By Four Wheeled Nomad: Words by Lisa Morris, images by Jason Spafford
The week stretched ahead, warm and empty. Lucky for us, our newfound hosts had barely begun their month’s summer holiday. Cautiously revealing to the hiking-fit Norwegians our goal to share the same status, began with a hoof up Gaustatoppen. Situated in Rjukan in Telemark county west of Oslo, it’s easily one of the most accessible mountains in southern Norway. Slowly more than surely, the stomp up to 6,178-feet led to an anti-climatic slab of concrete home to a huge antenna. Thank gawd: the sun dissolving into panoramic views gave rise to a sixth of southern Norway gilded in gold, made up for the manmade eyesore. As did lashings of jam oozing through hot fluffy waffles the following morning. Good call, Espen.
Far from finding my stride, the 48-hour agony after Gaustatoppen – induced by a pounding to various unknown and unused muscle groups – took its toll. No time to waste, all four of us cobbled together our gear like headless hens to catch a 1.5-hour cruise and continue our wander around a nearby lake in Mogen for a few days.
Situated west of Møsvatn, we hiked the hillside draped in a green crushed velvet throw of forest and waterfalls on the plateau. To plunge in just our underwear into the gin-clear pool, the water thundering off into infinity behind us, was utterly invigorating. As was losing a layer of suncreamy sweat.
Inevitably, we had some good chuckles too; the puckered up expressions (mostly mine) and the less than manly sound effects (just Jason’s) when making the plunge into the chilly water will stay with me forever. No question: although sticky sweet-hot, Mogen was pretty. Even if Espen did relay with solid conviction that the best of Norway was yet to come.
Bands of noseeums and a ubiquitous plague of twin-engine mosquitoes surrounded us later on. Crazed, each one became intoxicated by our steady stream of carbon dioxide before many were lured into meeting their eternal fate, courtesy of our stove’s gas flame. So bad were the mosquitoes, we took refuge back at our host’s pad in Porsgrunn for some respite, if not a rest from the bites.
There’s “hiking fit” and there’s “Norwegian fit”
Much as we started out in Norway’s stomping ground with gusto, neither Jason nor I could keep up with Malin; she seemed to have unending energy and stamina. She was as strong as any man, and her physical expectations on herself were high.
Espen, meanwhile, radiated a gentle soul whose technical nous complemented Malin’s pragmatic approach and physicality. A real treat to have bumped into them the moment we stepped foot on Norwegian land. Local knowledge is king and the pair royally furnished us with the must-sees, must-dos and don’ts.
On my previous trips, I studied and picked up some of the language to hold a basic conversation, but this time around I didn’t even have a few basic words of pidgin. Fortunate for the laziest part of myself, everyone spoke perfect English.
While my first impressions didn’t match all my pre-conceptions – when do they ever? – to the depths of my belly, to the tips of my fingertips: it’s the easiest thing in the world to be a human doing in Norway, not just a human being. fourwheelednomad