……but some are.

The famous Vidden Trail, which we hiked by accident! We were supposed to cut through the middle, from Marker 1 to Lake Svartediket to Marker 5, but fate had other plans.

 

This weekend, we were very lucky to have two days of sunny weather in a row! Wow! Accordingly, a few of my suitemates and I decided to go out for a hike from Fløyen to Ulriken, perhaps the most well known of Bergen’s seven mountains. We knew it was going to be a long day; the trail from peak to peak is 12 kilometers (about 7.5 miles). At least, one of the trails is, and it is supposed to be about a 5 hour hike.

 

When we hit hour 4 and Ulriken looked no closer, we began to suspect something was wrong. Surely, we hadn’t been *that* slow…. But all we could do was hike on, and so we did, for a grand total of eight hours! After stumbling home, confused, tired, but accomplished, and doing quick map search I learned the truth. We hadn’t taken the 12 kilometer path. We had taken the 21 kilometer path! Oops…

 

Luckily, we had a great time despite getting lost, and learning that we had gone almost twice our planned distance in only an extra hour or two made us feel much better about ourselves! However, I think this experience was a good chance for me to collect a few important tips about hiking in Bergen….

 

You will need hiking boots. Real ones. For reals.

Tennis shoes will not cut it. Frequent rain means a lot of mud and pools of water, especially on a path as well-traveled as Vidden. Waterproof, winter, walking boots (like the ones I brought and thought would be good enough) will not cut it. They don’t have the right support, and will be too bulky or slippery on rocky areas. If you really want to go hiking in Norway, invest in a good pair of ankle-high, completely waterproof ones with super grippy soles. After sliding down the mountain during my first hike, I bit the bullet and bought some boots here, which cost me about $80, and they were the cheapest option!

Always take a rain jacket. Always.

As I said before, we were very lucky to have a couple of sunny days, but the weather here is infamous for its quick changes. Yesterday was nothing but sunshine, and today it literally rained sideways. You may not want to put the extra weight of a rain jacket in your backpack when the sun is out, but you definitely do not want to end up soaked because you thought you could leave it behind.

Norwegians are super-human mountain goat hybrids.

Or at the very least they are imbued with ancient Viking magic that makes them immune to the tiring effects of mountains. During my first hike up Ulriken, I quickly realized I was not prepared for how steep the climb was going to be. It was pretty embarrassing to get easily passed by moms carrying babies on their backs, old people, and little kids, but that’s just how Norwegians are. While hiking Vidden we saw tons of people *running* the trail for fun! My point here is, don’t be intimidated and just go at your own pace.

 

Use caution when asking for directions.

By this I do not mean you shouldn’t ask for directions! Norwegians open up in the mountains and will be more than happy to point you in the right direction. However, as we learned in Number 3, Norwegians are magical, tireless mountain climbers, so they may accidentally point you toward a longer path than you hoped for! This is actually how we ended up hiking the whole Vidden trail instead of our shorter, planned route. Just be specific in your questions and be clear about where and how you want to hike, or you may be going in for a real Norwegian adventure!

Be realistic about what you can do, but don’t sell yourself short either!

When I set out this weekend I was only planning to hike 12 kilometers, which seemed like a crazy task. Instead, I hiked over 20 kilometers! I definitely surprised myself, and it felt amazing to realize what I had accomplished. Chances are you can do more than you think! Don’t be afraid to push yourself!

Panorama of Bergen from the top of Ulriken. Please excuse the glitchy people. 🙂