Torres Del Paine National Park – Chile 5/16

WOW! Impressive: Lago Pohoe in Torres del Paine National Park
We hiked a mile up to get fabulous views and enjoy a leisurely lunch. No condors…
…but saw this interesting falcon; a crested Caracara (Caracara plancus).
The reflections were magnificent at this unnamed pond further east!
Lago Azul…enjoyed a fresh brewed cup of coffee here with this view of the Torres.
Zoom detail of the Torres del Paine. The oldest rock is on top as magma has pushed it up.
Gorgeous. Zoom detail of the glacier on top the Paine Grande, at the end of summer.
The waterfall on the Paine River was wonderful to experience with the early morning light.
The twisty roads in the park are well maintained gravel. We are ready to explore!
It was not as crowded as we expected–we enjoyed chatting with fellow travelers from around the world. Notice the Salto Grande waterfall on the left…
…Yesterday we hiked there and it was a tad bit windier.
We followed the channel to the lake Nordenskjold and the clouds played peek-a-boo on the mountain peaks.
We are prepared for 4 seasons in one day but it stays dry!
The wind is in the “safe to hike” zone of less than 50kmh. Ranger told us the trail was closed yesterday–because of high winds–so we are feeling very lucky to be here today.
The sun is teasing us but it is still pleasant enough to enjoy a picnic lunch with this view, at Mirador Cuernos.
We were thrilled to explore Torres del Paine NP on 2 different days as each was special.

Ring of Fire Solar Eclipse – Utah

We were lucky to be  close to the path of the annual eclipse 2023. After a night at Goosenecks State Park, we found a great dispersed site near Swinging Bridge in a section of Bears Ears National Monument.
A couple of our friends joined us to hike some of our favorite spots.
Part of a series of towers that could signal to Chaco Canyon.
The Wolfman Petroglyph Panel is site to behold. Wow! Bears Ears NM
Back at our camp, we have moved the van to give us some shade.
We are ready for the eclipse to begin on this beautiful clear morning.
Using our special glasses we got this photo as the moon is starting to eclipse the sun.
We were not quite expecting the noticeable drop in temperature as the sun was covered.
The Ring of Fire! Awesome! We were excited to capture this photo with our camera!  We also experienced this annual eclipse in Canyonlands in 2012.
We continued our adventure the next day at Hovenweep NM as most had cleared out so we snagged our favorite site #4 as well as the adjacent one.
Fun to be amongst these  structures from the past and contemplate the culture that built them. Hovenweep NM
What are the odds of seeing people you know from Denver on the trail? Many Coloradoans in Utah for the eclipse!
The Sleeping Ute at sunset from our campsite. We are ready for an awesome night of stargazing at Hovenweep NM. Our pics from last fall

Vestfold – West Oslo Fjord – Norway 24/26

Heading  south we went to Verens Ende at Faerder National Park. This is a picturesque old lighthouse on the west coast of the Oslo Fjord.
Most of the Faerder NP is protected sea but we could walk along the shore. Gorgeous weather today made this a perfect outing.
We even watched this jellyfish pulsate around the coast.
This beach and marina looked like The Perfect Lunch Spot!
The Vestfold County Museum in Tonsberg had an amazing recovered Viking ship as well as a replica seen through the window. It also told of the whaling history of this area.
This is a Blue Whale – the largest animal ever known to live on earth. Massive!
Tonsberg is Norway’s oldest town and we visited the remains of the Castle. This structure seems typically Norwegian – we have seen many similar ones in the countryside.
A replica of the Viking Gokstad Ship is underway in downtown Sandefjord. It all begins with the perfect tree, aged to perfection before it is split to size with the same tools the Vikings would have used.
You can see some planks slit in the foreground and the size of this operation to reconstruct a replica of the Gokstad Ship. Four Viking Ships have been found in this area of the West Olso Fjord (Vestfold) and they are proud of this sea heritage.
Borre NP preserves Viking Burial Mounds and is overseen by this Rune Stone. The carvings have been painted to make them more visible.
Midgard Viking Center is next to Borre NP. Besides an interesting museum they have recreated a Viking Long House area through these gates.
This long house is  based on archeology finds to similar dimensions and what is known about the construction.
The details similar to the Stave churches which were built later.
A staff person dressed as a Viking told us some history and kept the long house warm with an expertly built fire. The more important you were the closer to the fire you sat. A long house was for community, government, and religious activities.
The columns all tell different stories. The Vikings as warriors with their shields that went on long voyages and conquests.
And they all reported to The Red Maiden…

Hardangervidda NP – Norway 22/26

Saebo Camping on Eidfjordvotnet is a perfect spot to watch the world go by!
Our Saebo Camping Cabin is the larger one in the center.
It is very close to Hardangervidda National Park.
The trail we took is well marked with red ‘T’. There were some cabins here – how fun that would be to hike to this spot for the night.
Getting us located on Locus Maps. This app has been so helpful in all our navigation. We loaded all of Norway for free.
Great views!
Great fall colors!
Detail of those wonderful colors and textures.
Amazing variety of lichens and moss.
Even a comfy rock for a picnic lunch!
And back to Saebo Camp to enjoy the fjord lake: Deep breath. Exhale. All is well.

Jotunheimen National Park – Norway 18/26

Along the Sognefjord are some amazing waterfalls – some even have names like Asofossen.
At an overlook we see the village of Fortun and the massive Asofossen in the hill beyond, which names the river that flows through the valley. This is the beginning of 10 hairpin turns and as per Rick Steves “Treat Each Turn As If It Were Your Last!”
Wait! Stop the car! Luckily there was a pullover we could walk back across the bridge and take this photo of an unnamed waterfall with 3 snow covered mountain peaks in the background.
There you go…three peaks in Jotunheimen National Park.
The roads are all one lane with some passing pullovers so a bit stressful driving. Quoting Rick Steve again ” Tell your passenger to scream only when we hit something”. Ha! We climbed the valley of Jotunheimen NP on the scenic Sognefellet National Tourist Route.
The Nedre Oscarshaug viewing platform allows you to move the glass panels to line up with the mountain you are looking at to identify it. Very fun. The temperature has now dropped to chilly 3 degrees at around 1200 meters elevation. (37 degrees at 4,000′ above fjord/sea level)
A bit different day than when we toured part of the park on the east side from Lom. Our blog entry from first of September.
We hung out at a parking area to eat our lunch and watch the clouds.
We turned around at this lake area as the clouds were moving in.
We were glad we could have such beautiful tundra under our feet.
Really happy to be on top of the world here in Jotunheimen National Park.

Jostedalsbreen National Park – Norway 16/26

On the road  we head south along Innik Fjord (Nordfjord) on a rainy sort of day. But we could still appreciate the grandeur.
At the top of the map – we left Stryn heading south to Fjaerland (in bold on map), then down and up to Gjerde to explore the east side. The Jostedalsbreen glacier, the largest glacier on the European mainland.
Fjaerland is at the end of another fjord (Sognefjorden) – and as we have now learned all these fjords are carved by glaciers. We have come here to see another branch- Boyabreen- which you can if you look closely through the high humidity.
If you have looked at any promotional brochures of Norway you will have seen this well placed sauna with a view in Fjaerland.
Meeting up with some ice explorers and scientists at the world class Norwegian Glacier Museum.
This is as close as we got today to the glacier – the Boyabreen Glacier branch.
Always relieved to find some conveniences especially in such scenic locations.
A lush green high humidity rainy sort of day was our best chance of exploring the east side of Jostedalsbreen NP.  There were more waterfalls and water on this route than we remember ever seeing anywhere – obviously abundant due to the rain quantity.
This unique visitor center – Breheimsenterret – seems to  extend right from the glacier itself (seen flowing down the valley at the right)
It reminded me of a Viking helmet from this direction. Museum is in lower level with a good movie with screen that goes up, curtains open for large window to view glacier – National Park worthy experience.
Really the best way to spend a rainy morning! A waffle with strawberry jam or a sweet local pastry with fresh brewed coffee. Universal…
Clouds seem to lift so we drive toll road to Nigardsbreen Glacier.
The glacier melt off has left this beautiful milky lake. The boat will cut 20 minutes off the 45 minute hike to touch the glacier but we thought hiking on wet rocks in the rain was not going to be worthwhile.
So we picniced in our car while watching the clouds play, tried to count all the waterfalls, and enjoyed the lush green from all the moisture.
The force of the waterfalls is breathtaking. We may not have experienced what we planned but we appreciated our explorations and the many moods of the landscape.

Geiranger Fjord – Norway 12/26

The first snow on the mountains for the season or so we learned from the locals from this top at Eidsvatnet Lake.
Eidsvatnet Lake was a pleasant stop before winding our way up that valley.
We stopped at the Ornevegen Viewpoint to get our first view of Geiranger fjord.
It is at the top of these switchbacks!
One of the most beautiful fjords, a UNESCO world heritage site!
There were 2 cruise ships and many tour buses in town so lots of people. A couple from New Zealand chatted with us and offered to take a photo.
This adorable cabin is where we are going to spend the next few nights – the very tranquil Hole Hytter.
Henry enjoying the view from our cabin at Hole Hytter
It is  an amazing view from the dining table as well.
Norway’s first National Tourist Trail is a dramatic walk/stairway from town to the Norwegian Fjord Centre following this waterfall.
Geiranger fjord is part of a UNESCO world heritage site to protect the Western Fjords of Norway. It is a very special area of the world with this interesting museum to learn more.
The fresh cinnamon buns were delicious!!!!
This model of the Seven Sisters Waterfall, which is 1,350′ tall, shows how deep the fjords are – about 800′ under water.
We took the 20km ferry round trip to Hellesyit to experience being on the water and seeing the entire fjord.
The Seven Sisters Falls were impressive.
As were the falls on the other side of the fjord.
We even saw some kayakers – they might have been warmer than us.
But we got a bit of sunshine and enjoyed seeing the entire Geiranger fjord!
The Queens Chair at the Flydalsjuvet Viewpoint was put in by Queen Sonja so we could all experience the majestic beauty of her country.

National Parks near Dombas – Norway 4/26

Our first stop heading northeast from Dombas is this interesting architectural – overlook of the Fokstumyra Nature Preserve.
A beautiful morning looking over Fokstumyra Nature Preserve towards the northwest.
Next stop was the Wild Reindeer Preserve Visitor Center, or Besokssenter villrein in Hjerkinn.
Nearby is where you start the hike to look for wild musk ox in Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella NP.
A wide mile long uphill trail with historical timeline winds through alpine tundra in Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella NP.
This is the Snohetta Viewpoint!
Inside Snohetta Viewpoint we could appreciate this destination. A ranger had a zoom scope hooked to a monitor screen and showed us the dots on the landscape that were musk ox far across the valley.
Wow – what a view to enjoy!  Snohetta was once considered the tallest peak and is pretty impressive even with the clouds at the summit. There was also some pelts, antlers, and other information inside the Snohetta Viewpoint.
A bit further south we drove to Sohlbergplassen Viewpoint on the eastern tourist route along Rondane NP.
This was designed to go around all the trees which also made it much more interesting. Sohlbergplassen Viewpoint
And what a view of Mt Rondvassbu across Lake Atnsjoen to Rondane NP.
We walked across the river feeding the lake at Strombu Viewpoint
and we fed ourselves at these fun curved concrete picnic tables.
We turned around at Atnbrua Historic Waterworks at the south end of the lake.
Natural waterfalls that powered Atnbrua Historic Waterworks – still a good source of electricity.
Our home for 3 nights right on the ski slope is the upper cabin at Hytter Dombas.
The view from our porch looking northwest up the valley.