Ustaoset

A sunny day in Autumn

On Monday, October 19, 2015, I travelled to Ustaoset, not far away from where I live. This does not mean that it takes a short time to get there: public transport in Norway is excellent, but the frequency of departures and arrivals of busses and trains, is very low: at least in the countryside. Reason: the most of the Norwegians live in cities. In the countryside Norwegians use their car to get on places where not even public transport can bring them. I live in the countryside, 4 hours from Oslo and 4 hours from Bergen, by train. I do not have a car.

Ustaoset

Ustaoset is comparable with a ghost “town”, a hamlet, originally, filled during the last century with hundreds of holiday houses, hytta, inhabited only in the peak seasons of summer and winter, and the weekend, including the one and only, but huge hotel. These holiday cabins are spread around in a huge area, on the foot of Hallingskarvet mountain, even far beyond the borders of Ustaoset.  It has a kind of a church, a benzin station, and a supermarket. The 22 inhabitants live off tourism, the income of this benzin station, the kiosk, and the income of the supermarket. (Info: the owner of the kiosk)

After arriving at the completely empty railway station as the one and only passenger I decided to go first for a coffee and a lunch, in the hotel, a distance of some hundreds of meters.

Emptiness. Everywhere. Silence. Everywhere. What I expected because of this was true: the hotel was closed. There was no doorbell. The man who opened after hearing me using the latch told me the only other option was a benzin station: fortunately there was coffee and a choice out of the usual snacks.

Searching for Tvergastein

Then I started to walk, to find the path to Tvergastein hytta, cabin, the reason of this journey. Tvergastein is the house built by Arne Næss. I passed some signs with names like “Prestholt” but not any sign for “Tvergastein”. So, I decided not to take the “Prestholt” direction, because “Tvergastein” was far more west from Prestholt. I knew this, from studying the map, at home. Several hours I walked, searching a path, in the labyrinth of paths of the holiday park named Ustaoset.

Ustaoset Cabins

Nobody was there, all houses were empty, only two or three people were doing their job as a carpenter, or something like that. Often I took the wrong sideway, to arrive at again a house, with not any further going on possibility. I should have printed the map from google maps, with all the names of all the “streets” (unpaved). The only information I had was from this website. Studying that one all looked so easy. It is, but it is not at the same time.

Special experience anyway

It has been a special experience. Did not dislike it at all. On the contrary. When back, down the mountain, and at the kiosk again, I too another coffee, and enjoyed the warmth of the sun, on a bench in front of the supermarket: next to the road, Riksvei 7, to Haugastøl, Finse, Eidfjord, and Bergen to the right, and Geilo, Hol Kommune, and Oslo to the left: with my nose direction the south, to the Hardangervidda. A road with hardly any traffic (at least today). Next also to the railroad between Oslo and Bergen, the Bergenline, with hardly any train activity. I felt like being in a special movie.

PicMonkey Collage

In the kiosk I asked for the path to the Tvergastein cabin, and after first watching me a bit surprised by my question, the kind woman showed me a map, and the path to it. She knew all the details. Fortunately. For another time, probably in springtime. June. What a pity that I did not ask her before I started walking.

Next time I know: when I am at the second sign to the right with “Prestholt”, I must take that one. Going up, up, more, and finally, in a curve of the path, going to the right, to Prestholt, there I have to go to the left, there, to where the house is, Tvergastein. It is visible from there.

Photos of this day: search here

Sources and additional information:

Ustaoset is a village in Hol municipality, Buskerud, Norway. It has a station on Bergensbanen between Geilo and Finse, as well as a hotel and mountain resort cabins. Ustaoset is situated 990 meters above sealeveland is the finish for the well known cross country ski event Skarverennet”. Ustaoset first came to prominence with the opening of the Oslo to Bergen rail line, Bergensbanen, in 1909, providing year-round access to this high mountain valley. Families from both cities built cabins, some now over one hundred years old, from which they could ski in the winters and hike in the summers. Reaching the summit of the Folarskardnuten, highest point in the region (1,933 m), on skis or on foot is a notable achievement. Because of Norway’s strict controls over building and land use, new Ustaoset cabins are difficult if not impossible to build making the rare cabin that comes on the market much in demand.

My train video, travelling in May 2014 from Geilo to Bergen. This video shows the departure from Ustaoset to Haugastøl: 

Over Antoinette

Geboren in Nederland in 1948; volgde de opleiding Leraar Basisonderwijs aan de Kweekschool in Veghel, en rondde die af in 1968; via allerlei paden en wegen leidden geestelijke verdiepingen tot een andere visie op zijn en welzijn, en naar een nieuwe taak: de alternatieve gezondheidszorg. Verhuizing naar Noorwegen volgde in 2010.
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