Truth be told, I didn't want to do the Kjeragbolten hike. I read a lot about it, and decided that I didn't want to go through such high elevation gain to stand on a rock. So, I didn't put it on our itinerary for the trip. But, life of course, had other plans.
Since we were driving from Oslo to Preikestolen, we had to stop at Lysebotn overnight, which was right next to the starting point for the Kjerag trailhead. Infact, we had to pass through the Kjerag trailhead to go down to Lysebotn. After exploring around in the trailhead area, Chakri decided he wanted to do the hike, so I opted in as well. At worst, I thought I could walk back mid-way.
We had a wet, rainy start on the trail. The guide at the parking lot told us that the day was going to clear up, so we were optimistic. The uphill ascent was almost immediate. We had to pull ourselves up via chains on mountainous terrain while simultaneously ensuring we wouldn't slip on the wet rocks. At the beginning of the trail, I slipped on one of the wet rocks, but didn't hurt myself so I continued along.
After the first ascent, the trail took us downhill into a small valley. It was still very misty and foggy, so we didn't have great visibility, but it gave a very ethereal quality to the valley. It was an other-wordly feeling as we trudged along the valley before coming across another uphill ascent.
I wish I could tell you that climbing the second mountain was hard, but I wouldn't do it justice. It was brutal, and definitely one of the most steepest climbs of my life. It was almost a vertical climb in a few spots and the wet rocks with misty, foggy atmosphere didn't help either.
I felt frustrated, exhausted and tired. A lot of times while climbing the second mountain I wondered why I was doing this to myself. I had to remind myself to take it step-by-step and focus on keeping myself moving. After what seemed never-ending, we made it to the top of the second mountain.
Up here, it was all rocks with some moss for company. It was unlike any other place I'd ever seen before and it seemed like we had it all to ourselves. We saw the occasional hiker, but felt like there was hardly any other soul around. I'm sure there were other hikers, but the vastness of the mountain top just made it impossible for us to invade each other's space. There was still the misty, cloudy air around us as we walked toward THE rock, but luckily there was no more uphill ascent.
After walking about 40 minutes on the top and following the "T" signs we spotted it! The boulder was locked tantalizingly between two mountain ledges and there was a small ledge behind one mountain to get onto the rock.
There was a small line (approximately 5 people) to get onto the rock, but I refused to do it, because one misstep might result in a steep fall. But Chakri did it, and mentioned he felt a steep rush of adrenaline and his heart pounding loudly as he got onto it. I have to admit, the minute or so he was on the rock, I was fearful but focused on taking his pictures so he could step away from it soon :)
Afterward, we spent some time admiring the view of the fjord from there and indulged in some picture taking; when the sky suddenly opened up and sunshine came through. At last!
We started our way back and saw some gorgeous views that we missed on our way up because of the mist and fog. Getting down the mountain was hard too, but we were rewarded with gorgeous views of the fjord and the Lysebotn town downhill. The valley between the two mountains was green with some pretty springs in it.
After spending some time admiring the views of the valley and around, we continued getting downhill. It was a little windy, but since the rocks were now dry, it was easier to walk on the rocks.
We came back to the trailhead at 3 pm, and it took us 6 hours to do this trail including the time for pictures and rest. Considering it was our first hike in Norway, we were very pleased to not only finish the hike, but do it in a reasonable time-frame.
We ate lunch at the restaurant located near the trailhead (the Kjerag restaurant) and although a tad expensive, the food was excellent. We were super hungry after the hike so we devoured everything, but I remember salmon sandwich tasting really good. There's a viewing platform at the Kjerag restaurant, that has 180 degree views of the valley and the fjord which is really pretty, so don't forget to check it out.
Looking back, it was ideal for us to do Kjerag as our first hike in Norway. I'm doubtful if I could've done this if it was my 3rd or 5th hike. This was easily one of the most strenuous hikes I've done, but was this my favorite hike in Norway? Sadly, no.
But was it worth it? Most definitely yes. The landscapes you see on the hike are unlike anywhere else, not just in Norway. And of course, there's the adrenaline rush of stepping onto the rock. Even if you don't get on to the rock, it is worth it, for the views you get to see. And of course, this hike gives you the best chance to overcome the challenge of elevation gain :)
Hike Details -
- Distance - 10 kms
- Total Time Taken - 6 hours
- Total Elevation Gain - 525 metres
- Follow the T signs to stay on the trail.
- If you are coming from Preikestolen or Stavanger - you need to take the ferry to the eastern end of Lysefjord , i.e. Lysebotn town to do this hike, which costs approximately 120$ one-way.
My recommendations - Make sure you are at least reasonably fit before attempting this hike. Wear appropriate clothing and shoes, it can get cold, windy and rainy at the mountain top. Carry plenty of snacks and water. Try practicing elevation gain hikes or climbing steep staircases prior to doing this.
So that was my experience with my first hike in Norway, on the third day of our 2 week trip.
What was your most challening hike? In hindsight, do you think it was worth it?