[udate 31/01/2013] I reworked this one from scratch because I wasn't entirely satisfied with it and I want to get it printed big for a exhibition of my Scandinavia pictures. Hope you also like the new post-processing
Time again for some drama!
Originally I wanted to name this picture "The day I almost died", but I found this title way too dramatic. However there is some truth in this potential title...
It was captured in October one year ago, during my hike to the "Trolltunga" (Norwegian for "troll tongue") in Norway (close to Odda). The hike is said to take 8 to 10hours, so I camped only a few hundred meters away from the trail in order to start the hike early in the morning. Fortunately the day before I was warned by some local people that there might be already snow on the mountains. So I prepared for the worst...
As soon as I reached around 500 to 600m height the forecast proved to be right, the already unpleasant rain changed into snow.
Ok, first I thought there is nothing bad about it because I had warm and waterproof clothes with me. Very soon I found out what was really wrong about it... After some centimeters of new snow it suddenly became harder to find the way-points. From time to time the wind began to blow stronger as well, so that the snow was pressed against the red marks on the stones. After getting used to puzzle all the time about where the way-points might be located at I faced another problem: due to the continuous rain and snow during these days the little water-streams grew bigger into small rivers which were quite hard to cross without risking too much. At some point I was quite desperate about crossing one of these "streams", I went up and down the river, again and again. I couldn't find a secure way to cross it without becoming very wet. After a little break I already thought about returning to the valley because this adventure suddenly appeared way too dangerous with only myself out there, nobody could help if I had trouble or even an accident. At some point the little snowstorm was over and I had far better sight and fortunately discovered a place where I could safely cross the river.
I again focused myself on reaching the Trolltunga, all doubts about not making it in time were gone. During the last part of the hike I didn't make any further breaks because I run out of time, I had to reach the Trolltunga before 15:00 to still have enough time for the descent in conditions where I still could see something (the nights have been pitch-black during these days).
I again lost a lot of time finding the already snow-covered way-points, but at around 15:00 I reached the Trolltunga. After snapping some shots and being disappointed a little bit about this big rock standing out above a big reservoir (you see in the picture) I immediately started the descent. The wind began to blow stronger and stronger, at some point I found myself in the middle of a snow-storm. At the beginning I was lucky to just following back my own footsteps in the snow but soon all footsteps were covered in snow as well. After I didn't find any old footsteps and way-points for more than 15 minutes I was completely lost and the snow-storm was still blowing loads of snow into my face. At this time around 15cm of new snow covered almost the whole landscape. Now the only chance I had was to get out that hiking map I got myself a day ago and using google maps + GPS on my smart-phone to find out where I was. It took me some time until I located myself in the hiking map according to the rather vague position information from google maps but only around 10 to 20 minutes later I was back on the track again, not to mention I again lost lots of time I did not have at that point.
It was a hell of a hike back to the last easy-to-follow steep descent into the valley. I was twisting my ankles several times, so that every-time I had thought that I'm screwed now and will never be able to leave this place alone. Whenever I found myself lost again and watched the clock ticking I was close to panic, yes I was very close...
Fortunately I made it to the final steep descent before nightfall. The last easy-to-follow path I climbed down already in the dark. In total the hike took me around 11 hours (it was supposed to only take 8-10hours). When I finally arrived safely back at my car I was physically and psychically screwed. I didn't do much, only the nightly routine (eating, brushing teeth) and then soon fell asleep in the drivers seat, I didn't have any power and will to place my tent which I packed together in the morning having thought of finding another nice camping spot in the evening.
I consider this tour as one of the most intense experiences in my life, both beautiful and scary at the same time. I learnt a lot about myself, nature, navigation according to landmarks and human limits...
More from Scandinavia and my "My Fairytales" series:
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