It was not until 10am that everyone in the SMO3 DJJ van family woke from a long nights sleep. It was the day we were to begin hiking one of Norway’s most famous photographs; Trolltunga. We were in no rush as our plan was to camp on the summit to ensure we had plenty of time and less crowds to take photos. Also, because it was going to be an epic experience! Trolltunga was 11kms long and a 650 meter climb in elevation. The hike takes people up into the snow line and follows an alpine lake hundreds of meters below. The rock, which projects out horizontally, points towards the lake, making it somewhat resembled a tongue, hence “trolls tongue”. I am sure you’ve seen the photo! We slowly packed and by 2pm we were prepared to make the 25 minute drive up the insanely narrow road to the beginning carpark. We were all quite worried about whether we would be able to find a car space after having been told it is a small carpark in comparison to the number of people who would be doing the hike. We all agreed to run the gauntlet and driving in we immediately pulled into the 3rd space. Perfect!
Butterflies danced in our stomachs and we all, for no apparent reason, felt slightly nervous to begin the hike. This had been a dream for many of us. For me personally, the hike had been on my bucket list since seeing a photograph as a child. Double checking everyones belonging and with lighter packs for the overnight hike, we stepped onto the track. The weather was threatening to rain and small showers had already fallen throughout the morning. The sign at the beginning clearly stated the first 4km would be almost vertical and within minutes we discovered that it wasn’t lying. The track instantly became a rock stairwell that stretched on for kilometres. Multiply times there were thick ropes tided between trees to aid in pulling oneself up the steep track. The accumulation of the previous days of rain had made the dirt sections of the climb turn into swamps of ankle deep mud and when we finally reached the 1km mark we were drenched in sweat and panting. We were all astonished by how slow our start had felt and found ourselves dreading the next 10kms.
As we continued, the track soon began to flatten out and we found ourselves on a wide expanse of a marshy shrub land. In every direction the taller mountains were painted white with snow and we happily crossed the plateau, enjoying the ease of the current section of the hike. It was short lived however, as a kilometre later we faced another steep climb. The climb stretched for 2kms and we tackled the 45 degree angle of the rock climb grudgingly. The weather was still overcast and once at the top the wind suddenly picked up. It was here, that we made the poor decision to stop and have some food. As we sat on the open rock, the icy wind easily penetrated all of our layers of clothing. We ate sandwiches and struggled to comprehend how we would survive the over night temperatures.
Continuing along the the track, we found ourselves in a great open valley dotted with small snow-fed lakes. Just to confirm how cold it was, many of them contained floating icebergs! We were surprised by the number of hikers at this hour and our hopes of having Trolltunga to ourselves were beginning to dwindle. We bargained with ourselves and decided that even with a few people, the sights would still be amazing. The track continued to climb slowly over the next 5kms, revealing glimpses of the alpine lake below and crossing countless streams. Many sections were so deep with mud there were wooden boardwalks constructed in order for us to cross. We slugged on and tthe hour drew close to 8pm before we past the final 1km mark and reached an area which was scattered with tents and people taking photographs. We had made it! We hurried to drop our bags and look over the ledge..
Standing beside less than 20 people, a few of them on the tongue itself, we peered out happily at our reward. The weather had completely cleared, the sun was shinning, and each holding a camera, we took turns climbing onto the attraction. Standing on its edge the tongue projected out above a 750m drop. It felt completely safe being 4 meters wide and we sat comfortably with our feet dangling off the edge. After taking photos we agreed to find a camping spot which would fit our 3 tents. Only 50 metres away, on a small ridge, we discovered a relatively flat spot. It looked out over the long lake and in the clear night light, mountains dominated our vision with capped peaks. It was the best experience of our trip so far and as we sat huddled together wearing every piece of clothing we owned, we cooked mexican fajita beans and loaded it into wraps. The six of us stood quietly in the perpetually dusk night, perched on top of a 1250m high mountain, watching the sun at 10pm. Eventually the clouds dropped and we were smothered by a thick fog, forcing us into our cold tents and eventually, into a deep sleep.
We woke to find our bodies had not become numb overnight. That was a surprise. Although the wind blew aggressively against our tents outer wall, our multiple layers and joint sleeping bags had managed to provide us with enough heat. We had just hiked one of Norway’s most renowned landmarks, Trolltunga. It had been one of our best experiences in life and thankfully, Norway decided to bless us with lovely weather. Well, yesterday it had, today it was raining lightly and the wind was fierce. We packed our bags, got breakfast ready in the tent, and when it decided to stop raining, we quickly packed the tents up and jammed them into our packs. We smashed musli with so many layers of clothing on that it proved difficult to move (maybe also because our limps were also frozen), before we began the 11km hike back to the van.
Walking soon stopped in order for us to shed layers of clothing. Off the summit and exercising, our bodies warmed quickly and within a couple of kilometres most of us were onto our last layers. We were all sore from the previous days effort and were thankful that the hike was now mostly down hill. After a couple of hours pushing on through light showers, we were looking at the final 4km of brutal down hill decent. We had a quick lunch break behind an enormous boulder that offered us protection against the wind before slowly making our way down. Once at the bottom, we all agreed the hike back down was much harder than the first hike up. We had done it and could all happily tick that one off of our bucket lists!