Paddling the fjords of Norway (Part 3)

(Part One | Part Two)
The waterfalls got larger the more we headed inland

The last two days of the trip brought us deeper into the fjordlands.  Sure, we had been in fjords of some sort all along, but the last two days were where we made it all the way to the end of the line at Geiranger.  The last two days were also where we saw the most waterfalls and the most ships – many of them large cruise ships that seemed ambivalent about running us over on the water.  And the last night also brought us to the absolutely most fantastic camp site I’ve ever seen.

The paddling was relatively easy and neither of the last two days required too much exertion on our part.  We were rather fortunate to be able to focus on the beauty of the surroundings.  Shortly before lunch time we turned the corner into Geirangerfjord.  That was the last major navigational point on the trip.  We set up for lunch at the dock of a house out on the point with an orchard of sorts.  We also made the acquaintance of the guy living there at the time.  It still isn’t entirely clear to me whether we were trespassing or not but everyone seemed to be all smiles throughout the meal, though the guy did sit down on the dock and stare at us for the hour that we sat there eating.  Maybe it was because he was waiting for his friends who showed up a bit later or maybe it was because we were just that strange.  Or maybe both.

The Seven Sisters on the left and Suitor Falls on the right

After lunch we made our way deeper into the fjord and to the base of two of the more impressive sets of waterfalls I’ve ever seen.  The Seven Sisters falls (on the left in the picture) are fed from a single stream that splits into seven thin, tall falls.  They are about 1000 feet above the fjord and all of them flowing together is pretty amazing.  Just across the fjord from the Seven Sisters is Suitor Falls.  Legend holds that Suitor is constantly proposing to the seven sisters (though no one is quite sure which of the seven) and he is constantly being rejected.  Perhaps it is because he is short and fat (Suitor falls is rather lower and wider) and that doesn’t go over well in a country where they mostly seem to be tall and fit.  Or perhaps it is because he seems to just be asking for any of the seven and not wooing a specific one.  Or perhaps we spent way too much time drinking and thinking up fun stories about the falls on our last night in camp, though the aquavit was quite refreshing.

We were able to kayak right up to the base of Suitor Falls.  Literally.  We actually crashed our kayak head-on into the rock at the base.  It was pretty cool to be in the center of the fall with water flowing down on both sides, staring up as the rush of water surrounded us.  And we didn’t actually cause any damage to the kayak when we ran into the rocks which was an added bonus.

Our campsite the last night of the trip we camped at Blomberg Farm, just inside the fjord from the Seven Sisters falls.  The hike up to the farm was somewhat taxing – about 30-45 minutes and rather steep going up.  But the exertion was extremely well rewarded.  The farm is the highest one in Geirangerfjord and also has the benefit of being literally at the edge of the top of the Seven Sisters falls.  A short 10 minute scramble across a few slippery rocks and we were standing at the edge of the water, several hundred meters above the fjord.  The roar of the water passing by was incredible, as were the views back down into the fjord and across to Suitor Falls on the other side.

Looking down from the upper falls
Suitor Falls, as seen from Blomberg Farm
Another cruise ship entering the fjord, being watched by the Viking mask rock formation in the wall

There was plenty of drama with getting up to Blomberg Farm.  They had a winch/lift system in place that we attempted to use to get our camping supplies up to the site.  It was a rather strenuous hike and not carrying our gear would have made it way better.  Sadly, the winch broke.  We managed to get one load of stuff up on it but no more.  The good news is that nothing was lost but the bad news is that there was no way I was going to repeat that hike unless absolutely necessary.  Fortunately I had packed most of our stuff into a backpack myself and carried it up so we were OK for bedding and whatnot but we did need dinner still.  The guides and a couple others made a second trip (and finished another bottle of Jack Daniels, I believe) and we managed to get everything up to the camp.  They called in reinforcements for the hike down – more employees from the company came out to help – and we managed to enjoy our last night with some great food, beautiful views, a few bottles of wine and booze and got a great story out of it as a bonus.

The last morning we hiked back down to the dock, loaded up and began the last segment of the journey – the paddle into Geiranger.  I’m not really much of a fan of Geiranger.  It exists essentially because the cruise ships like to come in there to show off the fjord.  And the ships anchor and tender their passengers over to shore and the people get out and shop in the tchotchke shops along the main drag.  But there is nothing particularly redeeming about the town.  The good news is that we didn’t have to spend too much time there.  We ducked into the grocery to pick up some lunch (and a beer for me) and hopped in the van for the drive back to Ålesund.

The trip could not have been better if we tried.  There was some exhaustion and some frustration at points but that just made the other bits better.  The weather was wonderfully cooperative and the people we met and shared the trip with were great.  Most of all, the scenery was unparalleled.  I shot over 1000 photos and probably would have taken a ton more if I hadn’t been paddling and worried about dropping my camera into the fjord.  Plus even with some extras purchased just for the trip I didn’t have a ton of memory cards with me.  Still, it was unparalleled beauty out there, an experience that I cannot recommend highly enough.  The rest of the published photos are here.  If you haven’t seen them yet you really should.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.