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Standing on the hands of Pilgrims

A journey along the Rondanestien trail, by fatbike

Story by Joe Newton October 23rd, 2015

The story actually starts in a somewhat divergent fashion. Mikkel, Joe and Runar had already completed a rugged 10-day crossing from the mountains of Sweden, across the border, to Norway. It was a trip we had been planning for months. Unfortunately I’d caught a pretty persistent chest infection in the months leading up to our departure and thus missed the first half of the journey. I would join the boys on the edge of the Rondane National Park, with a training regime under my belt that consisted of sitting on the couch for two months. I would miss meeting Runar, who had to leave for family commitments. So the group that was four, ended up as three, then became two and eventually three again. Thanks to a tenacious snowpack, Mikkel’s original plan needed modifying. And so we would attempt to ride the Rondanestien trail. Somewhere around ten days of riding, from the mountains of the Rondane mountain range to the capital city, Oslo.


I had originally intended to write a blow-by-blow account of our adventure, to accompany these images. However, life got in the way. I made several attempts over the following months to recount all the the highs and lows and intricate minutiae that made up the trip. But one evening in September, sitting at my desk and after some hours of editing and an almost complete rewrite, I held down the delete key until most of the words had been obliterated by the cursor. Time has a way of smoothing the peaks and troughs, blurring the details and leaving only a warm, fuzzy contentment. Looking back through these images all I remember is Mikkel’s audacious plan, and those shared summer days, following that dream.

The road climb from Ringebu in the valley, up to the Rondane plateau, was hot and relentless. This church offered fresh water and shade.
Shiny and dialled. It wouldn't last long.
The spare inner tubes I managed to buy Mikkel in Lillehammer would probably have fitted this beast too.
I awaited Mikkel and Joe's arrival the following day in the shadow of Muen.
Contact! Mikkel and Joe arrive from the other side of the plateau.
Cruz-in'. Ok, that's the first and last time I'm going to use that joke.
Mikkel my have drunk his solitary Sierra Nevada beer a little too quickly.
Joe Cruz muscles his Pugs around the rocks with some fine body English. Which was good, because the Norwegian I taught him was bad.
Working out in plaid! Joe and I got to play a bit of camera tag along this section. Photo: Joe Cruz
Always better to sleep in the dry patch.
A relaxed first day schedule, few bugs and sunshine, meant we got to sit outside and chat over dinner. Photo: Joe Cruz
My seam-sealing sealed the seam just fine. Where it fell down was my a lack of attention to the stitching on the tie-outs and vents...
Fed, caffeinated & in rain gear before 07.30. It'd take a couple of days to sync schedules with lads who had been on the trail 10 days.
I only shot half a dozen photos this day. My camera remained in a dry bag the rest of the time. I remained in my rain gear.
"You're the man with a child's bedtime". Still not quite on the same time zone...
A precursor to the afternoon's #scandinavianjunglebiking
Rippin' the riparian!
What is not immediately apparent is that Mikkel is riding across this swamp balancing on 'duckboards'.
So meta.
Duckboard riding tip: Ride fast, and try to pretend it's not 8 inches wide.
Joe utilising the push-brake-hike method to escape a small gorge. The Yonder Journal crew aptly describe this technique as 'jumar'
Saying goodbye to the wide open spaces. "Into the trees. Into the trees."
"The letter 'S' is the seventh most common letter in English and the third-most common consonant."
"The letter 'T' is the most commonly used consonant and the second most common letter in English language texts."
Mikkel's 1x trials drivetrain was by far the most practical on this trip, until it packed out with mud, then it 'sucked'.
"Orchids have a symmetry similar to human faces." :-)
There is no tyre in existence that grips semi-submerged duckboards.

Heartfelt thanks to Mikkel for orchestrating and inviting me on this adventure, and Joe, for being such a great travelling companions. Joe’s first account of his time in Norway can be found here. Also huge thanks to Jens and Theresa at for all their support.

That was a sweet morning of this. So much this.
Unfortunately 26x2.5 'freeride' inner tubes are becoming harder to find than fatbike tubes in some Norwegian shops.
Small town resupply and inventory. $50 each on junk food and some much needed maintenance.
Hidden gems.
Footnote: Shot on a Panasonic GH2, 14-42mm lens.