When we look back on all the hiking that we have done over the past years there is no hike more daunting than one we did Norway back in the fall of 2018. We are both suckers for epic view points so you can’t really blame us for trying to hit up the world famous point known as Trolltunga, can you? Well, unfortunately we can totally blame ourselves for the absolutely brutal experience we had because we literally did it at the absolute last possible time to do it ‘safely’ without a guide. Are you ready to hear about this?
We left the beautiful, sunny weather in Panama at the start of September, bound of Norway. We had both always wanted to go here and, even though we had absolutely no winter clothing with us, we were determined to make it work. We picked up some pants and long sleeves in Panama City before our departure and even picked up some ‘hiking boots’ ($15 running shoes). This was a trip doomed to fail because we were on such a strict budget and buying a bunch of winter gear seemed like a terrible waste of money. We decided we would just layer up extensively, and figure out a way to waterproof our shoes. It was a good thing though, in a way, because it lessened our checked bags which cost us each $200 USD to check… that’s right… $400 for two bags. Yuck. Thanks Norwegian Air.
We arrived in Norway and found ourselves in literally the polar opposite of where we had just been. It was cold and it rained every single day that we were there. This is normal in September and we figured there would be a decent amount of rain so it didn’t dampen our spirits one bit. We were busy planning our hikes and honestly couldn’t wait to get out and explore the fjords. Norway is known for being an absolutely beautiful country and even in the rain it didn’t disappoint. We spent our first few days around Bergen and got to take a cruise through the fjords - it was impressive to say the least. The real reason that we were here, however, was not to be at sea level, but to hike up into the towering cliffs and see the viewpoints.
After a few days in Bergen we were ready to make our way over to Trolltunga. We had a friend joining us for the hike so once he arrived we picked up our rental car and started our drive from Bergen to Skjeggedal where the hike begins. We got in the night before made a quick stop at a winter supply store in Odda to see if we needed anything else in preparation for the hike. I don’t know if I have ever seen so much concern on someone’s face as when we told the shop owner we were hiking Trolltunga the next day in basically what we were wearing when we walked in the shop… running shoes, jeans, hoodie and light coat, a hat and no gloves. This man was legitimately terrified. I’ll never forget it. The first words he spoke when we explained our plans and what ‘gear’ we had were, “You will die. You will die up there”. He wasn’t joking either and we became quite scared of the hike when he started grabbing all kinds of stuff and offering us massive discounts. He was actually concerned that we would die up there.
We ended up getting some leggings, windproof pants, gloves, raincoats and we also got a few more layers from him. As we walked out I could still see fear in his eyes. He was watching us walk out as if he was never going to see us again until we appeared in the papers. Well, spoiler alert… we all survived, but it was definitely a terrifying experience. You have to get up very early in the morning to make it in time for a parking spot at the higher lot. I think we drove in around 5am or so and there was already a line of cars waiting to get through the gate. We started the hike in a very light drizzle and actually felt a bit warm with all our new clothing. It was all downhill from here, however. About an hour into the hike a blizzard rocked the fjords, covering all the marker stones, the pathways, the footprints of other people and we couldn’t see more than 5-7 feet in front of us. We missed the path and hiked in the wrong direction for about 30 minutes, just to finally have it clear up and notice the small specks of other people walking the opposite way.
The going was slow so it wasn’t like we made it very far. This snow storms continued to hit and after about three hours we had all fallen many times, slipped on snow and ice, and our socks were starting to get wet. Oh, I forget to tell you about our ‘waterproofing’. We put on wool socks, two plastic bags, our running shoes, and then two more plastic bags. We then duct taped the entire contraption to make ‘boots’. It didn’t work. It didn’t work at all.
Screenshot from our 'Norway' Story Highlight
This is a hike that normally takes 6-7 hours in good weather. It took us 11 hours and it was miserable the entire time. There was no visibility at all, aside from small breaks in the snowfall, but we ended up getting very lucky. After we reached the view point, the one you see in the photo above, we had to wait in a short line to take a photo at the point. We had a Nascar-like sock change to keep our feet dry for at least a couple hours during the hike back and then we just started walking back as fast as we could without falling.
Norway was absolutely beautiful and we would definitely love to go back on day. Some of the other hikes we did were in much fairer weather and we will be posting those soon. This was, due to our own fault, a very stupid way to approach this hike. It was awful at the time but now it is something that we all find to be very hilarious. The owner of our AirBnB came to visit us after the hike and, even though he was ashamed of how little we brought for the hike, he gave us all a few bottles of homemade viking cider to warm us up. It was a good end to a terrible day.
Til next time…