I wasn't sure how I was going to spend yesterday, my last day in Balestrand. The weather forecasts, depending on whom you believed, called for either rain or for cloudy skies. After the three beautifully sunny days that I had enjoyed here, I would not have been upset if it had rained. But I was hoping that the weather would be decent and that I could do a bit of hiking along the trails above the town.
When I woke up, I saw that it had rained during the night. However the morning looked somewhat promising with a dramatic mix of clouds and sunlight over the fjord.
By 11:00 it seemed that we were not going to get any more rain, so I grabbed my backpack (with my rain poncho inside, just in case) and a map of the trails and set out from the hotel. I enjoy walking, but I would not call myself an expert hiker by any means. I have done a few hikes in national parks in the U.S., in the Alps in Switzerland, and up the Tepozteco in Mexico. None of them were exceptionally long or difficult.
To get to the trails, I had to zig-zag my way on the residential streets that climb the hill behind Balestrand.
At the edge of town I reached the Nature Trail. It was an easy path with a very gentle incline.
At frequent intervals there were signs (written in several languages) describing the trees and wildlife of the forest.
I think that this lovely wildflower is foxglove.
It's obvious that rainfall is plentiful here. Look at the moss and the mushrooms covering this tree trunk.
From the Nature Trail, you can then continue on to the hiking trails which climb higher. I chose one which would give me some panoramic viewpoints. The trail became more difficult... rougher and in some places steeper. It was, however, very well marked.
Here we see Balestrand far below.
The Esefjord is a pretty little fjord that branches off of the Sognefjord right next to Balestrand . (The only thing that detracts from the view here are the electric power lines which cross the fjord.)
I hiked a little over an hour and had reached an elevation of over 1200 feet. I was going to continue on to the next viewpoint, however I came to a level section that passed through a mountain meadow. The path was mainly mud, and I decided that this old geezer had enough for one day. I headed back down. I may be huffing and puffing on the climb up, but for me the descent is more difficult. I am not very sure-footed, and it seems like I am constantly "applying the brakes" to keep from losing control. On one steep and slippery patch of trail, I almost fell, but I made it back to the hotel safely.
This morning I leave Balestrand. I truly enjoyed my stay here, and I hope one day to return.