The Travelling Trooper Climbs Trolltunga

Today was the day I’d been looking forward to the most in all of our time in Norway. Today, we would be climbing Trolltunga. The name translates to Troll Tongue. (I told you they have a weird troll obsession here in Norway.)

Just getting to the start of the hike was no easy feat. First we had to catch the 8:20 bus from Bergen to Odda. The bus then had to drive on to a ferry before dropping us off at the Odda bus station.

Once there, there was a taxi van taking people up to the start of the trail.

Unfortunately, first Trevor and I had to drop off two of our three bags at a nearby hotel so that we just had to carry the essentials. By the time we got back, though, the taxi van had gone, and there were only six people from our bus left–two Polish girls and four French friends. We called a taxi together, and they said they’d be by shortly.

It turned out, though, that there were only two taxi cars in all of the tiny town of Odda, and one of them had to always be within the town; that meant that only one car would be able to go up to Trolltunga at a time.

The four French people got in the first taxi, and the Polish girls and I had to wait for him to wait for the next one. We got to talking while we waited, and I found out that Kasia is a Law student in her final year, and Eliza is a Business student of some kind, if I’m not mistaken.

By the time we arrived at the start of the trail, we’d already lost a good 50 minutes. To my surprise, the French people were still there waiting for us. Apparently while I’d gone to the hotel, the six of them had agreed to hike together. Eliza and Kasia asked me if I wanted to join their group, and I agreed.

The first four kilometres of the fourteen kilometre hike are pretty brutal. There’s a car park at the top, so you could potentially drive up there and start at the four km mark, but it cost a pretty penny, so we opted not to. Those four kilometres were hard on the knees, but I managed.

We quickly realized, though, that the four French friends were going to slow us down. I wasn’t too keen on this, since my plan was to actually hike back halfway down the mountain and camp for the night; that wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t get to the top until close to sunset. Nonetheless, we continued as a group of seven, Kasia, Eliza, and I waiting periodically for the others to catch up.

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Close to the 6 km mark, we took a break. Up until this point, the weather had been beautiful. Then the clouds arrived.

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And they never left.

Not long after our lunch break, Kasia, Eliza, and I lost our French compatriots. They were simply too slow. We continued on as a trio.

The hike actually got significantly easier at that point, too, which is why it was so weird that they fell so far behind.
The further and further up we went, the more beautiful the view became.

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When we hit the 11 km mark, I got excited. Only three kilometres left! By that time, it seemed like an eternity between each kilometre mark.

Then we hit two km.

Then one more.

And we did it!

It was raining, it was cold, my jacket was drenched…but none of that mattered anymore! Just look at that view!

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After taking pictures, it was time for us to part ways. The girls were going to camp up at the top, while I needed to make my way back down as soon as possible. We’d made it up in 5.5 hours, and there were just two hours left until sunset at quarter past eight. I needed to make the most of that time. We hugged farewell, and I was off.

Maybe the beauty of the view at the top re-energized me, but I was suddenly sprinting down the mountain. I felt great. I managed to make it to the 7 kilometre mark just as the sun was setting, and I set up the tent for the night.

This is where things turned ugly.

1) It was raining and seven degrees that night.

2) My jacket and basically everything I was wearing was drenched, so I had to change into a dry set of clothes–but with no jacket.

3) My cheap Tokmanni tent I got in Finland was letting in rain from somewhere. I couldn’t figure out where. The top of the tent was perfectly covered. It almost seemed like it was just coming through the sides of the tent.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well that night. I probably got about a solid hour of sleep.

I woke up at 4:15 to give myself enough time to have a quick breakfast, pack everything up, and hit the road. I was good to go by 5:00, and armed with just my phone flashlight, I ventured off into the dark.

One thing hadn’t occurred to me about this plan. For most of the hike, you had a clear set path to follow; however, there were times where you were out in the open, and you had to rely on rocks as your navigators. They usually had a red T painted on them to point the way. This wasn’t so easy in the dark, and I ended up getting really, really lost. I was walking around in circles like an idiot. I knew I’d taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque when I realized I was no longer walking on any sort of a rock path. I was walking on wet grass and bushes. By then, I’d made quite a long descent, and I really didn’t want to have to start walking back up again. I started walking in circles, looking for hints of a trail. I walked back up for a while. I walked to the right. I walked to the left. There was no trail to be found. All I found was extremely slippery wet rocks that caused me to tumble a few times.

Eventually, I gave up, and just took a seat on a rock. I had to accept that I was lost, and that I wouldn’t be able to do anything until the sun came up.

Then I saw it.

I saw a bright light way off in the distance, close to what had to be the Skjeggedal parking lot. It had to be. Or at least, it had to be in that genera direction. And when I kept looking, I saw what had to be a trail. My eyes followed the trail, and I thought I saw a way back up. Huzzah!

I’d probably lost 30-40 minutes during this little detour, but I’d made it back.
The rest of the walk was a breeze.
I have to admit, though, there was a while there where I thought to myself, “This is officially the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.” It probably is. I was worried I’d either drop and break my phone while trying not to slip on the rocks, or that I’d tumble and hurt myself.

In the end, everything worked out perfectly, though, because I made it back to the first 4 kilometres of the hike just as a taxi driver was driving some hikers up to the car park. When the cabby came back down, I hailed him down, and asked him to take me to the bus station. Thanks to him, I was able to make it in time to catch the first bus back to Bergen.

And so, I’m writing this from the warm confines of the Bergen airport, phone intact, and Uri intact.

I bow my head in respect to the almighty Trolltunga. You certainly whopped my ass.

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