What you need to know before hiking Trolltunga
8 months ago, when I first started this blog, I was asking myself one question: DUDE! Where’s My MoJyo?!?
The second I laid eyes on this picture, my buzzing mind settled into a quiet calm & stupor. Something about the iconic rock jutting out into the dramatic mountains, winding lakes and clouds that seemed close enough to touch was deeply stirring. I thought to myself then — there’s your Mojo…THIS is where I need to go.
A quick search revealed the place was “Trolltunga”, aka Troll’s Tongue, in Norway.
Months of planning later, my Norway trip finally came to be! None of it though, prepared me for the adventure to come (I ended up crying. Like, really ugly crying. Nope, not my proudest moment). It couldn’t have possibly prepared me for what I actually saw & experienced: from the stupendous waterfalls to the glacier crossings, to the jaw dropping views. Here’s the skinny on the good, bad & beautiful on hiking Trolltunga.
PREP FOR HIKING TROLLTUNGA | THE BASICS
Distance & Level of Effort
It’s a whopping 11 km trek one way to Trolltunga. That’s 22 km, i.e., 13 MILES for a round trip. Yes, let that sink in, because I didn’t! If a hike is super steep, even a 3 mile hike takes hours.
Allow 10–12 hours for the full hike (is what most sites tell you)… 8 hours, if you’re a Norse god. There is also an hour wait to take your photo once you’re there. Should the weather turn, like it did for us, it will take longer to get through muddy trails & ensure you don’t slip on boulders! Best to plan for 13–14 hours with an early start; I started at 8:30 AM. If you start after 10:30 AM, there’s a sign post to turn around by the 6 km marker, as you won’t be able to do the full loop.
Every hiker I talked to before & after, told me, “After this I was dead. I needed a massage. I couldn’t feel my legs.” They’re right! I needed a good 2 days to recover :)
See, I had happily thought, “Oh yea! I ran 13 miles last year in my (first-ever) half marathon, I can totally do this! I hike! I work out! I got this!!”
I learned that hiking 13 miles UPHILL, in the MOUNTAINS with unpredictable weather, massive boulders, glaciers & waterfalls that you need to jump across is not quite the same. I learned this isn’t a stroll in the park, rather a multi-faceted hike in one of the most beautiful, surreal landscapes in the world.
What To Take
This gear really came in handy!
- Waterproof Leggings & Waterproof Hiking Pants: I wore Under Armor’s heat trapping leggings.
- Toques, waterproof gloves & layers: I had a workout shirt, a sweater vest, scarf & a zip-up jacket.
- Extra pairs of socks: Walking around with wet, slushy socks & shoes made me launch into a swearing tirade, as magnificent as my surroundings.
- A Waterproof Shell Jacket, with hood: Saved my butt, it rains on & off in the mountains.
- Sturdy, Waterproof Hiking Boots: I took hiking shoes & they weren’t high eneough to keep me dry!
- Waterproof Backpack & Empty Water Bottles: No need to take tonnes of water! It’s exalting to stand by a waterfall (or stream) & drink fresh, spring water. Heavenly!
- Protein bars & energy chews: Loaded with these, I looked like I just robbed a Health Store.
- Lunch (& Dinner): I hiked without dinner & settled for a peanut butter cookie, wrapped in a corn tortilla, which is as appetizing as a bowl of worms. Don’t let this happen to you!
- Hiking sticks: help immensely! (knee & ankle braces if needed)
- Freakin’ Toilet Paper or Napkins & Hand Sanitizer: I’m not going to elaborate. Too traumatic. Trust me, take it with you, it’s not fun to improvise in the wilderness, while trying to find privacy. Thank God for the fog.
- Training with uphill hikes (not mandatory): However, will give a sense of what to expect for endurance.
THE HIKE TO TROLLTUNGA | BEAUTY & SPLENDOR ALL AROUND
The 1st km & the 3rd-4th km were the hardest of the entire trail, because of the elevation gain, scaling of numerous boulders. The good news is there are ropes & bridges along the way to aid in the steep climb & early stream crossings. It will eventually level off, you’ll see the trail marked by cairns & facades with a bright red “T”.
I learned the importance of keeping a steady pace early on, rest for no more than 10–12 minutes a time & then keep moving.
Once you’re past the 1st km, the scenery transforms and you’re walking past beautiful cliffs & streams.
But it really is after the 5th & 6th km, when you walk past the melted snow caps & glaciers that the landscape completely transforms. It felt like something out of Lord of the Rings, very New Zealand/Scotland-ish with jagged cliffs, rugged mountainscapes & walls. It’s hard to describe the beauty — alien and raw, rugged to the point you feel you’re intruding on someone else’s turf.
Then you reach the 7th km, and are walking by the cliffside, you see this …
….and realize, you really are on someone else’s turf. This place is like no other in the world you’ve ever seen or read about. It’s pristine, oozing wilderness, completely untainted, like from a fairy tale. This is Norway.
I had to stop & ask myself if I was in someone’s virtual reality game. If this was real. Words cannot describe the ethereal beauty between the 7–11 km. The steepest part of the hike is done then & it’s fairly flat. At that point for us, the fog rolled in, wind picked up, rain whipped us in our faces for a good 40 minutes. It did make me nervous to cross the streams in that weather, and I suspect a lot of hikers turned back, because we didn’t have to deal with the 1 hour wait time at the vista point. Just as we reached this majestic waterfall at 8 km — the rain & wind stopped. Just look at this! (The pink short flamingo is me, hola!)
That’s when I realized, you gotta leap across the waterfall to continue on the trail. Say what?
You can’t tell how big the waterfall is from this distance…but in this is a pic I snapped a small part of it, halfway through jumping it..(I was on a big rock smack in the middle of the waterfall & couldn’t resist taking a picture!)
After I made it through …figuring which rocks to jump across…I realized this waterfall emptied right by the edge of the cliff we were walking on….into the depths of the fjord below.
Following a 6 hour journey, we reached our destination, there was Trolltunga! It just opens up in front of you, and I was stunned that the picture I stared at online, was right in front of my eyes. Is this real life??
By the time we got our pics taken, the fog rolled in. The fog does not diminish the splendor of this place! It will still leave you breathless, awestruck & contemplating your existence in the vastness of the universe. (really)
Parking ourselves by this viewpoint, we had lunch. 20 minutes later, the fog cleared up again… just look at this!
The walk back was faster, now we knew the trail & how best to traverse it. Norway is called the “Land of the Midnight Sun” — Because of its proximity to the arctic circle, during summer, the sun doesn’t set till 11:30 PM. Seriously, Thank you Jesus for this, because hiking past 8 PM, it was stunning, with plenty of light & felt safe. It also meant seeing twilight magic like this…
THE STORY OF MY UGLY CRY
The last 4 km were the most excruciating — I was tired, hungry, dinner-less, had blisters from my wet socks & wet shoes. I had also slipped on rocks & streams, banged up my elbows, wrists & knees. Sadly that’s me in real life too, I’m always tripping, banging up my knees or elbows, spilling food & drink on myself. Gravity is not my friend in real life, and it wasn’t holding up its end in the mountains either.
And so when we had 3 km left… my ankles were on fire & all I had to eat for dinner was a peanut butter cookie in a tortilla…. the scenery shifted from stellar to an endless row of boulders, steeped in sharp descents on a trail made slippery & muddy from the rain. This is when I had my not-so-proudest moment.
It started innocently enough with me getting delirious & then going on a swearing tirade…it’s something else to hear the quiet & distant echo of the f-word by the solitude of the mountains.
And then I came undone. Drowning in an ugly cry over a 2 min meltdown, littered with phrases like “I hate my life so much right now” and “this was my stupid idea”. Being hangry (Hungry + angry as a result), is a serious pandemic, people. I urge you to guard yourself against this occurrence and not eat peanut butter cookies with tortillas. Ever. #psa
I was lucky enough to have an amazing partner support me & keep me going, once past the boulders, all was good in MoJyo land again.
We made it back close to midnight — a good 15 hours later! I attribute this to the rainy conditions & also because I spent a great deal of time doing photo shoots & changing lenses, & took much longer breaks on the way back. These can be easily limited. (A tip on the last km down, is to walk backwards while holding the rope, it’s so much easier & you won’t slip!)
MOJYO AT TROLLTUNGA
This was hands down, the most demanding but also the most beautiful hike I’ve done my whole life! And I’ve done a few butt-kicking hikes in Yosemite, Utah & Hawaii! The scenic wonder & other-worldliness of this place still blows my mind & I can’t believe we were there. I feel so enormously grateful for living in such a beautiful world, being able to see & appreciate such exquisite creations that are so much bigger than you and me. It was incredibly rigorous, but I’m so happy & proud of myself for doing it, you will be too! I would do it again in a heartbeat.
From my first glance of a picture that captivated me 8 months ago to now: I can say, it was majestic, awe inspiring, spectacular, fulfilling, in more ways than my imagination could have led me to believe.
It’s a beautiful world and we are all so lucky to be alive. This place makes sure you never forget that.
Mojo, you bugger, I think I found you here at Trolltunga.
What places inspire you to find your Mojo?
Originally published at Dude, Where’s My MoJyo?.