Friday, July 30, 2010

Take a hike.

Norway is famous for it's mountains and fjords, so when your aunt and uncle invite you to spend four days hiking, the only option is HELL YES! Four days of mountain goats, beautiful valleys, icy cold streams and rock hard calves, bring it oh-on.
Norwegains are pretty clever when it comes to being clever, so they created an organisation called the DNT. It does many things including run mountain huts which hikers can stay at while out in the wilderness. I guess it is sort of like the system on the bibbulmun track, walking from hut to hut. Except that Norwegains are much more sophisticated. Some of the huts are self service, i.e. there is nobody there to run the place. Other hytte (huts) are fully serviced which means you get added extras such as three course meal in the evening and a hot shower. Bonuses which are highly appreciated after a day hiking in the mountians.
On the first night we stayed at a self service hut named Bjordalsbu, 158 metres above sea level. You rock up, find yourself a wooden bunk, take a trip to the pantry and make yourself a meal, hang your wet clothes by the fire, play a few rounds of cards.
It is sort of like you have broken into someones house and are using their stuff. You pay with your credit card details which you slide into a wooden box by the door when you leave. It is pretty amazing that this system is available and functional. Anybody could turn up and steal all the food or vandalise the hut. Although walking for six hours to steal canned reindeer balls, doesn't actually sound that tempting.
We also stayed in a place named Lungsdalshytta which was fully serviced. Ninety percent of the meat and dairy products came from the farm on which it was located. For dinner we were served sour cream porridge (rømme grøt). It is very typically Norwegian and very delicious. It is severed with cured meats, flat bread, and is topped with cinnamon, sugar, and raisins. My Mum usually makes is for the Norwegain national day in May. I love rømme grøt, but it is not the kind of dish I crave after several hours hiking. I don't know how they can serve porridge as the main course for dinner. Outrage! I wanted a meaty manly dish, like kjøtt kaker. They are Norwegain meatballs served with boiled potatoes and lingonberry jam! My favourite and much better than the ikea version.

Anyways, at Lungsdalshytta they were running a course to teach women how to look after the cows and make dairy products. The apprentice milk maids had spent the day making cheese, sour cream, yoghurt and milk. Sounds like a dream to me! Can you imagine running arcoss grassy medows with piggy tails, lederhosen, and a bucket full of fresh milk. Cue... "The hills are alive with the sound of music". In actual fact it would be more like 6am starts in a cold, dark, muddy shed in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of smelly cows as your only company. On second thoughts mayyybe not.

On the final day we climbed to the top of a mountain. At the top was a stone hut known as the "Lord Hut". An eccentric British lord with too much money built it in the 1800s. It has an amazing view, but it is so remote and hard to get to that he must have been a little off his nutter. He also wouldn't let the builders working on his hut use skiis, so those poor men had to walk in the deep snow all the way up this ridiculous mountian. I wonder what he got up to in his lonesome stone hut? These days, it serves as a nice place to stop and have lunch while out on a hike.

Apart from lord huts and milk maids, there was plenty of other highlights. We crossed many streams with my not so waterproof boots, drank hot chocolate in the rain, met some of the local sheep, accquired some swollen ankles, and learnt about Norwegain mountain fauna from my expert Aunt. It was a fantastic experience I would recommend to anyone. But when we reached the end, we had to shout HALLELUJAH! It was good to be home!

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