From the Tip of the Tongue

My surprise detour has come and gone. Now I find myself back in Switzerland, nursing sore legs and gasping all over again as I share my photos with friends. In short: impulsive decisions can have epic results.

Kym, the fellow traveler who roped me into this quest, had found a house in a small village nestled into the fjords outside of Bergen. Before I arrived she and the rest of the group had already befriended some students at a music school down the street. Once I showed up they took us on a very comical boat ride towards a small island out in the icy blue water. With one faulty and one missing rowlock, we mostly spun the boat in circles, taking far longer to get anywhere than the Norwegians expected. On the return leg, struggling against the wind, we took so long that a neighbor with a motorboat came out and towed us back to our cove. Though we returned to land at 11:30, it didn’t matter because the sun had only just dipped below the mountains. Just think of all the things you could do with only four hours of nighttime.

We also had a canoe. That worked much better
“Our” island

Who can’t row and talk on the phone at the same time? 
Notice the twine holding the oar down
If he hadn’t shown up, we might still be out there

Our proud vessel
This is the darkest it got

Monday, though, was the focal point and the reason for this whole excursion: a grueling, 22 kilometer hike to Trolltunga, The Troll’s Tongue. Along with trekking in Torres del Paine (Chilean Patagonia), this turned out to be one of the more difficult and incredible experiences of my life. While the distance itself isn’t terrible (half-marathon length), the terrain is unfriendly at best. The path crosses through boulder fields, down steep sheets of rock and over melting glaciers. Thus, you always have to watch your step for risk of slipping, catching your foot, or just falling through the snow (though there’s a cool stream to catch you underneath). That’s not to mention the first, and therefore final, kilometer is this:

3,197 rickety steps. Notice how much steeper it gets in the distance
I happened to be one of those whose foot suddenly didn’t have ground beneath it

Everything that makes the trek perilous is what makes it wondrous. Remote and difficult to reach, it’s relatively unspoiled, so as we took a break (nap) on one outcrop, I heard nothing but the wind dancing over us.

Considering the landmark’s name, the scenery fits. It looks like the place a troll would inhabit: wild and unforgiving. The scenery rewards you the whole way, and the effort you put into reaching it makes it that much more fulfilling.

Of course, the whole trail is scenic. But the highlight is, as you’d expect, the Tongue itself. It’s hidden behind the hills until just before you reach it. Then it’s there, and all you can say is “wow”.

Or, “Oh my god don’t do that so close to the edge”
Oddly enough, nobody else thought to picnic there
A slightly crazy Norwegian brought Kym and me to this semi-secret angle via a difficult climb down from the plateau.
Had to climb between this rock and hard place to get the angle. Not shown: the narrow ledge and sharp drop off just beyond my toes. I dared not look down.
While it’s pretty cliche to implore that you go with whatever feels right or wherever the wind takes you, there’s a reason behind it. If these are the experiences you wish for and save up towards, you have to recognize the opportunity to realize them; it might not come when you expect it. But if it’s there, and you can take it, no matter how nervous you might be or unprepared you might feel, it’ll pay off. You never know where this kind of spontaneity may lead, but I would guarantee it’ll be one of the most positive and memorable decisions you make.

You’ll get some cool pictures at the very least


1 thought on “From the Tip of the Tongue”

  1. Spectacular photos! What an adventure! I even got that queasy feeling in my stomach that one often gets looking out from a great height. Enjoy the rest of your trip and I hope to talk to you about it when you get home!
    Nancy Matlack


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