Your first night sleeping on a pack of snow, carrying 15kg of wood up a mountain and other lessons you learn through experience.
A few years before the founding of Herder Gear we went on our first trip to Norway. As we were planning this trip a bit short notice, the main issue was finding a slot in our three agendas. This is how we landed a late winter, begin spring trip. This is off season in Norway like in higher altitude hiking areas. Snow hasn't had the time to melt away and the weather can go either your way or take another direction; and leave you in the cold.
Always make sure if the season and weather allow for your planned itinerary.
The first hike we planned in the Hardanger area was the famous Trolltunga hike near Odda. Usually this is considered a long day hike, starting early to get to the top and back before the sun sets. During summertime this is hardly a challange because the days are longer than in the rest of Europe. However, for our trip we got it in our heads that a night under the stars with a crackling fire to keep us warm would be the way to go. Two, is the number of direct obstacles we saw.
First up, we had no experience with snowshoe hiking or sleeping on a pack of snow with our tent. Going out of your comfortzone is one of the most beautifull parts of multiday hiking, but it's also very important to know your limits and act accordingly. This is why we contacted Daniel, a local guide and founder of the hardanger experience, to accompany us on this hike.
If your trip has elements in it that are new to you and can be potentially lifethreatening, do not hesitate to contact a guide or take a route that fits your knowledge level.
The second obstacle is the lack of trees and dry wood on a snow covered mountain. This makes it hard to impossible to make a crackling fire and keep you warm. The solution took less planning though. We stopped at the gasstation to buy one of those pre-packed stacks of lumber for the hearth. We split the stack of lumber between the three of us (I got more than my share), and carried it up! It might be a bit controversial to add extra kilos to the weight you are carrying in the hiking scene, but I would do it again tomorrow.
After a long day of hiking we got to 'the tongue' with plenty of time to pitch our tents and prepare a simple dinner before the sunset. During meal preparation we saw that Daniel had roughly brought the same amount of food for himself as we did for the three of us (he didn't carry any wood though). We brought enough, but were happy when he shared his chocolate!
Carry more food on a heavy climb than you would eat on your average day. Some even say it's impossible to eat more than you have burned on a long day of hiking.
Our trip to Norway gave us so many new insights it left us physically tired and eager for more. Some of the lessons might have been obvious and dumb, others valuable food for thought for future hikes. To keep track of all this madness we started writing them down in the noob list.