Cabin Hopping in Norway
For many travellers the ideal vacation is to escape from noisy cities and retreat to the outdoors. The beautiful mountains of western Norway are a great place to spend your summer vacation.
By Berit Hessen
Many Norwegians are fortunate to have gorgeous mountains in their backyards, and outdoor recreation is a way of life for most. Young and old alike choose to spend their summer vacation hiking in the mountains, and spending the nights in tourist huts. Hiking in the unspoiled landscape in “the land of the Midnight sun” is a great way to experience total freedom and solitude.
DNT (Norwegian Mountain Touring Association) was founded in 1868 and has more then 420 huts that they maintain throughout Norway. DNT has as many as 200,000 Norwegians members, an annual membership is $70. Purchasing a membership is recommended; it will give you great discounts on overnight stays. DNT’s signature trails are well marked (with a red T) and will allow you to hike safely in the rugged terrain without guides. Most huts are located four to seven hours apart and they are open for members as well as tourists. The smallest cabin is referred to as a “Nøkkelbu.” You can pick up a key with a 100 kroner deposit at some gas stations, sports-stores or kiosks throughout Norway. The smallest huts (4-10 beds) are quite rugged and sparsely equipped, but the bigger cabins (10 to 50 beds) and are well-quipped with a variety of food available for purchase. You simply pay by credit card after each visit. The prices for cabins range from $15-$75 a night. The money is placed in secure lock boxes and collected by the DNT staff. This honor-system payment method is common in the remote mountains.
The Mountains of Sunnmøre are truly breathtaking; hiking in these steep mountains you are often able to clearly see the fjords and sometimes even the ocean. However, the Sunnmøre Alps are not for beginners; Slogen is one of the most physically demanding hikes. The peak is measured at 1564 meters above sea level and only the very fit and strong should attempt this climb.
Tafjordfjella, with peaks over 2,000 meters, has trails well suited for beginners as well as the more advanced hikers. You can hike for days in ever changing surroundings and experience the extreme variation between dramatic mountain scenery, vigorous valleys, placid fjords and gorgeous waterfalls.
The most visited lodge in the Tafjord Mountains is the Reindalseter. This large cabin (with 95 beds) has caretakers and serves hot meals. The lodge also has extra perks such as showers, electricity, and drying rooms for wet clothing. You can either sleep in the smaller rooms, equipped for 2-5 people, or you can experience sleeping in a big sleeping-quarter with fellow hikers. If the lodges are full you might have to sleep on a mattress on the floor. Reindalsseter welcomes more than 2800 guests every summer since many also use this lodge as a destination for daily hikes. At Olsok the guests can celebrate with bonfires, great food and folk dancing. A reservation is always recommended, unless you want that mattress on the floor.
Packing for hiking in Norway
The weather in the mountains of Norway can change often and sudden, so it is important to bring both warm and cold weather clothes. For the warmer months items such as shorts and T-shirts can be appropriate, but remember, the early morning can be chilly. You may want a wool sweater or a fleece jacket. For any weather you will need thick socks and mountain boots (they should be well broken in). For cooler weather or rain you will need long underwear, a wool sweater, windproof/waterproof mountain pants, a jacket (with a hood), and windproof gloves. In your backpack always bring a map, compass and a personal first aid kit with band-aids for blisters, insect repellent, a knife and matches. Bring emergency rations of food such as chocolate, raisins, and nuts, as well as a drinking bottle and thermos. In the lodges you will need indoor shoes and light clothing, toiletry items and a small towel. A cotton or silk sleep liner is mandatory but the cabins are well equipped with pillows and comforters. For protection against the weather bring sunglasses, suntan lotion, Chapstick, and a hat. And don’t forget money and a credit card.