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You are high above sea level and the gray mountains dominate where you go. Once in a while your face lights up. There - a small plant. So powerful in color. So beautiful. How is it possible to survive here?
Although the higher areas of Jotunheimen are dominated by hard rocks that are resistant to weathering and provide little and poor soil, there are many different plants to find. The glaciers have moved soil along and in cracks and depressions there are thicker layers. Generally, steep south-facing slopes are favorable with scree and solar which provide better conditions for all life. Some areas have more nutritious rocks, and in these "oasis" there is rich flora and fauna. Many plant species have an altitude record in Jotunheimen, like buttercup, which has been found on Glittertind 2370 masl. It's all about keeping your eyes peeled because many of the plants in the mountains are small.
North of Eidsbugarden along the path to Olavsbu you get into the Jotunheimen National Park after about 3 km. Then you are at 1350 masl. What plants can be found here?
We will take you on a nice trip around the part of Vang municipality that is part of the national park so you can see for yourself. The GPS track on the map shows you the route. It is lush and green up in the hillside from Bygdin along Gravabekken. In autumn there are cloudberries in the swamps. A lot of blueberries over the hillside. Flowers throughout. Goldenrod, wintergreen, bluebells, black top, rhodiola rosea and thistle, to name a few.
Well up you turn to the west over Gravarfjellet and get great views towards Mjølkedalspiggen and the glacier. Here there is a different flora. We are at 1400 meters above sea level now. Buttercup with its red petals are clustered here and there. And lady's mantle, the modest plant with the good fragrance. One-flower fleabane, campion and asteraceae are other plants that suddenly appear there.
We turn gradually north and into Høgbrotet. The landscape gets more of an alpine character where rocks and taluses are becoming more prominent, but still there are green areas with rich deposits of huperzia selago and alpine clubmoss. What looks like green meadows from the distance proves to be mouse ear, the smallest tree in Norway which does not get any taller than a few cm. In humid places there is a lot of star trickle. New plants like høgfjellskarse (a spice) are there too - this 2 cm high plant with beautiful white petals. Starr, mosses and lichens do not constitute an insignificant proportion of the flora.
When on the ridge to the east of Høgbrothøgdi (1821 masl), an alternative route is to take over Høgbrothøgdi and down the path from Olavsbu. The recommended route returns to Gravarfjell, where we turn westward into the Mjølkedalen on lush grassland. Back to Eidsbugarden south on trail.
Over Gravarfjell into Høgdebrotet you go without a path - a great experience in itself to determine the lane when visibility is good. The beauty of this round is the silence and the landscape which seems untouched. There are no trails here. You will not meet hordes of people. The landscape is easily passed and it is dry. You are no more than an hour away from Eidsbugarden and you are in your own world. Nice contrast.
Getting there: From E16 take the road 53 towards Årdal up to Tyin lake. Here you take off to Eidsbugarden (fv252) and pass Tyin before taking off to the west end of Bygdin. Here there are large parking lots - do not forget to pay the parking fee.