Preikestolen / Pulpit Rock Climb
For 4 or 5 hours yesterday I kept saying to myself “I am a senior citizen. I am insane.”. This was during the 4 km hike up 2000 feet of rocks and then a 4 km hike down 2000 feet of rocks. We did it. Mike and I climbed up to Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock. This is the 25m x 25m ledge 2000 feet (600m) above the Lysefjord that sticks out like a pulpit in church. The walk is advertised as being appropriate for families although you are warned that there are no barriers or fences anywhere and that you have to closely watch your children. They also say that no-one has accidentally fallen over the edge yet. I finally figured out that saying “for families” doesn’t mean it is easy. It means that youngsters are the only ones that have the energy to complete this hike. I also think they must mean Scandinavian families, not Canadian ones.
Before we started this walk I read that the only washroom was at the start of the climb. That meant 5 hours with no toilet facilities. You might think that there would be woods that offered some privacy but that didn’t work. No woods, just open rocks and you are never out of sight of other people and they are coming from in front of you and from behind you. The other thing that I read was the suggestion that you take a walking stick or hiking pole with you. That is all very well except that I don’t own one and quite honestly have never really wanted one. Mike has one that he carved himself and he swears that it helped a lot cut down on the strain on his leg muscles.
Norway brought in Nepalese Sherpas to help create the rock trail where nature needed assistance. As hard and tiring as we found the hike we were very impressed with the trail itself. Normally when walking on rocks and boulders you are always worried about them shifting or moving under your feet. These felt rock solid if you will excuse the pun. It would have been so much harder if the rocks were tipping and sliding around. The other really surprising fact was that the wet rocks were not slippery. That is often a big problem when you are hiking on rocks. I don’t know why they weren’t slippery but it made me much happier. In some areas, the rocks were placed almost like stairs except that the steps would be for people 6 or maybe 7 feet tall. At 5 feet tall climbing up each boulder step was very hard on my calves. The walk was up, up, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, up, up… for a 2000 feet increase in altitude. That is 2/3 of a kilometre straight up.
For a country with a love of building tunnels and bridges it is surprising that there is no cable car up to Pulpit Rock. Cape Town has one at Table Top Mountain. Jasper, Banff and millions of other mountainous areas have tourist cable cars. People would still be able to do the walk if they wanted and senior citizens would be able to use the cable car and not have sore calves for days afterwards.
The premise behind this hike is the glorious view from standing out on Pulpit Rock. The only problem is that Mike is not at all fond of heights and I think he found the view somewhat lacking because of that. I thought that the view was gorgeous, he thought I was too close to the edge, you decide.
On this trip so far we have seen very few Canadians or Americans. I have finally figured out that it is probably because most of the people we meet are in marinas and campgrounds and not many North Americans rent boats or campers over here. At one point coming down from this walk three young men behind us saw the Canadian flag on our knapsack and asked what city we were from. It turns out they were from Toronto and Vaughn. Another couple going up the hill overheard our conversation and said that they were from Alberta. Maybe there are more Canadians around than I had realized.
P.S. Addendum written 1 1/2 days after walk.
As stated my thighs and particularly my calves ached. Turning over in bed hurt. I decided that I had earned the next day off and stayed in the RV most of it writing this article, entertaining kids, doing laundry and lovely things like that. I should have walked and stretched my muscles. Night 2 was almost as bad as night 1. We went for a 3 km walk this morning around a small lake to give my legs some exercise. It turns out that I have no problem walking 3 km on a flat level surface but taking 4 steps up and down into a café now that was a problem. We met a very nice Norwegian man whose wife is from Montreal. He was walking with his daughter and her friend. He stopped and had coffee with us in the café while the girls played. It is always so interesting learning from people. He is a Norwegian actor and comedian.
One of the things that I did on my day off was to post a question to a forum of RV owners in the UK asking about roads in Norway. We are actually wider than you are supposed to be without even counting our wide mirrors that don’t fold in. Smaller campers have told us about having to fold in their mirrors to get by some places. Anyway I asked for some advice and here is the video someone sent to me. Have a look and watch it until the end. We are VERY wide, long and cannot back up.
Addendum: Interesting article on the Sherpas taken from http://grassrootsnews.tv/2017/06/26/nepali-sherpas-working-in-norway/
Norway has flown in Sherpas for the past two decades to build trails to reduce the ecological impact of tourism. By doing this, they maintain the beautiful landscape and create great trails to walk on.
Though these men are some of the strongest people in the world, does not mean that this is an easy task. Because of the location of these trails, it is not possible to bring in heavy machinery. Instead, a team of 10 will have one jackhammer to break free bedrock while the rest carry huge slabs to put them in place. They take the big blocks of stone, using ropes to tie them to their backs and head up the mountain.
For a lot of Sherpas, this job is a very attractive and sought after. Not only do they get to travel, but it is rewarding financially. The Sherpas come for about five to seven months to work. It may seem like a long time to be away from family, but the wages make up for it. A few months of working in Norway is equivalent to up to seven years of wages working in Nepal.