Before myself, I think I was born a little late. Maybe more than a little, sometimes there is too much of everything around, and I wish I could ... Mountains. Yes, mountains this is the place.
The more exciting was the thought that we got a job in the mountains after all. Hardanger Vidda - the largest national park in Northern Europe. The surprise was all the greater as we had already worked in this place 4 years earlier, for one weekend; trifle, we have never been able to return there even privately. We have been in Norway for a few months a year for a good few years and it is undoubtedly one of the most appealing lands that I have had the opportunity to associate with.
On the other hand, Stavali, in all the wildness of the north, is unique.
... so we have a job, we will run a mountain shelter. What else!?!
On July 15, we have to reach Odda (some 150 km east of Bergen) where we will say goodbye to civilization for the next two months of our lives.
We currently live in Espeland is a small settlement on the outskirts of the village of Jondal, just below the Folgefonna Glacier, where we are finishing previous works so that together with the local farmer responsible for the shelter on the above-mentioned date, we reach it.
The contract covers all the details of our stay, i.e. accommodation and meals, obligations that we have committed ourselves to meet and pay.
The drive from Jondal to Odda is less than 2 hours. Although the distance is not large, Norwegian roads are not expressways due to the specific nature of the area "imposed" by the mother's nature.
We did not take much, we have a mountain backpack with Asia. We know that the trail to the shelter from a place that can be reached by car leads through amazing areas from birch forests covered with moss, to vast valleys even shaded due to the vertical rock walls on both sides, the omnipresent streams flowing into mirrored lakes discovered behind each hill. The difference in levels is drastic (for trekking). After all, we start from sea level (Odda is located next to the fjord), while Stavali is over 1000 m above sea level
In summary, we will have 6 hours of walking in a fabulous but demanding terrain, and this is a motivating aspect to reduce "needed" things. Our contact with the "carer" of the shelter is somewhat limited due to linguistic reasons, specifically our Norwegian; being treated gently, it leaves much to be desired. Odd Arne (because that is his name), apart from his native language, also knows the quotes gut mornik, danke and hello. Somehow, however, on essential issues, we manage to find, I think (?), A sufficient agreement, which from the technical point of view could be briefly described by handicraft.
We're reaching the landing site!?!
Not knowing foreign languages is usually a problem, but there are rarely pleasant surprises. So we can forget about the march, today we will fly to work by helicopter! We were informed about it by a very nice helicopter pilot, who is flying with a large supply of food for tourists to our shelter. In fact, the whole thing had been arranged by Odd Arne much earlier, but he didn't know how to tell us about it.
We have packed a sackcloth that will be attached to a helicopter and filled with firewood, cleaning products, food, beer, wine and anything that potential tourists might need.
Short training on what and when to do, and what to avoid during the flight and on the boarding and disembarking options. And up.
As I wrote before, the areas of Hardanger Vidda are breathtaking, but when the perspective from which you look at it all changes, then ....
The flight lasted less than 10 minutes, I will never forget them. It's like watching mountain valleys without walking on them, as you almost brush the ridges of the hills and raise your legs in the cabin, how would it change something when you fly past a huge waterfall falling like rain ...
It all stays there. A bit like a computer game or a nature film. Out of the ordinary.
We landed and even after a while we started breathing, then talking.
We have to prepare a shelter and sort the food. Familiarize yourself with the reception and its management, prices and finally unpack our backpacks in the cabin where we will live. A lot of impressions for one day. From the place where we spent the last month in the company of people, cars, shops, and the rest of the civilized world, in a short while we moved back in time. No electricity, no running water, no net or any kind of cellular network!
60 days without "that" world.
The cottage is 9m2! This is one room with two single beds and a wood stove for heating the "apartment". The cottage was built in 1867, which is indicated by a carefully engraved date on one of the beams of the wall.
It is very cozy, a tiny window does not do much in terms of lighting, but it allows you to check the current weather, which in the absence of a forecast significantly affects the amount of information that reaches us.
It's great. Introducing our own organizational and order rules did not take too long. I think that the size of the cottage had a big influence on the quick "furnishing" of the chalet!
It was very similar with the shelter, a 30-second walk away from our place of residence. A three-storey classic Norwegian blood red building with white windows, built in 1950 and open to tourists all year round. Previously, the buildings used by mountaineers were not that impressive. It is true that even now there are no luxuries, but in the existing mountain hostel managed by Bergen Turlag (the Norwegian national mountain organization) there is everything you could need in the mountains.
The training in the "handling" of the shelter was, as I mentioned, expressly. The reason was not our above-average ability to assimilate in new places, but a linguistically limited contact with the "foreman" who, apart from showing us where to sleep, where he eats, and where he puts money in, went away for a "longer" moment.
It wasn't that bad at all. From the afternoon tourists come, so we lodge them, sell food and drinks. The menu also includes two dishes prepared by us; romegroot and spekem! The first is something like our porridge on milk (as for children) but served with thinly sliced, dried cow meat, everything is poured with liquid butter precipitated during the process of preparing this dish, it is a traditional meal served, for example, on May 17 (the day of regaining independence by Norway from Danish "partitions".) Although the combination of milk soup and ham in our diet does not have too much rooted traditions and sounds rather ridiculous, it tastes first class. I recommend.
Spekemat, the second course, is peeled potatoes, chilled after cooking (in Norway, potatoes are usually cooked in their skins and then each peeled on their own plate) in thick mayonnaise, green salad and 4 types of sliced ham and sausages.
The culinary theme took me a bit, but in Stavala, after two weeks, Aśka went beyond the framework of the scheme and started to bake bread for guests and cakes for evening coffee by herself, which was met with the approval of the visitors of the shelter, tired all day long.
So it looked like the afternoons, more often up to 10 people staying overnight. Sometimes and 50 (max.) We closed the reception at 23:00.
From 7:00 am we served breakfast, with homemade fresh bread. After some time, people coming even from distant parts of the national park, staying overnight in other huts or shelters, which are a bit on this huge area, and signing up for bread in the evening, using the experience (as I presume) of previously met hikers who descended too late for breakfast in Stavali.
The "hotel" day ended at 10:00, whoever stayed had to leave the dining room and living room, and whoever continued on had to settle the bills.
We had breakfast then, if we didn't have the opportunity earlier.
We always had to clean the rooms after those who left, the shared kitchen and "bathrooms" (apostrophe refers to bowls and water heating on a tree stove), some small preparations for the romegroot and free until 4pm.
So it is clear that we had a lot of time between "changes". We descended a lot, we also started jogging in the mountains. It was an amazing time. An additional attraction of these areas is the fact that the trails really lead only from the cottage to the shelter and further. Endless areas, very precise maps. It is extremely easy to reach places where a strange feeling takes over a person with the help of a compass and a few hours' walk. Several times I wondered being at a considerable distance from the shelter (several hours walking) whether someone had been in the place where I am now? Maybe we are the first ones to look at this part of the world, maybe no one has ever stepped on the grass in this area, was not beaten by the wind right here, did not drink water from this stream, maybe I'm wrong. ?? The truth is, I was able to feel that, think that, and that's a rarity.
I forgot to write that we have 4 cows! Yes, because where would the milk for roomegrot come from? You know.
They actually live across the street. In front of our cabin. During the day, they will spread out frivolously throughout the valley and although our official task is not to take care of their safety, we will not milk them either, sometimes helping the "foreman" who does not interfere with the work of the shelter, I chase them to a stone stable half dug into the ground. There is such an action with these cows that, as part of cultivating the tradition, the Norwegian state financially supports the farmer who leads these cows to these mountains and takes care of them in Stavala, milk them twice a day and serves local dishes to tourists. An admirable idea. Mountain milk, delicious. We sell by glasses!
The less we are surrounded by, the more we see. The buildings do not cover the mountains. It's hard to go to a store that isn't there. Electricity, water, telephone, internet bills ........ well, I idealise, I know. The fact is, the less the more.
In Stavala, I did not send a text or email for two months. We woke up without an alarm clock, we never overslept, we were not sick, not even cold, the whole time we were there. Outdoor bath in a stone "shower" without roof. As if I had cooled down after a long run and was walking slowly. Everything slowed down thanks to Stavala. There is time to think about what you are looking at. Talk to the man passing us. No speed.
You can read, dream, light a fire ...
AFTER two months of work in the mountains, we brought the cows to Odda (7.5 hours). I missed it the moment we were going down the hill and the shelter was gone
rocks. Well, I was only confirmed about the date of my birth.
We came back to Jondal for a while.
I turned on the phone after a week.