An Overland Trail

OverlandTrailIn Colorado I used to bike or drive part of Overland Trail to work everyday, a very straight and flat section.  This hike that we did today, was nothing like it.  Jesse had kind of a crazy idea to hike from Kroken, just north of Tromsø, to Nordbotn on the edge of Ramsfjord a 21 km (13 mile) long journey.  Jesse was looking for new approaches for a few mountains that we have hiked before:  Blåfjellet, Tromsdalstinden and Laukslettfjellet.   This was a one way trip that he planned, ending on the main route to Tromsø, E8, and taking a bus back to town.  I was quite skeptical, but it all worked out in the end.

We started out by hiking along the route to Blåfjellet.  This was different from the route we had taken last year that started at Krokvatnet.  Today we parked the car near Skjelnan school.  There is a lot of parking around, but the vast majority is reserved parking, so double check the signs.  We found a few spots off the pavement that worked well for us.  Our route started on the winter cross-country skiing track.  There was well traveled path as well that we followed just around the main bend, then we turned uphill where a trail marked with red blazes and red “T” started.  This section of the hike was followed a drainage and was actually pretty steep until we hit treeline.

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Once the trail rolled over, we had really nice views looking back to Tromsø and the mountains of Kvaløya behind it.  The trail then split and we lost our red “T”, as this trail continued to one of several cabins in this area where people will stay anytime of the year.  Our trail branched to the right, but was marked with red blazes.  This section of trail is quite new, so we had to pay attention to stay on the main trail.  This section had a lot of moss and small brush.  OverlandTrail_2017_017We skirted around the side of another small hill (Rundfjellet) reaching a saddle between Rundfjellet and Blåfjellet.  From here the trail took us right up to the top.  Here the route was well marked, but at times we couldn’t see the next marker since it was sometimes hiding.  But route finding was not essential here.  It was a warm day so we were both is shorts and T-shirts or tanktops, but sitting for too long definitely cooled us down.  At the top of Blåfjellet, we took a nice break at 778 m (2550 ft), enjoying the views of Tromsø to one side and Tromsdalstinden looming before us on the other.

OverlandTrail_2017_020We didn’t stay long at the top of any of our 4 peaks today, since there was always some fear of missing the last bus back to Tromsø.  From the top of Blåfjellet we stayed on the Ti på Topp route which was heading down a different route to Krokvatnet.  We stayed on this trail which lead down to a small saddle between Blåfjellet and Blåmannen and then skirted the west side of Blåmannen.  As the trail started to turn more to the west (looping down to Krokvatnet), we broke from the trail heading south, more or less straight towards Tromsdalstinden in the distance. Navigation in this area of Norway is greatly facilitated by the low tree line, but always make sure you’ve looked at a good topo map, since there can be unexpected steep faces and even cliffs.  Jesse studied the topo map at UT.no quite a bit before we attempted this trip.  This section of land is quite rolling, but there are very few sections steep enough for concern.


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Since it was still early in the year our off-routing was also made easier by frequent snow patches that we could hike across.  We linked a number of snow patches together on this section of the route.  We knew we should cross another trail marked with red “T” blazes that leads to a different cabin, Skarvassbu.  We considered taking this trail to the cabin and trails from the cabin to meet the main trail up Tromsdalstinden, but this would be a much longer route.  The terrain we were hiking was overall quite good, so we passed this trail and continued towards Tromsdalstinden.  We skirted the west side of the next hill, and climbed to the saddle just before the Skarsfjellet summit.

OverlandTrail_2017_026We didn’t plan to summit Skarsfjellet, but it was so close and was pretty directly on the route.  Skarsfjellet is 840 m (2756 ft) tall peak, but seems so small compared to Tromsdalstinden.  From Blåfjellet Tromsdalstinden seemed very close, but now we were really beneath the mountain.  Luckily there were still some snowfields on the south side of Skarsfjellet that made our descent easy, otherwise this section would have been pretty steep and rocky.  Just a bit below the summit though, it was grassy and mossy again.  We crossed a few streams under the massive powerlines here.  This is where the ski track in the winter runs to all the other cabins.  We could have taken the trail here down a bit to meet the trail climbing to Tromsdalstinden.  But we didn’t was to loose much of our elevation, so we stayed off-trail for a bit longer, cutting along the side of Tromsdalstinden on a slight upward angle.  This was not very easy hiking.  OverlandTrail_2017_033In some places there was large rubble and we had to skirt across and rather steep snow field as well.  But it wasn’t too long before we met the main trail to Tromsdalstinden.  We were part way up the steep dirt and rock portion of the climb.  This section is certainly the most difficult section of our hike today, but we pushed through.  We took a longer break and had our lunches once the trail leveled off, looking out over the route we had just hiked.  It looked pretty far!

OverlandTrail_2017_035The hike to the summit of Tromsdal-stinden was bit tough for us, we were both getting quite tired, but knew it would be all downhill from here!  We reached the summit, and Jack found a nice patch of snow to sit on.  He is such an amazing dog, always up for anything.  But while we sat at the summit, he was “resting his eyes”.  I think we wore him out today… an accomplishment for us!  There were a few other people at the top, but most people were starting to head down already since it was already after 5:30 PM.  So we also started our long descent.  OverlandTrail_2017_037We hiked down the southern ridge of Tromsdalstinden, a well traveled route to a flat saddle.  This saddle was our last chance to head back down towards Tromsø.  We were all pretty tired, but the hike from here down to Tromsdalen, was long are tiring as well… so we decided to continue onto Laukslettfjellet as we had originally planned.  From this saddle the trail down to Tromsdalen is to the right, and cuts beneight the top of Tromsdalstinden to meet the other trail down in the valley.  There was also another trail that went straight, continuing up the ridge in front of us and eventually to Fløya, the cable car, and down to Tromsø.  This trail was maker with neon flags, and we later learned that this was the route for the amazing Tromsø Skyrace.  Where trail runners, including a colleague from work, raced to the top of Tromsdalstinden, others raced beyond that down into the valley, up Hamperokken, back over Tromsdalstinden and finally ending down in Tromsø.

OverlandTrail_2017_040Instead we turned a slight left (SW) and skirted around the large bowl-like terrain.  There was no trail here, but the walking was quite easy.  There were only a few places where we had to adjust our route due to some small rock bands.  We had some excellent views of Ramsfjord and the Lyngen alps in the distance, but we also saw some rain coming in.  OverlandTrail_2017_045There were a number of streams to cross and a few areas near some small lakes that was quite wet and marshy. We ran into one small lake where we had to cross at it’s outlet, that’s when it started to rain, large, heavy drops of water.  We just had a rather short but steep uphill to reach the top of Laukslettfjellet.   We got to the summit, put our names in the book and just kept going.  Thankfully we had brought our rain coats, but we were already getting pretty wet.  It was warm still so the rain was refreshing and reminded me of so many hikes in Vermont.

OverlandTrail_2017_048We jogged most of the way down the Laukslettfjellet trail.  We only had to wait about 10 minutes at the bus stop Kjoselv (Tromsø), which is just by the intersection of E8 and Lauksletta, for a regional bus to Tromsø, in this case the 105 at 9:28 PM.  On Sundays there is regional bus every hour in the evening until 10:38, so thankfully there was a backup.  It was a bit nerve-wracking to wave down the bus on E8, since everyone including the bus is driving so fast.. but they did stop for us.  OverlandTrail_2017_049We had to pay for Jack to ride (as usual in Tromsø), he was happy to curl up under our feet out of the rain.  We rode the bus all the way to the transit center in Tromsø, and then picked up the 20 bus to take us to Kvartsvegen (Tromsø), which was pretty close to Skjelnan skole and the car.  On the bus rides we had a nice sunset over Kvaløya and then a beautiful rainbow over Kroken to end the day.  It was a long trip, 11 hours of hiking and about an hour to get back home.  But this hike was quite unique since we saw so much, and stayed all day above tree line.  It was long but not very technical.  Trips like this are much easier here in the summertime with the midnight sun!

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