The high tops north of Hemsedal, Sep 19 2020

A hike a bit tougher than usual

The 24,7km hike
Tops visited
Peak/Place Height PF Location
Kyrkjebønøse S2 1601m 31m Hemsedal, Norway
Leinenøse 1675m 211m Hemsedal, Norway
Sør for Isbretjerne 1734m 186m Hemsedal, Norway
Vetlebotnskarvet 1778m 628m Hemsedal, Norway
Bjørnbakknøse 1705m 159m Hemsedal, Norway

Saturday: The day had finally come! Today I would be visiting tops I had been thinking about for approx. 20 years – the high tops north of Hemsedal. The plan was to hike across 4 pf100 tops, but I was actually happy with whatever I could get before getting tired or bored.

Afer a good night sleep in Hotel Fanitullen, I started out from the Kyrkjebøen trailhead (740m) 8am sharp. There, I met another guy – from a country I have forgotten about (the Netherlands, possibly), but he spoke Norwegian. He also had plans about a longer round trip hike and got a 10-15 minute head start while I finished my coffee and fresh bakery from the local gas station.

Kyrkjebøen trailhead

I quickly noticed that the tractor road I was following was not close to the trails on the map, but as long as the signposts said “Kyrkjebønøse“, I was quite happy.

On the right track

I caught up with the other fellow early on the forest trail. We wished each other a good walk and then I never saw him again.

Catching up with the other hiker

The first milestone was to get above the forest and have the ridge to Kyrkjebønøse in plain view.

The ridge to Kyrkjebønøse

The terrain was quite rugged, but not too bad. We made steady progress and soon earned a decent valley view.

Hemsedal valley view

We reached point 1601m 09:16am and I was happy to reach Kyrkjebønøse (my 2nd milestone) – as the signpost stated. I sent a photo to Anne who replied “wow! that’s early” – or something along that line.

This top didn’t “count”, but I was still happy to be here

The only problem was that this was not Kyrkjebønøse, if I were to trust the map. And not the next top (1610m) either. But yet further north – at 1671m – I would find the high point. So, this was Kyrkjebønøse “S2” (the 2nd top south of the high point)

But the Kyrkjebønøse high point was not on my to-do list. However, Leinenøse (1675m) – just west of Kyrkjebønøse, was. Unfortunately, Kyrkjebønøse (1671m) only has a primary factor of 76m and I’m going only for 100m+ when I’m not in my local region.

But, from this top, I could see all of the tops I had planned to do on this hike.

The tops I planned to do

From Kyrkjebønosi “S2”, I was in a “lunar landscape“. The rocks were not only sharp, they were also icy and slippery in the shadow. At this point in time, that didn’t ring a bell. But later on the trip, the consequence of sharp rocks + dog paws came hammering down on me like a … hammer.

On my way to Leinenøse (left)

The third milestone was to reach the top of Leinenøse – the first pf100 top for the day. There was nothing pleasant about this hike (given the terrain) other than bagging another pf100 top.

On top of Leinenøse

The fourth milestone was to reach the nameless 1734m top which calls “sør for Isbretjerne” (South of lakes Isbretjerne). One thing was for sure – I would NOT follow the high ridge to get there. Actually, I considered descending down to lake Vestrebotntjerni and ascend from there, but in the end, I would not give up hard earned vertical meters.

Top 1734m in center

So, I descended into the pass south of point 1547m and passed that top 200m to the east. Normally, I would visit any top – big or small – on a hike like this, but I had started to realize that the terrain was demanding above the average.

As such, shortly after passing point 1547m, I descending into the Vestrebotn valley and sat a northeast course towards peak 1734m. Down in this valley, I had the first encounter with reindeer. At first, it was really exciting. But after meeting reindeer on every top and in every pass for the rest of the hike, the sensation faded

The first group of Reindeer

After a 300 vertical meter ascent from the valley, we reached the top of point 1734m. I really wanted to feel like I was halfway by now, but Veslebotnskarvet (the highest top and the main goal) just seemed to far away.

On point 1734m. Veslebotnskarvet in the background.

The plan was to follow the ridge to Guteskardet, but the ridge seemed to end in a steep drop and I chose to descend into the very top of the Austrebotn valley. Along the way I was wondering why they didn’t name top 1734m “Austrebotnskarvet“.

To Veslebotnskarvet

Veslebotnskarvet consists of two tops – point 1775m and point 1778m. Normally, I would have visited both tops. But, at this point in time, it had occured to me that if Karma started to bleed from her paws, I would be in trouble. It would be a long, long way down, carrying her on my shoulders. If I only had brought her socks! As such, it made sense to call it a day on Veslebotnskarvet and just head down the valley where we would eventually find grass.

Another group from the larger herd

But, as she still hadn’t shown any signs of “wear and tear” (no licking of paws during breaks) I decided to stick to my original plan – which included Bjørnbakknøse.

As we approached the top of Veslebotnskarvet, I saw a woman and (presumably) her dog leave the summit. This was the second person I had seen all day and it struck me that these are probably not tops that people visit during summer. I can however imagine that this is a very popular skiing area.

On top of Veslebotnskarvet

It was very nice to reach the top. This was my main goal of the hike and it definitely felt like we were half way. And this turned out to be barely true. Our return to the car was just 2km less than the distance we had covered so far. I am thankful that I didn’t know these numbers at that point in time.

It adds no extra value to the reader to inform that the descent from Veslebotnskarvet was rocky. The entire route was rocky and the rocks were sharp like in a nightmare. I kept looking at Karma to see signs of discomfort, but found none.

Descending from Veslebotnskarvet

We first descended to lake nordre Grunntjerni and ran into another small herd of reindeer.

Lake nordre Grunntjerni

We then headed up between points 1681m and 1699m. At first, I mistook point 1665m for being Bjørnbakknøse but quickly corrected the mistake. Along the way, Karma could roll on hard snow and drink water (after breaking the ice).

Karma, satisfying her thirst

I looked very much forward to reach the top of Bjørnbakknøse and start our descent. In my head, the descent route felt much shorter than it actually turned out to be.

Bjørnbakknøse up to the left

When we reached the top of Bjørnbakknøse, I realized that Skurvefjellet (1741m) was only a short hike away, but there was no way I could risk Karma’s paws. Next time I’m in Hemesdal, though…

On top of Bjørnbakknøse

From Bjørnbakknøse, we descended to lake 1525m. There was a river/creek draining into the Trøymsbotn valley and I hoped that there would be some grass along this route.

Down by lake 1525m, looking back on Bjørnbakknøse

There was *some* grass, but we were still in a lunar landscape. The good news that we were constantly descending and that the nightmare would surely soon come to an end.

Rock, rock, rock…

At least, Karma could drink whenever she wanted to. That was seldom the case on our hike across the tops.

Knock yourself out!

Eventually, we reached Trøymsbotn and according to the map, there were paths on both sides of the river. I chose to follow the path on the west side, as that would connect with our ascent route.

Finally reaching Trøymsbotn. Kyrkjebønøse above.

Tryømsbotn was a really cool place and it felt so tempting to hike down to one of the pools and heal sore feet. But it was even more tempting to get back to the hotel and take a long shower and enjoy a cold beer. So, next time…

A cool river!

Even if we were tired, the hike down the valley was really nice. Knowing that the car got closer for every minute was a huge comfort.

Just hang in there!

And finally – the Trøymsbotn route connected to our ascent route.

I lost count of all the milestones, but this fork turned out to be one!

We returned to the car close to 8 hours after leaving it. 8 hours might not seem like a huge deal, but Karma and I hike quite fast, and I estimate that if this had been a guided trip for a party, they would have been looking at a 12 hour hike. At least.

Double waterfall in Trøymsbotn

Back at the hotel, I made sure that Karma collapsed comfortably in her bed, after getting water and food. I then walked down to Peppe’s Pizza to see if their welcome service had improved since the day before. It hadn’t, and I was just about to walk out the door when a guy finally turned up. I told him that I had a dog in the hotel room and didn’t have time to sit down and wait to order. I ordered “a pizza with pepperoni” and a cold beer and paid up front. 20 minutes later, I was back with Karma – appreciating my company.

Karma has “collapsed”

Man, that was a proper walk, and I was SO HAPPY that I finally got to visit these mountains. I don’t know how many times I’ve driven through Hemsedal thinking – one day…

Kyrkjebønøse seen from the hotel

Trip statistics: 24,7km, 1930 vertical meters, 7h:50m

Pictures (Canon EOS RP / Iphone8) from the hike:

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