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Hike: a low key hike to a high-profile glacier; Austdalsbreen, the lesser know sidearm of Jostedalsbreen

In this article, I shall impart unto thee a splendid tip on how to hike from a picturesque valley to a distinctive segment of a glacier, far removed from the throngs of tourists that populate the trails leading to the more renowned glaciers. This route is scarcely known outside of the Norwegian locals, yet it ultimately grants thee a magnificent vista of an epic tributary of the better-known Jostedalsbreen.

At first you write Sota Sæter into your navigation system. As you turn left from the highway near Coop Prix Bruvoll, you'll find yourself on Bråtåvegen. The road is paved with asphalt until you reach a barrier. Beyond that point, it transforms into a long, wide gravel road winding through a vast valley that seems to stretch endlessly. The further you drive into the valley, the weaker the phone signal becomes, until it eventually fades away entirely. After about 20 minutes, you arrive at a picturesque settlement consisting of an old, black-painted farmhouse surrounded by picnic benches and bustling activity. This is one of the DNT huts where you can spend the night before or after your hike.


But that's not why we're here, not neccessarily at least. We continue driving further, passing through another barrier where we have to pay a small fee. This contribution goes towards keeping the road snow-free during winter, fair enough right? The road starts to deteriorate slightly, with a few potholes here and there, but it doesn't bother us. After about fifteen minutes of driving, we spot a small parking lot on the right where we park our car (there's a few cabins further down, but don't park there).


A group of hikers near a lake with mountains in the background

With our backpacks on, we set off on the hiking trail, a meandering path through the Surtbyttdalen. The ultimate destination is the viewpoint, a hundred meters above the Styggevasshytta. I won't describe the entire hike in detail; my point is that in this remote corner of the valley, hardly any tourists venture, making the four-hour hike to the viewpoint almost a spiritual experience. Please don't misunderstand me, I have absolutely nothing against tourists. However, the joy diminishes when you have to walk in a procession to Kjeragbolten, Preikestolen, or Trolltunga. There are so many underrated routes that are equally beautiful, if not more so.


And that is the case here too. The landscape is diverse, stunning, and the reward is immense once you reach the highest point. The journey back down is much faster and took us less than 2.5 hours. All in all, it's essential to set aside a day for this hike.


A few things to keep in mind during such hikes: There is hardly any phone signal in this valley, except for a very weak signal when you climb one of the highest peaks. If you decide to hike alone, always inform at least one person about your plans. Let them know where you're going and how long you expect to stay there.


If you're trekking from one DNT hut to another, always write in the guestbooks, indicating your origin and destination. This system ensures that you can be found much faster in case you twist your ankle and can't continue. Also, make sure to bring enough food—some sandwiches, a few bags of nuts, and perhaps some chocolate—to keep your energy levels up. There's plenty of water available, but be cautious when drinking from streams that may be grazed by sheep or goats. And a final warning: don't venture or hike onto the glaciers without a guide. Just don't do it!


Before setting out, it's wise to consult UT.no and study the map, and possibly check out DNT if you plan to stay nearby overnight. We actually booked a cabin on the nearby campsite. Which was basic but excellent. And they make great pizza too, which was an absolutely joy to replenish our energy with after a long day in the mountains. **Getting there: unless you're bike-packing, it's nearly impossible to get there without a car. So it is most wise to rent a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.






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