Buarbreen glacier and the return of the cat

It was due to be a rainy day so we decided to save the long Trolltunga hike for better weather and hike up to the Buarbreen glacier near Odda. It’s an ‘arm’ of the Folgefonna Glacier, and at 200km2 it’s the 3rd largest glacier in Norway. In the past 100 years it’s been receding back up the mountain but in the last 6-8 years it’s grown 100m, sticking its finger (and arm) up at global warming.

The trail followed the rapid ridden river that we camped next to the night before. We followed the track through a very thin valley, where the lonely couple of houses that live here don’t see the sun from September to March due to the tall mountains. Waterfalls dropped down from the mountain walls which evidently tapered off into wild rivers near our trail and we had some thin, wobbly planks of wood to cross them on.

When we got to one bridge, I slipped slightly, looked down to get my footing and the cat from lastnight was there, this time all dry and groomed – I think she felt ashamed for showing up at our door in such a state. She was really lovely and so friendly rubbing up against me. She followed us for a bit and then left us as we hiked the steeper sections.

There were some really steep walls to climb up where we had to pull ourselves up with thick blue rope. As soon as we reached the viewpoint though, it started raining. We did get a good view of the blue glacier dominating the mountain, but we’ve been a lot closer to ones in other countries so it wasn’t a stand out attraction, but nice enough.

On the hike back down it really started raining and soon enough we were soaked. We were both saying how we hoped the cat would find us again, and how we should keep her as a pet. And low and behold, there she was, between the foliage, wet and rugged, waiting for us. She followed us for a couple of kilometres back down, walking between Craig and I. She was quite the novelty when we passed other hikers and they noticed we had a cat in tow.

We were joking about what to name her, we decided on Millie. Craig said we’d have to feed her, I said she could just hunt – we’d seen her prowling the grass around our van last night and killed a mouse before our eyes. As we were almost back at Pablo, Millie veered onto another track, rubbed herself against two Canadians and never looked back at us. Craig and I weren’t sure what the the etiquette was, should we wait for her?..has she really left us for them?

We decided to let her choose: us, or the Canadians. We went back to Pablo and had some lunch, expecting her to knock on the door with her paw. But she never came, and I’m sure there’s a Canadian couple driving around Norway in a campervan with a grey cat that they’ve probably named Maple or Manitoba.

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