11 September 2012

Besseggen- a true story

Norway is famous for its endless mountains and fjords. Growing up in a country so blessed with natural beauty has made me spoilt and maybe even unappreciative of the natural treasures that are so available to me. Sadly I take lush forests, riveting mountain hikes, stunning fjords and fresh mountain air for granted. This is the story about the first time I realized that Norwegians don't have to travel across the world to experience something truly breathtaking.
Besseggen is one of the most popular hikes in Norway with over 30000 people doing the trip every year. Most people take the Gjendesheim ferry to Memurubu and then walk back over Besseggen. The ferry goes from mid-June till mid- September every year.

We spent the first night at Gjendesheim Tourist Lodge and then took the first ferry early in the morning. It was a rather cold day and the fog was making it difficult to see the mountain tops raging above us. We had only walked for about five minutes when two out of my six travel companions decided to throw in the towel. They decided to have a walk a long Gjende, the emerald green lake. Five of us continued for another fifteen minutes until we made another stop. By then the fog was blocking our view making it hard to see what lay ahead of us. We had another discussion: Should we venture on through the cold and the fog, or turn around like cowards with our tails between our legs? I firmly concluded: "I didn't come all this way to turn around before we reach the top." Although I had a sneaking suspicion that if someone would get hurt or fall down several hundreds of meters into Gjende lake, I'd be the one to blame.

Making our way to the top
Apparently the snow on this hike is supposed to be gone by June. I was therefore caught off guard when we found that there was still a hill where our only option to move on was to sit down and slide down on the snow. Fortunately we had the appropriate gear for snow as well, and it was by far one of the most amusing parts of the hike.

With a determination I have rarely felt or witnessed in others, we kept walking, ignoring the fog and obstacles on the way. After what must've been hours we were at the crucial point where we realized that this is it, it's now or never: It was where our climb to the top and our freedom made its appearance.

I was not at all emotionally prepared for the steep climb. I never expected there to be an actual chance of falling down into Gjende lake so many meters down below us. I was petrified, but at the same time I have never felt so alive and strong as I felt when we reached the top. We had survived. We had reached our goal. It felt especially great since we might as well have made the decision not to go only hours before. Really, I had no idea of how much time had passed. Officially the whole trip all the way down to Gjendesheim is supposed to take 5-7 hours. We probably took 7 or 8.

The trip down also took quite a while, but the terrain was nothing compared to the challenging climb up. It might've been slightly traumatic, but I truly did enjoy the hike over Besseggen, in spite of fog, cold and snow. I do however recommend going on a day when the weather is clear and you can enjoy the amazing mountainous view in full. And never underestimate the weather. That's the essence of my Norwegian heritage, expressions like: "There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing."        

1 comment:

  1. Did you see Peer Gynt up there? Most likely not, but go read what Ibsen says about Besseggen!