This is part 2 of the ‘journey to Trolltunga’ articles. To read part one, Hitchhiking to the Edge of the World, click here. To read part three, sleeping at the edge of the world, click here. You can also take a look at the best pictures in the Trolltunga image post.
After our multi-day hitchhike, our party of four had mistakenly become two. Claire, my English friend, and I had taken the first car and when we were dropped in Tyssedal, we hitched a ride up the mountain within minutes, arriving at the cark park by the lake – Ringedalsvatnet – the closest point to Trolltunga that can be reached by cars. From here, a sign told us it was a ten hour return journey to Trolltunga on foot. We sat on the floor and waited for our friends to join us. After a great length of time, it seemed that they weren’t coming or they were very far behind – it was also possible they had approached by a different path – so we decided to head up the path slowly.
Due to the first kilometre and a half of the path climbing 410 vertical metres, we travelled even slower than we had intended. When we reached the first sign after much sweat and toil, we were told that we had traversed a single kilometre and had another ten to go. I was stunned. Never before had I walked such a tiring path. Having not looked up how to get to Trolltunga, it was quite a surprise.
During the climb, we filled bottles from the innumerable streams that ribboned past us and when we exited the dense foliage through which we had been climbing, the path levelled out and we found large pools where the streams had accumulated. Under a warm sun, we swam in cool waters, several hundred metres above sea level, waiting for our friends to catch up.
Still, they didn’t appear, so on we walked through snow and rocks.
What followed for the next hour or so as we walked is hard to describe in words. Even pictures don’t do it justice, for everything was so large and so enchanting. But this is what it looked like.
We plodded on, stopping to eat and swim, leisurely taking our time in the hope that our friends would catch us. Close to the end of our walk, we were taking an extended swim so that we could finish the walk together when someone said hello. We looked up to find our new German friend – not who we were waiting for – but a pleasant surprise. We met on the road while hitchhiking the day before – he was also hitchhiking – and several hours after our first meeting, met for a second time when we were dropped in the same place. There we sat, sharing our food, until a Subaru (that only had space for one) pulled up and whizzed him away at high speed. And here he was for a third time.
When we could wait no longer, presuming that our friends were no longer coming, we walked the final short distance to Trolltunga. I looked back one last time before we went over the final peak and there in the distance, unmistakably, was our seven foot tall Australian friend – he’s not actually seven foot tall, but he’s pretty damn tall and rather unmistakable. We cheered, waved, and shouted in delight. He stumbled and shuffled towards us, barely acknowledging us for the next few minutes. As he got closer, it was clear that he was not in a good state. His walking was laboured and he had hiked the whole mountain in jeans with nothing but an iPad and bottle of water that he found on the path.
We were later to find out that he had not seen the sign telling him how far it was and had dumped his overweight pack at the bottom of the path, thinking it was a short walk to Trolltunga. He kept on going until hunger drove him to eat some mangled old bananas that he found on the path. The picture to the right shows our ‘good’ bananas. The bananas he ate were in much worse condition than these. For the next couple of hours, he was continually throwing up and sleeping (maybe passing out) beside the path. I immediately found this hilarious. He, after not immediately finding it hilarious, later found it to be similarly amusing. But sure as sure, he kept on moving and made it all the way and there we were together at last.
Advice when hiking:
– Do not wear jeans
– Do not eat old things that you find on the path
As for our American, guitar playing friend who started the journey with us, none of us had any idea where she was.
So instead, we four – an Englishman, an English girl, a sick Australian, and a German that we found on the road – walked to one of the most dramatic places I have ever seen, a place that I can only describe as the edge of the world. Trolltunga is a rock that juts out from the cliffs, seven hundred metres above the lake it looks over, and seemingly could break at any moment – except that it won’t because it has stood for around 10,000 years. As with everything in life, photos fail to do it justice.
Elated, dizzy on excitement – who knows why – we then decided to write love with our bodies. It didn’t really work. At all.
And then we put on matching t-shirts to look really good…
Between the three of us who set out, we had two sleeping bags and no jackets – Scotty, the Australian, had only the t-shirt and jeans that he hiked in. And an iPad wasn’t going to keep him warm through the night.
We sat down to refuel and take stock of our surroundings and plan for the night. Still suffering from the bananas, Scotty had another little sleep.
It’s incredible what a nice view and a little mountain air can do for you though – we soon decided that despite having only two sleeping bags and not enough warm clothes, we definitely must sleep by Trolltunga and hike down the next day. What followed was a very, very cold night of free camping.
Read part three, sleeping at the edge of the world, by clicking here. It features pictures of our camp, our moral dilemma, and a cold, cold night. You can also take a look at the best pictures in the Trolltunga image post.