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Nearby Folgefonna national park, in municipality Kvinnherad, you can find breathtaking mountain lake Juklavatnet all the way up the Mauranger mountain. You can take a hike up there, starting at the Jukla kraftstasjon. It will take you about 3 hours to walk a roundtrip. The perfect warming-up for when you’re planning to hike the nearby Trolltunga the next day!
The trail is unmarked, but quite easy to follow. Make sure you wear waterproof boots though, because you have to cross small streams and it can be very hard to keep your feet dry when there’s a lot of meltwater. Once you get to the Juklavatnet you can walk further up to the glacier. It is strongly recommended to not get on or even near the glacier without the right equipment, a guide or experience. A satisfying alternative can be to take a hike south of the glacier, because you can see beautiful ice and rock formations there as well.
How do you get to the Juklavatnet?
You can navigate to: Juklavatnet. If you navigation won’t recognize Juklavatnet, you can enter Jondal (random street or village), after crossing with the ferry, enter Odda and keep on driving till the end of the Jondalstunnelen. Take a right and then again another right, then follow the road all the way up to Jukla Power Plant!
From the moment we left Bergen airport, we figured there was something weird about ‘our Norway’. We couldn’t really figure out what it was, but something was different. We drove in the direction of Odda, crossed the fjords with a ferry and took the very small mountain path up to the power plant, just like it said on the instructions. As soon as you drive up a path where it’s impossible to pass another car, you know you’re on your way to something exciting! But instead of something exciting, we ran into a bridge that was locked by a fence. Next to the fence was a sign with a yellow edge. We knew how to say ‘thank you’ and ‘goodmorning’ in Norwegian, but that was pretty much it.. What did it say? Was it ‘no admittance’?
Luckily we had installed an app that could translate pictures of words to English! And while we were taking a picture to give it a go, we realised that we had absolutely no cellphone network. Whoops. Bart-Jan thought it was okay for us to cross, even though there was a fence. I, on the other hand, was convinced we would kill ourselves if we drove any further. But after Bart-Jan convinced me that nobody was going to die, we crossed the bridge any way and closed the fence behind us. And we didn’t regret that decision.
De way up over the mountain path was amazing! We had to drive super slow because we had to dodge some sheep here and there and one time we almost got run over by a tractor, but the nature was super pretty. Everything was green and rough and beautiful and we drove across a lot of waterfalls. The road was very well paved and relatively easy to drive. Later on we learned the reason for that were the Mauranger waterways of which the development was the most challenging that has ever been performed in Norway!
The higher we got, the more snow we saw. At first we didn’t really realized it, because it was quite normal that there was a lot of snow all the way up in the mountains. Right until we figured that there were still some trees here and there, so we couldn’t be that high up. What was going on here?
Once we arrived to the parking lot at the power plant, we were surrounded by frozen lakes (Markjelkevatnet) and big biles of snow. When we got out of the car an old man with a walking stick, accompanied by his grandson and their dog, walked over to us. He only spoke Norwegian, so his grandson translated for us. He told us that he was he owner of the sheep that we met earlier and explained how the winter has been extremely harsh and how the summer was colder than they expected. Due to the weather there was still a lot of snow on the route to Juklavatnet. We had to be very careful, follow the footsteps he and is grandson left behind and turn back the moment the footprints would disappear. It would be stupid and dangerous to walk further or diverge from the path they left us, because of avalanche danger and unpredictable snow.
Even though we couldn’t walk all the way to the Juklavatnet like we planned, we still wanted to go for a short hike in this amazing scenery. So we took our snow poles, put on a sweater and decided to take the advice that they gave us and walk untill the footprints disappeared.
And that’s when it finally got to us. THAT’s what felt so weird about Norway this year. All the mountain tops are still white!
Soon we realized that everything the man told us was true. We followed the footsteps they left us, like he told us to. But still Bart-Jan’s leg dropped into the snow, all the way up to his bum! So we decided to both take one of my snow poles to poke the snow ahead of us to make sure it was safe for us to put our feet there.
After a short hike of about half an hour, we arrived at a little weir. There was a small grass island in the middle of the snow where the footprints stopped. That meant that the island was the end of our little hike. So we sat down to enjoy the view and read our surroundings. All of a sudden we were amazed and also a little scared by what we saw. There was a little rapid going down from the weir, into a stream all the way down into the valley. But that wasn’t the scary part. The scary part was that the stream went UNDERNEATH the snow, all the way to the valley. On our way up we didn’t know that there was freezing water running underneath the snow! That’s why the shepherd told us to follow their foorprints! We could have drowned if we hadn’t followed his advice. Wow..
It appeared that we had a little angel on our shoulders that made sure the Norwegian shepherd crossed our path and warned us. Because even my snow poles can’t fight nature when it takes its way.
The surroundings were very impressive. It was almost as if it was a textbook, teaching us about the effects that a glacier has on her surroundings. You can see eroded mountainsides, carpets of snow and moss, rolled down stones and super small rocks all the way at the foot of the hike.
If you would continue walking in better circumstances, you could walk down the flat area and cross the streams on the north side of lake Botnatjørna. After that you can follow a path that takes you along a ravine, all the way to the Botnabrea glacier. You’re supposed to throw a rock into the ravine for good luck if you pass it.
But we headed back to the parking lot. Where we walked around a bit more and enjoyed the amazing views at the super quiet lakes and impressive mountains covered in snow and moss.
On our way back the landscape turned green as soon as it turned white on the way up. Even the sheep woke up from their afternoon naps to say goodbye! Or maybe they were just mad because we woke them up. I’m not sure.
And the sign? It pretty much said “Please close the gate, becasue there’s sheep here. And please don’t hunt on them, since they’re mine.” Maybe we should learn Norwegian for our next trip..