28. July 2021
Day 54: Norwegians Rock
Ferslia to Oian Airfield
I didn't end up meeting my friends yesterday. So I pitched my tent high above a tranquil river.
However, they'd envited me for lunch today.
So the plan looks like this: walk to the cabin, having a loooong brunch break there and then continue towards Meraker for resupply. I deviate from the official E1 trail, which would circumnavigate Meraker to the east. Less road walk, definitely, but no possibility for a resupply. Again, E1 seems to avoid civilization like the pest.
As it is only 8km from my camp spot at Sulaa River to Olav's cabin, I make a (for me) lazy start into the day. Just before 06:00 I am on my way.
Initially along ATV tracks, I soon join a gravel road leading me to the cabin, beautifully located at Feren lake. I have some time left, which I use to take care of my feet and read a bit.
Olav unfortunately couldn't make it, however, his working colleague Vidar dropped by. Together we enjoyed a delicious late breakfast with amazing views of the lake. After two hours it's time to say goodbye. It was lovely seeing him again and sharing memories when we met at Namsvatnet.
From the cabin to Meraker it is a 17 kilometers road walk. Not much to talk about. I cruise at a constant 11 minutes per kilometer (Norway roads often have a marker every kilometer) without taking any break. Only a short stop when I have a chat with a camper, who only speaks Norwegian. Still, we somehow understand each other.
The last days have been mentally and physically challenging. Especially in the beginning, when my backpack was heavy, the terrain steep and unpredictable and the weather unfavorable. It all improved over the last few days and I'm delighted to be back hiking - hiking mostly on unmarked terrain without any visible path or footsteps to follow. Not something I've done that often, hence many things which I discovered:
Plan more time
Navigation uses time. Be it with GPS or map. Expect detours and backtracking if the route you choose is not smart.
The terrain is your friend and not your enemy
In the beginning, I tried to walk a straight line, disregarding the terrain. Make your life easier by reading the terrain correctly, make use of geological features like a long, flat ridge to follow. Even if it adds a kilometer.
Avoid scrubs and forest
If I had to bash my way through them it always ended with me swearing. Going around was better for my nerves and heart.
Have a backup
I admit it: without GPS I would have been lost. Completely. Knowing that I have a backup in my backpack, gave me piece of mind.
Factor in the weather
Bad weather made navigating much harder as there are no distant references available.
Expect to be the only one
During my off trail hiking, I haven't seen anyone. Also elswere I was usually the one. One hiker, one cloudbery picker and two farmers were all I met (not counting the two quiet soldiers).
Looking back, I enjoyed off trail walking. A completely different experience. Despite or maybe exactly because the challenges, which come with it.
Back to today: with shopping done (I felt sorry for my fellow shoppers, as I was sweating. Even though I took a rinse in the lake earlier today. It's just useless when it's so hot), I continue my road walk. I have no plan where I would stay. Walk until I find a suitable spot.
It's around six, when I spot a wind sock and what looks like runway markings. Out there, in the middle of nowhere. As someone with kerosene in my blood, I have to check it out. So I walk up the driveway. A very nice guy (who turns out to be the owner of the airport), tells me a bit about the airfield and invites me to stay in the "Tower Flat" Even though I initially debate a bit whether I should continue, I quickly know that I can't refuse such a once in a lifetime offer.
All these helpful Norwegians like Vidar or now this guy. Full of hospitality. They are really the one's who make my journey so exciting.