Holy Norwegian Hiking! The Norwegians are in a
different league when it comes to hiking. Jarrod and I
realized this after completing the Flatbrehytta hike near
Fjaerland, Norway. We embarked on this hike without a
care in the world after talking to a handful of locals who
have completed the day hike. Even the lady in the tourist
office, who looked to be well into her sixties, casually
recommended the hike. She only commented on the
beauty of the scenery and the view from the top. What
she, and all the other Norwegians, failed to mention was
the three hours of—I kid you not—near vertical ascent. To
prove that I am not exaggerating for sake of this story I
am compelled to point out there is a section of the trail
where a rope has been affixed to the mountain to provide
the necessary leverage needed to avoid tumbling back
down the trail head over heels. Add to that crossing a
river raging with snowmelt, scaling boulders, and trudging
through shin-deep snow, and you more or less have a
picture of our hike. Fun, huh? There were many, many
times during the hike when I had to ask myself if I
wouldn’t prefer sitting behind a nice, safe desk responding
to an endless barrage of work emails. Sometimes real life
ain’t so bad!

    But then, oh then, we made it to the top. Three
thousand feet above sea level sat an incongruously
beautiful sight. Looking back in the direction from which
we came, we saw the bright green waters of the
Sognefjord glistening in the sunshine. The mountains
rising up out of the fjord were blanketed with green trees
and waterfalls. It was a picture perfect summer scene.
Turning around, peering across the other side of the
mountain was a fantastical wintry panorama. Jagged
From the pristine water of the fjords to the snow covered
mountain tops, Norway holds top prize for majestic
scenery. This is midway up the Flatbrehytta hike.
peaks covered in ice and snow loomed on the horizon, and in front laid an expansive valley of snow. After frantically
digging in our backpacks and donning our jackets, I decided I was just fine staying right there and enjoying the
paradox of nature displayed before me. In fact, it was all I could do to remain standing after the hike up. But
noooooooo, some super adventure dude had to tell us that if “just walked across that last snow valley and around
the ridge” we would see a sight that beat the pants off what we were looking at now. I literally could not fathom
making it across another snow valley, much less conjuring up the focus and balance it would take to navigate the
ridge. Jarrod on the other hand…he was ready to go (darn him!). So off he went, while I finished thanking God for
getting me this far.
Scenery like this made the hike
unforgettable. Waterfalls, created by
snowmelt, plummeted down the
Jarrod traversing one of the many
snow covered valleys.
I think I can, I think I can...
Erin on the final push before
reaching the summit of the hike.
      It’s never that easy though.  I had to strike up a conversation with a hiker who had also just returned from
around the ridge, and he had to confirm that what lie beyond was absolutely incredible. I calmly explained to him
that I could not make it down and up the valley of snow. That I had tried, and ended up falling and sliding down the
slope until  I could summon enough strength in my body to stop myself and stand up again. It wasn’t fun. Or pretty.
He shared his strategy for getting up and down the slope. Instead of my slow and cautious approach, he found
throwing abandon to the wind and hauling booty down the hill worked a lot better. I argued that sounded scary.
He proceeded to run down the snow-covered incline and back up to prove it worked. It did. I was then out of
arguments, so I had no choice. Throwing my own abandon to the wind, I let loose and ran down the snow valley
letting out a whoop of fear which turned into a whoop of joy as I realized his method really did work. I made it
across, and began making my way along the ridge.
      At this point I met Jarrod coming
back, wide-eyed with wonder at what
he saw. He described the sight as
crazy, awesome and amazing, but
explained there was no way he was
going back with me. I soon learned
why, as the path cut into the side of the
mountain was one of the scariest paths
I have ever been on. With the wind
howling in my ears I looked over the
edge of the narrow path at the ground
thousands of feet below me. One
misstep and I was…well, you know. I
even crawled a portion of the way so I
could have more of my body on the trail.
Finally, I made it far enough around the
ridge to see it. The huge, glistening, icy
blue glacier snaking its way between
two mountain peaks just a hundred
yards in front of me. The jagged ice was
sinister, splintering into spooky spikes
and crevices. The patches of blue ice
seemed to glow from within. The whole
glacier had a power about it, especially
when I thought about the mountain it
The Flatbreen glacier cuts dramatically through the mountains, glistening with
pockets of electric blue ice.
had carved through to stake out this space. It was just bizarre to sit there and stare at this phenomenon of
nature, and then turn over my shoulder to see the equally fascinating phenomenon of the fjord. It was one of the
moments of our trip where I was struck with just how lucky Jarrod and I are to be seeing the parts of the world
that we are. Truly blessed.
Flatbrehytta Hike
Flatbrehytta Ridge