Saturday, May 7, 2011

Winter in Norway

It was in the beginning of September 1977, when I got the first taste of winter approaching the land. 
It was early in the morning and I had just brushed my teeth. Looking out of the little bathroom window  I saw that a white sugary layer of snow had covered the 87 peaks across the fjord. I had to look twice to believe it, then checking the date on the calendar. It showed the 5th of September. No doubt at all. However, the snow did not reach down into the valleys, it just covered the upper half of the mountains.  But the clouds had passed and a clear blue sky with a deep blue fjord underneath was throwing a stunning contrast to the rusty red forests along the mountain slopes.

That day I did a ride with my Camper VW up to Varden, a famous viewpoint above the city. Varden is about 400m (1300ft) over sea level and there was snow on the road when I reached the top.

Winter was near, no doubt and when we returned from our fall tour in late November, I bought a snow shovel. I shoveled snow like never before. Within the night the van was covered in 50cm (20inch) of heavy white snow.
I don't remember how often I got stuck in the snow with that vehicle, but it was quite frequently, until I bought studded tires. 

Shortly after I started in my job I had made some new friends. One sunny Sunday in the middle of the winter, these folks invited me for a cross-country ski tour. I had received skis from other friends a year earlier, but had never used them. 
We took the road I had been driving in September up the mountain, from there we walked cross-country to a mountain cabin where we had tea. After the break we started on our return.

Instead of upwards we now had to get ourselves down to the city again. With my friends way ahead I tried to keep up with them, but I struggled in some deep snow. Somehow my skis seemed too heavy, and I had trouble lifting them out of the snow.
Then we came to the point where the road  starts its descend to town. There were tracks from earlier skis. Two nice tracks beside each other. I stepped into the tracks and all of a sudden I was moving downhill. In the beginning it wasn't too fast, but with an increasing downgrade my speed increased disproportionately and I had no idea where the brakes where on this equipment. With the ever increasing speed I kind of hunkered down to milden the fall which seemed unavoidable. When i swished around a bend I saw my friends beside of the track, waiting for me. I was still exceeding the speed limit and I realized I had to stop here. So as I was passing them I simply made me fall backwards into the snow thereby destroying the fine ski tracks I had been following down hill. Needless to say my friends were dissolved in cramps of laughter.

With that experience I decided that I would seek out solitude for my next attempt of cross-country skiing.

Read more tomorrow: Kayaking a mountain lake

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