Oh, how I was looking forward to this holiday. Travel has undeniably been huge in my life and my recent week-long road trip around the Fjords of Norway has been a trip I wanted to go on for a while now.
My life as a hiking enthusiast began during my 2015 round the world trip where I completed many, from the Blue Mountains in Australia and Yosemite in California to name a few, and I carried that with me in 2016 when I completed the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand and in 2017 when I hiked the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.
It’s now been over two years since I completed a hike like that. And my only holidays since have been to Vegas and a stag weekend to Prague. Which, don’t get me wrong, were fun, but they don’t make me feel alive in the same way that getting in touch with mother nature on these hikes does.
This trip has been a long time coming, my friend Pieter and I had the idea around 12 months ago and booked the flights in January. A week before we flew to Bergen we found out that two of his Norwegian friends, Frida and Ida could join us for the trip. In this week’s blog post I want to talk to you about the mindfulness aspect to this trip which is crucial to my mental health development.
When it came down to planning the route of our 2019 Norway road trip we identified three hikes – Trolltunga, Priekestolen and Kjerag between start and endpoints of Bergen and Stavanger.
Some of the roads in Norway remind me a lot of what I saw in New Zealand, which you should all know by now is my favourite country in the World. Think gorgeous mountain landscapes with a road separating the foot of the mountain and massive lakes and that is the bulk of the roads we would be driving along on this 6 day road trip, a mix of green and blues and even some waterfalls thrown in for good measure – And the real beauty of it, there were very few cars on the road. Truly some of the most beautiful roads I have ever driven on.
What road trip would be complete without the music, and the music on this road trip was sensational. We’re talking Taylor Swift and Katy Perry to Queen and Green Day as well as some nice throwbacks to The Lonely Island – We’ve all been on long road trips listening to awful music this trip had none of that.
Each of the three hikes had a completely different rock layout. Trolltunga had a runaway into the Fjord which resembled The Lion King’s Pride Rock. Priekestolen has a flat top with a sheer 605m drop into the Fjord below, the climactic fight between Henry Cavill and Tom Cruise in the latest Mission Impossible film was shot here. Finally, Kjerag’s endpoint is a boulder wedged between two mountain faces also hanging above a height of around 605m.
In many senses, the hikes themselves were very different, such as how they varied in difficulty. Kjerag was the hardest, Priekestolen the easiest with Trolltunga in the middle. However, they all had one thing in common, the endpoint had the power to make your jaw drop.
I’ve been very lucky throughout my travels to see some amazing man-made structures such as Machu Picchu and The Colosseum as well as some that are a lot closer to home as my favourite building in London, St Pauls.
However, what mother nature is capable of never ceases to amaze me, and these three hikes in Norway were evidence of that in it’s purest form.
It may have been foggy when we got to the endpoint of Trolltunga but that didn’t take anything away from it, and as the weather cleared on the way down the view of the fjords was nothing shy of something out of a fantasy.
Then you change it up to the cliffside made famous from Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Just open air above the fjord 605m below. Very different to Trolltunga, but equally as breathtaking.
As I mentioned earlier, Kjerag was the hardest of the three hikes (Made harder by the rain and fog on the way down) and its endpoint was a boulder wedged between two cliff faces suspended around 600m above the fjord below. I have said many times in this blog that heights don’t bother me but there comes a point when you have to listen to your body and say no (Mindfulness!) and for me, this was that time. For the very first time in my life, I lost the feeling in both my arms and that was enough for me. Although I didn’t stand on the rock that didn’t ruin it for me in any way at all and completing the hike rounded off three hikes, three mountains in three days nicely.
Mindfulness In Travel
For me, mindfulness and travel go hand in hand. There is a specific moment in my 2015 round the world trip that will stay with me forever where I realised how small all of my problems were in the grand scheme of things.
Not to mean that the issues weren’t there, they were there and they were huge and some of the issues are still lingering today. However, it’s more the fact that there is so much in the world to help you overcome them if you go about reaching for help in the right way.
This trip came at the perfect time for me. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either the end of one era or the start of another.
I had just moved into my new flat and a matter of days before I had the flat warming party – a very exciting time for me, but something was off, something wasn’t adding up.
This trip to Norway reminded me more of who I am and the skills/hobbies I want to pick up and improve whether that be photography, cooking or anything else. And with all of the added on financial commitments that come naturally when you buy a flat and the stress of the whole procedure, I think I lost that.
Courtesy of the mindfulness that came with one of my favourite holidays – I’ve found that again and this first week back and a first full week in my new flat have been extremely positive.