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Arctic Road Trip – Day 3: Inderøya – Rabothytta

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Rabothytta

From Inderøya, continuing your drive towards the arctic circle, one obvious choice would be the coastal route, which starts in Steinkjer and runs along the coast all the way up to Bodø. Having explored the southern part of the coastal route before, this time I went for the much faster, but oh so boring, drive along the route E6, as one of my main targets for this road trip was the architectural gem, Rabothytta (the Rabot cabin), which is one of many DNT (Norwegian Trekking Association) lodging facilities throughout Norway. This turned out to be a really amazing experience, which I will get back to below.

Exploring Inderøya

Considering the long drive, you may want to get your heart rate up exploring Inderøya in the morning. I went for a short and sweet roller ski workout north along route 761. If you opt for a longer workout, taking the other direction, towards Mosvika, would allow you to get a taste of ski legend Petter Northug’s training ground and the beautiful Skarnsund bridge. Another great way to explore the area would be a run along the 16 km long coastal trail between Vangshylla and Straumen.

Strava for details: Inderøya roller ski

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Rollerskiing at Inderøya

In any case, make sure you drop by some of the local entrepreneurs, such as Gangstad Gårdsysteri (ice cream/cheese). Look up The Golden Road for more information.

The Drive

The drive from Inderøya to the starting point for the hike to Rabothytta is 355km and about 5h 30min, the last part on roads with poor conditions. There are not so many things to do or see on this drive, so stack up on podcasts and snacks, or spend a few more days and opt for the coastal route. I suggest stopping in Mosjøen (after about 4 hours drive) for a proper meal before the final part of the drive and the hike towards the cabin. Make sure you reach the starting point in time for completing the hike in daylight (which of course is no trouble in the summer).

The Rabot Cabin

Located 1200 meters above sea level near the mountain range Okstindan and the Okstindan glacier, the cabin was designed by Jarmund/Vigsnæs and completed in 2014. The cabin is named after the French glaciologist and geographer Charles Rabot who thoroughly explored the mountain areas in the 1880s.

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The cabin is self-served, which means you have to bring all the food you need for your stay as well as sleeping bag or bed linen. There are beds for 30 people and reservations should be made in advance.

The hike to the Rabot cabin starts from the parking space at the upper end of Leirskardalen and is about 5 km with 520 meters of incline (about one hour hike, if you are in good shape). The trail is well marked with red Ts, however, there is also a well marked trail from the same parking on the wrong side of the river, so you want to make sure you take the trail on the left side of the river (facing uphill). Despite taking the wrong trail and having to run all the way back to the starting point, this was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done: The views of the green valley in the evening sun was like nothing I have seen before, the thunder from the mighty river, and the incredible sight of the cabin resting in the sun with the glacier and mountains surrounding it, when I finally reached my destination.

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Strava for details: Rabothytta (with all the wrong turns). Look at the last 65 minutes for the right trail.

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Once there, you want to explore the cabin and the surroundings from the inside as well as the outside, from every angle. The weather can extremely tough in this area, this night however, the sun was shining almost the whole night and you felt like an idiot going to bed. Had I known that I would win the jackpot weather, for sure I would have brought a sleeping bag to sleep outside on the terrace.

The Rabot cabin may also be visited in the winter and the surrounding area is very popular for randonee skiing (even in the summer, although you have to carry your skis for a while).

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Featured

Arctic Road Trip – Day 2: Trollheimen – Inderøya

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Blåhøa 1671m

Waking up at Gjevilvasshytta in Trollheimen you have multiple hiking and running options on your doorstep. I had decided on a run to Blåhøa, peaking at 1671 meter about 12 km from Gjevilvasshytta. You can take the car to a parking 1-2 km from the cabin if you want to avoid running the hard sufaced road. The path is surprisingly runable and not too technical, except for the last couple of km. The view from the summit is amazing on a sunny day!

Strava for details: Blåhø run

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Blåhøa towards Gjevilvatnet

Make time for a coffee and a cinnamon bun outside Gjevilvasshytta and, if you didn’t the evening before, a stroll along Gjevilvatnet, before you hit the road.

The Drive, 245 km/3 h 40 min

In Oppdal, about 25 minutes from Gjevilvasshytta, Bakeriet Sprø is worth a stop for loading up on sandwiches and coffee for the road. Unless you want to make a stop in Trondheim, in another three hours or so driving the route E6, you reach Inderøya. Inderøya has created its own concept, The Golden Road, catering for tourist on the road, or as a destination in itself.

Accomodation & Restaurant

At Inderøya you have several unique accomocation alternatives. This time I stayed at Husfrua, a country farm hotel situated on a hill top with great views of the fjord. Husfrua offers rooms in historic  surroundings as well as modern free-standing small external houses in the farm yard. The highlight of my stay was the home made breakfast served on the sunny terrace of the main building. Another option would be Jegtvolden Fjordhotell.

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Husfrua

A few hundred meters away from Husfrua you find Øyna, a truly fantastic place offering local food and magnificient views of the fjord. Remember to make a reservation in advance, and if the weather is good, ask to be seated outside.

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Øyna restaurant

Arctic Road Trip – Intro & Day 1

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Manshausen Island

I don’t know about you, but I have already started planning my travels for 2019. Last year I did a spectacular road trip to the north of Norway. I spent months planning it to make sure I could secure my preferred accommodation options, explore the trails I had made notes of when browsing Ute and other magazines, blogs and websites over the last years, and don’t miss out on any of the remarkable sites created along the scenic routes I had decided to explore. The planning of this road trip and the experiences I had during my travel inspired this website and thus I have been looking forward to take you through the trip I made, and inspire you to plan your own.

I started my journey from Øyer in Gudbrandsdalen, where I have a place in the mountain, but you may start of from Oslo, Gardermoen (airport), or anywhere you like of course.

My itinerary in short:

Day 1: Øyer/Lillehammer – Trollheimen

Day 2: Trollheimen – Inderøya

Day 3: Inderøya – Rabothytta, Helgeland

Day 4: Rabothytta, Helgeland – Rødøy

Day 5: Rødøy – Saltstraumen

Day 6: Saltstraumen – Manshausen, Steigen

Day 7: Manshausen, Steigen

Day 8: Manshausen, Steigen – Nyksund, Vesterålen

Day 9: Nyksund, Vesterålen – Stave, Andøya

Day 10: Stave – Hamn, Senja

Day 11: Senja

Day 12: Senja – Eide, Tysfjord

When planning my trip I was aiming at:

  1. Staying at unique places
  2. Choose Norwegian Scenic Routes when practical
  3. Beautiful surrounding for running/roller skiing/biking

Let’s go!

Day 1: Øyer/Lillehammer – Trollheimen

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Sohlbergplassen

The Drive, 220 km/3 h 10 min

For a long time I have been a big fan of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration’s project “Norwegian Scenic Routes“, which to a great extent inspires my travel in Norway. The destination for the first leg of my road trip was Gjevilvasshytta in Trollheimen, not far away from Oppdal. Instead of driving the “highway”, E6 I chose to drive county road 27, which makes out the Rondane Scenic Route from Ringebu to Hjerkinn.

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Venabygdsfjellet

When reaching the mountain plateau Venabygdsfjellet the scenery is absolutely amazing, with the mountain Muen as the natural focal point. Continuing through Folldal towards Hjerkinn, there are a few attractions along the road. My favorite was Sohlbergplassen, a view point at Atnsjøen lake. The platform frames the view towards the lake and the rounded peaks of the Rondane massif almost exactly as they appear in Harald Sohlberg’s famous painting “Winter’s Night in Rondane”. I also made a stop in Folldal to load up on waffles.

At Hjerkinn I made a short detour to Viewpoint Snøhetta. The viewpoint is a short hike from the parking, providing an excellent opportunity to stretch your legs.

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Snøhetta Viewpoint
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From inside the viewpoint looking towards the mountain Snøhetta

From Hjerkinn there is another hour drive to Gjevilvasshytta, my suggested accommodation for the night.

Today’s Activity

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Mount Muen

My planned activity for this first day of driving was to go roller skiing on Venabygdsfjellet. Due to heavy winds and a recent rib fracture I had to skip it for this time. If you bring your bike I would highly recommend that you make a stop for biking over Venabygdsfjellet, see feature in the cycle magazine Landevei (I went back to do that later in the summer). This time I did a beautiful evening trail run from Gjevilvasshytta, finishing of with some nice stretching at the nearby lake.

Strava for details: Evening trail run

Accommodation

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Gjevilvasshytta

My choice of accommodation was Gjevilvasshytta. Built in 1819, it is the oldest building being used for accommodation by Turistforeningen (the Norwegian Trekking Association), and is situated 710 meters above sea level at Gjevilvatnet, offering a great starting point for hiking and trail running in Trollheimen. The cabin is very popular and its atmosphere and location are amazing, however the sleeping comfort rather basic with shared bathrooms in the hall and thin walls.

Day 1 Highlight

The view of the lake, Gjevilvatnet, when arriving at Gjevilvasshytta. Google it!

Playlist

While always having been dependent on music to entertain my solo runs, it was only last year I started listening to music while skiing. I tend to stick to my favorite tracks, but when I get bored I turn to my brother for inspiration. And you would be surprised by how well the playlists from his club events fit when cruising the cross country skiing tracks. Try it out on spotify! Indieseksuell / TYVEN / 14.12.2018

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Hafjell/Øyerfjellet

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Kriksfjellet

Nå er snøen endelig i ferd med å legge seg i Øyerfjellet og den for mange velkjente Hornsjørunden, tidligløypa med utgangspunkt fra Pellestova eller Sjøsetra/Hornsjøen, er kjørt opp og fylt med ivrige skiløpere. Når det etter hvert kommer mer snø og hele løypenettet er oppkjørt finnes det mange og, etter min mening, enda finere turer å velge i. Her skal du få et utvalg av mine favorittløyper – til ulikt bruk.

Søndagsturen, 36 km

Jeg starter alle mine turer fra Liesætra, rett nord for Mosetertoppen, men denne runden kan du hekte deg på fra flere steder som f.eks. Moseteråsen/Mosetertoppen, Pellestova, Nordseter og Sjusjøen.

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Hitdalen

Med start fra Liesætra går du først sørover over myrene forbi Moseteråsen/Mosetertoppen og sikter deg inn på bakkene opp til Buåsen. Dette er den første av to stigninger på denne rundturen. På toppen av Buåsen går du rett frem og passerer Nysetra før du kommer inn i og passerer alpinbakkene. Fra alpinbakken er det fantastisk utsikt oppover Gudbrandsdalen og mot fakkelmannen på andre siden av dalen. Herfra er det småkupert før du etter hvert får løypa fra Gaiastova inn fra høyre og du kommer frem til Ilseterlia (leilighetskompleks) og tar tunnelen under bilveien til Ilsetra og holder venstre for en lang slak nedoverbakke til Reinsvann. Dersom du starter på Pellestova kan du komme inn på runden her ved å ta den bratte utforbakken ned fra Pellestova (følg skilt mot Nordseter). Nede ved Reinsvann holder du deg på sørsiden av vannet for noen fine stakepartier bortover mot Nevelåsen. Om du starter fra Nordseter kan du komme inn på runden her. På Nevelåsen tar du til venstre og så til høyre i neste løypekryss mot Sjusjøen. Denne løypa følger du noen kilometer til du kommer til enden av Melsjøen. Her tar du til venstre langs vannet mot Snultra og deretter Kruggerudrenna. Fra Kruggerudrenna kommer turens andre stigning opp til Kriksfjell. Unn deg en avstikker for å få med deg selve toppen. Etter utforkjøringene ned fra Kriksfjell går du rett frem i neste løypekryss og følger Hitdalen over fjellet og ned mot Hitvegen, som du krysser og kjører videre ned mot Rautjønnskrysset og videre rett nedover til Liesætra.

Strava: Liesætra – Ilsetra – Nevelåsen – Melsjøen – Kriksfjell – Liesætra

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Marcialonga-intervaller

Dette er en økt med mye lett staketerreng kombinert med en saftig stigning. Økta kan komponeres på mange måter, men jeg foreslår å starte ferdig oppvarmet fra Nerlisætra (hvor Trolløypa krysser Hornsjøveien, rett ovenfor Liesætra). Herfra kan du først gå et eller to drag flatt/slak motbakke opp til Rognhaugen (4,6 km). Neste drag går flatt/slakt nedover fra Rognhaugen via Svartåsen til løypekrysset Indre Åa (3,6 km). Tredje drag er også i lett terreng og går fra Indre Åa til Steinsætra (4,3 km). I pausen går du et par minutter tilbake der du kom slik at du får en flying start inn i bakken som er neste drag og går fra Steinsætra og opp til Pølkrysset (1,5 km). I Pølkrysset tar du til høyre for øktas siste drag i lekent og lett terreng tilbake til Indre Åa via Stormyra (3,8 km). Herfra nedgåing tilbake til utgangspunktet for økta. Dersom man ønsker flere drag kan man alternativt gå rett frem i Pølkrysset og opp til Keiken (3,7 km), ta til høyre der og følge Trolløypa tilbake til Rognhaugen i lett terreng (5,5 km).

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Svartåsen

O2-intervaller

Dette er en av mine absolutte favorittøkter når formen er bra! Som med den forrige økta går jeg denne på mål i stedet for på tid, noe jeg synes er mye mer motiverende. Etter en god oppvarming starter økta løypekrysset Høgåssøkken, som ligger ca 2 km nedenfor Pellestova hvis du følger Trolløypa i motsatt retning. Herfra går det første draget opp til Høgåsen (dvs du følger løypa som tar til venstre dersom du kommer ned fra Pellestova). Etter full pupp opp til Høgåsen og over toppen. Som pause kjører du ned via Buåsen (dvs tar to ganger til høyre og følger Hafjell Skimaraton-løypa) til bunnen av utforbakken. Her snur du og går samme vei opp og tilbake. Denne bakken er lengre enn det første draget, så jeg velger ofte å dele bakken i to intervaller, hvor det siste draget slutter på toppen av Høgåsen. Som pause er det da bare å kjøre ned til Høgåssøkken og starte på’n igjen. Jeg kjører to “runder”, dvs seks drag, eller tar de siste dragene opp til Høgåsen, som på Strava-økta nedenfor.

Strava: Bakkeintervall over Høgåsen

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Fra Høgåssøkken mot Høgåsen

Fire topper og en vaffel, 76 km

Noen ganger må man gå litt lenger enn andre, dvs for min og Kajas del betyr det å stadig strekke den tradisjonelle påskelangturen litt lengre. De siste årene har Øyer Turskiløyper etablert nye løyper over topper i Øyerfjellet, hvilket selvfølgelig kan brukes som mål for turen. I år la vi runden om fire flotte topper i Øyer- og Lillehammerfjellet.

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Hafjelltoppen

Starten gikk fra hver vår hytte før vi møttes på turens første topp, Hafjelltoppen. Fra Hafjelltoppen tok vi strake vegen til Lunkefjell via Pellestova og Nevelåsen. Fra Lunkefjell er det noen morsomme utforkjøringer ned til Melsjøen, hvor vi tok løypa langs Melsjøen til Kruggerudrenna og opp til Kriksfjell (som Søndagsturen ovenfor). Etter litt fotoshoot kjørte vi ned til Hitdalen og tok skarpt til høyre opp til Grytfjellet. Dersom det er skare kan du kjøre rett ned fra Kriksfjell til Grytfjellet. Etter Grytfjellet siktet vi oss inn på Lienden for en velfortjent vaffelrast i sola. Turen gikk så over myra til Langmyråsen hvor vi tok Trolløypa motsatt vei til høyre mot Rognhaugen og videre til Kjerringknappen og turens siste topp, Storhaugen. Etter enda mer fotografering gikk vi tilbake til Kjerringknappen og tok ned til høyre til Indre Åa og videre via Svartåsen tilbake til Langmyråsen. Her tok vi til høyre og krysset Hornsjøveien ved Steinmyrhaugen. Etter å ha fulgt Kaja et stykke på veien tilbake mot Nordseter vendte jeg snuten hjemover til Liesætra. Denne rundturen kan du hoppe på mange steder, som f.eks. Mosetertoppen, Pellestova, Nordseter, Sjusjøen og Sjøsetra.

Strava: Fire topper og en vaffel

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Storhaugen

Solnedgang

Jeg har hatt utallige magiske (og iskalde!) ettermiddagsturer i solnedgang nord i Øyerfjellet. En variant er uværsløypa t/r Holmsetra fra Liesætra. En annen favoritt er Trolløypa motsatt vei til Keiken, f.eks med start fra Steinmyrhaugen, for så å time de rosa fargene på vei ned fra Keiken (i Trolløypa) til Steinsætra. Fra Steinsætra kan du gå uværsløypa tilbake til Svartåsen og ned til Steinmyrhaugen.

Strava: Elg i solnedgang

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Veslehaugen

Cross-Country Skiing in the Alps

 

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Seiser Alm

I was recently invited by Raske Gutter Podden (podcast) to talk about cross-country skiing in the Alps (you can listen to the podcast, which is in Norwegian, here). Since I may not be the only trailrunner enjoying cross-country skiing, I thought I would take the opportunity to share some information on my favorite places to do cross-country skiing in the Alps, as well as some fun races to attend.

So, let’s pretend we have a few weeks to hang around in the Alps with a fancy car loaded with our cross-country skiing equipment. Of course, you are allowed to bring alpine skis as well, and I will tell you where you can do both, but for the best information on downhill skiing you will have to find another guru.

Unless you already live in the Alps or nearby, you may choose to fly in to Munich Airport or, even better, Innsbruck. You can also fly to Zürich, Milan, Verona, or Venice. Make sure you rent a car with winter tires and enough space for your skis.

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The Roundtrip

First stop: Seefeld

There’s no better place to start your adventure than this season’s site for the cross-country World Championship, Seefeld in Tirol. Seefeld is situated on a sunny plateau high above Innsbruck, about 1200 meters above sea level and can be easily reached by train. The ski tracks start right in the middle of the city centre with several nearby hotels to choose from. We stayed at the four star St. Peter Hotel just across the street from the ski tracks and two conveniently located sport shops.

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The ski tracks from the hotel.

Tirol claims to offer a total of 4000 km of tracks throughout the region, many of them accessible from Seefeld or nearby villages. You will find easy terrain as well as long and tough ascents and can also try out the world cup tracks which will be used during the world championship in February/March 2019.

Strava for details: Hill workout towards Wildmoos

Race to join: Kaiser-Maximilian-Lauf, 12-13 January 2019 (classic technique and Visma Ski Classic on Saturday and free technique on Sunday).

More information on Seefeld here.

Second stop: Toblach (Dobbiaco) 

When you are ready to leave Seefeld behind, the Italian village of Toblach in south Tirol is a great choice. The drive from Seefeld takes about two hours and I recommend that you make a short stop for lunch and some shopping in Innsbruck on your way there. Toblach traditionally hosts one or more races forming part of the legendary Tour de Ski in January every year. The events are free for spectators and have a great atmosphere. During race days the world cup tracks will be closed for other than the athletes, but there are many other nearby tracks to choose from, including my favorite, the track from Cortina (Fiames Ski Arena) to Toblach, which is the same track being used for the men’s long distance during Tour de Ski as well as the Visma Ski Classic event (see below).

Once in Toblach, your obvious choice of accommodation may be the perfectly located Hotel Santer, which is basically on the ski arena, Apparthotel Germania for great breakfast as well as easy access to the ski arena, or the friendly Hotel Stauder, which also serves great food. Don’t miss out on Pizzeria Hans while in town!

Strava for details: Cortina – Toblach

Races to join: Pustertaler Skimarathon, 12 January 2019 and Toblach-Cortina 2-3 February 2019 (classic technique and Visma Ski Classic on Saturday and free technique on Sunday) and Gsieser Tal Lauf 16-17 February 2019 (classic technique on Saturday and free technique on Sunday).

Third stop: Val di Fiemme

In Tour de Ski the races in Toblach are usually followed by the final races in Val di Fiemme, and I suggest you follow the same route. Leaving Toblach you should plan for a stop in the sophisticated village of Cortina, stroll the pedestrian street and have lunch at San Brite (reservations recommended) before you enjoy the beautiful drive via Passo Pordoi to Val di Fiemme. Passing by Cortina and Canazei, this is also your opportunity to add a day or two of downhill skiing.

In Val di Fiemme my choice of hotel is the Castelir Suite Hotel, a quiet, intimate hotel with large rooms, great service and walking distance of the world cup ski arena at Lago di Tesero. Another option would be Hotel La Stua, a hotel popular among Norwegian skiers and the location of the massive Marcialonga after party. For lunch or dinner, try out the wine bar El Molin or La Stua.

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Watching Tour de Ski.

Although a traditional cross-country skiing race destination and the host of several world championships and the legendary Marcialonga, Val di Fiemme does not have that many options for cross-country skiing. In two days you have it covered, nevertheless, having a slightly more Italian flare to it compared to the other destinations, and the cozy village of Cavalese, it is worth a visit. On day one I suggest you try out the world cup tracks from the Lago di Tesero Nordic Ski Arena. If enough snow, tracks will also be open along the river from leaving the world cup arena. During Tour de Ski you may opt to participate in the Rampa con i Campioni, a race open to the public which is equal to the Tour de Ski finale and includes the monstrous climb up Alpe Cermis.

Strava for details: Rampa con i campioni

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The final climb, Rampa con i campioni.

On day two the tracks on the beautiful plateau of Passo Lavazè is worth a visit. Passo Lavazè is a beloved destination for participants of Marcialonga in the days leading up to the race and has easy as well as more strenuous tracks. Be aware though, that the plateau is about 1800 meters above sea level, which adds additional strain on the body. Thus you should save your speed for later.

Strava for details: Passo Lavazè

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Skiing at Passo Lavazè.

Races to join: Rampa con i campioni, 6 January 2019, Lavazeloppet, 24 January 2019 and Marcialonga, 27 January 2019.

Fourth stop: Seiser Alm (Alpe di Siusi)

Having had a taste of the altitude at Passo Lavazè the natural next stop is the paradise-like destination of Seiser Alm.  You can drive directly to Seiser Alm from Passo Lavazè, it is not the fastest route from Val di Fiemme, but for sure the most beautiful. For hotel options, check out my previous post on trailrunning in Seiser Alm here. If money is no issue, you may want to check out Adler Mountain Lodge.

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Grammable days in Seiser Alm.

Seiser Alm is the preferred location for many national teams when preparing for championships. On this high altitude plateau the perfectly groomed tracks are surrounded with spectacular mountains and huts and restaurants serving delicious food when taking a break in the sun. Highlights include sunset coloring the sky pink while cruising the longest loop facing the characteristic Schiliar mountain. If you did not know paradise, you do now. For more details on the about 80 km of tracks, go here and here.

If you are looking to do some downhill skiing on this road trip, Seiser Alm is a great starting point for skiing the Sella Ronda.

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The Panorama trail.

Strava for details: Panorama Trail, Sunny side up

Race to attend: Moonlight Classic, 23 January 2019.

Fifth stop: Pontresina – Engadine Valley

On your way from peaceful Seiser Alm to Pontresina in the Engadine valley in Switzerland I suggest you make a pitstop in either Bolzano or Meran for some nice Italian small-city vibe. The total driving time from Seiser Alm to Pontresina is about 3:30, mostly on regional roads. Take time to enjoy your surroundings. In Pontresina Hotel Rosatsch is a good option, located on the main street in short distance of my favorite hang out, Gianottis. Pontresina also has a few ok shops for cross-country skiing in case you find yourself in need of anything.

Processed with VSCO with au1 presetMy personal winter experience of the Engadine valley is unfortunately limited to the Engadine Ski Marathon tracks, , which provide for a great high-speed skating experience on the lakes in the valley before more hilly parts take you to the finish line in Pontresina. However, this area has much more to offer, including illuminated night tracks, all of which is surrounded by spectacular mountains. And I have been told that you should not miss out on skiing in Val Roseg, tracks starting from the Nordic ski arena near the train station in Pontresina. For more information, turn to this site. With St. Moritz right in the middle of it, this is naturally also the place to leave your cross-country skis behind for some downhill skiing, and, if you wish, some shopping.

Strava for details: Maloja – St. Moritz and return

Races to attend: La Diagonela, 19 January 2019 and Engadin Skimarathon 10 March 2019.

Sixth stop: Lenzerheide

On our way to Zürich Airport after Engadin Skimarathon we stopped in Lenzerheide to ski in the sun in their fairly new Nordic ski arena, financed mainly by an enthusiastic local family. I suggest you do the same driving from Pontresina to your final cross-country skiing gemstone, Davos. Drive early in the morning from Pontresina and grab a coffee (or even breakfast) at Bio-Alp Alesch near the Albula pass on the way. The driving time from Pontresina to Lenzerheide is less than 90 minutes. See strava link below for where we parked. This is also one of the places where you can access changing rooms. For more information, go to this site.

After exploring the trails, which run along the main street cutting through Lenzerheide, find yourself a nice spot in the sun for lunch while enjoying the view of the mountain sides hosting the world cup final for the downhill skiers in 2014.

Strava for details: Lenzerheide loop+ Instagram

Race to attend: Planoiras Folk Cross-Country Skiing Race, 13 January 2019.

Final stop: Davos

Saving the best for last! Davos is the centre of cross-country skiing in Switzerland and is regularly on the cross-country skiing world cup calendar. About 1550 meters above sea level, the altitude will have impact on your performance, but also ensures good skiing conditions during the winter season with some tracks opening already in October. This alpine resort town is surrounded with beautiful mountains providing great opportunities to take your alpine skis for a spin as well.

Although having visited Davos several times  during summer, I have never been there in the winter. Thus I turned to former top cross-country skier Tor-Arne Hetland for guidance on how to best explore Davos on skis. Of the three beautiful valleys you can ski, his number one choice is skiing up the Sertig valley. For some extra uphill you can ski via Junkerboden. When finally reaching the end of the valley you will find yourself in the middle of this typical alp idyll we are all dreaming of, surrounded with wooden huts and magnificent mountains. Drop in at Walserhuus or Bergführer and load up on Apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce before you enjoy the downhill back to Davos. Note that the upper five kilometers are prepped only for classic technique.

Sertigtal on Instagram

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Sertigtal summer view from Walserhuus hotel.

Davos has loads of accommodation options. In the summertime, my choice has always been Walserhuus. During winter I would maybe opt for a hotel close to the Nordic ski arena, such as for example Hotel Bünda.

Go here for more on cross-country skiing in Davos.

Final notes

Obviously, most of us are not in position to do the whole roundtrip described above and many of the destinations described are worthy of being your one-stop for cross-country skiing in the Alps. Create your own roundtrips or combine one of the destinations with one of the many long distance ski races in the area. Realizing that I have missed out on the great cross-country skiing possibilities in Davos, this will for sure be on my 2019 bucket list, maybe combined with participation in the Sertig Classic race.

HAPPY WINTER!

Closing the Senja chapter: Grytetippen, Keipen and Sukkertoppen

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The view from Grytetippen

Bringing the Senja trilogy to an end (for now), let me take you to three breathtaking peaks, Grytetippen, Keipen and Sukkertoppen. These three may be done in one day as Grytetippen and Keipen are right next to each other sharing most of the same trails, and Sukkertoppen is short enough to make a quick morning or evening run. The drive between the two is about one hour and in between you find the beautiful Ersfjordstranda, the perfect spot for recharging and refueling.

Let´s go!

Grytetippen & Keipen

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Segla, Hesten and “Kongene” from Grytetippen

You find the joint trailhead of Grytetippen and Keipen next to the road half way along the lake Mefjordvatnan. There is a sign next to the road. For exact position see the Strava link provided below. It is also possible to start the run from the tunnel at Mefjordbotneidet (direction Fjordgård). The start of the trail from Mefjordvatnan is a bit messy and wet with more than 450 meters of ascent in less than two kilometers, after which you can enjoy about a kilometer of easy running and maybe get a glimpse of  reindeers. The view is great already from the start and you will have Breidtinden on your left side during the climb. After about 2.5 km from the trailhead the steep climb towards the ridge between Grytetippen and Keipen starts. I went for Grytetippen, the southern and lower peak with 885 meters first and reached the top after about 70 minutes. Despite having been to legendary mountains as Segla and Husfjellet the previous days, my jaw dropped by the sight that awaited me and I was screaming for joy! The view of the “black wall” is brutal and Segla from this new angle looks almost like a small hill. You can also see Husøy, where the TV-program “Da damene dro” was recorded.

Make sure you take a lot of photos before you start the descent of about 160 meters before the climb towards Keipen. On my way to Keipen I met a couple who told me that the view from Keipen was even better than from Grytetippen, and its 360 degrees of glory from 938 meters above sea level did not let me down.

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The view from Keipen

Both Grytetippen and Keipen have steep and dramatic edges and instagramable outcrops, but the trails are safe and fairly easy.

Strava for details: Grytetippen and Keipen

Ersfjordstranda

Make sure you pack what you need for a picnic at Ersfjordstranda when driving between Keipen/Grytetippen and Sukkertoppen. There are no shops or restaurants nearby. This beach is the location of the famous golden toilette and a popular site for camping. There is also an outdoor shower next to the toilette.

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Ersfjordstranda

Sukkertoppen

Sukkertoppen is only 456 meters above sea level and a fairly short run close to the hotel and restaurant Hamn. You can start the run from the hotel or take the car to the parking next to “Nikkelverket”, about a km from Hamn. The Strava link provided below starts from Nikkelverket and finishes at the hotel.

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From Sukkertoppen
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From Sukkertoppen towards Hamn and Husfjellet

The trail is easy to find and is marked towards Sukkertoppen. The beginning is quite easy and runable, while the last climb gets steeper and raises your heart rate. Given the short distance and reasonable climb it provides a great opportunity to play with some speed, also because you will have your back towards the view for the most of the climb. Don´t forget your camera though. Once you reach the top you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the archipelago of Hamn. In the distance you can also see Husfjellet.

Strava for details: Sukkertoppen (“The Sugar Peak”)

Some last notes

  • Go back to Senja – Segla, Hesten and (almost) Breidtinden and Husfjellet – my favorite on Senja for more on Senja, where to stay, how to get there, other attractions along the road and a suggested itinerary.
  • The best season to check out the trails is June – September. Go in June/July for the midnight sun and try to do at least some of your runs in the late evening in order to enjoy the midnight sun from a mountain top (weather permitting).
  • Remember to fill up a cooler with food and beverages as there are few supermarkets and even less restaurants on the island.

Coming up

I have a series of posts in the making, which will take you on an exciting road trip all the way from Oslo to Senja. Stay tuned!