Last month, I participated in the Nattvandring til Gaustatoppen (roughly translated, the Long and Dark Hike Up Gaustatoppen with Lots of Rocks).

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See the tiny spire in the back? That’s where we’re headed.

I have compiled a list of questions I had that were answered along this trek up the 4.4-kilometer (about 2.75 miles) trail. I also have a few that were not answered, but we’ll see if I get to those in this post.

Why are we doing this?

  • To save the planet in a variety of ways. Apparently, this hike helps the homeless, hungry, thirsty, uneducated, environmentally offensive, etc. How it does that, I’m not sure, since it seemed like a free event.
  • It was Renate’s birthday.
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Anything for Renate’s birthday 🙂

How much farther?

All the way. Plus rocks and darkness.

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Rocks. All the rocks.

How much farther, now?

Still basically all the way. But also, now, people who had already finished the climb are coming down the mountain on the same trail you’re climbing, at a rate that seems impossibly fast and entirely determined to knock you off the side.

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Rocks and Darkness

Why isn’t my headlamp working?

Because you forgot to put fresh batteries in it. However, there will be an angel with an incredibly bright headlamp on the trail. That angel will stop and offer batteries only seconds after you’ve started crying.

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Thank you, headlamp angel.

What will we eat?

Norwegians have a genetic trait that allows them to pack food that would normally spoil, but in Norway it doesn’t, and then you eat it once it has been in your giant backpack for at least half a day. Usually, the food includes something that an American would consider gourmet, but that a Norwegian is genetically programmed to pack for the trail. They call this food bundle the Lunch Pack, and every Norwegian is born understanding how to make one of these. Here is what our lunch packs contained as toppings for our bread and gluten-free knekkebrød (Norwegian stale cracker that is also delicious somehow).

  • Smoked salmon + Brie
  • Caviar + sliced hardboiled eggs
  • Shrimp salad
  • Brown cheese (so Norwegian)

How will we get down the mountain once we’ve finished the climb?

After waiting for two hours in a very cold tunnel, you will get on a train, and it will take you to the bottom. The train will be inside the mountain. Though expensive, it sure beats walking down the mountain in the dark — a task which would no doubt end in your demise. Going down is a lot harder than going up, despite what seems like sense. This is Norway. Then, you will board a bus. Then, you will get back in the car and drive two hours home.

Questions that were not answered:

  • Where did all these rocks come from? No idea.
  • Why are there so many children here? My best guess was, Because Norway. Like the lunch pack gene, Norwegian children are born with skis on and an innate need to hike up things.
  • How are these ancient people passing me? Seemingly ancient humans were speeding by me on the way up the mountain, again, Because Norway. FYI: The exercise called “mountain climbers” doesn’t actually prepare you for climbing a real mountain.
  • Why is Norway so beautiful everywhere? It’s just the truth. Norway is just beautiful.
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Forget the landscape. Look at that handsome man.

The entire 4.4 kilometers took 3.5 hours (well, only three for Renate). It was quite a challenge, and I’m proud I only cried once. Jens was such a trooper, carrying everything except my waist pack with my water bottle. The train was an engineering marvel — a 1-kilometer track at a 45-degree slope with two trains acting as counterweights on a single track that split just long enough for the trains to pass one another on the way up/down. It was really neat!

It was an experience that I’ll never forget, and I think I will never repeat…though if Renate wants to go next year I may be down if we start earlier in the day.

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The trail of headlamps, as seen from the top of Gaustatoppen.

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