Elijah is once again having the adventure of a lifetime in Europe! Below is an account of a recent trip he took backpacking in the Lomsdal-Visten National Park. Enjoy!
Norway is well known for its beautiful landscapes with fjords dropping dramatically away into the ocean, not to mention top skiers and stunning skiing locales. On a recent fall backpacking trip to Norway, however, we wanted to take the trail away from the snaking roads of campervans.
We left for Lomsdal-Visten national park near the end of the season for hiking in the Norwegian mountains on a 10-day backpacking trip. Lomsdal-Visten is one of Norway’s less visited national parks, lying about 11 hours north of Oslo. We started from just outside the town of Troforsn on the Storboja Fjord. The plan was to make our way from the fjord, inland up into the high mountains making just a small loop through the nearly 450 square mile wilderness.
Throughout Lomsdal-Visten however, there are no trails or markings and so navigation and route planning are left to the imagination. While we had only a rough plan of our route, it was fun to sit in the tent each evening with the map laid across our sleeping bags and plan out where to go the next day.
Starting from sea level, we went up nearly 1000 meters on the first day up into the mountains. After an hour or two of hiking, we crossed the boundary into the national park and were immediately welcomed by a massive waterfall spraying down into a crystal-clear pool of water. Knowing that as we got higher into the mountains and glaciers the water would only get colder, we had to take a short swim during lunch in the beautiful water. Hiking through the valleys of the Scandinavian mountains, the waterfalls coursing down the rocks are literally all around you, and everywhere you look is fresh glacial runoff water. This doesn’t make every single one any less beautiful, however.
We spent the first night north of the lake. We had been hiking along for most of the day. Here there was an old cave stone shelter that has been used for generations by the indigenous Sami as an overnight shelter while herding reindeer.
The next morning, we woke to a wet tent from rain overnight, but a beautiful morning. We took it easy packing up and ate delicious oatmeal covered with cloudberries that had been growing around our campsite. While normally a luxury that requires a lot of hiking through bogs to pick, I had never seen so many of the delicious orange berries in one spot.
Soon after setting off for the day, we came to the first of what would be countless stream crossings throughout the trip. While the water is freezing cold glacial water that quickly numbs your feet wading across, it offers a nice opportunity to take a break afterward and eat some snacks by the rushing water.
As the days continued, we fell more and more into the rhythm of hiking: wake up, eat breakfast, pack up camp, hike, wade creeks, eat cookies and drink coffee, and hike some more. As we got deeper into the mountains, I continued to be amazed by the isolation of the place. The entire time we were in the park, we didn’t see a single other person; we had the mountains, lakes, and glaciers to ourselves.
On the afternoon of the fourth day, we arrived at the base of Vistjerringa, the 2nd highest peak in Lomsdal- Visten. We had planned on hiking to the top the next day, but with the weather looking very ominous for the next morning, we decided to quickly set up camp and try and summit before dark. The hike to the top was a beautiful mix of hiking and scrambling, with the view continuously getting better and better and the tent getting smaller and smaller in the distance. As we passed the false summit and neared the top of the climb, we were treated to a pleasant surprise.
The cloud, which had been hugging the top for the entire climb, broke and we got a 360-degree panorama of all the mountains, lakes, and glaciers below us. With the wind roaring and threatening to snatch our clothes away, we started back down and made it back to the tent just as it was getting dark. We quickly cooked up some of the chanterelles we had picked earlier in the day, ate, and crawled into our sleeping bags.
The next day, we woke to 35-degree temperatures and freezing rain. The open views for the evening before had turned into 100ft visibility as we quickly packed away the sopping wet tent. For the entirety of the day, the weather barely improved with cold wind and rain finding their way into every crevice that wasn’t covered with gore-tex. While navigation is normally straightforward in the Scandinavian mountains, due to the low tree line and the open views, hiking through a cloud certainly made things a little tricker. This led to us taking a much more direct route down a cliff face than we had planned. The slick rock and the heavy pack led to some pretty hairy moments as we tried to piece our way down a nearly vertical face. Eventually, we figured out that the best hand and footholds, were where small streams were falling down the rock. While it proved better grip, it ensured that every inch of us that wasn’t already soaked soon was. But hey, I couldn’t imagine a prettier spot to be soaked and cold than where we were. Upon reaching the bottom, we hiked just far enough to find a somewhat sheltered spot for the tent, where it wouldn’t totally be blown flat. Once inside, we got cozy with hot tea and chocolate to watch the storm rage outside.
The next few days as we began to loop back around were beautiful, with warm sunny days offering perfect opportunities for cliff jumping into crystal blue lakes. We could swim along the ice and snow and then come out and warm up with a cup of coffee and a cookie before jumping in again. What a perfect way to spend a day. As we began to near the edge of the park again, our car and civilization, we reflected on what a beautiful trip it had been, and of trips to come.
While backpacking through Lomsdal-Visten was incredible, what if we could bring climbing gear for all the crags we had passed, or better yet come with touring skis and do a winter crossing of the park. Surrounded by mountains and fjords, it’s impossible not to keep daydreaming and planning for future trips.