Have you ever been to a place where everywhere you look seems like they were photoshopped to perfection? Norway for me is one of these places.
As I was preparing myself to blog about my last summer trip (Germany + Scandinavia), I thought of first sharing one of the highlights of my trip.
As most of my friends in Facebook, Instagram and Twitter would have guessed by now, I fell in love with Norway. With all the places that I have visited, I must say that this is now my current favorite country and Bergen as my favorite city (blog coming up very very soon).
With all the adventures I did in Norway, one of them really sticks out. This was my hike in one of Norway’s spectacular rock formations. The Trolltunga, also known as the Troll’s Tongue (because of its tongue-like shape).
Before going to Norway my best bud Andre’ asked me where I wanted to go. The first thing I mentioned was TROLLTUNGA! I saw photos of it in several travel sites and I can’t even believe that this place is even real (again I thought it was photoshopped). Andre’ said that we can go (Yippeeee!), but before any celebrations, he immediately made some disclaimers:
- Only if the weather is good (Summer is the ideal season to visit Trolltunga, but even during this season, there are still occasional rain showers) – so I really prayed to God that the weather will not only be good but PERFECT.
- Climbing the mountain to reach this landmark is not a joke. (Ok ok ok… )Before my trip, somehow I tried my best to prepare. With the absence of mountains in a city like Dubai, I made bridges, stairs and flyovers as my regular running paths.
A day before my flight to Bergen, written on the announcement board of my hostel in Copenhagen that the temperature throughout the week will be 26-27 degrees Celsius (and they said that it will be the situation throughout Scandinavia). The whole Denmark was celebrating including me (thinking that this weather will be perfect when I arrive in Norway).
I arrived in Bergen and aside from my two Norwegian best friends, I was welcomed by a very sunny Norwegian afternoon. Being a city surrounded by seven mountains, part of our activities was to them. I guess my climbing itineraries should prepare me for the big hike (more about my Bergen trip in another blog).
We traveled from the town of Olve in the west part of Norway. We stayed in the cabin for a few days before our hike and it was perfect as we were closer to the base hike compared if we were in Bergen. The only problem was we forgot our tent in Bergen, hence no camping for us. This made us decide to start our hike early in the morning.
We left the cabin around 7:30 in the morning in order for us to catch a car transport ferry at 8am. Along the way, my buddy Andre had a feeling that he forgot to unplug the coffee maker (I hate that feeling—I always feel that I left the flat iron on after leaving for work in Dubai). To be sure and not to take any risk, we decided to come back. Well, we found out that we were very responsible cause it was turned off after all (it will surely spoil our hike if we didn’t go back and think of the coffee-maker the whole time). We missed our ferry, but the next boat came jut after 30 minutes. When the boat arrived at our destination, (Surprise!) our car was not starting. Wow, we were very lucky (haha). Well, most of the time, if unexpected things happen during a trip, I seldom get upset because, these things create good stories. With all the pressures of the cars that needed to leave after us, the boat officials helped us to push our car in order to activate the ignition. (Whew!) For a minute there I thought I was back home in the Philippines.
As mentioned in the beginning of this blog, Norway is such a picturesque country, and this fact has been proven over and over again during our road trip. Everywhere I look, you can see lakes, waterfalls, snowcapped mountains, beautiful houses and amazing fjords.
We arrived at the base of the Trolltunga hike around 10:30 in the morning and groups of hikers started to crowd the area. There were bikers, tourists and hike enthusiasts. You can see friends, families and lovers (of all ages). It was not hard to look for parking but don’t forget to pay the 100 NOK parking fee. Aside from that, the whole hike is free.
We hiked for 4 hours going up and another 3 ½ hours going down. They said on average, the climb will take you around 10 hours total.
I will be lying if I say that it was easy. The first few kilometers were the hardest for me. It was a straight uphill climb. After the 2nd kilometer, I was already thinking of finding a place to rest. Andre was a big hiker (almost a pro, if not one) so for him the hike was not as challenging as what I was experiencing. But, he was a good encourager and very helpful. At times, I think he thought that I can’t make it because he always reminded me that if I want to stop we can stop (haha).
We had our first major stop. We looked for a place where we can sit down and had a quick rest. The view of the fjord was amazing. At this point, if I didn’t know that we were going to Trolltunga, I already got what I paid for. This made the anticipation for the famous cliff more exciting. We had a few bites and drinks. We filled up our water bottles with a stream of glacier water (Nothing can be purer than that).
As we continue the trek, we saw pockets of snow! (Yey!) This is my first non-artificial (and not manmade) snow. I was like a kid. I think my face made a somewhat giveaway expression that I was so excited passing by this icy cold pathway. Without any hesitation, Andre immediately took me to the snowy part and threw a snow ball right at me. Good thing (with my sharp reflexes) I was able to dodge it. Looking very foolish, I did capture a few snaps of me on the snow wearing a tank top (well, to look foolish than regret not doing it I must say).
With few more kilometers to hike, the beautiful snowcapped mountain and glaciers became very prominent. This I must say is one of the most beautiful sceneries that I have ever seen. We saw some hikers already going down with very big smiles on their faces.
What I like about our hike was, even though you all hike in different paces, at one point you all see each other. I have passed by the same kid over and over again. Every time we see each other we gave each other big high fives. There were two old couples whom we’ve been seeing throughout the whole hike. They were my inspiration. I told myself that when I became (very) old, I want to be like them. Still climbing mountains and still enjoying life at the outdoors.
After 11 kilometers and four hours of hiking we arrived at our destination. Andre was a little surprised how the Trolltunga became very famous as we saw that there were a line of people waiting their turn take a photo on the famous cliff.
For us, we decided to rest first and grab some lunch. As we look for the perfect spot to sit down, we went to the highest peak of the mountain. The view was amazing, at the same time scary. We did our (mandatory) gopro selfie here as this gave the best view of the fjord and at the same time, there was no logic to take a selfie while on the Trolltunga because you will not see it anyway.
The spectacular view made mother nature such a show-off. I can’t believe that this place is real. God really created a beautiful masterpiece in Norway.
While resting, we had some sandwich, an apple and Andre had a big can of beer. He said, every time he goes to a peak of a mountain, he needs to have a drink. Hmmmm, I think I like that tradition, but not before I need to walk on a very scary cliff (maybe after that, then I will drink).
In order to take your photo while you are on the cliff, obviously someone should take it for you. That someone will be standing a few kilometers (a little above) from the cliff. This is the time that you will be happy that you dragged along a friend with you. In our case, this was not a problem as we can surely take each other’s photo, but, we want a photo of us together as well. So how can we do it? As most of the people who’s dreaming to have a new FB profile picture on the Trolltunga, you have to ask someone (a stranger) to have your photo taken and you will then take their photo in return. It was not hard to look for someone to be engaged in this mutualistic relationship. I think because of the fact that all of you endured the same hardship climbing the mountain, that all of you now respect each other.
The line was a bit long but I enjoyed watching the people do some crazy poses. The basic poses are:
- The Looking towards the horizon and act very emotional (I did this)
- The show your back to the camera (Andre did this)
- The Jumpshot (we both did this)
- The I am brave so I will seat down (we both did this)
- The let’s put our arms on each other then lift the other 2 arms up high (this is for group/ duo shot)— (we both did this)
- The I will lie down and look at the bottom of the cliff (we didn’t do this)
It was our turn now. With our new friend (whom I didn’t even catch the name) ready to take our shot, Andre started walking towards the edge of the cliff. He did the poses mentioned above plus an additional one. He called it as his signature pose.
Before my turn, I walked towards him and did our duo poses. It was fun. I forgot how scared I was. I was more concerned if our appointed camera man got good shots (haha). As I carefully sat down and pushed myself towards the edge, I started thanking God for this experience. I don’t know if anything can top it. I was in one of the world’s best destinations, I was with one of my very best friends in whole wide world and the weather that day was one of the best Norway ever experienced. To sum up, it was perfection!
After staying a few more hours, it was time to go down. Now I know why the people going down had permanent smiles on their faces. We have the same thing as we trek down the slopey walk.
I thought going down will just be a walk in the park. Even though it was not as tiring as climbing up, it was still very challenging. Controlling gravity while balancing yourself on a slippery, rocky, sandy pathway. We followed the stone totems with the letter T on it. These totems are being used as route markers to guide all hikers. Aside from the (official) route marker totems, there are other several totems made by the hikers. This is a symbol they (most) created in order to leave a part of them along the hike trail. We made one as well.
My tip to Trolltunga was really the icing on top of the cake. I love that a place as magnificent as this can freely be accessible to anyone. You just need to bring in some patience, guts and determination. The Norwegians value their natural resources so much whether it is a tourist destination or not, this is clearly evident throughout my whole hike. The whole hike path was very clean and nothing obstructive that was being constructed. Nature is indeed the priority and not the revenue generating tourist.
Finally on the flat ground of the base camp, my friend Andre, the ‘semi-professional mountain climber’ gave me a hug and told me “Buddy, I am proud of you today”. So more or less, my effort to run and train on a skyway in Dubai paid off (Haha).
I left Trolltunga with a big smile on my face, a heart filled with a full dose of nature goodness and a hand holding a piece of ice cream sandwich (perfect!). God truly did a jaw-dropping masterpiece creating this.