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.
Four months is a long time. How were you able to complete the journey?
The perception of time was different on the trail.
Every day was long because I was aware of every single step, every minute of the day.
A week of walking was something completely different from a week at home.
Before I started walking, I read several blogs of others who had done the same, and I remember thinking “oh, it’s only going to take 2-3 weeks to cross Finnmark, that’s not too bad” …well, that time felt like months rather than weeks while hiking.
So, yes, 4 months was a very long time. What made it doable, was my focus on enjoying the moment rather than reaching the destination.
You mentioned God and that you prayed along the way, are you religious?
I think that most people pray when they are in a state of fear, whether or not they believe in God. It is a great comfort to feel like you are not alone, that someone or something is watching over you and supports you.
Most of the long-distance hikers I met told me they prayed constantly on the trail. And so did I. I prayed for help and support and I prayed for guidance. For every dangerous passage or river crossing, in every moment of fear, despair and desperation, I prayed.
And I would thank God for leading me in the right direction, for finding the path after being lost, for healing after being hurt and for Mother Earth, the sun, blueberries and trail angels.
I don’t call myself a religious person, but I do believe in God. Instead of using the word “God”, I could use “The Force”, “The Source,” “The Universe.”
To me, God is love, unconditional love. And we are all a part of God, we are all beings containing this great force.
God is what you experience him to be.
If you think that God is a strict and judging God, you’ll know a strict and judging God.
If you think God is love, you’ll know a loving God.
God will never change unless you change how you see God. And that’s what I did.
So, I guess you can call me spiritual.
Spirituality is the growing process, where we learn to find back the joy we lost when we first came here. It is to learn to love yourself as the masterpiece God created you as.
Life is not meant to be a hassle. Complicated and challenging – yes, but all the challenges will lead us somewhere.
Did you have any spiritual encounters?
Day 5, I had to cross an extremely powerful river. The banks on each side was covered with snow and ice, so I had to climb down a meter before I reached the ice-cold water. The river was deep and powerful, and as I was crying out of fear, I took one trembling step after another.
Half way through, however, the river got the best of me by sending pieces of floating ice down the stream. The ice knocked me off my feet, and I went tumbling down and under the water.
That was the first time in my life I thought I was going to die. But at the same time, I knew: “Not now, not like this.”
After a while, I was able to grab a stone and turn around, so that I was standing on all four. With the greatest effort, I managed to straighten up (and with 25kg on my back, that is not a laughing matter, I can tell you that). Bruised, wet and tired, I reached the other side of the river. I was screaming and crying, releasing what had just happened.
For the next following days, I felt extremely grateful to be alive, and I am struggling to describe how grateful. I felt like I was part of something bigger, a part of Nature. I was one with the Universe.
Next to this extreme state of gratefulness, I had learned an important lesson – respect the forces of nature and buy some Goddamn trekking poles!
Not long after the river incident, I lost the trail. My body was shaking from tiredness, and I just remember saying one thing: “God, please help me.”
Suddenly, a bird flew over my head and landed on a pole in the marches. It gave out one cry and flew to another pole a little further up a hill. I looked at it and started to follow. When I got closer, it flew again to a third pole, and a forth, and a fifth. Finally, it landed on a stone, and when I reached it, I saw the trail.
Now, you can interpret it in many ways. You can say: “ah, but you just scared the bird every time you approached it, this is not an extraordinary behavior for a bird,” and you might be right. But I felt like the bird was showing me the way, and for me that was a spiritual experience.
When did you feel like you had contact with nature the most, situations?
Next to the river- incident, there were two other situations where I felt I was in contact with nature.
It was 8 o'clock, the evening sun gave the surroundings a warm and welcoming look. After a long ascent up a mountain, I saw wild, running rivers creeping over moss-covered stones like serpents, and in the background, for the first time in my life, I saw a glacier. Icy-blue in the far distance under a pink sky. I was filled with wonder and the overwhelming beauty became my fuel. It also felt nice to enjoy it, to not just take it for granted.
The other situation was my encounter with the reindeer, Chuck Norris, my antlered and furry friend who followed me over Saltfjellet.
We came to a river and Chuck Norris was the first to approach this rather powerful stream. He walked back and forth to find the best place to cross, but he seemed unsure. Reaching the bank, I planned the safest passage and called to Chuck to follow.
I started to walk, and surprised by the force of the stream, I stumbled and was about to fall. Suddenly, Chuck was standing at my side, waiting for me to hold on to his back. I grabbed his fur, and we crossed the river safely together.
I was full of aw after this, and thought it was a hell of a once-in-a-life-time-experience.
Again, the feeling that everything is connected arose, and I was full of wonder. Mother Earth and her inhabitants (in this natural setting) living in beautiful harmony. It’s the kind of beauty that I feel is so simple, yet so powerful.
How did you entertain yourself?
I had audiobooks on my phone, I think I listened to all the Harry Potter books twice haha.
I also had a lot of music of course. What I love, is to listen to Disney songs and sing out with as much feeling and enthusiasm as possible.
I had a very interesting experience. I was listening to the songs I’ve heard a million times before, but now, I would listen with a new understanding.
In the song “Take a look through my eyes” by Phil Collins, he sings:
There will be times on this journey
When all you see is darkness
But out there somewhere
Daylight finds you if you keep believing
So don't run, don't hide
It will be all right, you'll see
Trust me, I'll be there
Watching over you
Just take a look through my eyes
There's a better place somewhere out there
Just take a look through my eyes
Everything changes, you'll be amazed what you'll find
If you look through my eyes
First of all, it was like the song was directed to me. That. And second, I heard it as it was God saying: “if you could only see yourself as I see you,” and it was like it was God telling me that it’s not all dark even though it might seem like it. Daylight will find you.
I cried like a baby.
Did you have time to let a trip like this sink in?
When Simon came to visit me in September with the van, I got a break from the long and tough days, so I had time to reflect on the first two months.
When I was done with the 2700km, it took me a long time to realize I was not going to walk everyday with 25kg on my back.
My subconscious mind was still processing my trip through Norway in my sleep, because in my dreams, I would still stress about everything that was my daily life for four months. I would wake up feeling stressed, and spent hours pondering about my worries until I would finally realize that my journey was over.
What would you have done better?
I would have done more research on food, both on how to have a varied, lightweight diet while hiking and also how much I would need to consume. How many calories per day etc.
In the beginning, I did not have enough food at all, so I quickly started to lose weight. Of course, my body was not used to the physical restraint, so that was also a factor.
The knowledge of knowing how much to eat, came from experience, so for my next adventure, I will be more prepared. Most people I met on the trail, had instant meals (dehydrated), except one girl, Mari. She had prepared and dried her own food. As it was dehydrated, it was super lightweight, and as a natural product, it still contained all its nutrients. AND it was delicious.
I’m definitely going to check into that.
I should have bought a GPS. I got lost a few times, and that took a lot of energy, both physically and mentally. Just to know that you have this tool, just in case of an emergency, is an immense release.
I would definitely recommend to anyone who wants to hike through Norway to have both map, compass AND a GPS. It’s so worth it!
What did you enjoy the most?
The insights I learned, the people I met, the encounter with the reindeer Chuck Norris, the planning process and the blogging and sharing my story with others.
People have told me that one thing they enjoyed the most about reading my blog, was that I was very honest. That it was not just about the good days and the successes, but also the hard days and the difficulties I had to overcome. That it was not fun to read, but it made an impression.
I’m very grateful for this particular feedback, because that was exactly what I wanted to achieve. I wanted to show every aspect of my journey, and I broke through some barriers by showing myself at my most vulnerable state, crying in front of the camera for instance.
I wanted to inspire people to go for what they want to, and that it’s through the darkness and obstacles we find our inner light. It is through chaos and confusion we get to clarity.
Would you want to do it again?
For a long time, I was dreaming of the day I would talk of my journey in past tense.
I met people who were doing NPL for the second or third time. “Insane,” I thought, it’s more than enough with one time, surely.
Now, however, the thought has crossed my mind as well. Not that I think I will, but I could. I think I will use what I have learned and pursue my love of traveling. My pilgrimage will continue, it doesn’t matter where, because life has always something to offer. I’m just going to follow my heart.