So last you heard I’d arrived in Bodø, northern terminus of the Norwegian train network and bonafide arctic city. I’ll be honest, it didn’t look like much. Having been bombed by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, it’s largely a testament to the influence of uninspiring cheap Swedish housing “1960s-style”.
So, I made the snap decision to spend the one day I had there trying to leave, well, in a way in any case. The surrounding foothills were spectacular so I put on my hiking boots, packed up some nuts, carrots and yoghurt, and set off. I knew that the further (and higher) into them I went, the more likely I’d be to get incredible views of the islands to the west.
SPOLER ALERT: I WAS RIGHT! And what was supposed to be a snappy 5k wander up to a minor peak of 366m turned into a day-long exploration of the beautiful nature along the way. I took every opportunity to be side-tracked, enchanted and led astray by little pathways and abandoned houses and glimpses of water through trees.
At long last I arrived at the peak which is known as Keiservarden. This means “Emperor’s Cairn” and refers to Emperor Wilhelm the IInd who went hiking in the Norwegian mountains in the late 19th century.
What makes this coincidence even more perfect is that Kaiser Wilhelm undertook this expedition only three years before the novel I was reading at the time was published. I truly felt in the 19th-century-German-aristocratic-explorer zone (if that even is a zone), complete with derpy jump photo at the summit.
It was a spectacular day. What made it even more perfect was that the solitude and silence of the woods and the mountain didn’t make me feel lonely, but independent; the physical exertion made me feel not weak, but strong. Long story short, hiking is bloody great and I’m really looking forward to doing it more in my future travels.
Next time –