Several mountain ridges rise from the place Vaksdal in Vaksdal kommune. One of these ridges rises to the viewpoint Bjørnsnipa, continues across Sædalshesten and Knuskedalsfjellet before the ridge merges with the vast Bergsdalen mountain region. A logical end to this ridge would be Tverrdalen valley, running between lakes Herfangsvatnet and Tverrdalsvatni. The ridge defines the Sædalen/Dyrdalen valleys to the west and Budalen/Herfindalen/Ardalen valleys to the east and south.
The normal starting point for these ridge tops is Herfindal. This valley name comes in different flavors; The road sign says "Herfindal", Økonomisk Kartverk refers to "Herfinndal" and the M711 map refers to "Herfendal". In any case, a very popular T-trail runs between Herfindal and Li in Bergsdalen, passing the Høgabu DNT hut.
There is a path (which I have not walked) from Sædalen, which takes you high on this ridge. But this web page describes a roundtrip via all tops, starting from Herfindal.
For long, I had an ambition to ski up the Javnasåta - Grånipa - Gløvreeggi ridge and ski down via the Knuskedalsfjellet - Sædalshesten ridge. I never got that far, but this roundtrip would surely be a spectacular winter trip. I once attempted Javnasåta on skis in deep snow, but the forest wasn't well suited for skiing. Perhaps the route would be easier in the opposite direction.
Another possible roundtrip would be to ski/hike up to Gråfjellet/Storafjellet and descend via Bogadalen, but all of these roundtrips demand experienced and strong skiers/hikers.
Sædalshesten (the Sædal horse) refers to the Sædalen valley to the southwest. It would be natural to assume that Knuskedalsfjellet refers to the Knuskedal valley, but I have not been able to find such a valley on the map.
Sædalshesten (1216-II: 811m, Ø.K.: 812m has a primary factor of 59m towards the higher Knuskedalsfjellet (930m). The defining saddle is found between the two tops, in Setragjeli (Ø.K.) There are two streams from Sædalshesten. One is draining north, the other south (150m apart). On the 1:50 000 maps, this is not clearly shown. Ref. Økonmisk Kartverk (5m contours), you cross the 755m contours on the high route, but not 750m. The saddle height has been interpolated to 753m.
Knuskedalsfjellet (1216-II: 928m, Ø.K.: 929,88m ~ 930m) has a primary factor of 122m towards the higher Storafjellet (950m). The saddle is found just south of Lake Brislingabroki (806m). This lake drains to the north, while a stream just south of the defining saddle drains south. Ref. Økonmisk Kartverk (5m contours), you cross the 810m contours on the high route, but not 805m. The saddle height has been interpolated to 808m.
Notes: Class ratings are in reference to YDS. Click here for more information.
The trails described below are not necessarily the *easiest* trails to this mountain.
Herfindal - Sædalshesten - Knuskedalsfjellet (summer/autumn)
From Bergen, follow highway E16 towards Oslo. At Vaksdal, turn right towards "Herfindal" and turn left in the junction coming up immediately. Follow this road 1,2Km and turn right (not signed) by a rack of mailboxes. Drive to road end, 3,9Km. There is plenty of parking.
From the parking, head directly up (north-northwest) the birch forest. There is no trail here. Continue upwards until you see the Bjørnsnipa cairn. Go over there for some excellent views. The rest of the route is quite obvious; follow the ridge across Sædalshesten (high point is not marked, and you may wonder which hump is the high point) before descending into Setragjelet and proceeding up the slopes towards Knuskedalsfjellet. I cannot remember if there was a summit cairn, but most likely, there is one.
From Knuskedalsfjellet, head southbound until you reach the Høgabu - Herfindal trail (marked) and follow it back to the trailhead.
Trip report Nov 26 2005
The road to Herfindalen is not plowed in winter, and I didn't really expect to be able to drive to road end. But I did, even if parts of the road had collapsed in places. High in the valley, the road was a bit icy, but this didn't cause any problems. Parked at road end, we (the dog and I) were ready for the hike 10:25AM.
The plan was to hike directly up to Sædalshesten, then continue to Knuskedalsfjellet and head back down via the Bergsdalen-Herfindalen trail. I put Troll in the backpack and walked up the birch forest above the trailhead. The forest was easy to follow, even if the terrain gradually steepened. It only took me half an hour to get onto the ridge, and by 11:00AM, I was standing by the Bjørnsnipa cairn.
It had turned out to be a beautiful day, and the views were just fine. The only drawback was a very cold wind that swept across the ridge. We continued towards Sædalshesten, and Troll was able to walk for a little while before too much snow made him reconsider. The wind got colder by the (vertical) meter, but I didn't want to add more clothes until I reached the top. I often do it this way, and it is plain stupid, as the summit is normally the worst place for technical adjustments.
Arriving Sædalshesten 11:45PM, I finally forced myself to put more clothes on. Troll was trembling in the backpack and I decided that continuing towards Knuskedalsfjellet would be a selfish act. Just minutes after starting the descent from Sædalshesten, the wind disappeared and the backpack did no longer look like a comic strip in a cartoon.
I let Troll out of the backpack once we reached the valley. Ice and icicles all around made good photgraphic motifs. On the way to the lower valley, I ran into a hunter and his two large dogs. Not sure about what the dogs had for breakfast, I decided to pick Troll up. The hunter had little control over the dogs, and they ran in circles around me, barking and yelling. Fortunately, they were running in the same direction, which made it easy for me to keep rotating around my own axis.
Most dog owners find this pick-up-the-dog act silly, and most dog owners tend to tell the other party how nice and kind their own dog is. This attitude makes me think back on the three occasions where I had to take Troll to the animal hospital for stitching after being bit by other kind dogs. The hunter suggested that I should *get moving* even though his two dogs didn't allow me to move an inch. At last, he was able to get hold of the dogs so that I could pass.
Unfortunately, I seem to run into many inconsiderate dog owners, but managed to keep my mouth shut. There would be no added value in letting him learn my point of view. The last incident I recalled was a guy who let his German Sheperd run loose outside his block. The Sheperd ran directly towards me and Troll, opened his mouth and took a good bite around Troll's neck. In this very fraction of a second, I kicked the dog in the only spot available to me, which accidently was the same place where it hurts the most. The dog ran away, sounding like the green guy on the traffic lights. After having been to the animal hospital, I spent the next four hours tracking the owner. He didn't understand the problem at all, as he had the sweetest and kindest dog in the neighbourhood. A useful reminder when I am about to assume that the other party would understand my point of view.
The dog issue vanished as I ran into a heap of most excellent rocks near the Herfindal trailhead. I had passed a few large rocks on my way down the valley, but here I found some rocks with "attitude". I named them Rock One, Two, Three and Four.
Rock One was a split rock, where a child can crawl in and exit on top. Rock Two was less distinct, and both of these rocks were easy to ascend. Rock Three was a big chunk of rock which probably could be accessed via the PULD method (Pull Up, Lower Down). Rock Four was a beauty. On first glance, it was just a big chunk of rock, but on closer look, I noticed that the rock had a razor-sharp pyramid spire. In addition, the rock seemed even difficult to get onto. I was thrilled, and wondered if I should drive back and try to climb it one day. I gave it the nickname "El Rocco Gigante" (quasi language). See pictures in the picture section below.
There were a couple of big rocks by the Herfindal trailhead too, distinct in
the way that there were birch trees on top. 13:15PM, we were back at the trailhead.
Another good day in the Vaksdal mountains had come to its end.
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