Ever dreamed of experiencing the feeling of being suspended between powder blue skies high above and brilliant blue water below? If yes, your search would end at the unique rock of Trolltunga which hovers 700 metres above the Lake Ringedalsvatnet in Skjeggedal, at 1100 metres above sea level in Norway.
Trolltunga, which means ‘troll’s tongue’, is one of the most challenging, but breathtaking treks because of the surreal view it offers due to contrasting terrain. The trek is 23-27 kilometres long, with an ascent of about 900 metres and consumes 10 hours in total. Though a huge challenge, this trek is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Norway.
The trek through snow
The reason that several thousand people go on this famous trek every year is the view from atop the jagged piece of rock sticking out from the side of a cliff — large enough to barely hold a few people standing side-to-side. If you dare to sit with your legs over the edge of the formation, you get a majestic view of the lake cutting its way through the hills, swerving away from view as it disappears behind the mountains.
We — a group of six — chose to travel by road from Oslo to Odda (a municipality near Trolltunga) which is a seven-to-eight-hour journey altogether. The idea was to start out the next day early at around 6.30 am. When we set out at the pre-decided hour, I realised that though there were a lot of fellow travellers along the track, miraculously it did not feel crowded in any way.
Ginu near a signpost
On my part, this was my first trekking experience and a 28-kilometre-long trek is not exactly a walk in the park. Unlike my fellow travellers, I had not undertaken any prior preparations
like jogging or cycling and knew this trek would be a huge challenge, but one I looked forward to.
The hiking trail starts at Skjeggedal. Once you’ve lost sight of Skjeggedal, there is no sign of civilisation anywhere, except for the scores of people who chose to go on the trek on the same day as you. There are signposts all along the way, marking the distance that you still have left to trudge on. But the dazzling beauty of nature and the will to climb onto the troll’s tongue and gaze out from the edge of the world makes you plod on.
You start off by trekking the relatively meek first four kilometres of road going up-hill. From the trailhead (starting point), it is impossible to fathom what is yet to come. The entire trail to the end is broken into sharp climbs (which are aided by stepping-stone stairs, sometimes made of boulders so large you cannot climb them without the aid of your hands), patches of vegetation, wooden walkways or logs taking you across brooks and large expanses of plains or vast and relatively flat rocky terrain. The trek takes you up and down a chain of hills, so at many places you find yourselves surrounded by slopes and peaks covered with snow or vegetation — sometimes with streams running down their shining, stony faces. In some places, the trail is entirely snowbound, leaving you wondering if you were still on the same trek you initially set out on. It must be kept in mind that this is not an entirely safe trek. Although not directly life-threatening, parts of the trail at some points are a stone’s throw away fromsharp drops down the face of the cliff.
Finally, when you do stand at the edge of the world, gazing at the dramatic fjord landscape and enjoying the view towards the glacier Folgefonna, the feeling is of a high like never felt before. For me, the Trolltunga trip will always remain a lifelong memory, especially since I had no trekking or a hiking background. Do not underestimate the hike to Trolltunga. You can push your limits, sure, but please know when to stop — you know your body best. In introspection, all I can say is if you have courage, nothing is impossible.
(As told to Priya Sreekumar)