Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Toreskyrkja backpacking overnighter

I managed to sneak away from the family for a short overnighter in the Gausta area in Telemark county, Norway. We stayed in a hut at Kvitåvatn, for some reason a Danish place in Telemark. From having watched some documentary films made by DR Derude, I actually understood the Danish pronunciation without problems. Anyway, this was a nice base camp for a family vacation with good walking almost right from the hut.

After having been up the closest fell with the kids and wife earlier during the day, I started walking after having eaten dinner, a little over eight in the evening. My plan was to walk fairly hard for around three hours before making camp.

After a ten minute walk from the hut I arrived at Kvitåvatn at 928 m, where a T-marked (for Den Norske Turistforening) started towards the peak of Toreskyrkja (1392 m). The lower part of this trail was a little wet and worn, but became better above the treeline.

Kvitåvatn with Gaustatoppen (1893 m) in the background. The overexposed sky has automatically erased the ugly tower from Gaustatoppen.

T marks the trail.

Our hut was at the other side of the lake.


The landscape is opening up at around 1000 m above sea level.

No need to carry water in Norway. There is always plenty of great tasting drinkable water. EDIT: The Norwegian Institute of Public Health actually recommends against this currently due to the risk of tularemia. Lots of mice and lemmings this year.

The route is up there somewhere.

At the horizon is Hardangervidda, the largest mountain plateau in Europe. Riding across Hardangervidda on singletrack with a mountain bike or fatbike would be an interesting project, but I haven't yet checked out any routes or if the national park rules allow it.

Going up.

Wood Cranesbill grew in a sheltered place quite high.

Peak photo.

The trail ended, but by going a bit down I came upon really easy walking terrain and continued towards my planned camping spot.

The sun set, but there was still no shortage of light.

I soon came upon another trail.

A little over eleven in the evening I arrived at my camping spot, next to the lake 1269. I put up the tent and made a hot drink before going to sleep. This was my first field test of the BushCooker. I think it was a worthy one. Finding fuel was no problem, in less that five minutes I had more that enough.

I enjoyed the evening and went to sleep around midnight. The view from the tent with the side panels open was nice with the full moon and all.

During the night the wind picked up quite a bit and I had to close down the tent fully. The next morning there was almost no wind at all and the view was again quite acceptable. I always try to choose a tent spot with a good view, in addition to having access to water nearby.

I got up a little before seven in the morning and ate a quick breakfast of sandwhiches and water. Since the family was waiting at the hut, I decided not to make morning coffee, since I hate rushing it when drinking coffee. Good coffee should be enjoyed slowly. I got going again and aimed to walk for about three hours.

I left the trail almost immediately, since it went the wrong way and I wanted to find my own route using only the map and reading the terrain. Finding an efficient route was not problem at all, since it is actually very easy to navigate in this kind of terrain when the visibility is good.

A poor spruce has chosen the wrong place to grow on.

A view back. In this kind of terrain the optimal route is often very obvious and I did soon find a faint trail going my way.

An unidentified mushroom.

Yes, I have long legs.

Down there somewhere.

That's where I came from.

And the road I aimed for. About 6 km of road back to the hut.

This was a really nice overnighter in nice weather. I would probably do a lot of fell walking if I lived in a place with fells, but they are unfortunately far away from my home.

A slideshow with more pictures.

In another hiking related matter, Hendrik Morkel from Hiking in Finland wants to make a Video Guide to Lightweight Backpacking. It is funded through Kickstarter and I hope you consider supporting it here. I did, since I'm convinced that it will be great and is worth supporting. It is not only for backpackers either, since it will cover a lot of outdoor stuff.


  1. A nice overnighter. Your final sentence rings true with me as well, although I am slightly nearer to them than you =)

  2. I think the difference in distance is negligible. I guess the closest real mountains might actually be in Jämtland in Sweden, or possibly even Härjedalen if you count them. The only real Finnish mountains are around Kilpisjärvi and they are about 20 hours away with train and bus. In the same time you get to Åre with boat and bus (from Turku). Too far...

  3. Beautiful. Some of those lake shots remind me of a place in our Sierra Nevada that I have been wanting to get back to for years now. A place where the mountainsides fall straight down into the lake waters on most sides, but with a nice flat spot at one end to pitch a tent.

  4. I live 270 miles from the Lake District fells and would do more fell walking if I lived nearer. But still any trip to the hills is great. Fantastic photos and a great wild camp location. Inspiring landscape from my view point and Scandinavia is where I am planning to visit next year. Posts like that keep inspiring me more and more to go visit.

  5. Awesome! Never thought that it could be THAT beautiful in southern part of Norway.

    I've been in Lapland for four times, and Ylläs/Äkäslompolo and Levi are also nice, though Kilpisjärvi is truly magnificent. There is something special of mountains and high places...

  6. Thanks for the kind comments!

    Martin, from my point of view 270 miles is far at all. It is only 4-5 hours by car and a piece of cake if the trains and busses go there.

    Toni, from Telemark northwards Norway is extremely beautiful for someone who loves mountains and outdoor stuff. Kilpisjärvi is actually quite pale in comparison to most of the Norwegian mountains. I want back...

  7. Great photos and scenery, looks like a wonderful place to hike. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Great photos from a great outing!
    Thanks for sharing.

    I've been looking at the Double Rainbow since a while, but have hesitated because I'm not sure how bug proof it is. You seem to be using it everywhere, including mosquito country. Is the Double Rainbow really bug proof (mosquitoes as well as midges)? With netting all around or...?

    / Karl

  9. Karl, the Double Rainbow should be fully bug proof (has netting all around) and certainly keeps the mosquitoes out. I haven't tested it with midges/no-see-ums yet, but according to a post on bikepacking.net is keeps the midges out. I guess I´ll find out for myself in a few days when I leave for Lapland.

    So far I'm very satisfied with the Double Rainbow and would by it again. Another alternative is the Lunar Duo, which is fairly similar but perhaps a little roomier.

  10. Thanks Peter!
    On your recommendation I had a look at the Lunar Duo as well, but in the end I went for the Double Rainbow.
    The key items that pointed me towards the DR was the (apparently) better wind stability and the fact that it can be erected as a free standing shelter (more or less). Both things will matter when I'm out paddling and want/need to camp on rocky islands without much vegetation on them. On hiking trips "only" the better wind resistance matters to me.
    I'm new to having to seam seal tents. Did you dilute the seam sealer (with paint thinner or such), or did you use the seam sealer as it comes in the tube? Any advice regarding seam sealing the DR otherwise?
    / Karl

  11. I chose the Double Rainbow over Lunar Duo for two reasons: Everything I had read indicated that the DR had better wind stability. Furthermire, the LD was made to be used with walking poles, which I usually don't have since I'm mainly riding a bike. Extra carbon fiber poles would be available for the LD, but would raise the weight slightly. The LD would have been I little roomier, though.

    The seam sealer from Tarptent was just ordinary silicone from a hardware store used for bath rooms etc. I diluted it with paint thinner and just "painted" it on the seams. I suggest you do it thoroughly and then test it.

  12. Thanks a lot for having patience with all my questions.
    Have a great trip to Pöyrisjärvi.
    / Karl