– ‘I think this is it’. I turn to my companions, Ruth from England and Sara the dog. This is my third time to the Pulpit Rock. I think this will be my last.
Diligent Sherpa’s from Nepal have been placing huge stones on the trail up to the Pulpit Rock in Rogaland, to make the hike as pleasant as possible for visitors. Now you are protected from the rough forest floor and wet marsh. It feels like an autobahn up to one of Norway’s most popular tourist destinations.
Photo: Ruth Lawrence
Despite the fact that I’ve lived in Jørpeland (1985) and spent almost all my school holidays here, it was not until 2001 I finally hiked up here for the first time. Even then the trail had seen a lot of improvement, but since it was April, it was quiet and peaceful at the top. There were approximately ten people there. Next time was July 2004, when Joe and I took a French friend to the Norwegian west coast. The Pulpit was packed with people. My aunt, who lives in Jørpeland, was also with us that day. She knows the area, so we avoided the crowds, taking a quieter path.
As Ruth and I were about to leave for today’s hike, the advice is the same, ‘find the other path and you will have a peaceful and quiet walk’. So that is what we do. Away from the queues on the main trail, we can enjoy views of the Boknafjord and Stavanger. We stop for a few minutes, drink some water, chatter with Sara and take photos. I look up at the mountains while Ruth studies flowers and plants. Several times we have to declare how lucky we are with the weather. What a day! We pay a thought to our guys. They are enjoying themselves at the hardware stores Biltema, Jula and Clas Ohlson.
When we meet people again, we are almost at the top. Lysefjord stretches inland and is so blue and beautiful, one just has to sit down and take it all in (us and about 50 other visitors). It’s 11 o’clock, so we rest our legs while enjoying a hot cup of tea and a muesli bar. While Sara gets strokes and attention, we chat with other travelers and enjoy sharing some thoughts and happiness with them. Later Ruth walks around being snap happy with her camera, while I look after Sarah. After a while we swap. Sara does not like her small flock of three splitting up, but it’s not a good idea to be holding the dog leash while focusing on taking pictures. Not to mention stepping in the way of others who want to take pictures and not stepping outside of the Pulpit! We study the tourists who line up in one corner of the Pulpit to take pictures by the edge. Many people perform different stunts that make your heart beat a little faster. People’s attitude to the 604 meters straight drop from the Pulpit is very different.
When seven sisters from Lysefjorden marry seven sons, the Pulpit will fall, so the legend goes. Before we leave I show Ruth the crack. It is expanding by a few millimeters each year, but most people tread here unaware. We start to walk back.
Five hours after we started our hike we are down by the vehicle again, tired and a little miffed that Sara does not show the same signs of fatigue. She looks like she could have done the whole trip again.
The Sherpa’s work at the Pulpit is admirable and I see it is a good solution in terms of visitor numbers who walk here every year, putting a great stress on nature. When we left the Pulpit, Ruth counted about 200 people and we met quite a few more on our way down. As I said to her, this time was probably my last. Part of the joy of hiking in the woods and fields often gets lost when a place is so hugely popular. I do realize that Pulpit Rock is a must for many. I mean, it IS incredibly beautiful here and a good indication of what awaits us further north! 🙂