If You’re Going to Hike Trolltunga…
…then be sure you are prepared!
Honestly. Trolltunga was an adventure, a fun and challenging day that was worth the pain. Yes, pain.
Even though I have experience with hiking mountains, this was a doozy. It is fantastic that so many tourists want to see it, however, it is slightly concerning that so many are equally unaware of how long and steep the trek actually is. It worried me back then, and the number of tourists only increase each year. One German tourist that passed us on the snow-heavy trail, had only a protein bar in his pocket, no water, and wore only running shoes. I proceeded to worry about him the remainder of the climb.
It was early June 2015, and the snow had stuck around quite late. Trekking up the mountain was hardly advisable, and the road to it was in fact all but closed just days earlier due to snow. My Norwegian ego decided it would be fiiiiine, as long as we went on a sunny day. The main objective was to “beat the season,” and to avoid having to spend three + hours just waiting in line to get our photo taken. (Rumor has it, that this is a common summer reality).
When that day came, we borrowed snow shoes and started the trek at about 8am, which felt slightly unnecessarily early at the time, but we had read everywhere that it was advisable to start as early as possible. It was slightly foggy and chilly, and some people had already started. We had some water, and lots of food. I didn’t pack sunscreen, but didn’t think too much of it.
This photo was taken earlier on in the hike, when I knew a flat was coming, I just had no idea when. And it was here that I thought “surely it’s at the top of this hill?” which, of course, only immediately led to another hill.
We passed very few people, but everyone seemed perplexed at the sheer amounts of snow. I borrowed sunscreen a couple of times from friendly Americans, and we fetched the best water I’ve ever had from the streams that we passed. It was brutal, magical, and a gorgeous day for a hike. Did I mention it was the best water I’ve ever had?
When we got to the top, it was only a couple of minutes’ wait before I could levy myself down onto the rock, which was wider and less intimidating than I had imagined. In fact, perhaps it was the adrenaline but, I felt less fearful of the height than all the times I’ve been on Preikestolen.
By the time we made our descent, the snow was melting, and slush soaked through my boots to my feet. The sun was still strong, and I could tell that I was going to be sunburnt. I remember eating dinner and going straight to bed, my entire body aching from the day.
Waking up, I could tell something was wrong. I touched my face. It didn’t feel like my face. Despite having borrowed sunscreen twice, I still was burnt so badly, that my face had puffed up to twice its size. I had even burned my eyes, and couldn’t see every color on the spectrum (which lasted for several hours). I had never been that badly burned in my life. The pain was terrible but was worse, was the fear of it intensifying with time, combined with knowing the damage I had done. Overall, it was the unpleasant surprise that almost (almost!) ruined the trip. I may have borrowed some along the way, but I also sweat a lot that day and it definitely was not high enough SPF to protect for ten hours straight.
Looking back of course, that part becomes a funny anecdote and a valuable lesson learned about sunscreen. I was grateful that we were so prepared physically, having had lots of experience hiking in Norway.
This hike took my love and wonder for Norway to a whole new level, and was ultimately what set off a mission to get to better know my adopted country. If you’re going to hike Trolltunga, which you should, just be prepared for a challenge. It will be one with immense rewards!