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Trekking to the Troll’s Tongue

Fact: People in Norway love to hike to strange, precipitous rock formations jutting out over the fjords and get as close to the edge as possible. It has something to do with the fact that Norway has a plethora of such rock formations left behind by glaciers, and the fact that we spend all winter holed up in our houses so, naturally, as soon as Summer starts showing its face the best thing to do is to climb the highest thing you can possibly find. At the beginning of Spring we hiked Preikestolen, or Pulpit Rock, so when our friends Josh & Kolie had the idea to plan a backpacking trip to Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue) back in September, it seemed like a great way to ring in Fall.

The plan: Drive the 4 hours from Stavanger to Odda on Friday, camp the night near the trailhead, start the hike in the morning, reach Trolltunga and camp the night, hike out and drive home on Sunday. Simple right? Well, you know how in suspenseful adventure movies the protagonists always start out all bright-eyed and optimistic? Too happy and naive to notice all the little warning signs before they reach the point of no return? Yeah…

 

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Look at how innocent we were on our first night of camping. Warning sign #1 should have been the complete lack of information online about the hike. Josh (being the prepared outdoor rec graduate that he is) even called the tourist office in Odda to get info. All he found out from them was that the hike was supposed to be 8-9 hours round trip and we were allowed to camp anywhere we wanted as long as it wasn’t within 150 meters of a building or road. What the tourist office didn’t tell us, was that there was nowhere TO camp. We searched all over for a place, but in the end camped near the top of a dam. Right next to a road AND a building. Luckily no one discovered us and we hit the trail first thing in the morning.

 

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We thought we were so hardcore. Warning sign #2 should have been the pile of ripped, shredded, caked-in-mud, and otherwise destroyed hiking shoes underneath the sign. Please notice that I am not wearing hiking boots. I am wearing running shoes because I do not own hiking boots and “these worked just fine for other hikes”.

 

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Kolie and Josh were likewise feeling pumped.

 

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The Gear

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Warning sign #3 should have been the sheer cliff that was supposed to be the first 2 hours of our trip. We are staring at a 950 meter increase in elevation people.

 

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Josh taking a quick breather.

 

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Gorgeous fall leaves!

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It was about this point where we had been hiking for about 2 1/2 hours and ran into a nice Norwegian man on his return hike that kindly encouraged us along with, “You’ve only got about 2 more hours and then you are there!” Sweet. We were right on track…

 

 

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NOT. We hiked 2 more hours and ran into some more hikers on their way back down. They also informed us that it was about another 2 hours from where we were at now. Oh dear…

 

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So much gorgeous water…but it sure made keeping my shoes dry next to impossible, despite our best efforts!

 

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There sure were some stunning views though!

 

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Another 2 hours into the hike, we ran into another group on their way back down. You want to guess what they told us? “About 2 more hours and you will be there!” By this point we were all exhausted physically and mentally. Body parts were aching and bruised from various slips and falls on the wet rocks and we were covered in mud. Despite my best efforts to avoid water, my feet were soaked completely through. We had kept up our morale this far by playing question games and singing songs, but the sun was starting to go down and we still weren’t anywhere close to Trolltunga, so we decided to stop and setup camp whenever we came to a spot that was remotely dry and flat. We were all close to our breaking point. About an hour or so later we found a spot that was relatively dry and relatively sheltered from the wind, ate dinner as quickly as we could and climbed into our sleeping bags for a really rough night’s sleep after a total of 9 1/2 hours of hiking that day. 8-9 hours round-trip my butt.

 

Luckily the next morning we were feeling much better!

Before setting out we tried wrapping my feet in garbage bags before putting them in my shoes so that they would be safe from the wet and cold. Great fashion statement yes? :)

 

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For the record…I am modeling my garbage bag feet. Not taking a pee as Chris so kindly pointed out.

We discovered that we were only about 30 more minutes away from our destination! Whoo-hoo! That left us lots of time and energy to take some awesome photos.

Exhibit A: (click on the photos to enlarge them if you wish)

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Chris and I

 

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Josh and Kolie

 

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“The Coolest Sheehans Ever” and “C²”!

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The epic vistas made this trip SO worth it in the end!

 

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It took about 7 hours to get back down the mountain.

 

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But we made it! After we got down the mountain safe and sound, we decided that everything was completely worth it. Even though this was definitely the hardest hike I’ve ever done, it was still a grand, amazing adventure! It was even hard for Josh, who practically majored in backpacking. I think it would have been much better had we had more information and were more prepared physically and mentally. So if you are wanting to go sit out on this particular perilous rock, here are

JoshandKolieandChrisandChelsea’s tips for hiking Trolltunga!

 

1. All the guides say it is an 8-9 hour hike round trip. It probably is if you aren’t carrying 30 pound packs. If you are planning to camp overnight, be prepared that it will take you much longer than expected, even if are in pretty good physical shape.

2. If you do want to do half the hike one day and camp overnight like we did, there is a cabin that sleeps 6 at the top right by Trolltunga. You have to reserve it quite far in advance since space is limited, but it would definitely be worth it to book it. That way you don’t have to pack in all your tent and cooking gear, and while you are technically allowed to camp anywhere you want up there, there are very little places level enough, dry enough (even though it hadn’t rained all weekend), and sheltered enough to set up camp in. We got lucky. We highly recommend the cabins. (Call the Odda tourist office for information.)

3. Probably go sooner in Summer rather than later. We went towards the end of September and while the cold wasn’t a significant problem since we dressed well, you will probably have a much more pleasant experience if you go mid-summer.

4. Water. Proof. Shoes. I can’t stress that enough. The shoes you can hike Preikestolen in just fine are NOT going to cut it hiking Trolltunga. Learn from my mistakes!

 

I hope you get a chance to try it someday, because really…it was spectacular!

 

Chris = 30 = DOUBLE Awesome

Why? Because he was super surprised by his super surprise party on the Friday after his real birthday!

Despite all odds and everything pointing towards something out of the ordinary, he really had no idea. Success! (I would brag how that means I can be a sneaky, scheming wife when I want to be…but that’s probably not a positive thing to claim… :) )

 

 

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Surprise! And he thought we were going over to the Sheehan’s for a game night. Muwahaha.

 

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Being presented by a super secret, top security, indestructible gift from his co-workers: A pre-ordered copy of Battlefield 3 with it’s own custom designed disk case.

 

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Grillin’ and chillin’.

 

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A birthday cake worthy of a man who has completed 30 whole revolutions around the sun.

(Side note on the cake, I worked on this thing for 3 days straight right under Chris’ nose and still kept it a surprise. It involved lots of lies, subterfuge, and kicking Chris out of the house when he randomly decided to come home early from work…but I’m really quite proud of the fact that he truly had no idea :) )

 

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“Stick a candle in it’s mouth so it can breathe fire!”

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“Mmmm…maybe not such a good idea”

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That’s a little better…

 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

 

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All good things eventually come to an end.

Especially cakes, your 20s, and blog posts.

THE END

PS: Thank you to all of you who helped me pull this off. You guys ROCK and I couldn’t have done it without you!