Week 5: A girl that I used to know

Being ill teaches you a lot. For me, one of the main lessons was to learn to define myself not by what I did but by the choices I made. It wasn’t an easy lesson. For years I saw myself as a climber, a mountain girl. That was where I was happiest. That’s where I felt most at home. But suddenly I couldn’t do these things I couldn’t be that girl and if I wasn’t her who was I?

But I learnt and I adjusted. I learnt to choose to be happy and make the best of the life that I had. I missed the mountains but I could be content without them. For 4 years I lived in London, with little outdoor space and crowded streets. I learnt to be myself away from the environment that I loved, but when I started planning this trip, mountains were a big part of the itinerary.

Arriving in Lofoten I was tired from 2 days of travelling. I sat in the car on the way to the farm trying to look in every direction at once to take in the scenery around me. Despite my exhuastion, I felt happy, I was back in the mountains.

4 and a half weeks later I decided that I need to sleep out on the hill. I prepare for the night by naping that afternoon and eating a good dinner. All day the weather has been perfect but as I start up the path, the clouds come in and it starts to rain. I keep going, I enjoy the feeling of being out in the elements and I have a tent with me. I enjoy the walk, the higher I get the heavier the rain becomes and the more the wind blows. I reach the top at about a quarter to 11 and find a good stop to pitch my tent. The rain is getting heavy and I’m looking forward to getting out the wind.

I don’t get very far before the only pole the tent has snapped, at this point, I give up. I’m getting cold and the tent will no longer stand up. I do my best to pack up but the pole won’t come out the tent so I roll it up and head back down the mountain.

The next evening I’m tired from my late night, I finish a phone call home and am heading to the house. The clouds are really low, so low that you are walking through them but they have this unearthly light to them. Everything seems bright but shrouded in cloud. I had been shown pictures by my housemates here of a night they went up the mountain a time the clouds where low.  The pictures are amazing and I know I have to go up and see if I get the same experience.

It’s half past 10 when I set off. I’ve had mountain safety drilled into my head since I was a kid and so going up on a day the clouds are this low feel a bit odd but it doesn’t take me long to get above the cloud line. Despite a late night the night before I feel awake. My feet seem to carry me effortlessly up the mountain and I can’t help but marvel at how much fitter I am now compared to when I came. The first time I walk the path the Vetten I had to stop every few meters to catch my breath and my heart was beating so loudly I could hear it in my chest.

I reach the top energized and feeling more alive then I have done in ages. The clouds sit low in the valley hiding the houses and lakes from view, as far as I can see it is clouds giving way to mountains.  I wait atop Vetten till midnight, messing about with my phone taking pictures and marveling at the beauty around me. I make my way down but I don’t want to go home. The night is too perfect to give it up now, I need to carry on. I reach the small gully between the mountains and follow the path up the other side, my legs carry me onwards full of a joy of their own.

I walk upwards, abandoning the part at times to get a better view or to clamber to a high point. The more I walk the more I am filled with a sense of complete happiness and peace. I feel like the girl I was before I got ill, the one who always had to walk at the front, who never seemed to get tired. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world as I walk those mountain tops alone.

It’s 3am when I finally reach home. I’m tired but happy. Being up in the mountains alone at midnight, walking above the clouds, seeing the world brilliantly lit by the sun at 2am and feeling a joy that can only be found in nature its something I will never forget and an experience only Norway could give me. I know I will pay for it in having a few tired days but it was so worth it!

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I hope you have enjoyed this episode! and of course the pictures!

With love,

The girl with the braid in her hair xxx

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