My adventure through Norway started precisely one year ago. 28.06.2017, I took my first step from North Cape to Lindesnes, not really knowing what to expect of the coming four months. All 2700km is now behind me, and I’m celebrating this one-year anniversary by posting the second half of the Q&A. Thank you all for being part of my journey. I will never forget it.
Thank you so much for all your questions, it was so fun for me to go back in time and re-live my journey by answering them. I keep receiving questions, so I decided to make a two-part Q&A. Two students from Volda University College called me for an interview related to their bachelor’s in physical education, and they too had a lot of interesting questions. So, without further ado, here’s the long-promised Q&A, I hope you will enjoy it.
I woke up in the middle of the night, feeling stressed. In my dream, I was out walking again, and I had to reach my destination before the darkness settled in. It took me a while to realise that it was in fact just a dream, and that my journey through Norway was over. I was lying safe and warm in an extremely comfortable bed at Lindesnes Hav Hotel and my hiking days were in the past. After 119 days and 3.969.371 steps, my journey was ended. I couldn’t believe it. I had reached my goal, I had finished what I set out to do, and I was more proud of myself than I can say. But the physical and mental tiredness was quite overwhelming, so I felt more like a zombie than a champion.
I was still hungry after breakfast, so I thought I could buy some more food in a shop I had located on the map, only 5 km away. To my dismay, it was closed. So I asked Mr. Google again, and he suggested another shop, another 5 km ahead. This time, google got it right, and I could buy myself a second breakfast. The young girl working there, thought I looked cold and offered me a warm cup of coffee. What was more, when I asked if they sold umbrellas, she went and found one somebody had left behind, and gave it to me.
It’s so quiet. My senses are on full alert. A smell of sawdust triggers a memory and the sun in my face triggers a smile. It got warmer quite fast, and when I started the descend, the road was no longer slippery.
When the road finally flattened out, I was in Setesdal. A beautiful valley where the sun was reflected in the smooth wall of the surrounding mountains. Here and there were an occasional waterfall and thick forest of evergreen trees decorated the landscape
I’ve come to realise that as long as it’s not too cold in the tent, I’m able to get a pretty decent night’s sleep. I also find it easier to enjoy myself, when I can get out of the sleeping bag and get dressed and eat breakfast in a comfortable temperature. I was so grateful that morning, when I had packed down my tent, I turned around and said thank you to the forest. The sky was pale pink and the first beam of sunlight was visible behind the mountain. A glorious morning.
I woke up long before the sun did. The walls in my room were so thin, I could hear other occupants still snoring in their beds. I got up, got dressed and was the first person to enter the room where breakfast was being served.
A dimly lit room, and cozy atmosphere with flowers and candle lights on every table. The buffet table consisted of fresh bread and a decent variety of pålegg (bread spread), eggs, juice and coffee. For almost an hour, I sat in my own world, enjoying the fact that I could eat something else than oatmeal.
To wake up in a bed, is something I hope I will never again take for granted. The same goes for eating breakfast in a warm room, warm showers and dry clothes.
After a fulfilling breakfast, I packed up my stuff and headed out the door. Anne Marit and Asad joined me for a few hours, until they had to go back. On the way, we met a few people, including Anne Marit’s ex-husband. He told me that after seeing my video from when I fell in the river (day 5), he was quite sure I was going to quit. “Well, I’m still going strong”.
In the middle of the night, I woke up abruptly by a new wave of uncertainty. Should I go over the mountains or not? It came to my attention that the two girls that was in front of me on the trail (they had also started at North Cape in June), had aborted their journey due to the conditions in the mountains. I prayed for a sign, because I didn’t know what to do. That morning, I woke up with my tent covered in snow.
Ok, thanks for the sign, I thought, and decided to walk on the road to Geilo.
Yesterday’s rain increased and continued. It was not very tempting to go outside, but Simon suggested to bring an umbrella. At first, I laughed, thinking it was a silly idea. I guess I was picturing myself, the hiker with an umbrella, people must think I’m a sissy girl. On second thought, it didn’t seem to be a terrible idea after all. I’m walking on a road, not stumbling through the woods or in the mountains. Yes, I’ll bring an umbrella! And it was so nice. Dry in the rain, say whaaaat?!
Frodo would never have made it to Mount Doom without his Sam, everybody knows that. During this trip, I have compared my trip to Frodo’s journey several times, wishing I had a Sam by my side too. Not that I am carrying a ring of evil, nor am I dreading my destination, but Frodo and I have had a thing or two in common. Especially that part about Sam. The help I’ve achieved, in the form of either money, compliments, food or a friendly wave, has meant everything. So during my trip, I have met a lot of Sams, I’ve even been my own Sam, but Simon is my true Sam.
There are a lot of people walking Norge på Langs this year, at least that's what I've heard. I've only met three (Inger, Hans and Bård), but I've read about a few in the cabin guestbooks along the way. Yesterday, I received a message from a Swiss guy named Vanja on Facebook, wondering how far I'd gotten. He was 300 km ahead of me, and he could tell me about the conditions and the challenges he had to face. He had redirected his route to get further south as quickly as possible and was also walking more along the road because a lot of the bridges on the trail has been taken down for the season.
I was going back on the trail today, and I was excited about it. But just when we were about to leave, the car got stuck in the mud. We tried to get it out for hours, but it only dug itself deeper and deeper. I went up to the road to try and get help while Simon continued the muddy battle. Just when we had given up, a Swedish couple drove by, hunting for mushrooms. They couldn't pull us up, but they drove to the closest farm to get someone who could, and 10 minutes later, the most willing helper with his tractor offered assistance. "Cool, this spices up my day" he said with a huge grin and in a matter of seconds, we were out of the mud.
I cannot remember how I reacted when he popped the question. I have no idea what my face looked like. But I do remember saying yes. In my heart, there was no doubt. The man in front of me, was the man I wanted. Forever.
“I have a ring, but I forgot it in the car,” Simon said shakily. Actually, he didn’t forget it, he just thought the beach was the perfect place to propose, and he just couldn’t wait any longer. He had prepared for a long time, he had even shown the ring to my family. When we got back to the van, I got the ring.
Simon's parents have lend us their van. A big, red wonder with a small kitchen and a sitting area which can be turned into a bed. With everything packed into one "room," it might seem small, but it's surprisingly spacious. Of course, compared to my tent, it's a luxury hotel. The only thing missing in the van, is a toilet, but with toilet paper and ashovel at hand, it's not much of a lack.
As I've mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time planning and preparing before I started this journey, and food was the most difficult thing to figure out. What to eat? How much food do I need? Required calories, fat and vitamins is something I definitelyshould have looked more into, because in the beginning, I lost a lot of weight. Too much.
Reaching the main road after a 6 hours hike through marshes, the sun hid behind a thick layer of clouds, and I felt how cold it was. The smell of autumn was in the air. As I was sitting by the road, contemplating my next move, a Finnish girl, Hanna, approached me and told me that it was going to be a cold night. Yr.no predicted 0 degrees, so my plan of putting up the tent in the vicinity, changed to join Hanna to a private farm, where we had heard they were renting out rooms.
I’m so grateful for the people I have met on my journey. And all of them so willing to help and to give what they can give. Like Tor Sigurd said: “I can just imagine what it would have meant to me”.
After a long, delicious breakfast (bread, omg bread!) I said goodbye to my new best friend and headed off towards Saltfjellstua. The walk up the mountain, was easy enough, though a little steep. At the top, it got more and more rocky. It was like a moon landscape, as far as the eye could see.
I prayed for strength and for a solution. I needed more food. And I wanted company. I also prayed for help to turn my head around. Because everything I looked at, was through a very black filter.
I then settled for reaching Kutjaure cabin, to take a rest and to get shelter from the bad weather. The warm smile of Peter, the cabin warden met me in the door and he invited me in for a cup of coffee.
Even though I was in distress, I was aware of my surroundings. It was absolutely beautiful, with waterfalls and lakes in the color of deep turquoise. When I arrived the emergency hut I had planned to take shelter in, the sun was setting, painting the sky pail pink.
Today, I’ve been one month on the trail. Being alone most of the time, I've learned a lot this month about myself. For instance, what triggers me. If I'm tripping, falling, loosing the trail, or make any kind of mistake, I get angry. And underneath that anger, lies fear. Fear of getting lost, of falling and breaking something. I know, I'm very hard on myself. So now, instead of getting angry, I try to be understanding. Self-love is the key.
After a trip to the supermarket, I then headed off to the camping site Kilpisjärven Retkeilykeskus. Here, I could strip off all my dirty clothes, put them in a washing machine (!) and take a loooong, hot shower. Then talk to my mom and my boyfriend. Then eat some candy. Then go to sleep.
It was a windy day, so the insects left me well alone. After a few hours, I met a couple on the trail heading north (PEOPLE!!!). They warned me about this river I was soon facing, told me that I might would want to turn around and walk along the road instead of crossing it. My intuition told me to continue, but the closer I got to the river, the more nervous I got. When I finally reached it, I actually laughed! Kaja-I’ve-faced-worse folded up her trousers and crossed it with ease. Cocky? Yes. Confidence boost? Indeed!
In my socks and sandals, I was a tourist in Kautokeino. After putting up my tent at Duottar Camping, I hitchhiked up to the closest (and only) restaurant in town. Here I enjoyed pizza, apple cake and coffee while updating my blog and talking to my boyfriend on the phone. It was very cold and windy outside, so I took my time. At 4pm, I waved the waitresses goodbye and stepped outside for a refreshing shower of rain. I ran for shelter to the closest grocery store and to my surprise, there was a barbecue stand with three smiling boys giving away food.
Masi, or Máze, a quiet, but charming place with a population of 250 people. Outside every house, I could see at least one snow mobile and an ATV. As I walked along the gravel road, two ATV’s passed me. The first one carried two guys, a dog and a container. The second one was driven by a woman who had one hand one the steering wheel and the other clutching her baby on her chest. That’s how they roll in Masi.
I have become very aware of the rivers now (I had no idea there were so many of them in Norway…), I’m constantly looking at the to plan ahead. And today I noticed that the DNT trail was leading me straight to a river that was twice as broad as the one I fell in (day 5). HELL NO! I said and took a detour.
What a beautiful day! The sun just wouldn’t stop shining.
I took a shortcut over the mountains instead of following the E69. It felt so good leaving the road, even though I felt a little insecure because of all the snow. My map-skills were tested, and I did brilliantly!
I had no problem getting to the other side of the mountains, but it took me a while, because I was constantly stopping to take photos. The view was breathtaking. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like this before.
In the year of 1966, a Norwegian badass named Bjørn Amsrud decided to hike all the way through Norway, a trip he referred to as a ‘normal hike - just a little longer than usual’. After him, a lot of sporty souls have followed in his footsteps, and now it’s my turn.