Click Read More to see photos and read about the Trolltunga hike!
Photos from Copenhagen and Bergen - Click to enlarge
The next morning was a slow start, with a delicious cook-in-bag backpacking meal, and a 11:30 arrival at the trailhead. Bailey extracted my hiking boots from her backpack - she so kindly found them in one of many boxes that I left behind in California and lugged them to Norway. I slipped my foot into one of them to discover that I'd packed them up without insoles. Crap. Potentially a disastrous situation with an impending 22 km hike. Quick solution: use crappy flimsy insoles from old leather shoes.
The hike is reportedly 10 hours long, but the sun only sets at 11:30pm this time of year, so we weren't too worried. We began the steep ascent up the mountain at noon. Normally you can choose between a massive staircase (trust me, you've never seen so many stairs), but a rock slide had covered a large portion of them, resulting in closure. The trail option goes straight up a creek - each step up onto another rock, sometimes with the help of a rope.
Then we met the snow. Snow!?!? It had not crossed my mind that we would be hiking in snow. Apparently it had snowed 2 meters just a few days ago. My more prepared travel buddy, Bailey, was more informed. I had imagined a dirt trail through the woods along the edge of a fjord. Instead, 90% of the trail was in completely exposed deep snow that would otherwise be rock. Good thing I had my solid hiking boots on! But by then, both our feet were already wet from walking through the creek up the mountain. It was going to be a longgg day.
We first walked through a deserted group of cabins buried deep in snow before beginning another big ascent, this time snow-covered. With each steep section, I thought we'd reached the peak, but there was always another snowy knoll awaiting us. Until the last one. Then, we descended for a while and approached the upper edge of the fjord (still snow!!). We were quite disgusted by the trash people had left already during the day: aluminum foil, orange peels, and a pile of human feces in the middle of the trail. Someone clearly didn't want to add any extra steps to their hike.
The wind was intense near the edge of the fjord, and this was the hardest part. We still had ~5 km to go (of 11) and the snow was clearly sticking around. And hail and rain and wind strong enough to nearly knock us over. We trudged on, and the kilometer markers ticked away until we finally reached Trolltunga!! "Is that the thing???" I asked when I mistook a random large rock for the tongue. You have to descend a bit to get to the tongue, where there is suddenly no snow. We waited our turn to take photos and snacked on dolmas, beef jerky, granola bars, and a banana. Near the tongue, the wind was blowing a waterfall UP the cliff. It was freezing, so we snapped our photos and got the hell out of there.
The way back was difficult and long, but only the last section was very painful. After jumping/sliding/running down the snowy slopes, our knees were shocked by the hardness of the rocks, and we slowly whimpered our way down the last and longest kilometer. However, we still managed to slash the estimated time of 10 hours, with a total time (including break) of 7.5 hours. Yea!
That night we succeeded in finding a real stealth campsite on a levee in front of someone's house. We were breaking the 100-m rule (camping can be anywhere farther than 150m from a building), but we were too tired and sore to continue the search. The rain began pattering on the tent, and we were lulled to sleep by the babbling river next to us.
Photos from the Trolltunga Hike - Click to enlarge
Distance: 22 km
Duration: 7.5 hours
Weather: Cold, windy, sometimes rain or hail