One Year in Northern Norway

Øistein and I have spent the past 9 months living in Northern Norway. First in the municipality of Gratangen from August 15 – February 15 and now on Vestvågøy, the middle island of the Lofoten archipelago.  While Øistein has been completing his practical work as a Physical Therapist, I have been teaching in order to keep myself busy living in relatively “rural” municipalities. The experience has been phenomenal and we feel lucky to have been able to live in such beautiful places. As we now transition to the summer solstice, it is remarkable to think about the months we spent this winter without sun. It is not that different from life in Alaska or mid-Norway, but is certainly spectacular. A few days ago, the midnight sun officially appeared, only emphasizing that too much time has elapsed since I last updated this blog. In lieu of writing about all of the fun we have had these past months, I will instead post a link to my Flickr page to share with you my photos from our adventures. I will try and be better about updating my blog in the coming months as we continue to enjoy life above the Arctic Circle. Enjoy the photos posted below!

Trollheimen – where the trolls roar

We all know that Norway is the land of the trolls. Well, this summer I experienced some real troll habitat. As summer neared, a group of friends from Trondheim and I decided to take a trip to Trollheimen (the Troll’s Home), a mountain reserve area about 2.5 hours south of Trondheim. The area is known for hiking, skiing, etc. We decided to go for the “Trekanten” which is the classic hut-to-hut route in Trollheimen. To make the trip even more fantastic then the group we already were, my AK friend Matt was also going to be in town. The trip was destined for epic history.

We started at Gjevilvasshytta. Driving from Trondheim early in the morning, we started the trip to Trollheimshytta around noon. We took the most difficult leg the first day. The weather was foggy yet muggy and warm. We didn’t see much of the views and when we finally arrived at the hut at around 7pm (ish?) we were pumped for a dinner in the cabin. (*Note for tourists: the cabin really appreciated us calling ahead of time to let them know we were coming!) So, one salmon three course meal plus coffee and cakes later we were very happy hikers!

The next day we had planned on doing a day hike to Snota, the largest mountain in the area. Iffy weather conditions told us not to, and we opted to leave Trollheimshytta (a mosquito infested swamp deep in a valley) and continue on to Jøldalshytta. We took the Gjeithetta route, one of three routes to the cabin. The trip was fantastic, especially the extra long sunny lunch with awesome views of Snota (gasp — why didn’t we go?) and the surrounding mountains. Trollheimen was beautiful!

The descent down to Jøldalshytta was longer than we expected. When we arrived we were happy to be there. Jøldalshytta was my favorite location of the three cabins. Located higher up in elevation and by a beautiful mountain lake, it had an alpine feeling that reminded me of home. The surrounding valleys and mountains were perfect. On the way to the hut we passed by a very Norwegian sheep farm with cute sheep milling about everywhere! My desperate attempt to hug them was not so well received. The first evening at Jøldalshytta was the perfect summer evening. We had a fire down by the lake, while Jo Kristian and Øistein fished. JK was lucky to catch some small trout throughout the evening which were later grilled on the small fire. The hut also had canoes which we could borrow. Some midnight fishing trips were had, with the most peaceful lighting on the lake one could imagine. Life in the midnight sun at its best!

The next day we decided to go for a day trip up Trollhetta. (Yet, another TROLL!) This was the second highest peak next to Snota. The fantastic weather from the day before seemed to continue and we were excited for a sunny day in shorts and tank tops. Matt ran off to do a long work out. The four girls and JK set off to hike at a more reasonable pace. We expected the whole trip to take 10 hours but decided to see what we felt like doing. A beautiful hike, filled with mountain lakes and stony fields ended on the (almost) summit of Trollhetta. Our high-endorphin excitement for the mountain hid the increasing clouds and gray weather….

As the first rain drops fell we decided to turn around and descend. The rain that came was of the sort I rarely have experienced. Sheets of rain. We donned our jackets and rain pants and quickly kept moving. Then, the first thunder and lightning hit.

DID I MENTION I AM EXTREMELY AFRAID OF THUNDER AND LIGHTNING. READ: TERRIFIED. 

I will avoid details here, because most of you will not think twice about this story. But, it ended up with us screaming and laying flat on our stomachs to avoid being the highest point in a  storm that was (no seconds in between) over our head. Oh, and in addition, we took cover with a man named Lars Martin who I quickly decided would save us from all danger. (Later, this turned out to be a rather silly assumption, but in desperate times one becomes.. well desperate for saving mechanisms.) As I was literally trying to keep myself from freaking out ENTIRELY by hanging on to dear life to Ragnhild and Line (and of course, Lars) we waited out the storm until we could count 10 seconds in between thunder-lightning. We ran to at least the next place where we were NOT the highest points. We had to stop once more on the way back to the cabin for another storm. It honestly felt as though the trolls themselves were roaring at us to get the F off their mountain. I have never felt more hostility from nature than I have that day. Bears, moose, ANY DAY over that shit. It was unbelievably scary.

When we finally arrived back at the cabin. Me, scared shitless. The others, seemingly okay but equally happy to retell the adventure of the day. We had been worried about Matt who had done the entire trip in teeny tiny spandex and a t-shirt. When we had to take cover in the rain and rocks, we got VERY cold and were happy that we had brought extra layers. What about Matty-poo? Well, Matt made it fine. He took the approach that as long as he was RUNNING in mid air, he could not get struck by lightning. This apparently worked and he just ran as fast as he could away from the storms. We were stuck in our slower pace further up the mountain (the location of the storm) and couldn’t escape without ducking for cover. Matt (and JK, and Øistein who stayed back to fish) were waiting for us when we arrived. Some celebratory beers were had and happiness prevailed. I took a canoe trip with JK on the lake to regain some peace in nature. I needed that after such a horrifying adventure.

In the morning, we set off for our final leg back to Gjevilvasshytta. The trip was long for many. Our first hiking-boot trip of the summer had made sore feet and blisters for many. Øistein was sick. But, we all made it. In the end, the trip was a serious success. Not only was each leg beautiful, but the cabin life was great as well. I for one was beyond satisfied with the trip and happy to have such a gem of an experience with such good friends and great people.