The area north of the railroad line between Åre in Sweden and Trondheim in Norway is very sparsely populated and there is a reason for this: either it is not very fertile mountain ranges, or huge bogs. In the transitions between these landscape types there are very remote farms where you can spend the night. However, the partially marked path between them leads mainly across the moors or along former telephone lines through dense forests. It also represents the most direct connection and is therefore usually preferred. Less accommodation with a solid roof over your head, but drier and in good weather with a wide view, can be found along the western mountain range of Skjækerfjell and Urddalfjell. From the reports on the preferred route, I expected a struggle of several days through swamp and undergrowth with little scenic variety. Therefore I settled for the mountain option already very early in my planning.
After one day on the road along the two lakes Limingen and Tunnsjø followed 8 days without shopping opportunities through the mountains and at the end still through the moors. During the whole time I had mostly sunny weather. Only on the second afternoon I was thoroughly soaked by a two-hour intensive rain shower.
The rocky terrain was generally good to walk on. However, since my route ran across and not parallel to the rocky cliffs, I had to constantly search for passages that allowed me to overcome these cliffs. There the game turns of the reindeer were a very helpful and reliable indicator. This way I hiked in zigzag through the area and tried to keep the course despite rock faces, lakes and swamps in the valleys in between. I succeeded well thanks to the good long range visibility. The result of this zigzag was 25% more distance compared to the planned route. Usually I have to reckon with just under 10% compared to the planning.
On the 3rd day, however, I also noticed that this terrain requires a very high level of concentration and the countless high steps up and down demand a lot physically. I ran into a hunger pang, although I ate something every hour in the usual measure. Therefore I decided at short notice to visit a cabin a little off my route, instead of spending a rainy night in the tent and lose more energy. There I still found a started package of jasmine rice. After 4 side dish portions I still didn’t have enough, so I added another bag of mashed potatoes (2-3 portions). After that, of course, there were also half a pack of cookies.
I started with caution gently into the next day. Since for the following day permanent rain was forecast, I wanted to come as far as possible. This way I must hike at most a few hours by the rain. I followed at the foot of the Skjækerfjell chain with best weather. The mountain range consists of rounded humps with steeply dropping rock faces into the valley. They shine black from the meltwater and wear white collars of snow cornices at the summit edge. Spontaneously I decide in the middle of the afternoon to use the unique opportunity to climb at least one peak in Norway. Up to the Skjækerhatten it is only 2 km and 500 altitude meters. That should be in it. I had eaten a large portion of trekking food for lunch. I feel no signs of weakness even after 25 km. Quickly I gain height up a cirque, before then numerous rock ribs to the summit plateau must be overcome. The panoramic view is phenomenal! The North Sea I can not recognize, but up to the approx. 60-80 km distant fjords one sees. Similarly far the view goes in all directions. After a reindeer soup I descend and pitch my tent at 21 o’clock in a transverse valley at a small lake. In the sunset I devour still 2 bags (4-6 portions) of mashed potatoes. At the end of the day I have completed 46 km with 1800 meters of altitude, without the hunger pangs of the previous day repeated.
After a restless, short night I use the early morning hours before the rain to get to the next hut. There I arrive just with the onset of continuous rain at 7:30 am and so I have virtually worked out a full day of rest.
The cabins in the southern part of Norway have a pantry from which you can get food and pay for it via an app, just like the overnight stay. What is stocked there, you see only on the spot. In the Skjækerdalshytta I found nothing with which I could complete my intended route without starving. So I followed the trail, which let me save a night. In the following cabin there was no mashed potatoes in stock. So I dared the experiment with a can of spaghetti with tomato sauce, sausages and meatballs; all things that I actually do not tolerate. Despite antihistamine medication, I was completely powerless, tired and constantly hungry the next day. I had to lie down in the sun after 2.5 hours of walking. I slept deeply until I was awakened after about an hour. A retired couple greeted me. They refreshed the trail markings and cut back the brush. I toiled for another 5 hours plus breaks for the remaining snacks until I reached the cabin. Before I was allowed to lie down, I had to fulfill my duty: Fetch water from the well house 100m away, wash myself, fire up the stove and eat something. Again I devoured 2 bags of mashed potatoes, 3/4 pack of crispbread with jam and honey. Then I lay down on the sofa and squeezed in the four remaining cereal bars and a Daim.
The following morning I had to follow only a good 20 km along a gravel road down to Meråker my stage destination. There I then come back to food. Even before I get to the accommodation, I storm the Coop along the way. There I bought what I wanted to eat until the start of the next stage. When shopping, certain foods really attract me:
- Fresh berries Fresh vegetables
- Dairy products (yogurt, cheese, crème desserts, ice cream, milk)
- Baked goods (cinnamon buns, vanilla pastries)
In civilization I prefer accommodations where I can cook myself. First, I am sure that I eat only histamine-free food, 2. that I get enough, 3. I do not have to be ashamed when I eat 400-500 g of meat and 4. I do not have to sit alone in a restaurant (usually a take-away). On the other hand, some kitchens are only moderately equipped and if there is no salt and pepper in stock, it can be a bit bland. If oil is missing for frying, I use the oil from the pickled olives from the aperitif.
Now has occurred what is described in all travelogues of long-distance hikers. At some point, hunger becomes a constant companion. Actually, I was surprised that this did not occur with me so far. Already a scarce month ago in Rognan I had the impression with the view in the mirror that at my body no more much reserves are present. I was always attracted to certain products in the stores, but the quantities eaten remained in the normal range.
Andrea and I had already identified the easy-to-prepare, high-calorie and compact-volume foods for our multi-day tours with our sons Flurin and Maurus years ago. In a comprehensive excel spreadsheet Andrea calculated the quantities per day so that everyone could cover their calorie consumption. Our experience was incorporated after each trip: less on the first day and from the 3rd day onwards an increased requirement at breakfast and dinner. Until recently, these amounts worked very well for my tour. Intuitively, I increased the amounts of oatmeal for porridge at breakfast or couscous in the evening. Now, however, there seems to have been a fundamental change in need. I devour quantities like a carter and still hungry!
The consequence of the great need is of course more weight on the back, or more frequent shopping. Fortunately, I am now at the height of Trondheim. From here, the population and settlement density with shopping opportunities is much higher. So far I had to carry food for 7-10 days. From here it is according to planning then only for 2-4 days. So that should work.
Food on the trail To give you an impression of what I eat while hiking, here is my menu plan. Breakfast - 180 g oatmeal with ○ 2-3 tablespoons powdered milk ○ 2-3 tablespoons raw sugar ○ Fresh berries ○ Cinnamon - 5 dl Ovomaltine with 3 tablespoons milk powder (mit Ovi chasch’s nid besser, aber länger ?) Lunch (on stages >30 km) - Trekking food from the bag: ○ In warm weather, usually a reindeer meat soup (yellow bag, approx. 250 kcal) + crispbread. ○ In cold weather or very long stages, a full meal (e.g., reindeer stew with potatoes and berries; orange pouch, approx. 500-600 kcal) ○ Plus water Dinner - Appetizer ○ 3 dl beef broth - Main course ○ 200 g couscous with § 1/2 cube beef broth § 6-8 dried apricots § Seasoned with curry and mixed herbs ○ or 1.5-2 bags of mashed potatoes, additionally seasoned with paprika and pepper Dessert - 1 pack of cookies - 2 Daim (caramel with chocolate coating) - Plus water and now and then a coffee with the dessert Snacks during the hourly breaks) As the mood takes you, either salty, sweet or both from the following selection: - Dried fruit (mango or apricots) - crisp bread - cashew nuts - Kvikklunsj (chocolate covered waffle comparable to Kägifret in Switzerland) - Cereal bar