Nordmarka winter walk 18 December 2005
An attempt to do some cross country trails in the snow.
In Oslo, the temperature had been about -5°C. Enough to turn your breath into mist whenever you breathed, but a comfortable temperature as long as you wear warm clothing. We caught the train to Movann, attempting to follow a large part of a walk we had done a few months earlier in the heat of summer.
Now it was really feeling like winter. The snow was as much as half a metre thick, and the air was -10°C. There was no mist when you breathed - the moisture instantly froze and dropped to the ground (and yes, I have been in colder, in case you were wondering - got undressed and into a bed at -15°C back in Wales). The heavy snowfall just a day earlier had even brought down a small aeroplane, which had crashed in the valley beside where we were heading. We put on an extra layer of clothing, and began the walk away from the station.
- The Movann (or Movatn, depending on the dialect) lake was completely frozen, and the diving platforms seemed out of place, perched in the middle of a snow field.
- The trail began as a fairly typical skiing route, with the sun occasionally scraping its way high enough to light it up.
- The miniature new spruce trees are dwarfed by their older relatives, but are perfect for a christmas setting (WARNING: the wallpaper versions of this picture are somewhat large, so you may want to avoid them if you have a slow connection).
- It was now 11:00, and the sun was just about managing to rise. This is just a few days from the winter solstice, and the sun only stays above the horizon for about 6 hours each day, with about 1 hour of daylight either side. In areas with hills or mountains (such as Nordmarka), some places will not receive direct sunlight until spring.
- The air got colder as we climbed, and the exposed rock was covered with thick icicles, but at least we were now warm from the effort. Claudio had already removed a layer of clothing.
- Onto the main skiing path. This is typical for Norway. Stay off the ski tracks, and get out of the way of skiers who climb slopes in between. Not much fun (despite damer on skis). We welcomed the chance to leave this route.
- Years of snow had produced obvious strain on some of the trees. On the last walk, we had left this route just before here, and had rejoined at Tømte, having taken a much longer route.
- There were several patches of nearly smooth snow. These are either marsh or lake. In either case, they are already easily frozen enough to walk on. The feeble sun hardly shines on them, so the cold is free to do its work.
- Tømte meant that we had now rejoined the other rote, and we could now leave the track, and start on the proper cross country trail.
- This side of the mountain never gets direct sunlight in the winter, so the snow just builds up on the trees. The path here climbs noticeably, and only one person had been here before us since the snow - meaning that we constantly fell through through it, making progress slow and uncomfortable. My knee was feeling very painful again, and in some places along here, I just collapsed in the snow, unable to cope with it. I must see a doctor - for future reference, left knee, left and right above the knee-cap, and especially on the back of the left side, where the large tendon connects. Pain when the knee is bent between 5 and 45 degrees (so almost all the time while walking) - fun eh?
- The winter makes it easier to see across Nordmarka, as with this picture taken from Mellomkollen. Although just 537 metres high, Mellomkollen blocks the sunlight for about 1000 metres or more. The sun is now at its highest for the day.
- The view may be nice, but taking pictures comes at a price. Occasional snow drifts bring you sinking suddenly to your - erm - cold bits, your waist, or sometimes even your armpits. Although parts like this might be navigable on skis, most of this trail is not. The only option would be snow shoes, and even they would not be well suited to a lot of the terrain.
- Now past the summit, the peaceful snow was broken by a single set of abandoned footprints. Not many people were mad enough to be here ...
- At Utsikt Mellomkollen, we sipped on hot chocolate, and watched the sun pace across the sky over Oslo Fjorden, threatening to set if we did not hurry back to the train.
- In the gully underneath, I crossed a boulder pile to prepare for a photo, failed completely to see the edges of the bounders under the snow, and slipped into gap between them. Doh!
- This is what we were trying to photograph; a 5 metre long icicle, almost matching the Trident stalacite in size.
- At a break in the trees, we were greeted by the view over Maridalsvannet, Oslo, and the misted rolling hills of Østmarka. So beautiful.
- We hurried down to the main path, hoping to catch the first train back. This area is like something out of a fairytale. Unfortunately, it then began to climb again, and we followed it over the ridge, trying to keep up a good pace.
- It was getting late (15:00!), and we repeatedly walked in and out of the sunset. My knee was unable to keep up the pace, and after collapsing in pain again a few times, we had to admit defeat, and take it a little more easy, missing the train by 10 minutes. Not impressed at the prospect of spending two hours doing nothing, Claudio worked up the courage to ask two very generous damer for a lift home in their nice warm car. Apparently we did not smell too bad, and we were saved a long wait in the cold.