The Troll løype
We had booked on an independent/unguided holiday to ski from Hovringen to Lillehammer along the Troll Løype, about 170 kilometres. We were going from hotel to hotel with our main baggage transported. One night was to be spent in a DNT hut. This was our second tour of this kind this winter, following the earler one of the Jura. Must be something to do with the craziness induced by retirement.
Although the holiday was described as independent their were eight of us doing it. Four, Howard, Sara, Dieter and Carol were from Michigan and Susanne and Bill were from Bavaria.
The first day was spent in Høvringen so as to get our ski legs.It was really good to revisit some of our favourite tracks from previous visits to Høvringen not to mention the freshly made waffles at Puttenseter.
- Larger versions of the pictures and maps can be obtained by clicking on them. The maps are the Open Ski Map
- We tracked our skiing using Viewranger. For each day there is a link to a gpx file of the track and another link to a file compatible with Google Earth.
Day 1 Høvringen to Rondablikk
Today we set off fairly early. There was some sun but there was some mist higher up. We made Smukjøseter in good time and headed on for the Peer Gynt-hytta. The mist was quite thick on this track so we did not get as good views of the Rondane mountains as we have sometimes had. The snow was in good condition, though it had blown over the track in places, and the skiing was straightforward. Mysusæter was reached in good time, about 4 hours after our start. We stopped for a hot drink at the café and would have again succumbed to waffles but for the misguided policy of not allowing us to eat our own sandwiches. These were enjoyed outside by the track but with no afters. We continued on our way through woodland to the lake at Furusjoen. The recent snow clung to the trees, making artistic sculptures in places and the track undulated gently. It was great! We reached the point where the track crossed the lake and skied across to the other side where we had a little trouble finding our way to our hotel at Rondablikk, mainly because it was being renovated and operating in a minimal but friendly way. We arrived a bit before 4pm.
Day 2 Rondablikk to Venabu
Today was described as difficult. This description was accurate and in difficult weather would have been a gross understatement. Fortunately we woke to bright sunshine, blue skies and very little wind. We took a route across the Rondablikk peninsula to pick up the Troll Løype below Kvamsnysætrin. The views and weather meant that camera stops were regular. We then reached the place where the track was no longer groomed, due to National Park regulations, and headed up into the mountains. The trail was through woods and in a narrow gully. It was steep enough in places for herringboning to be necessary and the narrow gully made this tricky, particularly for those on long skis. We eventually emerged into the open. The views were stunning, particularly with the clear blue sky. The track was marked with poles but there were often no ski tracks visible. Fortunately the trail was reasonably firm as the snow off the trail was often very soft. We followed the track for many kilometres. It was not uniformly flat but the ups and downs were now fairly gentle. After some considerable time we passed the sign for the Eldåbua hut and were heartened by a sign saying it was 13km to Venabu but also puzzled as we thought it was about 16km from there. The track was now marked with a ski trail but we remained high for a long time. Eventually we reached Svartkampen and started to descend. The first bit was tricky enough. The track continued...and continued... across an apparently endless wild white landscape. Wonderful but a bit tiring! Finally we reached a beautiful wide groomed trail and our skiing accelerated. The junctions were now mostly signposted but when one had no signpost we were able to see which way to go from the power lines on the map. We had passed several signs for Venabu giving reassuringly shorter distances and then suddenly we passed one saying 3.5km when we thought we were almost there. Presumably the signs had indicated the distance to the turn off for Venabu rather than the place itself. We followed the track to our hotel where we were rewarded with a splendid Norwegian buffet. It had been a very tiring but beautiful day. We were incredibly lucky with the weather. In poorer conditions, particularly wind, the high mountain trail would have been very difficult, possibly impossible for us.
Day 3 Venabu to Måsåplassen
Mercifully today was an easier day. The weather started by being a bit misty but improved to give the, by now normal, blue and white landscape. We headed back to the Troll Løype through an attractive wooded area on an undulating track that was not always groomed. Once back on the Løype we climbed a little and found ourselves in similar surroundings to the day before, that is in an expanse of white with hills above and a variety of attractive snowclad or frostclad trees. The track passed a dramatic gully and then after crossing a valley became newly groomed. The descent to Måsåplassen was superb, particularly in these conditions. We arrived at the holiday area, where we were to stay, more or less at the same time as our luggage.
Day 4 Måsåplassen to Vetåbua
We were told by our charming hostess how to leave the holiday area to find the Troll Løype. It was uphill at first but soon became a well groomed track which gently undulated through birch trees passing several snow sculpture galleries and an attractive stream. The sun shone and there was no wind so we had a lovely trip and arrived at the DNT hut not long after 2pm. There were two huts, each holdimg 8 people and one allowing dogs. We occupied the non-dog hut and found the food including tins of stew and fruit, packets of soup and slices of gjetost cheese but not dried milk. We eventually found logs and Bill demonstrated fire-lighting expertise to make the cabin cosy. A meal of tomato soup, reindeer stew and peaches was much enjoyed as were the two bottles of wine that mysteriously emerged from the luggage of others. We were entertained by some great stories about a pilgrimage through 15 countries from Germany to Egypt by a physicist staying in the dog hut.
Day 5 Vetåbua to Pellestova
We knew this was to be a long ski so left the hut not long after 8:30. It was very cold with a morning mist that had coated all the trees with hoar frost. We found the track fairly easily and skied along. The sun gradually broke through the mist and we were passed twice by a skidoo, the second time it was loaded with our luggage. The track soon became a freshly groomed track passing through birch trees and crossing over ridges. The scenery was glorious with some of the weirdest snow-sculpures that we had seen. Some of the trees looked like snowmen -- or were they snowtrolls? As we approached Pellestova we passed through denser woodland with larger trees. We had a lovely downhill to the lake and from the signs knew we had not much more than 2 km to go. We found, however, that that 2 kms was a fairly steep uphill climb - somewhat cruel after over 30 kms skiing.
Day 6 Pellestova to Lillehammer
The group split as the Michigan contingent were going to have another week skiing in Sjusjoen and the rest of us were heading to Lillehammer. There was a clear blue sky at Pellestova and we said our goodbyes and headed for Nordseter. As we got lower we found ourselves in a thin mist but the snow conditions remained good. Nordseter was easily reached and we stopped at the cafe with Susanne and Bill and had waffles, good but not as good as at Puttenseter. Emerging from the cafe we took one of the four possible tracks to Lillemammer but it wasn't the intended one. After a bit of wandering around Nordseter carrying our skis we found the track hear the church - the gps was of considerable help with this.
As expected the track went fairly steeply downhill and crossed a road. We then found ourselves on a well groomed trail pointing to the Birkebeiner. We ignored a sign to Lillehammer as the track seemed narrow and not recently cut - later we found that Bill and Susanne had successfully taken this track. We reached the Birkebeiner and turned right. There were quite a lot of people and some encouraging signs, sponsored by VW, telling us how far to the 'finish'.
We reached a place called 'the cross' and in the absence of direction signs took the right hand track. The people and VW signs disappeared but the track was in very good condition and good fun with a fair amount of undulation. The gps told us that we were more or less parallel to the Birkebeiner but higher up. A Norwegian lady and her daughter confirmed that we were on a track that would lead to Lillehammer and said that we were better off than being on the Birkebeiner as there was a race on it whereas our track was prepared for another race the day after.
A passing Norwegian advised us on the route to the Birkbeiner Stadium and warned that the route was a bit steep downhill at first. This was true! We took the soft option and walked down the very steep hill (with a sharp right at the bottom) only to be overtaken by racing boys who were loving every minute of the descent. We put our skis back on and found our way to the Stadium which was full of young Norwegians finishing their race. We later heard, with some jealousy, from Susanne that she had managed to join the race at the end and be awarded a medal!
With help from a couple of race officials we found the track down into Lillehammer proper. This was in surprisingly good condition and not as steep as its reputation suggested. After passing below the ski jump and reaching the hockey stadium, the end point of our tour, we took off our skis and walked to our hotel right beside the station.