to impress me. There were countless streams to cross so there was no need to carry water, I did notice some hikers with 1 and 2 litre bottles full of water. The day like the previous ones, remained overcast but the cloud was thinning and it was certainly the best day of the trip to be up high.
I stopped at the first high point near a small lake and took the time to admire the view as did many others. After passing the small tarn Bjørnbøltjonne.
The trail climbed a little further before starting its descent to the saddle along side of Bessvatnet. With very little breeze to disturb the water the reflection of Bessfjellet provided a wonderful back drop for a rest prior to the climb up the Besseggen.
On one side of the Bessvatnet is located at 1373 m. above sea level whilst on the opposite side Gjende is at 984 m above sea level, the 400 metre difference is separated by less than half a kilometre width of ridge. Very impressive.
Well after pondering the climb in front of me, putting my pacer poles on my pack and as I had no other excuse I started the 300 metre(in less than a kilometre) climb. It was slow and steady progress with most climbers making the same speed whether they had a day pack or a larger one. On perhaps the steepest section I waited for a couple of people to descend past one tricky section, only to be told there was more coming. Sure enough down came another Japanese hiking group all with large smiles, they were having fun! As I was. There are parts where it is definitely one way traffic and so with the popularity of the ridge you are often stopping waiting for the oncoming traffic, which is always good for a rest.
The climb continues to you reach a high point, where there were a number of groups stopped as well as some one selling cans of Pepsi for 40 Nkr (about 4 Pounds), they were doing good business.
Further along the trail the highest point at 1743 m. is reached. Whilst many walkers soon headed across Vestfjellet and down towards Gjendesheim I decided it was afternoon tea time and found a spot away from the trail and sat and admired the views.
It was fantastic and no photos can do it justice in my view such is the enormity of the landscape. With the satisfaction of the completing the climb there is the realization that it is all down hill now and it is still about 5 km to the end of the trip. I set off following the well marked trail gently down hill at first and then steeper stopping at a small stream for some water and enjoying the afternoon sunshine. It was much warmer in the valley and I dug out the Tilley to protect me from the sun. On a particularly steep section there is a chain to be used as hand hold I watched a young girl and her mother take considerable care in getting down this section.
By 5 pm I was at Gjendsheim it was warm in the valley and the reality of civilisation was all round me, I set off past the Ferry terminal to the state forest along the lake where camping is free, finding a nice spot, with lots of ants, but other wise okay. I grabbed my money and my clean clothes and headed for the showers. Returning to the tent, feeling much cleaner I set about cooking dinner and whilst eating dinner I was amazed by the light in the clouds out to the east. I thought that it was a perfect end to a wonderful trip.
The following day was spent travellling firstly catch the local bus from Gjendsheim to Otta, then train and plane home.