Day 14-1. Gjerda to Nigardsbreen and back.
Distance Cycled 10 km. Lots of standing around and a short ice walk.
We awoke to less roar from the river and the sound of rain on the tent and the wing. In fact the river was very noticeably quieter than the night before, was noticeably lower than the day before and had turned from the beige colour of the day before to the normal green. The change was quite dramatic. Today we wanted to take an icewalk and had decided on the family walk. This should not be too taxing for our day off.
It turned out to be a day of rushing and then waiting around. We rushed up to the glacier centre after hurridly buying sunglasses that we ended up not needing. We discovered that we were too late to do the eleven thirty walk so paused in the cafe. After a rushed cuppa and some cake where Stan tried to remove the pedal click plates from the shoes (cracking some tooth enamel in the process) we rushed off up the hill to try to get to the twelve thirty family walk. We then discovered the 'rate determining step' in this tourist experience. If you don't fancy the walk to the glacier you take a boat for NOK30 per person. However it can only take twenty-four people at a time and organised blue ice walks get priority.
So we ended up waiting for about an hour, thus missing the twelve thirty family walk. We finally arrived at the other side to find we still needed to walk a further fifteen minutes to the point where we had to wait for the guided tour. This was not a shining example of good organisation as there was no shelter anywhere. Ho hum. Still on the plus side Stan could bug Damae and vice versa and the glacier was really very impressive indeed. What was most surprising was the lack of scale in the views. The glacier is huge, and the little dots on this picture looking like ants on the ground are people. I managed to find one of the longer ice walks on its way up and as you can see the photo is filled with glacier and not much else. The glacier reminded me of a Dr Who or Blake's 7 set from the 70's, it really did look like painted pale blue expanded polystyrene. On the way up to the starting point I looked back down the valley and found some more interesting shapes in the rock walls, and took the chance to photograph the glacier again now that we were much closer to it.
Once at the start point we were relieved of monies for doing the walk, given basic crampons that fitted in the instep of our shoes and then slowly roped together. We were being turned into a very long snake with children being placed between two adults. Then after all this rushing around and waiting we were finally off. The walk was only going to last an hour, and after the first few steps we realised we would not be going that far for a couple of reasons. One was that being roped together meant you had to not only pay attention to where you were putting your feet but also keep an eye on the person in front of you and the person behind you. The second thing we noticed was that it was bloody hard work walking on ice. In order to get purchase on the ice we had to stamp our feet with every step. So much for a rest day we chuckled.
The walk turned out to be interesting and enjoyable and I for one had no worries about heights and drops. We stopped often enough to be able to take pictures. After a relatively short distance we all turned around snake fashion and started back down the 'hill'. The nice views changed with the minute as today was a mix of sunshine and showers, in fact it would have been less interesting if it had been a fine day or raining all the time. The valley walls showed signs of the scraping of the glacier over the years, which fascinated me, as did the landscape almost without scale and the glacier itself. All in all the walk was a great taster for the longer blue ice walks for some other trip in the future.