A touch of the tropics near Oslo
July 22, 2010
EXCURSIONS: Yes, it really can get warm in Norway during the summer and we found a lush, scenic gorge complete with waterfalls less than an hour outside the nation’s capital. Come with us to see a touch of the tropics, here in the far north.
The gorge is called Asdøljuvet, and it’s one of 50 posts in the current booklet of hiking and skiing goals in a popular program sponsored by the local skiing and hiking group known as Skiforeningen (external link). The program, called Kjentmannsmerket, derives from the aim to become “kjent” (familiar) and it can expand the horizons of anyone interested in exploring the vast forests and hills that surround the Oslo metropolitan area.
A new booklet featuring 50 new posts and places worth visiting is due to be released September 5, but the current posts will remain up and ready for claiming through next summer. And the places like this gorge will presumably be there forever, long after the posts are removed.
It was formed by the little river — more like a creek, really — called Asdøla, which runs from a lake by the same name on the western fringe of the forest called Vestmarka into the fertile agricultural valley of Lier, just east of Drammen.
The gorge (juvet, in Norwegian) has been as much a paradise for geologists and biologists as it is for hikers. It’s unusually narrow, with steep walls rising on both sides and an abundance of ferns, flowers and other foliage. As the Kjentmann’s booklet notes, a hike through Asdøljuvet offers a feeling of being in a place that’s wild and fairly exotic.
For this writer, who lived and worked in Hawaii before moving to Norway, it brought back memories of Waimea Falls Park on the north shore of Oahu, and Sacred Falls State Park on Oahu’s windward coast. Who would think this sort of lush little valley would be found in Norway, otherwise best known for its mountains and fjords?
A challenging trail, reassuringly marked with the little blue symbols used by the Norwegian trekking association DNT, winds through Asdøljuvet, criss-crossing the river from side to side. In the spring, and after heavy rains, the hiking can be an exceedingly damp experience, and waterproof hiking boots with good traction are strongly recommended. On the bright side, the main waterfall known as Storfossen, will be at its best.
We appreciated the relatively dry conditions found on a recent warm, sunny Sunday when it was possible to walk through the entire gorge and not be turned back by high creek levels. Firmer footing also helped fend off a wave of vertigo near the waterfall, where a fall would be steep indeed.
Once through the gorge, the scenery turns more typical of the local forests, with lots of fir and pine trees and even some dirt roads leading to the lake. We took another route back to the parking area just off Route 285 south of Sylling, a much easier trail up to the site of a former grazing area called Askenbergsetra. The entire trek was less than six kilometers, but took several hours because of slow-going and all the scenery to take in.
As the Norwegians would say, god tur! (“goo-tour,” have a good trip!)