Norge pȧ Tvers, traversing Norway. A route developed by Trondheims Tourist Association that roughly follows 63 degrees latitude, from the sea in the west to the Swedish border. We follow our own interpretation of the route.
During the first days we meet only a few persons enroute and none in the cabins. It’s not yet Easter (Pȧske), the time of year in which a lot of Norwegians wipe the dust of their skis and go skiing. Because of this bustle the routes between the DNT cabins will be marked with willow branches to ease navigation. At this moment it take a few more weeks till Easter, no willow branches in the snow yet. It’s a good exercise in navigation in the snow. At the Ramsjøhytta we meet a volunteer from the DNT, one of the men that stick the willow branches in the snow each year. In this part of Norway they are slowly migrating to the system in use by their neighbours: fixed wooden poles. It will save a lot of work each year.
At Storeriksvollen it’s the first time this trip we’re not alone in a cabin. The beautiful weather goes on day after day and we are doubting whether or not to spend an extra day in the mountains. It’s nice to be able to ask advice from the other guests. We decide to visit not one Swedish cabin, but two. The Norwegians we meet affirm it’s better to spend the night in the Swedish mountains instead of a village. But they are smiling as well as the Swedish cabins are quite different from the Norwegian ones…
The next day we arrive in our first Swedish cabin in the afternoon. Maybe hotel is a better word for it. It’s not possible to order a three-course dinner, but there is running water from a tap, hot and cold, there is electricity and even internet. In the-middle-of-nowhere. It’s luxurious but also a bit strange as the atmosphere has changed as well. In all cabins up to now, you’ll lit a candle at night for lighting and drink a cup of coffee with the other guests. You’ll talk about the day, about ‘friluftsliv’ and the differences between the Netherlands and Norway for example. Here in the big rooms lit by neon lights the cosiness and personal attention has disappeared. I open the door and watch people bend over their mobile phones. It’s good progress to make these beautiful places accessible for everyone, but the typical outdoor cabin atmosphere is gone.
The next day in the morning we meet a Swedish diplomat. He recognised our nationality by our accents. We may precede on the steep descent in front of us. While I’m still talking, Charissa is flying down. “It’s not so steep, it’s fine”, he says when I leave. I arrive at the end of the descend with trembling knees. Fast and so many icy grooves for the skis to change direction…
A bit further we’re climbing again. A dog strolls from behind a boulder. Usually it doesn’t take long for his boss to arrive as well. Not this time. I take the binoculars from my backpack. A dog, I thought, maybe it is a fox. The animal looks back at me, doubts for a moment and runs off in the other direction. Yes it’s fox, it’s clear to see now. It’s not the first time we meet a fox, but it surely is one of the longer moments.
The day before yesterday at Storeriksvollen we met a small animal we’d never seen before: an ermine. He happily ate all the leftovers… and the mice. Happy ermine, happy humans.
The last evening we share the dorm with some Scotsmen with whom we talk a bit. We meet them again a few times when we descend into the valley the next day. Though they are a few years older than us, we notice they move at a high pace.
Fast forward a few days when we are bored waiting at the airport. I browse through some websites to find an update of climber Dave MacLeod. He made a new film, let’s take a look. We see someone running through the Scottish hills, almost falling in the soggy ground. Some running on jeep tracks, then bogs again. An old Landrover climbs. Then a close-up of the driver. By the time I processed the thought that I’ve seen this person before, the screen shows an interview. I immediately recognise the name! I was right, this is the guy we’ve been talking with in the last cabin in Sweden. We never knew we were talking to a well-known Scotsman.
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