/ˈzēˌrō/
(noun)
  1. No quantity or number; naught; the figure 0.
  2. A day in which no miles are hiked.

New country, new hike

written Jul 10, 2018 @ 06:06 PM after hiking 0.00 miles

Since moving to Norway, I've been taunted by the spectacular wilderness here. I've done what I can do to get out and explore, but it's also a balancing act with my job -- and it's fun to finally be working and programming again.

For example, I've been skiing in the mountains:

Hemsedel

I've been sightseeing around Oslo

From the roof of the Opera House

I've had a BBQ in the park

These day-use grills are pretty awesome

I've been on a work offsite to a coastal resort.

4am "night" sky in Norway never ceases to amaze me

Then a few weeks ago, I had a chance to fly to Bergen. Bergen is way on the other side country, and home to all of the fjords that everyone knows about from reading Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Flying into Bergen

This involved a trip of driving to see some of the fjords up close and personal.

Including Sognefjord, the king of the fjords

This trip reignited a daydream that I've had ever since I arrived here: let's take a few days off and hike across this whole country.

Pre-hike checklist

written Jul 11, 2018 @ 09:07 PM after hiking 0.00 miles

I spent some time coming up with a plan, devising a route, and finding a good time to take off from work. It turns out that no one in Norway works during July, so hey, when in Rome?

So I leave tomorrow. Let's get to work prepping my gear and food.

Up first is lunches, which will largely consist of cheese and salami, for my salts, fats, and protein.

YUM

Next was to pile up the food that I'd found and see what I had purchased over the last few weeks. Now, here's a fair warning (and my Norsk friends might want to look away) -- the options here are, well, limited.

For example, one of my absolute staple hiking foods is peanut butter. It is loaded with protein and fat, and has lots of sodium, and a fair amount of sugar. With those four things, you don't really need anything else. Plus, it's delicious!

However, the peanut butter in Norway is ... not that great. And it comes in small jars. And those jars are glass (therefore heavy).

So anyway, groceries here are just different, and it requires a lot of adaptation.. But I've done this before, and I have a rough idea of what I'll want.

Pile of calories

I'll start by splitting it into roughly 4 days, since that's about how long it will take me to get to my first resupply opportunity.

Four days of carbs and fats

Once I had what felt like enough calories, I started with my prep work. First things first: repackage the ramen. This is to eliminate the plastic waste that might turn into litter, as well as speed things along for me so I don't have to waste as much time when I'm eating dinner. It also saves on space because I crush it all up and it no longer is cumbersome rectangular blocks.

Four dinner entrees there

Note the weird bags. This is because ziploc freezer bags apparently don't really exist here? Or I couldn't find them, anyway. (Norwegians: if they live somewhere other than the grocery store, please let me know where to find them!). So anyway, they're bundled up in freezer bags and tied off. We'll see how this works out.

All of it loaded into my trusty Ursack

This only took up about half the bag, so I figured hey why not -- let's bring twice as much food. It might let me skip the first resupply point and let me stay in the woods :-)

Full up! With my trusty spoon for scale.

Another weird thing: SmartWater bottles are the universal standard for hikers on the PCT. They're durable, light, skinny, and everywhere. They also have a standard thread, so you can screw your water filter straight into the top. They're 1 liter each, so you can fit loads of water in your pack, in convenient pockets. Perfect. Let me go grab some.

Wait, what?

Weird, they're a different form factor here! And a different size?! And a different lid?? Bizarre. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to find something else.

Up next, first aid kit to fix me and my gear in case anything bad happens. Thankfully I still have my kit from the US, so I can use it again.

My toothbrush fits great after plastic surgery

Finally, let's pack my bag. Take my big ol' pile of gear, organize it, pack it, do a final count, and shove it all in my new (smaller!) pack.

So many memories in this pile.

That looks much better. And yes, that's THE shirt.

Tomorrow's going to be a big day :-)

Back at it

written Jul 12, 2018 @ 09:10 PM after hiking 10.00 miles

Had to hike until I was below the tree line Feels good to be home, even if it's a foreign and unusual home

So here's the gist of this trip: take the train to Bergen, walk home. Simple.

So let's catch a train!

Not your typical hotdogs-or-legs picture, I suppose

When the train finally showed up, I boarded and want pleasantly surprised when the woman next to me asked if we could switch because she doesn't like the window seat. Yes please!

So I got to watch beautiful scenery for six hours and get a preview of what my hike is going to look like.

Scenes like this.

I also got to see a thunderstorm that we went through -- I'm really hoping I don't see another one on the hike.

Yikes.

Another really cool, really scary thing I saw was the glacier. I got a bit panicked because I didn't bring my snow gear (crampons, micro spikes, etc) and was wondering what I could do about that. Then I looked at the map and it indicates that the glacier ends far north of where I'll be hiking, so I should be fine.

I hope.

A glacier feeding this lake

Another wake up call was that the plateau where I'll be hiking is above the tree line. I knew this, and Google Earth showed me patches of trees near lakes and stuff, but still, it could be interesting with a hammock. Maybe I'll be able to buy a sleeping pad in town before I leave.

Anyway, I finally reached Bergen, and I was off! .. to the grocery store, because I'd forgotten my cheese and sausage in my fridge. Damn!

Also, the train was delayed, so the outdoor shop was closed when I got there. Looks like I'll have to play it by ear on the plateau!

Bergen!

Once I was all settled, it was time to hike, and hike I did! I was treated to phenomenal views of the city on my way up, lit by the evening sun and clear-ish skies.

Bergen from above

It was lots and lots of climbing, but it felt good to be back it, just doing my thing. Even my heavy pack loaded with 8 days of food felt right.

It's hard to turn down this being home

One of the coolest sights I saw was around 9:45. The sun was still up, but there were clouds rolling in, so I couldn't see it. However, the clouds weren't fully here yet, so I saw the sun reflecting off of the fjord below me. It was cooler in person, but you weren't there, so here's another thousand words:

A fjord on fire

After that, it was just hiking along the ridgeline in the clouds, passing day hikers every now and then.

There are cairns to help you find the way, if you can see them in the clouds

Even if I had wanted to stop, I couldn't -- I was above the tree line. So I had to keep on hiking. I knew I would cross over the ridge at some point, so I wasn't concerned. Eventually, there was a giant decent down into a village, where I found some trees on a farmer's land. I set up my hammock near some sheep and called it a day. I didn't make as much progress today as I wanted because of the nonsense on the train and in Bergen, but I'll hopefully make it up tomorrow.

It's good to be home.

Oh yeah, my mileage distances are going to be guesses. I don't have a fancy app to tell me exactly what my mile marker is, but I'll go back afterwards and figure out the correct distance. You've been warned :-)

Mountains

written Jul 13, 2018 @ 07:13 PM after hiking 20.00 miles

After a wet night that involved me setting up my rain tarp at 3am, and a 6:30am wakeup call, I was pretty tired. Anyway, I packed up my gear and resumed picking my way downhill through the dew-soaked grass

Pretty view of the town, anyway

Once I reached the bottom, I was in for a few-mile road walk. Joy.

This could be worse I guess

After that, I had another couple of miles of roads to get back on the trail. Phew.

A neat forest I passed on the way

Once I got to the trailhead, there was a big parking lot and a bunch of day hikers packing up their gear. I took this chance to eat some breakfast and filter some water before starting the big 2000-foot climb to rejoin the trail along the ridgeline.

Is this Norwegian trail magic??

Once I started the climb, I was back into thick clouds, where I couldn't see anything that wasn't right in front of me

I did see some snow though -- in July!

It was a pretty cool hike regardless; I felt like I was in Lord of the Rings or something.

Spooky.

Along the way, I looked ahead at my afternoon plans, and got pretty dejected. After lunch, I was due to drop from 3200+ feet all the way back down to sea level, and then immediately climb back up into the clouds, peaking at 4400+ feet. And then dropping right back to sea level again at Voss. And then climbing again. And then dropping again.

Only then do I do a final climb up into why I'm here: to traverse the Hardengervidda nasjonalpark.

Ugh.

A brief moment of clarity.

I spent a few hours thinking it over while I hiked, and eventually came to a reluctant decision. At the end of this descent, I was in for another few miles of road walking before I even started this climb. I'm just going to hitch or whatever to Voss and skip this section.

I really don't like this, because it leaves the task unfinished, but this isn't why I'm doing this. I'm out here to have fun and see this awesome mountain plateau, and given that I only took ten or so days off for this hike, this isn't how I want to spend it.

Starting the big descent down to road level.

After an hour of descending, I finally broke through the clouds and could see the pretty valley I would be entering (and not climbing up the other side).

Quite the sight!

Once I hit the road, I saw that there was a bus stop, with three people waiting for the bus. So I asked for their advice, and wound up bussing to Arna and then hopping on the train to Voss. I finally got there about 5:30pm, and it was time to get back to hiking.

But first, dinner #1

This involved a sizeable climb out of town, but there were great views of the fjord. It wasn't too long until I rejoined the trail that I had left.

And was disappointed to see that "trail" meant "road". Bleh. Oh well, crying about it won't help.

Views of Voss

This road had a tunnel I needed to go through which was scary because I'm sure any cars that might come along were not expecting a pedestrian.

Tunnel!

Spoiler: I made it through.

I hiked along the road for a few hours before finally finding two trees that would work for me and setting up camp early. I'm hoping to make up for last night's sleep tonight, so that I can put in the (road) miles tomorrow.

Fjords

written Jul 14, 2018 @ 06:55 PM after hiking 25.00 miles

It's a good thing I broke my continuous footsteps yesterday, because I was forced to today. Sit back, and I'll explain it from the beginning.

I woke up this morning (later than planned, because I forgot to set an alarm), and hit the trail. Except it was a road; whatever.

Pretty.

This road went on for a while; maybe 5 miles, maybe 8 miles, probably forever miles. But hey, it was pretty pretty!

Just look at this idyllic farm!

Then it narrowed into a valley that reminded me a lot of a miniature Yosemite valley, but with power lines.

<3

So anyway, I finally reached the end of that and hopped into a DNT trail!

.. except it was a road.

IT NEVER ENDS

This did eventually turn into a proper hiking trail for like 8 miles or so, and I made it up and over the mountains and down to the fjord! This dumped me into this tiny beautiful village called Folkedal. I hiked all the way to the fjord, when I was supposed to turn left and hike up to Granvin.

Folkedal

Small problem though: my chosen "hiking" path was a highway, complete with a tunnel just down the road. There was, however, a bus stop across the road, so I went over there and waited.

After killing time with a call home, a bus arrived and took me to Granvin.

So this is where I was forced (by my own silly planning, I guess) to break what would've been my continuous footsteps.

IDK how I thought I could walk through this

Once in Granvin, I had to take yet another bus because the only way to the Hardanger bridge was through an 8km tunnel.

I hopped out at the first stop, took some pictures of the bridge, and then got to steppin'. It was only a few miles to where I resume the actual trail from Bjotveit.

Longest suspension bridge, or so I've heard?

This was also along a highway, but they had presentation bypasses around the tunnels, and a shoulder of sorts that I could walk on. So that's what I did (vs taking yet another bus).

I'm undecided if this is better or worse than real road walking

Along the way, I passed some people selling cherries for 50 NOK, so I picked up a box for dinner -- it'll be nice to not eat crushed dry Ramen for a change.

I can never say no to this when I'm hiking

After eating dinner, my climb began.

I didn't eat dinner here, but I wish I had

This was a brutal 2200-foot climb following this river/waterfall back up to its source. However, I didn't mind it so much, because I knew there was a goal tomorrow which wasn't back at sea level!

Looking back from almost the top.

Tomorrow, (after another 2,000 feet of climbing) I should finally be entering Hardangervidda nasjonalpark!

I did notice that -- oops! -- I'll suddenly above tree line. This bodes ill for my hammock plans, but we'll solve that tomorrow.

I found a solution for today.

You could say this setup ... rocks.

Trail blazing

written Jul 15, 2018 @ 08:19 PM after hiking 30.00 miles

At 3am, I woke up to rain. Crap, my rock setup wasn't built for this. I almost packed up and hiked, but I decided to just Chuck my tarp over me and hope for the best. If I started getting wet from condensation inside the tarp, I'd just hike.

Cozy!

It worked okay, though I had to put my rain jacket around the feet of my quilt to keep it from getting soaked (wet down is not happy down).

Anyway, I kept on sleeping and got up a few hours later, packed up, started hiking, and saw this:

It's the lake at the top!

After that, the trail ended. I knew this would happen, but still, it was not fun. But I knew there was another trail network about 10 miles away that I would link up with and follow into Hardangervidda, so a-bushwhacking I went.

Looking back towards Hardanger fjord

Along the way, I came across these mysterious houses. How did they get here? Who maintains them? Who visits them? There's no discernable way in, other than a miserable hike. I have to imagine they were helicoptered in, but they can't do that for regular visits, can they?

So remote

Either way, I'm pretty envious.

I kept hiking along, getting increasingly frustrated. The going was slow, the hiking was hard, and I kept getting cliffed-out or running into waterfalls or big rivers, and I'd have to backtrack to go around or over or under.

But the views were spectacular

I had been hoping for more sun today so that I could spread out my gear and dry everything thoroughly, but nature wasn't going to cooperate.

So hiking along I went, with only sheep for company.

Neverending beautiful landscapes

Eventually, I reached Eidfjord, which was even more stunning.

The sheer drop offs always amaze me

Here was a decision point that I had been thinking about all day. Do I:

  1. Turn right and head into the Hardangervidda nasjonalpark; or
  2. Turn left, and go into Eidfjord?

I had been thinking about it for hours and hours while hiking, and decided: I'm going back. This just isn't the hiking I wanted to do -- this is bushwhacking.

There's something to be said for The Price of Admission, but then there's needless difficulty. Considering I didn't even have a ground sleeping setup, I'm looking at two or three miserable nights.

Anyway, I went left.

Across this bridge

I hitched a ride into town with some day hikers, and from there got a bus back to Voss.

The next train didn't leave until midnight, so I had like five hours to kill. I did some laundry and washing up in the lake, and just generally thought some thoughts.

There are worse ways to kill time.

I'll be very excited to go back and do Hardangervidda nasjonalpark properly some day, especially with these reclaimed vacation days.

Retrospective

written Jul 16, 2018 @ 02:36 PM after hiking 0.00 miles

My goal was to hike from Bergen to Oslo in one shot (a thru-hike). This didn't happen, but it wasn't a complete failure. I'm going to document lessons for me and anyone else who is curious.

What went wrong

Disconnected trails

As far as I know, there isn't an established route from Bergen to Oslo, so I tried to find one. I went on Gaia GPS and put together a route based on the trails they have indexed. While the DNT trails are numerous and thorough, they're not a complete network. I assumed I could find routes from one network to the next. Generally, I could do that, but it involved either road-walking or trail-blazing.

No trail here!

Improper gear

I knew I was going to be entering and crossing a mountain plateau. I prefer to camp in my hammock, so I went on Google Earth and checked out the route on satellite view. It looked like there were trees near the lakes, but it turns out they were just dark patches of shrubs; definitely not hammock-capable. I failed to have a plan B and didn't bring a ground setup.

I'm still happy this worked though

What went right

Hiking

I got to spend a few days traipsing around the woods and mountains, and it was wonderful. It took a bit for my legs to remember what we do out there, but they got there and we were an unstoppable team again.

Can't see things like this without effort

Gear

The gear that I brought all worked. I brought too much food, but hey, that's a problem I'm okay with having.

This quilt brings back so many happy memories

Beautiful country

Lastly, I got to see (part of) this beautiful country. I can't wait to go back and explore more!

Beautiful landscapes, over and over