Monday, August 22, 2016

Hike to Trolltunga (Norway Part Four)

Trolltunga is a very famous hike in Norway, and that became apparent as soon as we hit the trail. This place was Disneyland levels of crowded. The beautiful weather we had on yesterday's hike was gone, and we set off on a slog through rain, mist, and mud. This trek started with an incredible amount of elevation gain in the first kilometer, so that we were essentially ascending slippery rock stairs and slopes of mud with ropes. We did all of this in a line of constant hikers, like a few of many marching ants. I cannot imagine what this place is like on a sunny day!

This hike felt especially challenging since it was our third day of hiking, it was pretty long (23 kilometers round trip), and the weather was miserable. We made it to the end but only stopped for a quick selfie before heading back down. There was a huge line of people waiting to have their photo taken on the actual "tongue", but this was good enough for us! 

Of course, as soon as we got back to the parking lot the sun came out. Our guides bought us beers and we were able to dry out a bit. This was the one hike of the trip that none of us were crazy about because of the crowds. I feel like this one could be skipped unless you happen to have stunning weather and don't mind the lack of solitude. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hike to Buer Glacier (Norway Part Three)

Our second hike in Norway was to Buer Glacier, and we lucked out with a gorgeous sunny day. This hike starts in a valley past farms, then quickly picks up into the mountains. There were steep sections of rock with helpful ropes to aid in the climb. As we got higher and higher we were able to watch our progress looking down into the valley behind us. 

Once we got close to the foot of the glacier our path was interrupted by fast, rough water. There used to be a suspension bridge here but there was not much left of it. Those brave enough in our group (almost everyone except me) went across a cable with a harness to get a slightly closer view. I was pretty satisfied sitting on rocks in the sunshine with Buer Glacier in front of me and the entertainment of watching everyone pulling themselves across on the cable. 

Our base for this hike was Odda, which is a great place to stay with access to lots of hiking. We stayed at the Trolltunga Hotel, which was about a 15-20 minute walk up from the town center. We were up early before our hike and managed to catch a mirror image of Odda on the fjord. 

Later that evening before dinner we sat on the boardwalk with gas station beers and watched the clouds seeping over the mountains. Perfect place, perfect day, and perfect hike. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Hike to Kjeragbolten (Norway Part Two)

Our first hike of the trip was to Kjerag Bolten on a misty day. We made a neste pakke (what our guides taught us to call our sack lunches on the trip) in the foggy parking lot and got going. Getting an early start was important as this is a popular spot, even on a day with poor visibility.

This hike involves three big hills will valleys in between, so the elevation gain comes in bursts. The steep sections (both up and down) have chains that you can hold on to, and we definitely needed them. The rock we were hiking on had good grip but it was steep. The benefit of this was getting a good arm workout in during the hike. And of course, safety!

Once we reached the top we mostly had the place to ourselves, which was nice. One of our guides demonstrated get on and off of the Kjeragbolten (photo below). When you're standing on the boulder it is a 984 meter drop to the fjord below. My fear of heights kept me far from the edges of the cliff and far from the boulder, but it was fun watching my braver hiking partners take the risk. 

Even with the fog, it was a beautiful hike. We caught glimpses of the Lysefjord below us to remind us there was actually an end to the vapory abyss. 

When we got back to the parking lot our guides pulled beers out of the van, mama sheep toured their babies around looking for handouts, and a man was playing an alpine horn out into the valley around us. Norway, you crazy, amazing place!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Into the Fjords (Norway Part One)

Ten of the days we spent in Norway were in the fjords, and Joe and I both agree it was the most beautiful place we have ever traveled to. There were all of the things I love about the PNW without all the people; just mountains, water, and little farms. 

We did a ten day hiking and kayaking tour run by Nordic Ventures (the same company that runs the REI trip here) which I would highly recommend. This tour allowed us to get way off the beaten track. We had so many unique experiences, from a rainy campsite on the shore of the Nærøyfjord to a woodfired hottub precariously placed on a cliff above the Aurlandsfjord, and even summitting the tallest peak in Norway after roping up to cross a glacier. 

The trip was a series of challenges and rewards, and I felt so inspired every day. I have some hikes to share in detail, but I want to start the same way we did: journeying into the fjords. These photos were taken as we ferried into the Lysefjord on Day One.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

San Francisco, CA

This was my fourth trip to San Francisco in so many years. It was the first destination Joe and I traveled to soon after we started dating. My brother lived there for a few years so I made a couple trips to visit then. This time Joe and I took advantage of cheap flights to get away for Valentines Day weekend. We visited a few of our favorite places and also experienced some new ones. 

Revisited (out of love)

The poached eggs la mer and a grapefruit mimosa at Zazie

A walk around Stow Lake and up to the top of Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park.

Guacamole and margaritas at Gracias Madre in The Mission. 

Walking miles through the city.

Rich pasta dinner at Trattoria Contadina.

New Things we Tried (and also loved)

Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park 

Sunday morning Dim Sum at Lai Hong Lounge in Chinatown

Ferry to Alcatraz 

French dinner in the loft at Bouche

We had beautiful sunny weather the whole weekend so we spent most of our time doing outdoor things. I think my favorite part of this trip was exploring the Botanical Gardens. So many magnolias blooming! I had a hard time narrowing down the flower photos to share...

I am sure I will be back to San Francisco again soon! Be sure to share any recommendations you have for my next trip. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


I suppose Groundhog Day is as good a time as any to write about goals for the new year. Instead of writing SMART goals or a list of resolutions, I decided to keep things simple this year and choose one word. 

My word for 2016 is move

Move by body on a daily basis by exercising regularly and taking on more frequent and challenging hikes. 

Move around the globe to see and experience new places. 

Move forward on goals and tasks that are important to me instead of letting them sit in lists for another year.  

I started 2015 with the same word but my body had other ideas. My Crohns diagnosis last spring came after months of declining health. I was so weak I could barely walk up the stairs in my house. I could not sleep for more than two hours at a time during the night without my symptoms waking me up. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally, and terrified. 

It took months to find a drug that worked, but one finally did. I've been on immunotherapy since May and I finally feel good again. Coming back from being that sick makes me much more motivated to take advantage of my health while I have it. I can walk up the stairs! I can sleep through the night! These are simple things that I used to take for granted. Now I am back to being able to do the things I love, and I am going to do them. 

A month into the new year I have definitely been moving. I am trying new classes each week at my gym and getting outside for long walks during breaks in the rain. I have tickets booked for San Francisco, Washington DC, Cancun, Oslo, and Reykjavik in the next five months. This summer I will embark on a ten day hiking and sea kayaking tour in Norway. 

It's going to be an amazing year. I hope you will follow along as I make moves. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Source Lake Snowshoe

Over the weekend my best gal and I made it out to the mountains for her first snowshoe adventure. We chose Source Lake, and thanks to the Seahawks game it was not too crowded. 

This was my first snowshoe where I got to use my ice axe for more than balance/support. There was one section that was so steep I had to use it to pull myself up. Once at the top we learned there was a different, easier route so we took that one back down. It was fun to get a little adventure in with the more challenging route, though. One of the tricky things about this trail was that in all the snow it was difficult to know which tracks to follow. I think they all eventually got to the same place, but some of them were safer paths than others.

We were hoping the clouds would break but we only got into heavier fog, so we did not venture past the lake. It was pretty magical being surrounded by trees and that thick layer of snow and fog.

We saw many groups doing avalanche safety lessons in the bowl around the lake. This is a hike that requires checking the level of avalanche danger before venturing out. For more information, visit WTA's Hiking Guide for Source Lake and the Northwest Avalanche Center

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