The joy of camping is most strongly felt between the moment of first unzipping your tent and finally finishing your morning urination session. In that time everything really sinks in. The sleepiness and irritation at having been a little bit uncomfortable and frankly nervous about the howling wind starts to wear off. You have been holding out against the call of nature due to the hassle it causes. By the time the steaming urine has warmed up the blades of grass, the sun has had time to warm your back and your blinking eyes have had time to take in the full three hundred and sixty degree view. The air is somehow emptier than before and the shadows that shrouded your view, closing up the landscape have all been banished and an open, inviting space surrounds you. In the night you felt isolated, in the morning you feel liberated. No time has been lost in this day. You begin the day exactly where you always intended to be. Not in the car, station or nearby campsite but where you wanted to be when you set off from home – wherever that may be.
Then your mate wakes up, says something poignant like “It’s nice here mate” and the breakfast routine begins.
We had decided that this day was to be a slower, shorter day. Jack’s feet were not taking to the rocks well and the bags were just not getting lighter quickly enough. Our high calorie diet was too good and although we were eating as much as we wanted, we were still running a surplus of food.
Walking in short 45 minute shifts we stopped wherever there was a particularly scenic view and put our feet up. The landscape continued to impress us. I would certainly describe the southern shore of Lysefjord as diverse but each viewpoint had a very individual feel. One glacier-carved bowl was sprinkled with melon shaped boulders and leafy bracken and the next was a damp and grassy plain. Over the next pass and the landscape featured sharp, multi layered protrusions of rock, seemingly bursting up through the surface, tossing any rounded boulders from the view in the process. There were sparsely furnished woodland areas with infantile deciduous trees, then tangled, scrub-land bushes, then mossy bog, then dense pine forest sweet with tree sap and the hazy movement of summer insects. Each new, huge vista was a surprise.
We dozed and read and caught lots of sun before finally making the long and steep descent to Flørli. It is a roadless settlement accessible either on foot via the two day’s walk we took or the tourist ferry. There is an assortment of buildings there, all wooden built and painted in the usual bright colors. There is a disused hydroelectric power station on the banks of the fjord. The large, white, austere looking turbine hall has been converted into a modest bunkhouse, cafe and campsite. The old pipeline built for the power station is serviced by a colossal wooden staircase. They run up the very steep slopes of the mountain, following the route of the pipe. There are 4,444 individual, wooden steps to the top and we would be making the climb in the morning.
In the cafe were a host of tanned, handsome lads drinking coffee sorting preparing the blueberries that they had picked that afternoon. The tallest one gave me a handful of the berries which were soft to busting and tasted delicious after a few days of dried food. “You should go forage” he said with a smile. If I hadn’t already been thinking way to much about Age of Empires II then I certainly was now.
We had a hot (outdoor) shower next to the school pub which was sadly only open on weekend evenings and set up the tent. We would have a little bit of a break from the wind and being back down at sea level, the temperature was very pleasant. Enough for Jack to fall asleep on the benches as I read and dug into my whisky.
Flørli has it’s own website which can be found here.
We paid about £5 each for the camping and shower. Worth it just to have a table and chairs!
We also bough a packet of arrival crisps. They came to about £3 – an expensive treat.