The colour green and a big change of plans

Sunrise in Rondane when there was still a bit of snow.

I’ve been writing so much about reflecting and trying to figure out how I feel about not having a dog on the trip. Last update, I said that I couldn’t figure out how I felt, so I wanted to continue and see if I could figure it out while being out. After all, there’s more thinking space in the mountains – no wi-fi but great connection as they say!

This is one of the longer ones – I hope you’re wanting to read all of it, but if not, then you can see what the change of plans are at the end.

So I did – I sat off again from Sulseter towards Hjerkinn, my next stop – and what a trip it was. Had a lot of mixed feelings and couldn’t make up my mind – I kept on changing my mind about whether I liked it or not without a dog and if I wanted (and could) continue.

The day I sat off Gry joined me for the first 4 or so km’s. It was a beautiful but very windy day and the conditions were very icy. We had a long stop after those 4 k’s and had something to drink – right in the sun and we managed to find some shelter for the wind behind a broken down shed. We said goodbye and off I went towards Mysusæter – a portal to Rondane. Managed to have a fairly good day on proper ski tracks the whole way – windy, but crazy warm cause the sun was burning.

Just before I came to Mysusæter I met two Danish ladies on the track. They were on their way back to their hotel where they were spending a week with loads of Danes, all arranged by Ruby Rejser. We chatted for a bit and then I sat off and said that we’d probably see each other again in Mysusæter. And we did – one of them, Inger, told me to come by the hotel and at least have a coffee or so. I kindly accepted the offer (who can say no to a coffee offered by lovely people?) and we went inside. Within the next 15 minutes I had met half of the people there and was offered to eat dinner with them and sleep in the basement. Even though I was looking forward to a night in the tent I said yes, cause everyone seemed so nice and lovely.

Breakfast at Rondane Fjellstugu with the guests from Ruby Rejser.

It was a really good night chatting to so many interesting people and hearing stories from around. Everyone was so kind and made sure I had something to drink at all times. Wine and whatnot! Good stuff. Dinner was served and it was so good. We sang a song and then ate. Afterwards Inger asked me if I could tell a few stories from the trip as my kind of ‘pay’. So we sat down at the fireplace and I told a few stories and answered a good handful of questions. Most of the questions started with ‘why?’. I was invited to have breakfast the next morning too and oh my dear lord that was amazing. What a brekky. Danish øllebrød, porridge and the best breadrolls I have ever had. No, really. EVER! I still fantasize about them. I need to get the recipe. They were also there so you could make your own lunch to-go. I was told to do so, so I did!

I took off straight after breakfast. Said goodbye to everyone around and gave Inger a million hugs for being so nice and welcoming. What a lovely woman. Some of the people there even gave me some money towards cabin-stays and more butter (yes, there’s been a lot of butter-eating on this trip)! That is so so so lovely and I wanna say thank you to all who did so. You really shouldn’t have, but I also really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Inger. I asked if I could take a photo of her. Not many people are so welcoming and nice as her. Hope to see you again in Copenhagen.

The rest of the trip towards Hjerkinn was quite a trip. Going up to Rondvassbu from Mysusæter was fine but icy and going over Rondevatnet wasn’t a problem either, apart from the pretty rough wind. I reckon Mr. Windy decided that he was going boxing that day. He’s quite good at it too and knocked me out a couple of times. Super beautiful and great weather apart from the boxing match though.

Rondevatnet, southern end.

As I came to the other side of the lake it was like I had stepped into spring straight away. I’ll let the picture speak for itself:

The place is known to have little snow in winter, but this is more than usual. It got way worse though! Quite hard work dragging a pulk in this kind of terrain. Plus I get so worried about deep scratches and stuff from the sharp rocks.

I sat up camp in a nice sheltered spot where a lot of snow had drifted into. Had a good night with loads of reading and snack-eating and I lighted a candle and drank a cup of tea. Felt really weird to not have Jossi there. The whole day I felt so alone cause he wasn’t there. I kept on having this feeling that I was missing something. I kept on checking if the pulk was alright now that I couldn’t check if Jossi was.

Camp for the night.
Snacking in the tent

The next morning I continued towards Dørålseter. It wasn’t loads of fun getting there without any snow. There was some, so it took quite a while to sort of scout for a good route at the top and then set off and try to remember where to go. It went well until the end where I had to cross the river – came into a pretty shitty spot where I had to get myself down to the river, cross it and then go back up. It was steep as hell, but managed to get it to work. I don’t have any pictures of it cause I was so busy swearing and fantasizing about a backpack rather than a pulk!

Dørålseter is a self-service DNT cabin. I decided to stay there for the night. After an hour or so two guys from Oslo showed up. They came from Hjerkinn and said that the conditions were just as shitty pretty much the whole way. A little section was ok, but rest was bad. They decided to stay there for the night as well. Super nice guys – we started off well cause I offered them a cup of coffee straight when they came inside. A few hours later another guy from Nordland showed up – he was doing the same trip as me and his name was Einar. He had started the same day as me and we hadn’t met each other until now. We all had a lovely night playing cards and chatting.

No snow and 8 degrees

The following day Einar and I decided to stay in the cabin due to high winds (26 m/s). We then had the whole day to discuss what we were both thinking about our situations – Einar had had a good trip so far but had been struggling with the lack of snow since Jotunheimen and I told him how I felt about the lack of Jossi. Einar decided to get his dad to come and pick him up at the first possible open road that we would meet a bit before Folldal. He would then go home, fix a few things and then set off way north and just enjoy being on tour. I decided to join him going out and then get to Hjerkinn – the terrain was so rough on the pulks, so instead of spending 3 more days in the same terrain it would be better to spend 1 towards Folldal instead.

Idyllic cabin life. Fresh coffee, candles, books and Suduko’s. And yes, I did finish the hard one. I promise. Maybe.

We spent the day having so much fun. We got a long really really well and had so many good and deep chats. A mountain cabin does that to you, eh. We both went for a little walk in the morning on the snowless road and then we had two individual walks in the afternoon to stretch the legs and have a look at the area. It was a beautiful day nevertheless.

Einar on the road
The bottom part of Dørålseter

We spend the night making pancakes and have a feast together. Pancakes with brown cheese and chocolate (not together though!). It was such a fun night with great music and maybe a little dancing!

Pancake night!

We sat off the next morning after a good coffee and didn’t know what to expect for the day apart from no snow. My watch said roughly 16 km’s in total, so not a long day distance wise. I’m assuming that you can imagine how the conditions just got worse, but I’ll just let the picture speak for itself again:

The mood was quite high. It was a beautiful day, the wind had settled a bit and I had made a new friend. I still felt really weird about not having Jossi here though. We managed to get through the day and meet his dad at the end. They then drove me straight to the door in Hjerkinn. Thanks so much. The pulks didn’t look particularly good after that stretch. It was so nice to get to know you, Einar! Had such a good time with you. We spoke lots about adventures that we wanted to do and decided to try and find a way to do some of them together one day.

Einar’s pulk after the road stretch.

So here I am. In Hjerkinn. Øyvind, the guy that lives and works here with his wife Trine and their daughter Vilja, is a guy that I know from Finnmark. They both worked the same place as me but a couple of years earlier than me.

Driving dogs in super icy conditions just near Dovrefjell. 4 dogs was more than enough!

So I’ve had some time to think and reflect again and I’ve tried hard to figure out how I feel. It’s been on my mind for some time now after Jossi came off the trip, and I’ve discussed it with a few good people that are close to me – I have decided to end the trip here. Spend the first two days at Hjerkinn thinking it through one more time. Maybe a thousand times.

I don’t feel like continuing without a dog. A dog was a reason that I could do it alone and that reason is simply not there anymore. Despite this, the conditions aren’t really helping on this – apparently it continues like this for a fair while. There’ll probably be more snow during March but I don’t have time to wait for it if I wanna make it to North cape in time and I don’t feel like skipping a big part. I’ve been feeling super weird about it, but I think I’m finally starting to accept it. The motivation for the trip is still there, so it feels weird to stop, but for me to have a good time, I need the company of either a dog or a human on such a long stretch.

The trip will always be there (hopefully climate change doesn’t kill it!) – so the possibility to try another year is definitely there and I really feel like doing that. Unfinished business, you know? I could keep on writing about my reflections and thoughts cause there’s been a lot of them. So I’ll leave it at this: I’m happy with my decision!

Øyvind and Vilja (1,5 years old) earlier today.

Øyvind has offered me to work for him both here in Hjerkinn and at their new place in Randsverk in Jotunheimen. They are starting up a new business called Jotunheimen Husky Lodge (https://www.facebook.com/jotunheimenhuskylodge/) and has offered me to help out. They are offering dog-sledding tours in and around Jotunheimen – everything from a few hours to multiple days – and you can stay there as well obviously. A really cool and beautiful spot.

The really cool thing about this, is that I can go on as many trips as I’d like (almost). If I wanna take a dog-team out for a week, we will work our way around it. I can be on tour pretty much every day, whether it’s sleeping out or just for a day. Both Øyvind, Trine and Vilja are super super lovely and fun to stay with. It’s nice to get to know them properly as well. Besides that I’ll work here and there and help out guiding the tours when there’s tourists. And obviously take care of the dogs with feeding, training and whatever else. So it all turned out nicely after all! So if you wanna come and visit, then be my guest – just bring skis!

I’ll most likely still update the blog every now and again with pictures and good stories and whatnot. I quite like all of this. Hopefully you all like it too.

Thanks for reading and for following the trip so far. It’s been so nice with all the messages from so many people – every single one has been appreciated. I’m not finding this a tabu or anything, so feel free to ask or say whatever you feel like. Thanks again,

/Mads

Extra pictures of course:

Camp Fjeld & Fritid!!!
Denmark is still standing but Norway is down! Sorry Einar, I had to do this.
Øyvind showing me around the area

Sulseter and new friends

This update will be about my time at Sulseter where I spent some time off. I had some time to relax and reflect on things, while I did a little bit of work/help for the company Skilejrskole (a place that teaches Danish school kids cross-country skiing).

Frozen signpost.

So yeah, I came to Sulseter where Gry was on holiday and helped out Frederik and Tirza from Skilejrskole with the teaching. My original plan was to only stay here for 3-4 days, but it ended up being a bit longer – it was a good chance to reflect and at the same time spent some quality time with new friends as well. The first week there was no students, but just regular guests that was on winter vacation. So Gry and I spent most of the days skiing on the local tracks, relaxing and catching up so to speak. She had a couple of days to show me around and quickly I decided to stay for a little longer – the choice was made so that I had more time to reflect and see how I felt and to obviously spend more time together.

Grønfjell just next to Sulseter.

Skilejrskole (http://www.skilejrskole.dk/) is a Danish company that puts together a program for school kids where they come for a week and learn how to ski and behave in the winter mountains of Norway. They get transported by bus from Denmark Sunday night, arrive by Monday morning and leave again Friday night. A really good opportunity for schools to spend a week away and experience one of the best things in life – much better than doing a trip to a boring sandy beach! Frederik and Tirza, the two owners (and their daughter Adèlia) are really nice people that are super welcoming and good fun. It was lovely to get to know them all and spend some time with them. They made me feel super comfortable at Sulseter and I felt like I had known them for a while within a couple of days. Really great people and I’m super happy to know them. Looking forward to seeing you all again whether it’ll be in Norway or back in Denmark.

Tirza (left) and Frederik (right) in their green jackets during a long lunch break with open fire.

A couple of days after I arrived, Mikkel and Sascha came up as well. I didn’t know them from before, but Mikkel has been working in the same shop that I worked in long before I started and Sascha is his girlfriend. They both work as teachers at a Danish ‘afterschool’ – a unique type of a Danish independent residential school for young people between the age of 14 to 17 (yes, I had to go to Wikipedia for this). That school was gonna come up to Sulseter the following week, so Mikkel and Sascha decided to spend their holiday at Sulseter the week before. Good for me! I got to know both of them really well – we went on a lot of ski tours together and spend a few afternoons and nights playing board games together. Good stuff!!

Mikkel being overly excited about a downhill-section.

Had lots of fun with both of them and I especially got to know Mikkel quite well, cause he was the only one staying that following week. We got along quite well – probably mostly because of our love for board games. So will definitely have to beat him in tons of games when I return home (yes, Mikkel, you just wait!)

The following week the school came up with two other teachers Hanne and Kim. It was really cool to meet both of the other teachers as well and to help out whereever needed. The first day they mainly do some games and stuff to make the students used to being on skis. I just went around and took pictures of the ones who fell. I reckon I’ve got round about 100 photos of students on the ground with skis in the air. You gotta start somewhere!

First time on skis is always great fun!
Frustration all around.

The rest of the week was spent doing ski trips during the day – start out with waxing in the morning and then the students get divided into three different groups, depending on skills and physique. I mainly went with team 2 that Gry was on and then with team 1 on the last day. The last two days we had a total whiteout and couldn’t see a thing. It was great for the students to experience that and to see how weather can be up here.

Thanks so much for a fantastic week to Frederik, Tirza, Gry, Mikkel, Hanne, Kim and Rolf. It was great to get to know you all and I can’t wait to see you all again. I’ve been thinking a lot about becoming a school teacher myself, so it was really cool to experience this and to get some contacts around.

Students coming up towards a pass around Vaglfjell.

At the same time Gry’s parents, Per and Nina, and their friend Max was at Sulseter as well and we stayed with them in a really cozy cabin. It was lovely to get to really know them and spend some good time together. We didn’t get to ski much together, but we had a really nice full moon-ski session. We didn’t go far but just went out to a good spot to have a look at the beautiful light. No headtorches needed. Per took some really beautiful photos of the whole area. His photos are generally really really good! We had some good chats about beer-brewing as well, as he’s been doing that for a while now and I really wanna get started on it. We might have tasted a few too, thanks to Gry! Nina and I had some really lovely chats about life and the thoughts around it. It really helped me reflect on things and to see things from a different angle – thanks so much for that. It’s not often that I meet people that are so great at asking questions. It made me think a lot.

So thanks for a lovely week to all of you!! I feel so lucky to get to know so many great people on this trip. I can’t believe how many people I’ve met – I’m so excited to see everyone again. Since the day I arrived in Kristiansand I’ve gotten to know some really great people. Cheers for that all of you. Hopefully you’re reading this!

Here’s some extra photos:

All good!
Waxing session in the morning.
An instructors paradise.
Sascha, Mikkel and Gry on a daytrip we had before the students arrived.
Tai-ski!

Beitostølen, Sulseter, retiring a sled-dog and a lot of Danes

Photo by Mark Burton.

Finally got a good chance to do a new post – my apologies for being so slow – and for making this post so long. It’s been pretty hectic since last time and a lot of things have happened and changed. Some things good, some not so good. In fact quite sad. I’ve experienced so many different emotions lately and learned a fair bit about myself. Generally, since I started this trip, I’ve learned more about myself than what I learned about maths in school. Maybe. Probably not, but still. Anyway, instead of beating around the bush, I’ll get to it all now. Sorry!

My plan last time was to stay in Beitostølen for the weekend and try to put some weight on Jossi. At the same time, Mark was gonna come up and Becky had a visitor, Jamie, coming as well. So it was all set to be a nice weekend with loads of fun – we went on a ski trip all of us with two dogs each, ate some waffles at the local waffle-cabin on the ski tracks (picture below).

Vaffelbua in Beito with Mark, Becky and Jamie.

We also had a good time at home drinking beers, cooking food and just hanging out. We went dog-sledding with Becky’s dogs and with some of the dogs from Beito Husky Tours (www.beitohuskytours.com) where Becky works. It was so nice to be driving dogs again, I’ve missed that so much. More than I can describe. It’s like riding a bike – once you know how to do it, you go straight back into it no matter how long a break you’ve had. It’s fantastic. If you haven’t tried dog sledding – GO! Beito Husky Tours is a great place for a try – with kids as well. It’s somewhat close to Oslo as well. If you’re wanting to go further north and experience the arctic culture, then fly to Alta and go to Trasti & Trine! Okay, a bit off topic, but I was quite excited to be sledding again. I think you all got the point!

Coming back towards Beitostølen on our day trip. Jossi in swing! Photo by Mark Burton.

We went for a nice little trip all four of us out close to the lake Vinstre. We made a fire and cooked some sausages on it and Mark had a play with his new drone. A really nice day out.

Drone shot during our daytrip sledding. Becky in front and Mark and I sharing a sled behind. Photo by Mark Burton.

The sad stories are always the hardest ones to tell. It’s so much nicer talking about the great things in life, but the sad stories are also the ones that makes us grow and appreciate when things are good. It’s so easy to forget that.

Jossi waiting patiently while I took ages to take down the tent.

Today’s sad story is about a friendship that started not long ago. A friendship that was set to be for a life time. And so it became. This relationship started in early January, just a couple of days before I sat off on this trip. It was a funny set-up. Friend no. 1 knew about friend no. 2 way before they met that misty and cold January morning. Friend no. 1 had so many expectations about this soon-to-be friendship and had so many ideas to what they would be doing for the next few months. In fact, friend no. 1 had planned a long trip for them both, so that they could really get to know one another. A trip through Norway. From Lindesnes to North Cape. From A to Z. Bottom to top. South to North. You know, Norway lenghtwise. Friend no. 1 was so excited to meet friend no. 2. Friend no. 2 probably had no clue what was going on. He had been driven down south to a new family and met a ton of people on his way. Everybody loved friend no. 2 and wanted to keep him and be best mates. So did friend no. 1 – he was so excited to spend such a long time together snuggled up in a tent each night and having cuddles every morning. This relationship might start to sound a little weird if you haven’t already guessed who friend no. 1 and 2 is. Mads and Jossi. Human and dog. Me and him.

As you would know, Jossi and I have been on the go for a little while now. We’ve experienced so much together. Looooong nights in the tent chatting and early mornings where no words have been said. We’ve gone up- and downhill a thousand times. Slogging straight for miles. We’ve shared our lunches together every day. Mostly he had some of mine though, not so much the other way. We’ve been the best friends and we’ve been the worst enemies. I’ve loved him, hated him and everything in between (mostly loved I must say. Mainly hated when he had gone around me with his leash and tangled us up and made me fall)!

One of the best memories I have with Jossi was when we found this beautiful little spot to stay for the night. It was the first day out from Hovden and we slept up quite high in a mountain pass. I was fighting against the wind to pitch my tent while Jossi was standing right next to me during the whole scene. Followed me everywhere. It was really annoying at the time cause I kept on falling over him, but at the same time he was probably a little scared and just wanted to be close. As I finished pitching the tent, he crawled inside quickly and got comfortable. I spent some time outside fixing the last few things, but when I crawled in myself I was greeted with a tail-wagging dog that was happy to see me. Nothing special in the big scheme of things – it’s something that every dog owner have tried a thousand times. But at that particular time, it was like being in heaven. I spent the first hour inside the tent just cuddling with him and talking about the day. He didn’t have much to say, but that’s okay. Silence can be golden.

Jossi helping out Torbjørn on Hardangervidda.

Unfortunately, silence can be very silent as well. Dogs can’t say what they want the most and how they feel. It’s up to us to figure that out. So I made the choice to let Jossi off the trip.

It’s by far the hardest choice I’ve had to make on this trip. In theory, it was an easy choice, but to make the actual call was so hard when you’re so attached to that little four-legged creature. My decision was made because Jossi simply wasn’t enjoying himself on the trip. Don’t get me wrong – we had a good bond, he was comfortable by my side and definitely trusted me and felt safe with me. He just didn’t like to be on a trip and work. Jossi didn’t really pull – only occasionally when everything was perfect. He never really seemed to settle when we had breaks during the day. He never really relaxed until we had pitched the tent. There was something about all of this, that he didn’t enjoy. Towards the end he stopped eating as well and became really thin. I tried so many things to get him to eat, but he wasn’t really interested in any of it. Huskies can be funny like that. It’s not unusual.

Jossi in Voss.
Torbjørn and Jossi on Hardangervidda.

Everytime we would be inside a house, he was a totally different dog. He loved it. Could sleep all day long, would naturally come for cuddles every second of the day and his tail would be wagging all the time basically. It’s a bit hard for me to explain, but you would know what I mean if you had seen it. It happened both at Mark’s in Evje, at Lars’s in Voss and at Becky’s in Beitostølen. He would eat again as well. And then he loved it at Becky’s where there were other dogs to be social with as well.

The next day was the same conditions, but now I was back on land so a little more up and down. Took me a solid 7 hours to do a little less than 5 km’s. It wasn’t particularly hilly – no big climbs or anything. Pretty straight forward. With this speed I wouldn’t be able to make it in time in terms of food supplies. Plus, the going would be slower as I would start to climb up in the mountains and on the other side of a big pass the conditions would be the same. Dragging that pulk through the snow was so hard. Becky called me and offered to drive her dogs in and pick me up. No reason to just push and push and push and have a shitty time once again. Of course, on a trip like this it can’t all just be unicorns and flowers, but when it’s tough going pretty much 24/7 it can be quite soul destroying. So after discussing this for a bit I said yes. A few hours later Becky and Jamie showed up with two dog-teams to pick me and Jossi up. We drove home in two hours and went back to Becky’s.

Probably the best ice-beard I’ve ever had. We drove through a lot of fog coming back towards Beitostølen. Was quite cold.

The decision about Jossi was already made. He acted the same way as earlier on the trip and definitely wasn’t excited to be out again.

We have to do what’s best for our loved ones. In this case, it was to let him off the trip and let him live a happy family life as a retired sled-dog. So Jossi now lives with Mark and his family in Evje. He’s even got a sister, Stella, a really nice and funny staffy. Good on him. I’m so excited for Mark and his family to have Jossi. It makes me really happy and calm that Jossi lives in a good place where he’s taken good care of. Luckily, I can see him as much as I want and take him on trips (probably shorter ones next time!), so it’s not like I’ll never see him again.

Beautiful place, beautiful dog.

But Jossi, even though you’re analfabetic and probably don’t know how to use a computer, I’ll tell you this here. You are one great dog. I love you to bits and I always will. So strange how you can get so attached to a dog so quickly. I wish you could all meet Jossi and see for yourselves. It was hard as fuck leaving him behind, but it was for the best.

Jossi resting his head on my lap at Becky’s house. This was the last night we had together and this definitely made me drop a tear or ten.

After Beitostølen I went up to Sulseter near Vinstra to spend some time with my girlfriend Gry and I’ve been here since then. Sulseter is a very popular place for a lot of Danes and the company Skilejrskole (www.skilejrskole.dk) that Gry works for teaches Danish school kids cross country skiing in the mountains. So I’ve been helping out a fair bit here. Been on skis every day which has been nice. I’ll talk more about these days in the next post.

Obviously, this has made me think a lot about the rest of the trip. I was so confused about it all, not knowing what to do. Things goes wrong on trips and we’ve gotta be prepared for that – but when things goes wrong all the time and there’s not much enjoyment to any of it, then I start questioning myself why. The weather and the conditions have been really crappy this season. The snow came so late and didn’t really have time to settle properly. A lot of lakes are open and no good to ski on. The temperatures are rising all the time and just these last two weeks in Sulseter (at roughly a 1000 meters) we’ve basically had more days with plus-degrees than with minus.

That’s one thing. I can deal with that for a long time, but if it keeps on being like that, then I’d rather stop and try another year. There’s no point in it for me then. I can deal with really rough times, but if there’s not much enjoyment, then I can’t see why I should continue.

Vaglfjell at Sulseter. This is roughly 1000 meters above sea level. Not much snow!

The lack of Jossi is really messing with my mind. That’s the main thing. I’m not sure if I feel like continuing without a dog. This trip became a thing that I wanted to do with a dog. I didn’t know anyone who wanted to go with me, but when Becky offered me to take a dog from Beito Husky Tours that was gonna retire anyway, then the decision was made. Just myself and a dog. Wonderful. I would have some company – and for me, a dog is more than enough company. But now that there’s no dog, I’m not sure how I feel about it all.

My time here at Sulseter have been absolutely amazing (I’ll write more about that in the next post). It’s given me some time to really reflect on things and see it all from a different perspective. I still really want to continue the trip – the motivation for that is still there. Just not sure if I wanna do it all alone.

Gry in front of the sun on a very windy day.

I’m not gonna find out til I try, so tomorrow morning I’ll set off again through Rondane National Park up to Hjerkinn north of Dovrefjell all alone. Without Jossi. I’ll try and see how I go and take it day by day. If it’s no good I’ll stop and maybe think about doing it another year. If I’m still unsure I’ll give it some more time and if it’s great.. well, then I’ll continue!

So yeah, a pretty eventful time for me lately. So many thoughts going through my head. There’s been a lot of personal growth lately!

Reading my book and drinking coffee in Tronds cabin at Sulseter. Quite nice, yeah.

This post became a fairly long one, I’m sorry. I struggle to keep it short. It’s nice for me to get it all out and write about it. So whether it’s for myself or to keep family and friends updated, I don’t know. Probably a mix. I hope you enjoy reading it though.

Thanks again,

Mads.

PS: A little extra pictures below!

Erik and I having a chat. Erik is the earlier owner of Jossi.
Cora in lead during a short trip Becky and I did.
Becky and her team.
Jossi on our last day together.
Gry in front of one of the cabins we stayed in at Sulseter.
Gry and I on a sunset trip.
Mikkel during training. A little teaser for the next blog post. More fail-pictures to come!

Stage 3 and how I ended up in Voss

So Torbjørn and I headed off into the National Park of Hardangervidda. Super excited to get up there. It’s Northern Europe’s largest mountain plateau covering roughly 3422 km2 – and it’s the largest area with wild reindeer in all of Norway. The western part is more rugged with higher peaks and deep valleys where the western part is more flat and has these endlessly long plateaus. Super beautiful. We got to see a very small part of Hardangervidda on our trip due to bad weather. We skied through a fair bit, but we didn’t see anything for the first 3 days due to a solid white-out. 

Map of Hardangervidda NP.

So we set off on the 24th of January at around 2 o’clock. We were super excited to see one another again and to be on a trip once more. Torbjørn is one of my best friends that I got to know in the military. We have a lot of things in common when it comes to adventures and how to live our lives. When it comes to chocolate, then not so much though. In 2016 we walked the 800 km Colorado Trail together and we’ve been hiking in Tasmania together as well when we both lived in Australia. I really appreciate our friendship, so I was so excited to have him on this part of the trip. 

Torbjørn in the tent!

The first day was interesting. It starts out with a somewhat big climb right outside of Haukeliseter. So the swear words came quickly. Funny, how we thought that to be tough. It got progressively worse later on! 

White-out!

The weather wasn’t on our side, we couldn’t see a single thing once we got up. When we were more than 20 meters apart we could barely see each other. So we found the GPS and moved on. This kind of weather is quite normal up there, especially this early in the season. Luckily, we’re no strangers to this, so we knew what to do. The plan was to just get as far as we could and then pitch the tent before darkness so we could work out a good routine. We are two fairly big guys (I’m 190 cm and he’s 200 cm). My tent is a Hilleberg Nammatj 2 GT – a two person tent with a big vestibule. Normally you would have a 3-person tent for this situation. I’m sure you can all imagine how we secretly wanted to punch each other in the face every time the other one moved just a bit. Oh well, that’s the tent life! 

Tent life is certainly better when your mate brings two beers!

The first night went well but with a lot of wind. We woke up, ate brekky and packed down the camp. The plan today was to make it to Hellevassbu, the first cabin on the trip. That didn’t happen. We moved so slowly in the terrain because of the weather (same sight as yesterday) – it took us a while to navigate every step and then to watch out for changes in the terrain. When it’s a whiteout it’s really hard to see how the terrain is folding out, even right in front of your face. You can go straight and then all of a sudden there’s a big drop or a hill coming out of nowhere. So you’ve got to move slowly and securely to prevent injuries and nasty falls. 

Chocolate time while waxing skis and putting on my short skins after a climb.

It was a long day, but nice to be out and together. We didn’t make it to the cabin, so we pitched the tent quite late in the dark and fought to get the tent up in strong winds. We were both completely covered in snow once we got inside the tent. It was rough but also a bit cool. 

Torbjørn. This was just before we started pitching the tent.

The next day was another interesting one. The wind hadn’t settled overnight and the sight had gotten a bit worse. Oh well, we thought, and continued. It didn’t take long before we had to cross a small stream. It seemed fine to cross after having studied it for a bit and everything else that we had crossed earlier had been absolutely fine. All of a sudden I lost my balance and fell – when I hit the ground it was a big enough push to break the ice on top and I fell in with my whole right arm – soaking wet. As I tried to get up again both of my legs went through up to mid-calf. I got myself out quite easily though. In the meantime pretty much the same thing happened to Torbjørn apart from him being wet to his knees but not on his arms. We quickly agreed to pitch the tent and clear out the situation. Get in some dry clothes and warm up our feet. And so we did. Got some warm lunch and dry clothes and a tiny nap. Then decided to push on to Hellevassbu, a cabin, and dry our clothes overnight. And so we did. It took us roughly three hours to get there as far as I recall. We had a really good and cozy time in the cabin with great food and our mood was high after a ‘fun’ day! 

Torbjørn and I in the tent getting warm again.
Porridge and coffee

The next day we had to go up and over a big mountain pass and then cross a lake to get to a cabin called Litlos. We slept in the tent right next to the cabin though. The day was good. Same weather where you couldn’t see anything and the wind had picked up again. The area was so beautiful though and after a long and tough climb, we had a very fun downhill section that went really well. The last hours over the two lakes felt like forever. We were both really tired and when we could finally see the outline of the cabin in the far distance, it felt like it never got any closer. A very long night but we got there and got cozy in the tent once again.

Litlos during sunrise

The next morning was one of the colder ones. -26 degrees and a bit of wind, so we were packed up from the start. Luckily, there was blue skies and we could see the light from the sun just coming over the mountains in the distance. So we knew it was gonna be a clear and beautiful day. As we set off, the sun had come up and the temperature was rising a bit. Most of the day was around -15/-20 degrees. This day turned out to be really really good all up until the last hours of the day.

A cold but beautiful morning!

We had an amazing day to begin with. Great weather and great conditions. We had fun and took loads of photos and filmed a bit. We were still a bit slow-going, but it was nice not to stress too much but just enjoy it all instead.

Days like these are fantastic.
No comment.

The day didn’t end up very well though. Roughly an hour or so before the days destination, one of my skis suddenly just fell off. Turned out, that the metal clip that keeps your boot on the binding had come off! I’ve never experienced that before. It was annoying cause we were so close to finishing the day, but now it would take a bit longer to walk on one ski. I@m carrying an extra binding in my sled just in case, but it takes a while to put a new one on, so we wanted to get to either a cabin or to pitch the tent. So we continued and set out for the next cabin where we thought we could stay.

For the ones who knows what it’s supposed to look like!

Half an hour later, the same thing happened with the other binding. Exactly the same thing. So now I had no skis, and still only gear to repair one of them. We tried not to think too much about the next couple of days and how that was gonna be (cause we knew it would probably suck!), but instead concentrate on todays goal and then take it from there. We were tired after all. Torbjørn had a lot of good ideas to try and do a quick fix, but unfortunately they didn’t really work out. It was ‘easier’ to just walk in the ski boots (although it’s not particularly easy). Torbjørn was a hero and took both the sled and the backpack so that it was easier for me to walk. We roughly had about 5 km’s to the cabin. It was a tough walk for sure and when we got to the cabin we realised that it wasn’t a DNT self-service cabin, which was quite obvious and we should’ve known that. It was a ‘turisthytte’ so a private tourist cabin closed for winter. At least we had some wind protection for the tent! We were really tired at this point and in need of water because we had run out earlier. We pitched the tent, had a big meal each, water and then decided to walk to Sandhaug (a DNT cabin with self-service) the next morning and then have a look at our situation there. A 6 km walk over a lake where the snow shouldn’t be too deep because of the wind coming through.

We walked like this to the other side of the lake, so that it was easier for the other one to walk without skis. We swapped during the day.

We decided to sleep in a bit because the following day hopefully wouldn’t take us too long. So we woke up at 7-ish and took off not long after. It took us roughly 2,5 hours to get there and we were greeted by a very modern cabin that wasn’t particularly cozy, but it definitely did the trick!

Torbjørn coming into Sandhaug.
Fixing one of the bindings at Sandhaug (the cabin).

We started to repair what we could and had a look at the map to figure out the quickest way out, cause it wasn’t a tough decision whether to continue or get out when you’ve only got 3 skis for two people! So we had a look at our food and made the plan. It would take us roughly 3 days to get out from there and up to a road where, hopefully, we could catch a ride from there.

Jossi and I at Sandhaug.

As we were packing for the days to come, two snow-scooters came by outside the window. There’s literally been no people up this way and in January there’s pretty much no one going up apart from dog mushers and the occasional skiers and snow-scooters. There’s no marked tracks, the weather can be nasty and the days are short this time of year, so it keeps a lot of people away. Anyway, we quickly put some clothes on and went outside to have a chat to them. Turned out that it was a police man and a local guy who had been picking up some sticks for track marking at a cabin nearby and were on their way out. It was a coincidence that they came this way, cause it wasn’t the original plan.

They were both really nice and offered to drive us out of there to the closest road – the only issue was that they were going west afterwards, where we had to go east. Hitchhiking two people with a sled and a dog was gonna be impossible, so we just had to go and then take a train/bus back east. This was a small issue, as we would’ve had to hitchhike from that point if we would’ve walked out anyway.

It didn’t take us long to pack down all the stuff in the cabin and make it ready for the next ones to come (it’s always nice to leave it clean and prepared for people who are cold). Anyway, so Torbjørn jumped on the back of one of the snow-scooters and I sat on a trailer in the back holding Jossi close. Joss wasn’t too happy about the situation to begin with, but he quickly calmed down and just chilled for the whole ride.

All four of us after a succesful ride out. This was the only photo I managed to take during the whole thing, as I had to hold Jossi with both hands. Really nice guys. Thanks so much to both of you if you ever read this.

The policeman drove us all the way to Voss. As Voss is a popular place for whitewater-rafting, I quickly contacted Mark who’s been a raft-guide and kayaker for many years, to see if he would know anyone in Voss that we could stay at. He was a hero once again and found a place for us. We stayed with a very very lovely family. Lars and Silje were so lovely and made us feel very very welcome. Helped us a lot and let us stay for two nights. We also had some really nice nights just talking and drinking a few home-brewed beers. That always helps on the mood. It’s so nice meeting so many nice people on this trip.

Doing maintenance on my MSR Whisperlite-stove.

Here we had time to fix our stuff and figure out what the plan was now. Also, it was Torbjørn’s birthday, so we had to have a cake and a beer, obviously! I bought two beers from Amundsen Brewery, a GREAT Norwegian brewery. We had a Modern Day IPA. Good stuff.

Cake and Amundsens Brewery Modern Day IPA! Congrats buddy.

We had a good time in Voss, but it was very frustrating at the same time. It’s not easy travelling with a dog and a pulk on your own. Torbjørn decided to go back to Copenhagen from Voss on the night of his birthday to get ready for his studies again. Fair enough. I had booked a ticket on a bus up to Tyinkrysset the next morning to start out from there. According to my plan I had to start in Haugastøl at the northern end of Hardangervidda, but I decided to go a bit further north. It was a really tough decision because I already had skipped a small part. I had to battle hard with personal demons in Voss. I just did not want to go back to that area all alone and have another shit-show. I think that would’ve killed all my motivation for the trip. I was a little intimidated by what has happened and I just needed to have a good time, really. I’ve been feeling so weird about skipping things cause I feel like I’m not allowed to do it and that I owe people to not do it. But what kind of thought is that to have? This is my trip, not anyone else’s – I can do exactly as I’d like to. If it’s not fun, why do it then? Obviously there’s tough times, that’s a big part of it, but it shouldn’t all be like that. I spoke to a few people on the phone and they helped me realise this. Thanks so much, you know who you are.


So that was what I did – went down to the bus the following day, thinking I was gonna go to Tyinkrysset. Unfortunately dogs wasn’t allowed on the bus which I just had not thought about at all. For some reason I just thought that it was a given. After trying to argue with the bus driver, I had to figure out what was gonna happen then. My first plan was to take the midnight train to Gol and then ski from Gol up to Beitostølen where my friend Becky lives – an area that I’m super excited to be in cause I know a few people up this way and it’s an amazing part of the world.

I didn’t know anything about tracks going up to Beitostølen from Gol and couldn’t find much information online. Becky told me it was probably gonna be really crap going through forests with deep new snow – so she offered to pick me up in Fagernes, where I could easily get to by bus from Gol train station. So that was what happened.

Getting on the train was a whole other story. No more tickets available for dogs and you had to buy a ticket for the pulk online. After a good confidence talk from Mark and Becky, telling me to just fake-cry or do whatever to get on, I went down to the station to see if it was possible to get on. I got the pulk on and then they told me there wasn’t gonna be room for me or Jossi – so I ran around a bit stressed and got hold of another lady on the train that turned out to be super nice. At first she told me there wasn’t any space, but then I tried to fake-cry and suddenly the whole scene changed and she told me to get on the train, find a seat and we’d figure it out from there! As Mark said, no one wants to see a bearded man cry. No one. It’s uncomfortable as fuck. But it works apparently!!

Jossi on the train.

So I was on the train and everything was good. Had to pay a ridiculous price for a pulk, a dog and myself though. Very very expensive, but that’s Norway, eh?

Arrived in Beitostølen yesterday night and had a couple of beers with Becky and a good chat. Thanks so much. Unfortunately Jossi hasn’t been eating particularly well lately, so he’s getting quite thin. So I’ll spend a few days here trying to feed him up before setting off again as it could get bad quite quick. Here I can get chicken fat and proper meat for him.

Jossi chilling while waiting for Becky at Fagernes bus station.

So that’s where I am now! Things happened quick and I’m really happy with the outcome. Next stop will be Heidal at GoRafting (www.gorafting.no) where Gaus, Kristin and their two kids lives – a family that I’m really excited to see and spend some time with!! But more on that later.

That’s all for this time!

Mads

Tales from stage 2 and Haukeliseter


Someone’s excited to head off! Picture by Mark Burton.

I’ve decided to divide stage 2 and 3 in two different posts to make them a bit shorter, but the following introduction counts for both of the posts. 

First things first. Nothing went as planned. Pretty much nothing at all – one of my officers in the military once said that the plan holds until the first enemy contact. Clever man he is. When on a big trip or expedition you can only expect to follow the plan for a short time – the minute you hit an obstacle you’ve got to work. Hopefully, everyone setting out on these kinds of journeys have got the experience necessary to navigate around these obstacles and come up with a fresh plan. Sometimes that new plan can be for the next 30 minutes and at other times it can be for the next days/weeks/months or even years. To be able to do this you have had to be in shitty situations earlier on in your life, so you know the outcome of a bad decision. That’s how we learn and become better at being in the outdoors. Good judgement comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgement, as Torbjørn’s dad said. 

The statement above was a little introduction to what has been happening within the last week and a half or so. Things can change quickly. 

Jossi and I at the car park in Hovden. Picture by Mark Burton.

So on the 19th of January Mark drove me up to Hovden so I could set off once again going towards Haukeliseter after having to turn around at the first part of stage 2 as mentioned in the earlier post. Things went somewhat well the first few hours. Had a clear day weather wise, but very windy and cold. I made my way up into the mountains and was feeling great with renewed energy. I was looking at my map and stupidly thinking ‘ah, this is easy navigation I can do this. Just walk up to that mountain there, stick to the right and off we go!’ – turned out I should’ve paid more attention as I walked over the mountain pass on the left instead. Luckily it occurs to me fairly early, so I had a proper look at the map and made my way back on track. It did cost me a solid two hours of the day though. Not a great start, but after fighting hard against the wind to set up my tent, the weather cleared and gave me a beautiful light. 

The next day was a great day but with tough navigation through a valley and over some lakes and a really bad sight – had to navigate on the GPS for the majority of the day. It was getting a bit colder at roughly -16 degrees. Made my way to the eastern side of Holmavatten and had another sick campsite:  

You can just spot the pulk on the left side of the tent!


A cold night in the tent for Jossi. I don’t need the sleeping bag anyway!

I had four and a half days to make it to Haukeliseter before Torbjørn (Thunder bear) was gonna meet me, so I decided to have a short day the next day. Sleep in a bit, then cross the lake slowly and enjoy it and then get into Holmvannshytta (a cabin) and stay for the night. And so I did – this was the first day with amazing weather. Completely blue skies and only a little wind. The conditions could’ve been better, but one can’t ask for it all at once, eh? 


Probably spent 3-4 hours crossing the lake. Taking many pictures, enjoying a long lunch and listen to Third Ear’s ‘21 roser’ – a Danish crime podcast about a big amphetamine- smuggling case in the 90’s. Super cool, check it out if you haven’t. 

Joss walking behind the pulk

Anyway, had a blast that day and when I got to the cabin I was greeted by four Danish guys, Jeppe, Kim, Nichlas and Emil, who had been in there the whole day and heated up the cabin nicely. It was like a sauna in there, believe me!! We had such a good and cozy time with card games and great food. When I was in Evje, Raymond and Ragnhild (a GREAT couple that Mark introduced me to), gave me four big moose steaks that Raymond had hunted himself and also a packet of cigars – thank you so much you guys. Can’t wait to see you again. 

I decided to share the steaks with the Danish guys and afterwards we went outside in the full moon and shared two cigars. 

Moose steak in the making!

The next day the guys took off early and I decided to take it chill and make my way into Haukeliseter slowly as I had to wait for Torbjørn anyway. So I set off at 11-ish and got there around 4-ish. A good day with a big downhill section where I fell hard on my tailbone right on a big block of ice. I’d like to blame it on Jossi for pulling at a bad time, but let’s face the music. I just fell by myself. 

Spent the rest of the day with the Danish guys at Haukeliseter – getting into the sauna, having a drink and eating cinnamon buns – oh, and a quick game of Settlers of Catan! Thanks guys for two really awesome days with you. Was great having some company and getting to know you all. Hope to see you at some stage again. 

Card game at the cabin

The next day was a rest day again waiting for Torbjørn to arrive – my phone had a lot of issues with the cold and moist so didn’t work for a very long time. So couldn’t get in touch with anyone basically. Tried to borrow a phone from the reception, but I was only allowed to for a small amount of time. Fair enough. A nice day fixing small things, relaxing and watching the tv-show Scrubs on tv!! Oh how I’ve missed that show! 

Torbjørn never showed up that night as he was supposed to. Had no idea what was going on and couldn’t get in touch with anyone. Finally got a hold of him through Gry the next morning and heard that he had to sleep in a broken shed on the side of the road while walking. So he had an adventure as well! 

The broken down shed that Torbjørn slept in! Picture by himself obviously!

Anyway, he got here, we caught up and finally went off at around 2 o’clock. The time I had at Haukeliseter was so confusing and frustrating. I had a hard battle with my mind about a lot of things regarding being alone and trying to deal with the frustration of not having a phone. It just makes things so much harder!!! 

The next week and a half or so became a bit more intense but also gave us some really good memories – broken gear and a long haul on foot without skis was among the things we dealt with. More on that and how I ended up in Voss in the next post!

 

Icy-beard kinda day. Just like every other day. Pretty annoying really. Might cut it off!

Thanks for reading again. I have no idea how many people are actually reading this, but I enjoy writing it and it’s a good memory for myself as well. Let me know if the posts get too long though! 

Cheers,

Mads 

TURNING AROUND

Getting ready to set off at the car park.
Picture by Mark Burton (Thirst Media)

So I finally got to set off on the second stage of the trip a couple of days ago. I was so excited to finally get on skis and have the mountains all to ourselves – it felt fantastic to finally be there in the winter wonderland (well almost, but more on that in a minute) and just listen to the sounds of the wind and my skis sliding through the snow.

Things turned out a bit differently though. To begin with I followed a road that would take me further in and then eventually head down on a lake and cross it. The conditions there were sort of ok – a bit icy, so started off with snow shoes that I borrowed from Brian Desmond (http://www.destination.setesdalnett.com/) with help from Mark and his lovely family. Thank you so so much. I quickly changed to my skis instead cause on the actual road it was fine and the lake had a bit of snow on it as well, so wasn’t too bad, really. Once I’d crossed the lake I had to follow a stream/river going north up towards Gaukhei, my first planned sleeping spot. Was supposed to be a fairly easy day with a somewhat short distance. I had in mind that I could cover it in about 6-7 hours. If I could’ve followed the stream and the lakes further up, that is.

Windy conditions at the start.
Picture by Mark Burton (Thirst Media)

The locals I had spoken to the day before said that the lakes should be ok, but I would have to be a bit careful and that the streams/rivers probably wouldn’t be frozen, but maybe I’d be lucky. So I decided to give it a go and see what the conditions looked like in there. A couple of days earlier, two girls had tried to go in but came back out again. As I reached the stream it was all open obviously, so I had to go through the woods and follow a summer trail. Not particularly nice when you have a pulk and skis and it had started to snow a fair bit. It was only round about 0 degrees celcius, so the snow was crazy wet and heavy and dragging the pulk was hard hard work. My pace was ridiculously slow. So I obviously didn’t make it to Gaukhei cause nothing in there was frozen and solid to walk on. At around 4.30 pm it started to get dark and I decided to put my tent up, have a good solid rest after a really tough day and then see what the conditions would be like tomorrow and hopefully have a better day.

The night that followed was one of the really funny ones. It snowed a lot, so had to get up 5-6 times during the night to clear off snow from the tent, so that there wasn’t too much pressure on the poles. At the same time, Jossi was half snowed in at some stage, cause he still thinks the tent is a bit scary. As I was pretty done with getting in and out of my very warm and comfortable sleeping bag (Mountain Equipment Glacier Expedition) I kind of just pushed him into the tent and had a chat to him until he finally was lying down and realized that it wasn’t actually that bad after all.

A very unorganized mess in the tent. I promise this isn’t what it’s always like!

When I woke up at 6.30 am it was still coming down hard. The temperatures had gone up though, so it wasn’t snow anymore but rain instead. Not particularly great for the conditions. It took me a while to pack down my tent and get the pulk ready and as I set off everything was already soaking wet. My mood wasn’t really good as I kind of knew what was gonna happen. My plan was to go a little bit further and see what the terrain looked like and then make a decision there whether I should try and continue up and over the mountains or turn around and look at my options. The pace was exactly the same as yesterday. Super hard work to just go a few hundred meters and every tiny little hill seemed like it was the biggest workout of my life. The snow kept on building up in front of the pulk, so I wasn’t only dragging the weight of the pulk, but also a good amount of wet and heavy snow. Oh, and also the pulk tips over really easily in these conditions, so I had to deal with that every 5 minutes almost. These are all things that happens every now and again, and that’s a part of the whole trip. It’s annoying obviously and it was, by far, a new record for me in yelling swear words in Danish, English and Norwegian. Maybe also other things. It’s a part of it all and I’m happy to experience this, cause this is what makes good conditions so much more fun.

Anyway, so I made it probably 2-3 km’s further in to where the climb starts. As my plan originally was to go via the lakes, it was a bit of a hit or miss with this plan B. The climb was way too steep for me to do as it was the summer route and the conditions made it even worse. There was no way I was getting up there. I sat down on the pulk and went through my options and out of the blue a guy came on his snow mobile. He’d been into another cabin somewhere with supplies. We had a chat about it all and I told him that my thought was to go back and maybe try to start out a bit further north where the conditions would be better. We quickly agreed that it was the right decision. It’s a really tough call to make when you’re out there, cause there’s nothing that you want more than to just keep on going. I told myself so many times, that of course I could get up there, but it would probably just take me a whole day itself. And the chance of pulling an injury this early in the trip was something that stressed my mind a lot.

So a bit moody, Jossi and I turned around and went back to where we came from. The pace was a bit slower than yesterday with all the new wet snow. To give you an estimate of how slow it went, I roughly covered 5 km’s in 6 hours. I had to go a bit further than yesterday as well, cause the lake that I had crossed yesterday wasn’t frozen anymore.

Slush-ice on the road just before the car park.

Got back into an area with mobile reception and called Mark. He said he could come and pick me up, take me back to his house in Evje and then we could look at the options from there. This was about 4 in the afternoon and Mark said he could be there around 10. So I pitched my tent, made some food and had a cuddle with Jossi while I waited for him.

Jossi finally getting comfortable in the tent. On my mattress…

As I’m writing, I’m sitting here in Evje and waiting to set off again. The new plan is to drive to Hovden and start out from there. I can get back on Stage 2 a bit further north, where the conditions are much better and I can follow a proper route. I can’t move to fast though, as I have to meet my mate Torbjørn at Haukeliseter on the 23rd and then set off on Hardangervidda the day after. I’ll leave tomorrow morning and then spend 3-4 days hetting up there.

It’s been really nice to have some time with Mark and his family here in Evje. They are so lovely and welcoming and have just opened up their door for me. Their two kids are great and we’re all having so much fun. They have an amazing Instagram-page that you should all check out: https://www.instagram.com/wild_with_child/ and a YouTube-channel with some really awesome videos about traveling the world as a family. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSvtMdQvf9ead4gqB3iAK6Q?view_as=subscriber I’d definitely recommend it!

I’ve only been in Norway since the 3rd of Jan and I’ve already made so many new fantastic friends here. Even though it really sucks to walk into a major obstacle and turning around, it’s all a big part of the adventure. And meeting all these people and making new friends is one of the major reasons why I wanna do this trip. Things happens and they usually turn out really good in either one way or another. So I try to keep my head up and continue on the journey very soon.

Cheers,

Mads


Stage 1 – DONE!

A bit far to go!

Lindesned lighthouse to Ljosland Fjellstove. You gave me lots of asphalt and sore feet. It’s been a good few days to start with – testing out some of the gear and sort of doing an extra test-run. Most things went really well and there’s actually not much to complain about. Apart from the weather though, but that doesn’t really count, does it?

The first day I started out around 12-ish and did round about 19 km’s. At (late) lunch-time I got invited into a nursing home to have a bowl of Lapskaus followed by waffles and coffee. Roughly 20 ladies staring at me as I ate my food. A bit intimidating to start with, but ended up being lovely. They all loved Jossi even though he didn’t really say hello. He’s not the most polite dog, you know. I set up the tent right next to a farm with goats. Jossi found the goats quite interesting but, to my surprise, lost interest straight away when I pulled out his food. He hasn’t been eating particularly well, but it’s getting way better now as we go. First night was good – a bit windy but completely dry. The tent was pitched at 4.15 and I went to bed at 10-ish. So there’s a lot of time to read, drink tea, think of something nice, eat my dinner and have a chat to Jossi. I tried to discuss with him the reason why he has to wear a reflective vest. He didn’t have much to say to the cause, so I think he got it.

Jossi with his reflective vest that keeps on sliding to the left.

The second day was good but long. Did about 28 km’s which takes out on your feet when on asphalt. A bit moody weather wise with drops of rain every now and again. Highlight of the day was when I knocked on a door to ask for water and came out with a whole bag of homemade baked goods and a coffee to-go. Set up the tent in a ditch somewhere right next to the road. Had an amazing sunset though. Everything was orange and beautiful.

One of the tiny towns on the way

Day 3 was about 26 km’s in rain and sleet. Had a very slow morning and didn’t start out til 9.15. Not the most interesting day really – a couple of nice places. The nicest one being the shop in Konsmo – bought some brown cheese and knækbrød which was heaven on a rainy day. This was the first day with snow on the road, which makes it quite hard to pull a sled on wheels. More of that followed.. Had two cups of hot chocolate in the tent which was pitched right behind a bus stop all lightened up by street lights. How luxurious.

Having a quick stop next to Øvre Øydnavatn just outside Byremo

Day 4. 28 km’s and lots of ice and snow on the road. Pretty much no way to get a grip on the road. Weather wasn’t the greatest, but it was a very beautiful day. Long tough day with endless straight roads that seemed like they were only made to annoy me. Had a few downs on this day, but listening to music and podcasts helped me a fair bit. Highlight of the day was that I rediscovered how great the album Songs for the Deaf by Queens of the Stone Age is.

The mountains starting to show

Day 5 – last day of this stage! 22 km’s to Ljosland Fjellstove. Great day but with quite high winds. Lots of ice on the road, but it didn’t seem to annoy me as much as the day before. Spent 4 hours walking up to Ljosland. Was so excited about Songs for the Deaf that I listened to it again straight when I started walking. Fairly short day, but had a blast. The mountains started to show it’s beautiful face and I was finally somewhat closer to the mountains. Came to the fjellstove and had a chat to the owner about the conditions further up. SUPER icy and not much snow. Two girls tried to go up a few days earlier, but had to turn around and skip this leg. I’ve borrowed a pair of snow shoes with crampon-style teeth underneath, so hopefully that will be better. Had a chat to a local as well that was gonna go there on his snowmobile over the lake, so conditions could be worse after all.

Houses just before Ljosland

Got picked up by my mate Mark and are now spending the night at his house in Evje with his lovely family. I’ve played with pearls with his son and filled up food for the upcoming stage. And charged everything! They’ve been so nice to me – made me food and kept me away from thirst with beer! Really excited for tomorrow but also a bit nervous about the conditions. Time will tell. Maybe I’ll sit here again tomorrow evening if it’s no good.

Temperatures dropping

That’s all for now!

Thanks for reading:)

Mads