Where was I? Right, in Valldal, or not really, we hadn’t gotten there just yet. Still had to go up Trollstigen and get over to the other side. Last time I drove up those serpentines, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into: 11 turns on a road with just one lane, no rail, and tourist buses comming down in the opposite directions (along with bikers, RV’s, regular cars and everything in between). I don’t know the average inclination of that road, but I can tell you as much as that it is steeeep, but most of all the small rocks that is supposed to keep you from going over the edge are so Norwegian that they must all have double names. There is no way they would do anything else than leave a small scratch of your soon-to-be crashed-beyond-belief car if you hit them. It was horror going up. I didnt see any of the magnificient view.
This time, I didn’t need to worry at all. First of all, I happily accepted the offer made by Maria to drive. Second, this time, we couldn’t see any of the horrific steepness below. It was great :).
Anyway, so we got over and once again found ourselves in the beauty of Valldalen. The main goal this year was to cash in a rain check we got in Fjörå last year. At first, it looked like we would get another one; when we woke up, the rain was drizzling on the roof of Steve and the clouds were if possible even lower than they had been that Sunday one year ago.
But Norway is Norway, and as quickly as those clouds come in, they sometimes dissapear. And so they did. First we just saw small glimpses of blue sky, and then, suddenly, magic (of course, it is Norway after all).
The trail up to Mefjället can be reached either by pedaling up the serpentine road in Fjörå, or by parking at the designated spot at about 400 masl. Then you’ll have to climb those 400 verticals on your way back (unless you have a second car parked at fjord level).
We chose the lazy alternative, thinking that it would be better to have more strength when going down the mountain than by the end of the day going up a paved road (of course, we didn’t think that that idea was very smart at all at the actual end of the day, but anyway..). So we left the car 1/3 up and started pedaling up the dirt road. It always suprises me exactly how steep roads can be in Norway. After a while, we decided to stop panting and start enjoying the view. It was quite different hiking up that road this year compared to the last time we did it.
Reaching the start of the real trail, we realized that it wasn’t that strange that we never found it last year. It starts behind a house and is just barely detectable by the naked eye. In addition, I think the sheep are playing the game fool-the-human by making dead end trails going off in various directions, just for the fun of it. However, this time around we both had a map, and guidance in terms of signs (I know, cheating!) since there was a race to be held on the mountain in a couple of days, so we knew we were on the right track. Time to get down to some serious push biking.
And of course some hanging out in the sun.
Then, it is all about going down. Or so we thought.. First of all, my experience of wet mud this year is about zero (not much rain in Wyoming/Colorado…), so I sat on my butt a number of times. Maria of course stood on her head instead. We had come in search of technical trails, and technical trails we got (MUCH more on that later), but completely rideable if you are not a clumpsy fart like me. And even if you are a clumpsy fart, the trail down Mefjället is still great. When I think about it, the upper part is not really that technical, its just a bit slipperly when wet (the rain the past couple of days had done its magic). When you come down the ridge, you have the choice to either go down to the gravel road again and follow that for a while until it connects to the “Rugga” trail, or taking a smaller trail back and around to another ridge to the west of Mefjället.
If you do the latter, you get the pleasure of playing the game “find the trail” again, and who doesn’t want to do that? I would say that it is definitely worth it; once on the ridge the train is all fun and games.
Getting down from the west ridge is also fun and games. We played the game “throw your bike and jump after” a couple of times and got quite a hang of it. Then we played the game “stand on your head” a number of times. It was so fun Maria got a crack in her helmet. By then, we were honestly getting a bit low on sugar, so I’m quite sure that other’s won’t play those games when going down, but I had a good time doing it anyway.
Once down from the steepest section, the trail connects to Rugga. The best descent is to take that trail west and keep high, heading towards and climb Syltefjellet. The trail down from there is fast and flowy and super fun. The trail comes down in the small village of Ytli, in which you follow the road east for perhaps 50 meters and then head down a trail towards the fjords. It is not super easy to find, and with our sugar low (and somewhat over heated) brains, we missed it and instead headed back to our car (hm, yes, our lack of search for the trail might have had something to do with the fact that going down it would mean climbing those 400 vertical meters…. we got lazy… I am ashamed).
The day ended by Maria taking a dip in the very cold fjord. I was impressed, and very happy standing on the shore watching.
The next day, the magic wasn’t strong enough to chase those low clouds off, and we therefore decided to just play around. There is a trail, not marked on the map, that goes straight up the road just where Liabygda ends (west of Valldal). That trail can be taken all the way up to Liahornet, although the best way up is the gravel road up to the säter (some cabins for sheep watching), and then take the trail up to the top.
We did the Liahornet trail last year, and it is definetely worth a visit. As I remember it, it is steeper than Mefjället, but perhaps also more flowing. We spent the day going up and down the last section, trying to learn how to get some air. Maria did really good, I did so and so, but it was great nevertheless.
By the end of the day, we started to get a bit restless. The mountains on the other side of the fjord looked very tempting, and so, we accidently got on the ferry and left for Stranda.