So a long time ago in July I came across this random article of places to visit in Europe. One of the places was Trolltunga, which is a cool hiking destination in Hordaland, Norway. I sent a picture from the article to my friend Gretta. We both agreed that it would be an awesome thing to do, but we never really thought more about it. Someone I worked with this summer knew all about the hike, but unfortunately said it was a pretty hard adventure to coordinate.
I was a little deterred after hearing that, so I kind of put the idea of this trip to Norway in the back of my mind. The summer ended and I came abroad, thinking it probably wouldn’t work out and I likely wouldn’t do the hike. Then one day, Gretta told me that her friend Pat was planning a trip to go hiking in Norway and asked me to come along! I was so excited because, hey, even if I didn’t make it to Trolltunga, any hiking was better than no hiking! A few days after I booked my flight, I met Pat and he enthused about how pumped he was to hike TROLLTUNGA!!!! I was elated! This whole time I had no idea that we were actually going to do the hike of my dreams!!
Come Thursday night I met Gretta, Pat, and Dan at the airport. We bought candy and alcohol (what else would we need) and proceeded to the gate. The four of us were so excited for this trip and to drink wine in the airport. We boarded the plane to Bergen, Norway and snoozed a little on the flight. When we landed, we grabbed our bags, hopped on a bus into the city center and waited for our airbnb host, Øystein, to collect us from the bus stop. He told us he would be wearing red shoes. After about 3 different people walked by us wearing red shoes, finally someone came up to us and asked for Pat! It was Øystein! He told us a bunch about Bergen and what to expect for our hike while we walked to his apartment.
His apartment was awesome! Gretta and I got the master bedroom that had a really comfy bed. We walked around the city a little after dropping off our stuff, got some fries at a little Kebab shop, and went home and passed out, as we were all worn out from the flight. In the morning, we explored Bergen a little more, which was beautiful. Pictures really do not do any justice to the views we saw there.
After asking a bunch of different people how to find it and taking the light rail, we finally made our way to the rental car place in Odda, Norway (where Trolltunga is located).. Surprisingly, taking a train would have been a huge hassle and more expensive than renting a car! We got our car and drove back to Øystein’s to get our stuff. When I opened the door, there was a 10-year-old kid sitting in the apartment. Dan asked his name – Victor. We said hi, grabbed our stuff, and left. We still don’t know who Victor was, just that we scared him to death when we walked in! After hitting the grocery store for food for the trip, we hit the road! The car had Bluetooth so we were able to play music from our phones. The first song was Tiny Dancer, a great road trip song that made us feel like we were in the movie Almost Famous! We chatted and laughed and after 3 hours we finally made it to our airbnb in Maurseth, Norway!
After dinner on Friday night, we all hung out a little bit but went to bed early as we had to wake up at 6:30a.m. on Saturday. We passed out and then before we knew it, it was time to go!!! We had scrambled eggs, loaded on our hiking gear, and hopped in the car! We were all so pumped. You could feel the excitement in the air!
The drive was about an hour and a half to the mountain. We sang Taylor Swift for the majority of the ride. We stopped at a gas station about five minutes away from the mountain to ask for directions and get snacks, and in the parking lot we met another group of kids from Copenhagen who were doing the same thing as us – they were even Americans too! I will never get over how small of a world it is! We headed over to the mountain, parked, grabbed our gear, and began the trek.
IT WAS SO HARD. Pat told us that the first kilometer would be the hardest Naturally, he and Dan had done research. Gretta and I had not. And boy, was he right. The first kilometer had me wanting to quit the entire time. I even said to Gretta, “I would never be the first to say let’s turn around, but I would proudly be the second.” We struggled and moved slowly and secretly hated ourselves for not training. The first kilometer or so was basically 45 degrees or more up the side of the mountain, on huge rock stairs and a slippery muddy trail. Not for the faint of heart. We got to drink the water right out of a stream, so that was really cool. Then somehow, by the grace of God we made it past the first uphill, hellish kilometer and to flatter land. But this flatter land was not by any means easy. Just easier.
We trekked on and were so thankful we had on all our interchangeable layers, as the temperature fluctuated a lot as we kept moving and changing altitudes. As hard as the hike was, it sure was beautiful. I was so in awe of the land. Norway is truly beautiful!!!
This was closer to the top – that lake was probably 2000 feet below where we were standing. I’ve never seen something more beautiful! I fell a bunch of times on the slippery rocks, and the fact that it was raining a little and very muddy did not help at all. According to the trail markers, we were one kilometer from the top as the crow flies. But we were climbing over rocks and hills and around bends and twists in the trail so our distance ended up being much more than 22 kilometers though we aren’t entirely sure the exact distance. When we finally made it to the top after five hours I don’t think I had ever been so relieved in my life.
It was freeeeezing at the top. I seriously couldn’t feel my fingers when I was taking the boys’ pictures. There were probably 30 or so people hanging around and taking pictures. One guy came up to me and after seeing my hat asked if I went to Wisconsin. I said yes, I did and that I was from Milwaukee. He was from Dubuque, Iowa! Small world again!! He was studying at University of Lund in Sweden. One of the friends he was with went to Denver. We asked if she knew my friend Kaitlin O’malley, and she said she had heard of her before!! It was crazy. We then saw our friend from the gas station when we were waiting in line for photos.
We were happy that we had made it to the top but couldn’t let ourselves forget that even after 5 hours, we were only halfway there. We gathered up our things, Gretta said two Hail Mary’s, and we were on our way! Every step we took, we were closer to the bottom! That was the only thing getting me through the rest of the hike. That, and thinking about all the food I was going to eat once we made it. We were dumb and did not pack proper nourishment for the hike. We had a few snacks but not nearly enough food. After losing the boys again because we were just too slow, Gretta and I continued on our way.
The last two kilometers were incredibly hard, even harder than they were on the way up since we were completely drained. The entire time, I could not believe what I was doing – or that I was capable of doing it. Pat had said at the top of the mountain that even though he ran a half marathon before, this was the hardest thing he had ever done. When we finally made it to the bottom, after what felt like years, I couldn’t even walk normally! My legs felt like jelly and I could only imagine the sore that I would be the next day. Gretta and I cheered and high fived the men who were behind us – we told them they could pass us but they said no, they were enjoying watching us struggle! We all laughed at that.
When we got to the bottom we devoured a bag of chips in about 30 seconds, peeled off our muddy shoes and got in the car for the ride home. Gretta and I had planned a great dinner that we were going to make – barbecue chicken, a big salad, roasted potatoes – but had forgotten how stores in Norway close early, especially on a Saturday night! We were forced to go to a McDonalds-esque place where we got nachos and ice cream, which we all devoured without speaking. When we finally got home, we had to take freezing showers since all the hot water was gone.
We all tried to stay up and watch a movie but each of us lasted about five minutes collectively. On Sunday we washed all our muddy clothes, packed up our bags, and made our way to the airport, but made a pit stop on the way for me and Gretta to jump into the fjord!! The water was FREEZING but so worth it- it was so fun!
So after enduring the hardest, most challenging, but also coolest and most rewarding thing of my life, it is safe to say I will always do my research before traveling somewhere! 10 hours of hiking is not for the faint of heart! I highly recommend that hike to everyone, but I will never do it again!