Geirangerfjord - Hike to Skageflå mountain farm
Skageflå mountain farm down on the bottom left corner.
Skageflå lies approximately 250 metres (820 ft) above the fjord. The farm has been in use since the Middle Ages, and has been considered one of the richest farms in Geiranger. At the most, they could feed 125 goats, 8-10 cows and two horses.
The farm is located on a shelf that ends up in a several hundred meters vertical drop. This gave the people who lived there some challenges. They had to tie their kids who were playing, to hinder them from going over the edge.
The road up to this farm is steep and winding. They had to put up railings along the most dangerous sections. In earlier days, they had put out some logs to get a cross the steep parts. It's been told that when the lensmann (sheriff) was coming to collect taxes, they removed the logs so he couldn't get up. He had no choice but to turn around.
The farm was divided into two in 1874 after a rockslide in 1873, and the last people living there, moved away in 1918, but they continued to cultivate the soil long after World War II ended.
in 2006 Queen Sonja unveiled a Heritage sites plaque in celebration that the area had in 2005 ended up on the list for UNESCO World Heritage. Today the area is a tourist attraction.
Most popular way to hike:
You can take the ferry from Geiranger and jump off at Skagehola. Here you hike the very steep hill up to Skageflå. Might take an hour. When you want to go home, you have two choices. Hike back down to the boat, or hike the steep hill to Homlongsætra and continue to Homlung and back to Geiranger. You could also take the hike, the opposite way. Or, you can do the same as my brother, David and I did. Hike both ways, a lot cheaper, but it's a killing hike for your legs.
David and I found a parking space as close to Homlung as we could. We weren't the only one that had thought about the same thing. The weather didn't seem uplifting today, but then again, the weather is always unstable. I could be surprised, or socking wet.
As we were ascending, it got pretty steep, really fast. We were on a nice dirt path that went into a hiking trail. Then it got even smaller and the trees were closing in, before it opened up and we were facing a huge steep rock hill with wet areas, which made my steps slippery and uncertain. I was wondering if my face would have an encounter with the rock underneath my feet. Then I would slide all the way to the bottom, to then have to conger the hill one more time. As the rock hill evened out a little bit and it was turning into a wide hiking trail into the forest again. I turned around and got a nice view at Geiranger. Down below in the fjord, I could see cruise ships. The kind you often see in picture postcards of Norway. I think, those cruise ships contains more people than the amount of people living in Geiranger.
The trail continued ascending and the path we were walking on had a lot of slippery stones and roots sticking up from the ground, trying to grab a hold of your feet as you walked by. Not my favorite thing. I think I have sprained my foot far to many times, that when I end up on trails like this, my steps gets short and careful. You could see the fjord through the trees on your right side telling you the trail is close to the edge. Although the hill was giving your lungs a short life span, the trail gave a relaxing feeling because of the lush and humid area we were hiking in.
I couldn't stop smiling when some people came down the hill in socks and sandals. I guess they forgot to check we don't have sandy beaches on mountains her in Geiranger. But I guess I didn't feel any smarter, when some people came hiking down the hill and said "Hei" to me. It sounded convincingly Norwegian. So I started talking to them and kinda asked a question in Norwegian. They responded with continuing as robots heading down the trail. Either they didn't understand me and they left me feeling stupid. Or they were to concentrated on not falling on the rocks, that they didn't realize that I was talking to them. As we were getting closer to the top, the more people I met heading down.
As we finally reach Homlungsætra. There were people everywhere. Some taking pictures or enjoying the view, others were having a lunch break.
I thought we had reached our goal for today, but David continued on. He obviously had an other goal and I had no idea what I was going to face.
We were on our way down again. David wanted a picture of the Seven Sisters, a well known waterfall in Geiranger. I would say that the best place to get a great shot of the Seven Sisters is at Skageflå mountain farm.
The trail was far steeper than up to Homlungsætra. David practically ran down, I guess I was to slow to wait on. As we were heading closer to the tree line, in other words, the edge. The more I realized, this trail would be a bit challenging for someone with fear of heights and two dogs, that normally likes to pull. Not only do I have to go down, I need to come back up. I might sound cranky, but I'm just afraid of ending up as Humpty Dumpty that sat on a wall. If I went over the edge, I don't think all the king's horses or all the king's men could help me either.
As you can see, there is just a wire to grab on to, that is bolted to the stone. Like it hadn't been a rockslide here before. Yeah I felt so much safer now. One step wrong and I have to rely on my own upper body strength, which I happen to know is non existent. Baby steps on the winding trail around the steep precipices is probably the safest way.
Safe down at Skageflå farm, I got this amazing view at the Seven Sister waterfall. The sun had finally managed to push through the clouds and it was actually to sunny to take pictures. David was in deep conversation with some man. But this man's friend came over to me and was more than thrilled about my dogs. He then told me that the man my brother was talking to was non other then Tom Schandy owner and editor of the magazine Natur&Foto. He is one of the most profiled nature photographers in Norway. He has won first prizes in several international photo contests, including BBC's Wildlife Photographer of the Year. David must be thrilled getting to meet him here, since it seems like he wants to go in the same footsteps.
After enjoying a good lunch and a nice conversation with photographers, they told us they had to catch the last ferry. Thinking that I had to go back the same way I came down, I wouldn't mind a ferry ride back. But after they told me the price of the ticket, I was actually more willing to go up the winding trail around the steep precipices hill, than paying for that ticket. I'm not that afraid of heights.
Taking baby steps all the way back in to the forest away from the edge, I tried to convince Ludwig to help me up the hill. He just turned around and looked at me.
"I'm not dragging your sorry ass up this hill, no way!"
Yeah thanks for the help, Ludwig!
My bottle was empty again. And there were no water around. As we were ascending, spit was clogging up my throat.
Almost at the top, we found a tiny water stream running down the hill. Good enough to get my hands filled up, and loosen up the clog in my throat. I knew there was a bigger stream right by Holungsætra.
Compared to earlier, the Holungsæter was totally abandoned. You could actually enjoy the area. David was on a stone relaxing and waiting on me. I thought he would comment that I was so slow up that hill, but instead he said. "That steep hill was killing my legs." I guess that is one good example of being judgmental, when you shouldn't be.
I wasn't sure if it was the clouds blocking the sun, or if the sun was on it's way down, but either way, it was getting late. So I filled up my water bottle and headed down in front of David.
For a moment I was wondering if David was okay, as I was checking behind me once in awhile. I had gotten far down the hill and he still hadn't caught up with me. But then he finally came speeding down the hill. You know the irritation of a car barely driving on the bumpers of your own car, eager to drive past your slow driving. Yeah it felt like that when David finally caught up. The trail wasn't that wide, so I finally let him pass, so he could speed down the rest of the hill.
Back at the open, steep and slippery rock hill. I learned as I was heading down, that we had taken a wrong turn on the way up. No wonder the trail got so tiny and the trees was closing in on us. Didn't matter now, we had reached our goal for the day anyway.
Back down at the road again this cafeteria was open. David was enjoying an evening beer and ice cream after the long hike. He was talking to the same people I had taken a photo for down at Skageflå farm. They wanted memory picture of themselves with the Geirangerfjord in the back ground. They were enjoying a beer too, after hiking the same trail. We talked about where we came from, families, job, where we are heading. And we recommended them some places to stop before they where heading back home to New York, they were originally from Poland. David was nice enough to offer me an ice cream too. I never say no to ice cream. A good ending for a nice but exhausting and a little uncomfortable hike.
Map for the hike:
My main source about Skageflå mountain farm comes from information from the sign that is put up at the farm.