Outdoors

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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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. 

Meet Ruby

It’s rare, a day like today. Leap year only comes around every four years. Today’s twenty four hours feel rather special. How are you going to spend the time that will tick, tick, tick away oh-so quickly? You may be at work, or at appointments, or fulfilling obligations, but I hope you can take a step back from the daily grind and think big picture. This month, this year, we’ve been given the gift of just a little bit more extra time. This concept of an extra day is a beautiful thing.

Today, I would like to take this opportunity to make an introduction. Friends, I would like you to meet my little bike. Her name is Ruby.

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Ruby is a cruiser – front and to the left. She is slightly impractical for long rides on dirt paths, but she serves me well as we pedal through neighborhoods and along paved trails. She even has a cup holder for my coffee! While only equipped for one speed, this strong willed character with two wheels has become a welcomed companion to weekend adventures and jaunts that take us out and about.

Ruby has been hanging upside-down in our garage for much too long. The snow and cold weather kept her waiting patiently for brighter days that are on the horizon as February comes to an end. The teaser of spring is tantalizing my senses and Ruby is shaking in her fenders, ready to hit the road once again.

The weather this weekend was absolutely stunning, and I loved being able to be out and about in the sunshine. I enthusiastically took Ruby down from her storage hooks, pumped up her wheels, and took an adventure ride through our new neighborhood. As the sunshine warmed my shoulders, and the fresh air blew my hair in my face, I was reminded of the simple beauty that comes from hopping on a bicycle and taking time to explore.

Also, this weekend was the 88th Academy Awards. For those of you who don’t know – this is one of my favorite nights of the year! This, my friends, is my version of the Super Bowl. I love watching the glitz and glam of the red carpet, and celebrating artistic achievement in the wonderful world of movies that Hollywood creates. For my thoughts on last year’s awards, you can click here.

This year’s ceremony was quite controversial. Conversations about racism and sexism, diversity and inclusion permeated Chris Rock’s monologues and jokes, and I am sure that the Academy made intentional choices in selecting presenters, speeches, and entertainment alike. I do not intend to create a space of controversy or argument here in regards to these complex, multi-faceted issues.

I do, however, think it is fascinating that Hollywood brought these issues to light in front of an audience of millions of people. Thank you to Lady Gaga, too, for her powerful performance of “‘Til It Happens to You”. Her authentic efforts of advocacy in support of survivors of sexual assault are inspiring and much needed in our culture. This clip gave me the chills. We do have so much room to make progress.

Living in the tension and making choices to be kind to one another, to talk through difficult conversations, to create space for healing, and for bike rides. Those are beautiful things.

 

Slow Down and Have a Beer

I did it. Bought a domain name. I wasn’t sure where this project would take me this year, but I’ve come to love these weekly reflections and so I wanted the title to be my own. For one more year, at least. Isn’t it odd how you basically lease a title on the “world wide web” for something you think you’ve created? Maybe it is more complicated than that, but I’m giving myself applause and say thanks to those who helped me figure out how to own the website http://www.52beautifulthings.com.  So, this is where you can type this blog into a browser to share my thoughts with friends, or follow along as I continue. Don’t be confused; it is still me, just sounding a little bit more “professional.”

My thoughts have been racing about what this blog could be. How do I seek out advertising? Do I want a separate Pinterest account? Is it my goal to have this develop into something huge? Don’t we all secretly, maybe, just want someone to discover us and to turn it into something grand? I can dream. This project started as a simply therapeutic exercise in processing a difficult season and has turned into such a wonderful place for me to express the journey as it continues to unfold. I think I’m going to continue and there is beauty in the fact that I still care about this project. I care quite a bit more than I thought I would.  Stay tuned for how it will develop. If you have ideas, or want to share, I would LOVE to chat.

Now, onto this week’s gifts. Coloradans are weird ok. I know we have all these wonderful reputations for being the fittest state in the nation, we are always somewhere on the top ten places to live, and people want to be here. They want to be outside, and in the breweries, and in the sunshine. The never ending sunshine. There is truth and wonder to that reputation, and every day I am thankful I live here.

But newsflash – it has been COLD the past two weeks. Under 30 and windy and snowy. Now, we are no Buffalo, New York and we are not anticipating 8 feet of snow, so I suppose I don’t have much to complain about.  However, I have been wearing layers and scraping my car, so I’ve been thankful for the beautiful thaw.

On Sunday, the sun came out for the first time in a few days (ugh, I sound like such a Colorado snob) and so we went for a walk, even thought it was cold outside. Now, we were in Boulder, so let’s back up and give you the big picture that the people who live in Boulder earn that “fittest state” title for me. I, my friends, was fine with going for a leisurely walk in the beautiful, sparkling snow. I love how my feet crunch under the snow pack, the dusting of white on the Flatirons, the sun’s rays beating down and warming me through my coat. However, the people in Boulder that I came across on our walk around the lake were wearing jogging tights, and really expensive trail shoes, and running fast, really fast, by me with their dogs. It’s people like that that make me think I don’t fully embrace the Colorado lifestyle. I like the leisurely walks at my own pace, soaking in the snow sparkles. And while their is so much beauty in a healthy lifestyle, I have to say there is beauty in “SLOWING DOWN”. Calm down all you outdoor people, you are making me feel bad about myself. There were some guys clearly over 60 doing their outdoor treks. I have no excuse when you people outpace me. Have a beer indoors – but please, please make it an Odell Brewing Company brew, perhaps a Levity,  or something from Boulder Beer.

Dylan and I frequently bicker about which town is better. We have an on-going list about which city, Fort Collins or Boulder, can outrank one another. I’m fiercely loyal to Fort Collins with its thousands of restaurants, the start of microbrews and a more grounded approach to reality. Dylan however, is fiercely loyal to Boulder with its Flatirons, and outdoor people, and love of the finer things. Stereotypes, I know, but let me tell you here today, Boulder is taking the cake on making me feel some outdoor guilt. I just simply, will never live up. I’m a Fort Collins girl, and I’ve got some hometown pride and there is beauty in being able to exist in both worlds.

Do you have hometown pride? Do you like being outdoors when the temperature dips below zero? Any ideas for the continuation of 52Beautifulthings?

Thanks for your support.