Day 4-3. Valle to Haukeli contd.
The next off-road section was flat and short taking us past a few farmhouses. Then we were back on the main road until we were directed onto another loop by a friendly 3 sign at Tydal. Just before the turning that took us past a small lake and a hamlet, there was a mini watermill, with a water run made from a small tree trunk. We were to see a few of these along the way and wondered what they were for: to demonstrate local crafts or copies of mills that were used for making flour?
It was once again nice to be away from the main road even though it wasn't that busy. Cycling past the lake we wondered if this was really a peaceful place to live and watch your kids grow up or just a place inconveniently far away from services and jobs. This question was one we would come up again and again during the trip, one we asked on many occasions. One of our aims was to work out what we were looking for with our idea of moving to Norway.
The route then took us back across the main road and we ended up descending rapidly down to the river. We were now on the old road running close to the river in a gorge which was free of traffic. A little further along we spotted a bit of reconstructive archeology in the form of some wooden steps up the side of the cliff complete with picnic tables. Apparently before the old road was blasted out of the rock the only way past this narrow point in the gorge was a set of wooden steps. These were an improvement over the track and ladders up the cliff face that people (and pack horses) used to make use of. According to the text the only way to get a pack horse past this section was to lead it by the nose and tail. We did wonder just how many people and animals had fallen into the gorge in times gone by.
Although we didn't dwell too long at this spot it did make me think later just how isolated parts of Norway had been in the past. Before the old and new roads were built there was no way for cars to get into the next part of the valley, unless you dismantled them and carried them bit by bit across the gap. We were to think about this isolation many times during the trip in many different places on our route.
I took a few moments to check our map and we realised that there would be a challenging climb a bit further along. This would take us into the small town of Bykle and there was no quiet old road for us to cycle on. Thus we were back to keeping an eye out for distracted tourists and cycling at least a half metre out in the road. The climb was to be the longest and hardest we had done so far on this trip as the valley widened and we headed up to the next plateau. Cycling on the main road we did indeed encounter a distracted tourist. This time it took the form of a large Mercedes estate car with German number plates and two bikes suspended from a rack at the back. The driver chose this moment to overtake me, and somehow managed not to see the large and very red Norwegian Post Office truck heading down the hill on the other side of the road. Fortunately the truck driver had correctly assessed the situation, and by braking hard avoided a nasty accident.
After making my feelings known to the driver of the Mercedes I thanked the truck driver, who was by now almost stationary and received what I assumed was a 'you're welcome' wave in return. With the stress moment over and done with I calmed down and carried on with the climb. Fortunately I had left Damae far behind within a couple of hundred metres so she had not been at risk, although later she said she had been a little concerned watching the situation unfold.
Looking at the pictures of the day so far I realised that it didn't look very sunny. We both remember it as our first sunny day and although pictures don't lie the sun certainly came out as approached Bykle just in time for the climb. Not quite at the top there was a supermarket, with car park and picnic benches and it was now time to stop. Sweating profusely I plonked myself down on the very low bench and proceeded to start brewing up. A little later Damae appeared showing all the signs of having enjoyed the climb. She decided that it was her turn to go shopping and headed off to the Co-op to pick up some extras to go with our brown cheese sandwiches. She returned a little later with some extremely yummy Norwegian cherry tomatoes and a litre of milk. This year after chatting to Brian and Karen we decided to drink more milk instead of water as milk apparently makes a good energy food.