When I wake, the sun is just peeking over the hills, and through the window into my room. I have a little time before breakfast, so go to the drying room to repack my tent and gather my things. Breakfast is cereal, toast with cheese, eggs and cold meats, with fruit, juice and coffee. We also have the chance to prepare a matpakke – a packed lunch of open sandwiches wrapped with paper. I’d been looking forward to trying brunost (literally, “brown cheese”), so I seize this opportunity and load up my matpakke.pantryWhen I wake, the sun is just peeking over the hills, and through the window into my room. I have a little time before breakfast, so go to the drying room to repack my tent and gather my things. Breakfast is cereal, toast with cheese, eggs and cold meats, with fruit, juice and coffee. We also have the chance to prepare a matpakke – a packed lunch of open sandwiches wrapped with paper. I’d been looking forward to trying brunost (literally, “brown cheese”), so I seize this opportunity and load up my matpakke.

The route to Hadlaskard isn’t too far and doesn’t look particularly strenuous, so I take my time in leaving. The cabin’s hot water is now on, so I have a quick shower and read in the lounge a little longer. There’s no phone signal at the cabin, but the staff have some kind of (satellite?) connection; they print of the next few days’ weather forecasts so we can know what to expect. Today looks good, and tomorrow looks OK, but then the next two days are constant rain and wind.

By the time I leave, it is around 10:00 and the temperature outside is no longer maybe-freezing. The path takes me up the hillside behind the cabin, before looping around the side of one of Hardangervidda’s many dome-shaped peaks (I’m not sure these count as nunataks, but it’s easy to imagine glaciers flowing around and over them). To my left, the horizon is punctuated by Hårteigen – a particularly tall and particularly square-profiled mountain at the focus of the arc which is today’s route.

The paths I’m using are marked with frequent cairns spray-painted with a red ‘T’. There are plenty of places where the path seemingly vanishes, and you’re left to make your own way to the next cairn, a couple of hundred metres away. It’s in one of these gaps that I’m crossing a patch of level, apparently solid ground, when my entire right lower leg vanishes into a pool of mud and moss. I imagine Cairn Guy having laughing at my expense, which makes me feel a bit better. I’ve also now learned two things that will be useful for the next two days: trekking poles are good for sounding the terrain, and flat ‘ground’ is flat for a reason.

Now I’m up on the plateau of Hardangervidda, the evidence of the place’s glacial history is everywhere: every horizon is punctuated by glacier-dropped boulders, and the the ground is occasionally replaced with a smooth pavement of ice-scoured rock.

The weather in the morning is generally pretty pleasant, and the gaps in the clouds keep the temperature comfortable. I pause for a break near a small lake. Sheltered from the wind, this small valley is totally silent-
That is until a plane flies over, heading North. While I couldn’t have known this at the time, I realised that the people in that plane, 6 or 7 kilometres up, were probably the closest other people to me right now, which feels a bit weird. I’m glad to have the GPS tracker (even if the batteries are still playing up).

The plane is soon followed by a band of less-friendly-looking clouds, which begin catch up to me as I’m traversing the ravine at the highest point of today’s route. I put on my raincoat in preparation, but as I start to descend into the shallow river valley, I’m surprised to find myself in a light snow shower.

It’s too warm for the snow to settle, and the snow’s too light to pose any nuisance, so its only effect is to make the scene completely delightful to walk through. After only a few minutes, the sun breaks through from the South, producing a rainbow further down the valley and making the falling snow sparkle.

I kind of wish I’d taken a photo of this, but a) it wouldn’t look anywhere near as good on camera, b) my phone’s touchscreen really doesn’t like moisture, and c) I was happy just to watch and enjoy the view.

Eventually, the shower moves off to the North, and I am left to complete the route down the river valley towards Hadlaskard, which has now appeared in the distance. The walk down is uneventful, having learned my lesson about boggy patches earlier. Eventually, I reach the bridge over the river, which is interesting in itself, consisting of a ladder up, then a series of wooden pallets slung beneath cables/handrails, a ladder down, then a plank across to dry, even ground.

This puts me right next to the cabin, outside which I sit and eat my lunch in the sun; brunost turns out to be worth walking 20 kilometres for.

After finishing my lunch, I venture inside. Dropping off my bag, poles and coat in the porch, I enter the cabin proper, and find myself in a beautifully warm room, whose walls are lined with shelves of food. At this point, I accept that I’ve simply brought too much food with me – enough for 8-9 days, when you could comfortably get by with two. Ah well – the store does lack tortillas and peanut butter so I’m not sure it even counts as a pantry.

In the main lounge room, I meet the cabin’s other guests – a Norwegian couple, who had stayed the night before and kept the wood stove running today. As it’s my first stay in an unstaffed cabin, it’s nice to have people around to show me how everything works, and it definitely helps that they (like everyone else I’ve met on this trip) are friendly and – of course – speak perfect English.

The first order of business is making myself a cup of tea, then laying out my damp gear on the rack above the stove. I spend the next hour or so looking at the maps and attempting to read the books in the lounge. Before long, it’s time for a dinner of instant noodles – prepared in the cabin’s surprisingly well-appointed kitchen, with views out to the river and Hårteigen in the distance.

As the sun sets, we light the candles, and I enjoy the irony of reading an ebook by candlelight for a while before heading to bed. Tomorrow I’ll have to decide how I’m going to split up my remaining three days of walking among the next four days to best avoid the forecast rain. That’s probably a decision best left until the evening, when I’ll return to the land of phone signal and WiFi.

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