A Norwegian Walk in the Park

IMG_1211“Norwegians don’t climb up mountains, they push them down.” -a phrase exclaimed this past weekend during the first incline up Romsdalseggen,a mountain ridge in Åndalsnes. I’m not sure that I pushed any mountains down, but I sure did last the 8 hour hike, peaked over cliffs, and used chains to keep my balance as I scaled the mountains during some pretty steep trails. Yes, you may now call me Mountain Woman Meredith. This epic hike was my 4th in the past month, and it made the other three seem like a simple walk in the park.

Week One was Mt. Ulriken (again) followed by Preikestolen during Week Two at IAESTE’s Stavanger Weekend. Preikestolen is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Norway, and I can definitely see why. Pictures can’t do the cliff justice (although, I’ll still show one here), and the overall thrill of sitting at the edge is like no other. There is no railing, no air mattresses at the bottom…no safety anything. Just a 600 meter vertical drop to the ever-so-beautiful Lysefjord. If this was in the United States, there would definitely be a whole fence and safety guards there patrolling. Norway is much simpler. Be smart, or die.

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Preikestolen

Week Three included a lovely evening hike after work. When you’re surrounded by nature, it’s quite easy to squeeze in a trek on a weekday. And if I’ve learned anything from the people of Bergen, it’s that good weather is NEVER to be wasted. You must use your time wisely and get outside! So that is what my Swiss colleague and I did. We got outside and walked up Fløyen to enjoy Bergen from greater heights.

I’m surprising myself with how much enjoyment I get from these outdoor activities. “City girl” exploring the mystical thing that is Nature. I’m still pretty naive to all this “outdoors stuff” and I tend to ask silly questions like, “Do you go on hikes like this often (the 8 hour one)?” To which I got some reply like, “Everyday after work,” or “This is how I commute to and from work.” Now, you can imagine, gullible me, eyes wide, like WHAT? REALLY? An 8-hour hike is not an everyday, weekday activity. Duly noted and I will not be fooled again!DSCN1128

On top of the 8 hour hike, I also did some canyoning this past weekend (IAESTE’s Mountain Weekend). You know, propelling down the sides of rocks, tight rope walking between ledges and zip-lining into 8°C water. Confession: I was extremely nervous the entire time, but thankfully my brain was like, ‘Meredith, there’s no other way down. You just gotta do it!’ And I’m really glad I did. The one thing I regret was not jumping from 11 meters. I did the 2 and the 5, but decided that I had hit my limit on outdoor activities there. I’m feelin’ only 22. I’ve got time to test my fear of jumping from high places into really cold water.

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About to look in the face of danger (and scream).
Photo courtesy of Dimitri Tschense

To end the weekend right, the Mountain Weekend IAESTE committee made us all dinner fit for vikings. We feasted on homemade rømmegrøt and various meats and homemade bread. I gotta tell ya, these Norwegians know their stuff when it comes to bread. We feasted in a setting that is exactly what I imagined Norway to look like. Mountains, waterfalls, grass on the roofs, antlers attached to the front of the old, wooden house (more like hut).

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These weekends that the IAESTE committees plan are so great because you get to meet people from all over the world and bond pretty quickly since you’re doing such crazy things (and probably need some moral support). What’s sad about these weekends is that once Sunday comes, the reality is that you will probably never see these new friends ever again and Facebook can only do so much. Now, with any large group, you won’t ‘click’ with everyone, making this okay…but for others, you find yourself thinking, ‘Dang! We would be such good friends if we lived near each other, or went to the same school, or this or that!’ and you’re left with just a friend-crush. For those of you who don’t know the term, a friend-crush is when you meet someone that you want to be good friends with, but aren’t. It’s similar to a regular crush in that it’s usually something that you can’t have, cause then you’d be friends already, but it’s in no way romantic.

So, to all of my family, friends, and friend-crushees (especially if you’re in Norway): Be safe, be smart, and don’t die. And always beware of the trolls.

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