Hiking

Grueling Hike with a Wonderful View: Trolltunga – Guest Post by Chee Zhiquan

At this point, two people have shared beautiful posts with me about visiting Norway. I think the Universe is sending subtle hints. This week’s lovely post follows Chee and his hike at Trolltunga. Another magical place challenging hearts and minds while it taunts us to explore its beauty. Read his full account below.

Author: Chee Zhiquan
Website: TakeOutdoors

Favorite Quote: “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

This trail is filled with many breathtaking spots that blew my mind away. When the sun shines at the blue fjord, it sparkles like quartz, stones that shimmer like iron and steel. The water is as clear as diamonds. These scenes were so brilliantly and astonishingly stunning, and all made by the patient hands of nature. And thousands of tourists in the summer months ultimately come for this view alone:

 

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This is Trolltunga.

The word translates to “Troll’s Tongue” and is a cliff rock more than 700 meters above a lake that sticks out like, as the name suggests, a tongue. I was blessed to complete the hike and took an insta-worthy photo of myself in the tongues very tip, one that soon became my Facebook cover photo.

Guess my friends’ reactions when I put that picture up? There were plenty of likes, wows and hearts. I felt so good when I started receiving notifications of positive reactions to my cover photo.

Validation: check!

That’s not all though. I failed miserably on the first attempt and that failure gave me a stronger desire to complete it on the second try. The first hike was a few years ago and ever since I kept thinking about going back and finish the walk.

So, this summer I decided to go back to Norway and complete this hike with my partner. We made a lot of preparations, bought the right gear and did a little of physical training.

You may be asking, why did we prepare so much?

Well the answer is – the trail to Trolltunga is the most challenging trail in Norway. It’s a 27km round trip from the start point to the tongue of the rock itself and it takes about 8 – 12 hours to complete. And the terrain is far from flat, being filled with many uphills and downhills.

I was especially keen not to fail this time.

Another problem was posed by the fact that my partner and I come from Singapore, a country that has no mountains at all. The tallest hill sits at a modest 163 meters. Even if we could easily reach the peak of our tallest hill, Trolltunga was a whole new ball game.

So let’s begin with our experience from the start…

Our moods were high because we were already looking forward to seeing the cliff rock. We were happily walking until we saw our first uphill, which immediately filled us with a sense of doom.

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Not sure if this looks tough to you but it sure was to us. We climbed for about half an hour wondering if the slope would ever end. Eventually it did, thankfully. But it would not be the last of such slopes that we would encounter in the coming
hours.

At every kilometer of the trail, there was a sign stating how far away we were from the cliff rock. I found this sign pretty motivating, especially when nearing the end. However, it was demoralizing when walking back and the sign was saying “12km” before we would get some well deserved rest.

The trail seemed to get more difficult the further we progressed, going uphill was tiring while going downhill on slabs of rocks was hurting our knees. Our minds started to tell us to throw in the towel. I think we might have given up if the weather had been bad.

Along the trail, we were greeted with magnificent views of the fjords and this was one of them.

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I was fascinated, took a deep breath and started to appreciate the surroundings. The water was so clear it had reflections of the clouds. The rocks on the mountains were shimmering.

I was tired, thirsty, sweaty and my legs were aching yet this breathtaking view took all that pain away. This view also helped me to find my purpose in life. That purpose is to uncover as many landscapes on Earth as I can before I go and meet my makers.

I knew that this wouldn’t be the only amazing scenery I’ll come across as there’s plenty more in the world yet to discover and enjoy.

Continuing with such good weather and good views, we pushed on and finally reached the cliff rock.

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Stunning, isn’t it?

After that, we sat down for a while and ate some eggs, sandwiches and bananas to replenish our energy. This energy was totally necessary to fuel us up for the rest of the journey. There was an eagle that soared pass the mountain, as though a significant sign of being a conqueror to this enormous mountain.

There was an interesting scene where everyone was queuing for a photo by Trolltunga. Well, who doesn’t want a photo right? After walking for 5 – 6 hours, you totally deserve an awesome photo.

So, we queued for an hour plus. When it reached our turn, we were contemplating whether to go near the edge. In the back of our minds, we remembered seeing news of a tourist who fell to her death. We told ourselves that there probably won’t be a second time so we overcame our paranoia and went to the edge.

It was all worth it. The image taken was spectacular. We had help from a total stranger to take the photo for us. I guessed everyone became friends at this point.

After snapping photos for our Facebook and Instagram profiles, we rested a little more
before continuing the journey back to the start point. The thought of going back was painful, especially seeing as we know that we would have to negotiate all that tough terrain once more.

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But luckily, we made it, and I’m still alive to tell this story.

Things that amazed us were not just the views but the people we saw. Along the way, we saw a mountain biker, dogs taken for stroll on the mountain, a couple of hikers walking barefoot and even a pregnant lady (I think that was her last trimester!). Their determination was beyond admirable.

After this hike, I felt there was a greater meaning to life. In Singapore, most people rush to work in the morning and rush back home in the evening. That is the same case for me before the trip, my mind was constantly thinking about work. I didn’t have moments to slow my pace, look around my environment and appreciate beautiful things nature has to offer.

I’m glad I went on this adventure though and for the way it sparked a change in my mindset.

But if you ask me if I want to do it again, I would answer no. Not because the hike was tough, but because there are still so many other mountains, rivers, forests and landscapes to explore.

And I think I’ve just got started.

That’s all folks! Thanks for reading my experience. If you’re heading to Norway for any hiking adventures, let me know so I can share some tips!


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Chee Zhiquan is the man behind TakeOutdoors.com, a blog for anyone who simply loves the outdoors. He considers himself as an outdoor geek who loves fiddling with computer and exploring the nature.

 

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My Mountain Metaphor

I’m a seasoned ‘church camper.’ As a teenager, for at least a week each summer, I’d pile into a fifteen passenger van with sweaty boys and anxious girls and venture to the Colorado mountains for whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and torture … er, mountain biking.

Each night, after facing our fears and relying on God’s mercy to survive hormones, and crushes, and camp food, we’d hunker down to listen to sermons from a pastor underneath a picnic shelter with flames flickering behind him.

The bible is full of references to mountains. How we ought to look to them, how God moves them, how they melt in his presence, or shake in his glory. God speaks to people on mountain tops, bushes burn, internal battles are fought. Tectonic plates are holy ground.

Wise, college aged mentors would french braid my hair as I sat between their knees. I felt safe, loved, and seen. The mountains I was climbing in that season of my life involved grades, crushes, and college applications. All age appropriate, and yes, privileged.  I’d have my mountain top experience, head back down the hill and return to normal life.

Ten years passed and I still hadn’t climbed all the way to the top of one of Colorado’s beckoning peaks.

This past weekend we rallied with our cousins to trek to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain. We picked an “easy” one. Never you mind that easy still means you’re climbing an f’in MOUNTAIN.

It was not an easy experience for me.

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At the end of the meadow stretch, full of waving wildflowers, I could look up the steep trail and see people moving in front of me where I was headed. Like ants, we fell in line and moved slowly up, up, up.

“Our faith can move mountains” – Matthew 17:20

But could it move me?

We stopped every 200 yards to catch our breath. All the blogs told me this was a normal part of the process. I’d keep looking up, and see people ahead, and I’d ask, “how am I going to get up there?!”

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord – maker of heaven and earth.” – Psalm 121: 1-2

The answer was adjust my blinders. I had to focus on the ten feet in front of me, and then the next ten, and the next, to keep moving along. Any time I looked to the top of the peak, I’d falter. Mentally challenged and physically tired my cousin offered me his trekking pole so I could stop stumbling.

 

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As we approached the summit, solid ground gave way to piles of boulders. Big rocks stacked over one another. Why would something so massive be made up of hundreds of moving parts?

The last 200 yards I was using my hands to pull myself up and over big chunks of stone. Why did God design mountains that way? Heavy, precariously balanced stones for us master?

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I made it to the top. I sat and caught my breath and inhaled God’s fresh air. He whispered to me, “look how far you’ve come.”

In this season, my mountains have matured. Accepting the loss of a parent is not meant for almost thirty year olds. Finding employment after job loss. Navigating marriage. Coming into our own skins with confidence and learning how to soothe broken hearts. Those were bigger boulders found when a previous foundation fell apart – the aftermath forming new piles in our way. Rubble. Crumbly, heavy, hurting chunks of stone.

We’ve moved these last two and a half years, holding hands, five feet at a time up, up, and up to this new summit. The view is beautiful, holy, and aching. For Dad is closer to the heavens than back at the trailhead, and he wasn’t waiting for me to return at home.

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“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken.” – Isaiah 54:10

It’s peaceful up there on piles of stone. Hearts soar and God speaks.

And then you have to come down.

Spiritually, I’m afraid of coming down for I know new mountains will form for me to climb. I don’t want to hurt nor do I want to find new footing.

We want the summit. We don’t want the work. Unfortunately, beautifully, you can’t have one without the other. 

As we trekked down and our knees screamed, God brought this song back to me from camp years ago.

The artist wrote this song from a mountain near where we spread Dad’s ashes. Funny how our stories connect. Funny how boulders mix with pebbles to create beautiful trails racking our lungs and pounding our hearts.

I’m offering up my broken cup. Keep climbing up. Willing to come down.

Keep stepping the next ten beautiful feet in front of me.

In These Ordinary Sparkles

Read a book. Hiked a mini mountain. Two over easy eggs oozed over shredded potatoes.

Beer courted lemonade.

Words worked this afternoon.

Sore legs pulsed.

Cold water cascaded, kissing scalps while mixing with shampoo bubbles.

Sleep tickled eyelids.

Weekend.

Sometimes the ordinary feels magical.

In the sparkles, I feel unbearably grateful for peace.

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Photo by Fred Heap on Unsplash

Sunday nights can be challenging for my grief. It’s as if the world pauses before launching in to another week and I miss him. Sunday night dinners forever changed. This week was National Doughnut Day and I ate my plain cake doughnut with chocolate sprinkles (Thanks Jana!) and with every swallow wished I could text Dad to say,  “Look what I’m eating.” Instead, I pinched the last morsel of my treat and licked my fingers, saying a silent hello to him at the counter in our workplace kitchen.

Yet, tonight, on this cloudy cool evening with my dog at my feet and my husband fixing our fence I am so grateful I could cry.

Happy tears. Peaceful tears. Nostalgic tears.

Deep breaths. Sigh. Whisper thank you. Repeat.

These ordinary sparkles. They glitter and dance shaping this new version of me. Different body, strengthened heart, gold filling the cracks.

We’re moving forward with strength into the second half of another year.

Time for sleep.

Listen to this before you go to bed.

She’s won my heart.

June Favorite Things

I wrote down a list of things I want to do before I turn 30. I was supposed to complete one of them before June and I blinked and now it’s June. Still haven’t completed that project.

I have, however, learned how to roast a chicken, made homemade pasta, published in a magazine, pierced my ears, and learned a song on the ukulele. So, ya know, some progress. I’ve still got slots left on my list of things I need to do. Any ideas for what can fill the second half of the last year of my twenties?

Anyway…. (think how Ellen De Generes says it)

Here are some of my favorite things for the month ahead.

  1. Trader Joes Ice Cream Bon Bons (#2) on this list.

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It’s hot and it’s only June. I’ve been going to the gym so I’ve ALSO been eating these little treats from Trader Joes. Haven’t tried em? Trust me. I fill a bowl with three for Dylan and one for me and they are delightful post dinner treats. If you want to have three and leave one for your husband I approve of that too.

2. The Goat Fetching Soap

I met the folks of this lovely little Etsy shop on Twitter and they kindly sent me a bar of their soap. The smell is heavenly and the soap very creamy. Seems to provide great moisture for my hands. They also make other natural bath and body products without harmful or toxic ingredients. Certainly worth perusing their offerings.

3. Hiking Pants

Another thing on my goals list is to hike a 14ner. Not from Colorado? That means a mountain with an elevation of over 14,000 ft. I’ve lived in Colorado for most of my life and haven’t tried to conquer one of those mountains with my own two feet. So I’ve rallied a support crew and have started collecting necessary accessories for an adventure. Just purchased these hiking pants and I promise I’ll put them to use.

Never you mind that my stomach looks nothing like that models. No body shaming here.

4. Garden Gnome Home

I have a thing for gnomes. We have cute Christmas ones and they made an appearance on my wedding gift registry. So when my mom texted me this cute little photo of garden gnome homes for the trees in your backyard, I giggled with delight. This is so cute. I want! Bring on the garden gnomes.

5. Native Deodorant

Facebook ads got me again and I purchased some all natural deodorant made by Native. Never you mind it is quite a bit more expensive than your regular, nasty aluminum-filled deodorant. I love their quirky marketing and had to laugh when the instructions share that it can take up to 14 days for your body to adjust to the new chemical-free stink destroyer. I told everyone close to me if I was extra sweaty, there was a reason. Now you know too. I’m one week in and LOVING it. This stuff works. No more Ladies Speed Stick for me.

I hope you have a stellar, sweat-free summer!

 

Favorite Things – September

I only care one day a year.

You know! Caring about which team to root for.

Growing up in Northern Colorado I really ought to be a CSU fan. Then I went to the University of Colorado and my ‘house of origin’ became a house divided.  You’ve seen the stickers. You know what I’m talking about.

Then I married a Buffalo and my new ‘house’ was united under waves of black and gold. We even brought Dad over to the dark side. He would proudly wear his CU Hat – sweat stains and all. I wish he was here to come over and watch the big Rocky Mountain Showdown  rivalry from the comfort of our living room.

My  favorite things this month?

  1. CU Gear – May I suggest these fine options?

University of Colorado CU Buffaloes Alumni Nation Stripes Flag

NCAA University of Colorado Buffaloes Custom Athletic Crew Socks

Sing the fight song loudly! I’ll be cheering on my Colorado Buffaloes. Who wants to place a bet on the game?

2. Stumptown Coffee

Yes. Again. Coffee. We went on a lovely trip to Portland and I dragged my family around to local coffee shops. I wanted to include these guys on my best vanilla latte in the world contest I’ve got running in my head. Stumptown was delicious, approachable and trendy. They didn’t cringe when I asked for syrup. Very important. I am thrilled to have added this roaster to my list. While they can’t ship me a vanilla latte, I can get some beans. The internet is a magical thing.

3. This Osprey Daypack

My father-in-law took us on an eight mile hike to an old mining town that didn’t really exist. Well I’m sure it did at some point, but when we got there, the only remnants were a post with a sign, and a nice river bed. Try to find the photo on my Instagram.  I was thankful to have this great daypack for hiking. Well, grateful my husband was carrying this great daypack for hiking. Dylan carried the water – I sipped out of the long straw much like a baby cow follows its mother for milk.

4. Lauren Graham’s Book

If you were (still are…?) obsessed with Gilmore Girls in the early 2000’s I highly recommend this book. Think half memoir, half story of the show, this book made me laugh, cry, and feel nostalgic. Amazing to think how much t.v. shows weave their narratives into our lives. Gosh I love Lorelei. Lauren’s perspective is pretty great too.

5. This video.

 

I think this is the kind of thing Olive thinks about all day. Perhaps she even confesses to Cerdito. This video and that puppy may be my new obsession. Much like my Marcel the Shell phase. Who am I kidding? I still love Marcel.

The Beauty of Everyday Adventure – Guest Post by Joey Holmes

I love when other writers approach me with beautiful ideas to share. When Joey emailed from Europe and asked if she could write something on the adventures we create in our daily lives, I jumped at the chance to see what she had to say.

Read along and start adventuring. Bonus points if you guess which of her suggestions I am going to do in the next few weeks!

Author: Joey Holmes

Her Website: www.coolofthewild.com

“In every walk with nature, one receives much more than he seeks.” – John Muir


I often question why being outdoors is such an important thing to me. Maybe being born in December and being cooped up inside for the first 6 months of my life has something to do with it. Or perhaps it was that, when the weather permitted, my mum would be outside with me on every given opportunity. But whatever the reason, there is something about getting outside and embarking on adventures, no matter their size or ambition, that lights a spark in me.

Recently I have started to take note of the things I say when I’m outside adventuring, and the way I feel or react to my situation. And on reflection I’ve come to realize just how important it is for me to be surrounded by the beauty of nature: an ancient woodland, a colorful bug, a stunning view, the dying light at sunset. These small, seemingly insignificant things are what drive me to get outside as much as possible and to open my eyes to the beauty that is out there.

Last year I challenged myself to cycle 70 miles across Wales, sleep on the beach and cycle back again. I loved the physical and mental challenge and the feeling of independence and strength that it gave me. But I was on a schedule to get from A to B before the sun went down, and I found it really frustrating that I couldn’t take the time to stop and enjoy the waterfall, or to lie down for half an hour to listen to the silence and take in the sense of freedom that my adventure presented. So I promised myself that, moving forward, I would always try to allow for that time of reflection and appreciation of what amazing things nature offers me on my adventures.

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This got me thinking about how adventure is so different for everyone. Stepping out of ones comfort zone and embarking on something new, unusual and exciting can be all sorts of things, and doesn’t have to be grand or significantly life changing. Anything from cooking your dinner on a hill after work, to spending weeks at a time exploring far-flung corners of the earth. Regardless of the scale, seeking out adventure always uncovers beauty in one form or another: in your surroundings, in the actions of your fellow adventurers, or in the feeling, emotions and thoughts within you.

With modern life getting busier and more hectic every day, it’s easy not to make the effort to get out adventuring. And even easier to forget to appreciate all that beauty when adventures do happen. So for a little inspiration on how to get some adventure into everyday life, here are a few simple things to try each week:

Dining out

  • Cycle to work instead of your usual mode of transport
  • Cook your dinner on a campfire – even if it’s in the backyard!
  • Take a walk along a river at sunrise
  • Climb a tree in the park
  • Have a sunset picnic at a place with a stunning view
  • Take a night hike
  • Go for a swim before work at your nearest wild swimming spot
  • Take a run to your nearest park on your lunch break
  • Climb a hill and do some yoga at the top
  • Build a den and read your book in it – even if it’s inside
  • Take your camp stove to work and make your own coffee in the park at lunchtime
  • Hang your hammock in the park after work and enjoy listening to noise of the city

Planning and then embarking upon mini-adventures is a great first step to getting out more. But to truly reap the benefits of all that adventure has to offer, I believe that it’s essential to take the time to sit back and pause. To really breath in all the elements of the beauty that is uncovered through seeking out the unusual, daring and exciting.

So whatever adventure is to you, make sure you do it with open eyes, arms, ears, mind, heart and nostrils(!), to fully absorb all that beauty that’s yours for the taking.

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Joey Holmes

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, or hitting the trail in her running shoes .

You can connect with her here:

 Facebook    Twitter     Instagram    Pinterest

 

If you are interested in contributing to 52 Beautiful things, send an email to 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com. 

Giving Light – Cathy H.

 

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My name is Cathy and I live in Lafayette, Colorado.  I work at an elementary school helping children with special needs.  I am happiest when I am spending time with my family, gardening, hiking or being creative.

Here are my 5 Beautiful Things

1.  Details

I find beauty in the details of things, like the intricacies of a flower.  When I slow down and take a closer look at things I am wowed by its beauty.  So often we only see the outline of things and miss the amazing details of God’s creations.

2.  Children’s Art

Working in an elementary school exposes me to a lot of children’s art.  I never get tired of looking at these masterpieces.  It always brings a smile to my face.

3.  Hiking

I love hiking and being outside breathing in fresh air and feeling the sun on my body.  Every season has its own amazing features.  Whether I’m walking in my own neighborhood or hiking in the mountains, I am content.

4.  The Sky

There is so much beauty in the sky – the clouds, sunrises, sunsets, all phases of the moon, the intense colors.  Amazing!!

5.  Laughing

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There is something so good about laughing until your stomach hurts.  We should all laugh more.

 

 

The deadline for accepting entries for the Give Light Giveaway has passed. I am finishing up posting contributions. Stay tuned for other contests and opportunities to contribute to 52 Beautiful Things in 2017.