I’m not a hiker!
I do yoga, well.. some yoga… and can jog for a half hour on level ground, but that’s about it as far as exercise is concerned. But when I saw pictures of Preikestolen (also known as Pulpit Rock), I knew I had to go there, no matter what! Of course, the forums tell you it is a beginner level hike, so I was kinda under the impression it would be like a long stroll in the park, maybe just a little bit more difficult. Boy was I mistaken!
It all started out badly. We were staying in Stavanger and had decided to rent a car to drive to Forsand, Preikestolen. Too late in the night on Saturday, we realized that the rental agencies would be closed on Sunday (unlike Dubai, where everything is open on the weekends as well). We checked out of our hotel in the morning and headed to the airport to try our luck there. Unfortunately, the car rentals there too would only open at noon.
So we waited. When they finally opened, only one of them had an automatic car available for rent. Apparently, the only automatic available was a merc, which obviously cost a lot more than we’d anticipated. Also, they didn’t give GPS units for cars being returned in a different city, which is a ridiculous rule, but we had to live with it. So when we finally headed out, we were grumpy and frustrated. In spite of the lack of GPS, we somehow managed to reach the the base around 2:30 pm and started our hike.
About two minutes in, I almost gave up!
It started at a fucking incline. Was I supposed to walk on a 60 deg incline with a backpack on my shoulders for 2 hours?! Who the hell called this a beginner level hike??!! My thighs were in agony, I was out of breath and I felt frustrated with myself, with that horrible voice in the back of my head suggesting that I quit already instead of attempting this foolish exercise.
Ignoring the voice, I muttered curses under my breath and renewed my efforts. The ground leveled a bit after a point, only a bit… but that helped. Once I got into the flow of things, it got easier. It still wasn’t easy mind you! I mean… sure, there were people with 3 yr olds & grandmothers and pet dogs in tow ( I’m not even joking! Norwegians are super outdoorsy, clearly!), but it is not a walk in the park.
You have to scramble over rocks and roots of trees, the path is mostly uphill ( it’s a 308m climb), and if you don’t follow the trail, you can get lost. But the blazing red T marks are easy to follow and a friendly reminder that you’re on the right path and that people before you have done this, so maybe you can too.
There are about what feels like a gazillion ‘steps’, roughly hewn into the mountain, to help you climb up the steeper paths. We didn’t talk too much, just kept walking ahead and muttering curses under our breath. Ashi was especially pissed off, cos after all, this was my idea, not hers, she hadn’t asked to risk her life on these treacherous rocks!
Once we got to the top though, it was all worth it! The feeling of accomplishment, the magnificent views, the adrenalin rush of sitting at the edge of the cliff with my legs dangling, and knowing that not too many people do this regularly kinda gives you bragging rights for life! *grin*
We took a lot of pictures, ate a couple of bananas and a bar of snickers, all the while marveling at the view and talking excitedly about the climb. But there were storm clouds brewing and it would get dark soon, so finally, we set off again, back the way we came. The climb down was a lot easier, though it was not all downhill and there were a lot of tricky places where you could slip and twist your ankles or go tumbling down the rocks. But I got into this zone where you’re in a a kind of rhythm and just keep jumping from one rock to the next, like a dance. Hikers, I’m sure, would be aware of this phenomenon.
If you’re attempting this climb and you’re a hiker, it’s one of the best things you’ll do in Norway. If you’re not a hiker… go for it anyway.
It’s worth it!