Trolltunga, Troll’s Tongue – Part 2

When we arrived at the trailhead we stared unbelievably at the steep cable-car that went forty-five degrees up the mountainside and seemed to disappear into the clouds. Unfortunately, today the funicular is only used by locals and no longer takes hikers. Lonely Planet recommended 8-10 hours round trip for this particular hike. We discovered the estimate doesn’t apply to backpackers with 18 months of gear on their backs. Nor does it account for the overflowing streams that must be crossed.

After the first hour and a half huffing and puffing up the trail, I thought for sure I had developed buns of steel (if only it were that easy!). The trail was conveniently marked with rocks spray painted with the letter “T” to let us know we were going in the right direction. At some point the path joined with a little waterfall and we were thankful for waterproof shoes. After the intense vertical climb we crossed through a marshy valley which I dubbed “The Valley of Desolation” due to the miserable weather. There were about 30 small homes up here. Summer homes? We had no idea why anyone would ever want to settle here; the land was spotted with huge boulders and it was windy and cold. Matt waved to a local man who just stared right back. I couldn’t imagine living in these conditions and being anything but depressed.

Continuing we came to another valley absolutely covered with streams. This is when things got difficult. We had been hiking for four hours now and the scenery was nothing to brag about. It was downright ugly. After successfully traversing several streams (I refused to get my feet and socks wet) we came to one that was just TOO big. Keep in mind, all of these streams quickly tumble 3,000 feet to the sea below, and this one had the strongest current of them all. Matt was ambitious and tried to find different paths to cross via rocks poking out of the water. He even tried to build his own rock bridges. Nothing worked. It didn’t help that a few summers ago I smashed my face on a rock while carefully crossing a rocky stream. I’m afraid this memory is still too fresh and traumatizing because I refused to cross anything that looked skeptical. I was not scared of getting wet, but I was terrified of head injuries. Sometimes it’s hard to determine when you are just psyching yourself out and when you really are being logical.

Things looked hopeless. For the first time in my backpacking endeavors, I was on the verge of giving up. I was not at a physical breaking point, but I was emotionally spent and sure that I had developed some gray hairs while imagining worse case scenarios. I went back and forth in my head. No spectacular view of a fjord was worth all of this worrying. But then again, we had paid too much money to travel here and hiked too hard over miserable terrain to give up now. So frustrated I was at the point of tears, I beseeched God for an answer to this dilemma.

A few moments later, a couple came down the path towards us on the other side of the stream. The man kept pointing at the river, explaining that he had created a path and that we should cross it. Within minutes, he and his partner had confidently hopped their way across the river. I couldn’t believe it; Matt and I had just spent an hour going up and down the stream, looking for a way across! The couple was from Poland and the man was very kind as he explained what was coming up on the trail and the best way to navigate the land. Realizing the Polish couple only had small day packs on, we decided to set up camp right there on the stream and ditch our huge bags. There was just no way we could make the jump with that much weight.

That proved to be the answer to our problem. I thanked God for the timeliness of my answered prayer and was amazed at how just the sight of another individual experiencing success at what we were attempting was enough to inspire us and keep us going. Matt and I  joked about how crossing those dang streams was like doing the cooperative course at camp. The course is a series of activities designed to build teamwork and trust. That is just what we were up to as we problem-solved our way through the dicey waters.

We would not run into another soul that day as we finished our hike to Trolltunga. The sun finally broke through the clouds as we approached the rock formation and triumphantly made our way out on to the Troll’s Tongue.

 

 

 

2 Comments

Ali

June 30th, 2011

You would choose a place called Troll’s Tongue…

& I want more pictures of the nature in Norway & less of the naked statues!!

Aunt Betty

July 1st, 2011

I am seeing it through your eyes, Kate and Matt!

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