Oct 10, 2017

Exploring Norway: A challenging day hike to Mørkgonga and Gyrihaugen

It was a beautiful Saturday morning. The sun was up, the sky was clear. The temperature was cold and crisp, probably in between 7-14 degrees. 

I slipped into my hiking clothes topped with an off white sweater and a pretty thick coat I usually wear when going out in the cold. I wore my Northface hiking boots and checked if the sandwiches were in the bag. An hour later there I was, joining a group of expats in Norway, to my first Internations event: a challenging hike to Mørkgonga and Gyrihaugen, around 50km away from Oslo. 

They said it's a "norwegian thing" to go for hiking, mountain climbing and all those outdoor activities, you name it. I said, back home in the Philippines, a lot of people are in this kind of adventures too, myself included. I remember I was  only 8 years old when mom and her brother brought me and my siblings to the province to go camping. At a very young age, we knew how to survive in a forest I would say. So I felt, I was trained for this, I can manage. Later did I know, it was tougher to go hiking in countries with a challenging weather like Norway. 

Hiking to Mørkgonga

We started off quite easy but it was very cold for me I had to wear my gloves. The trail was like walking in the park kind of thing, you know what I mean. 

As we progress, I felt like I was starting to sweat up as the slope was getting steeper. Some of us had to stop to catch their breaths. I had to stop to grab a quick bite of my energy bar.

After half an hour of walking, there came the challenge. Steep slope filled with loose rocks.  There was a part where we held on to a steel rope to get to the top. Exhausted I was, I started to use my hands like a monkey and cling on to the roots of the trees. I had to watch out for rocks that might fall on to my face. I thought, "this rope was your life line, one wrong move and you're dead." Of course, I'm exaggerating but seriously if you're not careful enough you would end up bruised or injured. 

I think I did pretty good. No bruises, no injury. We reached Mørkgonga after an hour and an amazing view welcomed us. 

To Gyrihaugen Peak (638m above sea level)

Just when I thought everything seems easy and manageable, is when I get slapped by the fact that nothing worth having or seeing comes easy. You have to take an extra effort. This means a lot of work and pain.

I almost gave up. It was exhausting. I was drained, sweaty and cold. It was rocky and muddy terrain. I was breathing heavily. Coughing and sneezing alternately. I felt dry in my throat. I was literally struggling when Christian stopped, offered me water and said "We're too close. We'll have a nice lunch at the peak."

I looked up, saw some kids, dogs and elders enjoying the view from the top. I suddenly felt a flow of energy in my body. I pushed harder telling myself if the kids, elders and dogs can do it, why can't I. My usual mantra.

In a few minutes, I was there on top. Amused by this breath taking view Norway has. It was beyond words. It was stunning astonishing. If only I could marry the view, I would.

Imagine, if I didn't pushed myself harder, I would not know what I can do. I would not see what was it like up there. If we don't have friends or family who would give us a little push, we could have easily just give up. 

I keep reminding myself that it helps to have the right mindset. To keep pushing. It's normal to feel tired. You can take a rest but don't stop when you're tired, stop when you're done. There's always something worth seeing if we persevere. This applies not only in hiking, but in life. 

How to get there (from visitnorway.no)

If you're heading for a hike you might go by driving into Sundvollen towards Åsa. There is a pathway from "Elvikbråtan" (bus stop). Ravine up towards Gyrihaugen, east of Steinsfjorden. From Steinsfjorden (the fjord) towards the mountain goes Mørkgonga in a dark gorge. In summer time you could pass through the gorge with the help of steel wire mounted alongside the steep rock walls. The top view is rather impressing. A path goes further up to Gyrihaugen where you can observe half the "Kingdom".