Norway has always fascinated me.
It might have originated whilst learning about Vikings in my primary school classroom. I daydreamed of coarse barbarians from the north, sailing recklessly across the unknown of the black Atlantic. From a quick glance on a relief map I was intrigued by vast areas of rocky wilderness and the icy, clear water of the fjords. I was excited by how mountainous and apparently uninhabitable it looks. It’s climate with such incredible variation. The Arctic Circle.
And it’s human geography is just as fascinating. The UN Human Development Index informs us that Norway is the greatest country in the world. Just over five million people are lucky enough to live in a place of equal rights for women, superb public health, excellent education, a widespread interest in international affairs, close knit communities and a progressive, tolerant approach to living where excessive wealth is seen as vulgar. The Norwegian Government even decides who is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize! It is however, one of the most expensive countries on Earth and beer is exceptionally expensive, if you can get hold of it at all. It has some of the lowest alcohol consumption rates in Europe.
You aren’t allowed to drink in public? The UN better have another look at it’s index.
Browsing through Skyscanner I realised that a low budget Norwegian airline did provide very competitive flights. In fact, Manchester to Stanvanger return for under £70. A quick glance at the map reveals Stavanger is pretty close to some serious fjords and mountains. I bet that is good for a walk. Add on £20 or so and I’ve got my 70l rucksack delicately tossed into the cargo hold and we’re away. I called a freind I knew had a sense of adventure and more importantly some time off and I had a companion for the trip. Seven days in Norway it is.
Now due to the cost of the flight (a little bit more than the petrol to Wales) and the fact that food is supposed to be really expensive, it would be wise to take as much food with us as possible. Also, Jack, my travelling companion really does not get on very well with gluten. We would have to be very strict about diet and it made sense for both of us to go gluten free for the week.
I’ve done a few trips carrying our own food without resupply and they have always gone pretty well. Everything tastes better on a mountain. Now packing. To carry six days worth of food and all the clothing and equipment needed to deal with Norway’s altitudes and somewhat unreliable weather would be quite a tough challenge. We certainly wouldn’t be moving anywhere fast. Out came the pens and paper and some swift googling to find out which foods pack the best calories per gram. Anything over 400 kcal per 100g made the cut. Dried food is the king, so we would definitely be whipping out the trusty trangia (thanks Mark Nicholson). We would be able to buy meths out there (it’s not allowed on the plane) and the built in windshield has the added bonus of being a great place to start a wood fire to get the water boiling.
An ASDA trip was in order and once we got home there was definitely some excitement building in my little kitchen as we measured, poured and labelled our little food bags. I suspected we were to enjoy the maths more than the eating. Different flavours of porridge and cowboy coffee for breakfast each day, peanut butter, baby bell and oatcakes for lunch and a choice of either cheesy mash and instant sauce or fried sausage and rice for dinner. Rounded off with 30p chocolate and whisky to finish. I poured a litre of something Scotch into a plastic bottle. Yet more weight to carry but I was saving by only taking one pair of pants.
The total came to about £90 for enough food for six complete days for two people with whisky and rum. If you want any info on the recipes – I’d be happy to oblige. Comment below.
A quick look at a few maps and with a bit of help from the Norwegian Trekking Association website and we came up with a plan. We were to make a journey around Lysefjord and just enjoy the landscape. Camping, walking, relaxing.
We would buy a map when we got there but to be on the safe side I wanted to download some maps for my Garmin Etrex 30. Thanks to Freizeitkarte which once again came to my aid. You can download contour maps of most places which include most of the major details of footpaths, rivers and danger areas. Don’t go thinking that they are as good as OS explorer maps (we really are spoiled in the UK) but they are a fantastic resource – used with Garmin Basecamp you can’t really go wrong. Just like being outdoors – it’s free (once you have the expensive Garmin).
Bags packed with all the usual stuff. Took the Marmot tent, as we weren’t sure what the weather would be like and wanted the extra space in case it got foul. Stuffed in plenty of woolen clothing expecting to be cold and wet most of the time. With the food, meths and some water the bag came up just short of 20kg. I wondered how far round this fjord we’d get.
Trangia stove was a gift from Mark Nicholson a few years ago. Its fantastic and has been with me on nearly all of my trips. Its cheap and easy to run and the gentle flicker of the flame is more my style than the roaring of a gas powered stove. You can also light wood fires safely in it. You can get the expensive ones here – but they should last longer than your knees will! You can get cheaper copies off everyone’s favorite Sports Direct – bringing the outdoors to the masses!
The Garmin E Trex 30 was bought with some vouchers gifted to me from the parents of the children I teach. I know it’s not cheap but it can be picked up for less than Garmin would like you to know. I have been on 90% of my trips before I had one and I was just fine. In the end. It just a little bit of security – especially in a really unfamiliar landscape. It turned out it was only used once for the whole trip and even then only for it’s data.