Progress along St. Olav’s Way: Journey’s highpoint, and other high points

Photo: Shutterstock Quaint Drivstua Stasjon is no longer in use, but is preserved as a Heritage Site.

Photo: Shutterstock
Quaint Drivstua Stasjon is no longer in use, but is preserved as a Heritage Site.

Christine Foster Meloni
Washington, D.C.

Last week we traveled from Arnfinns­brua to the Pilgrim Center in Hjerkinn on my virtual pilgrimage.

Kongsvold Mountain Lodge
I spent the night at this beautiful mountain lodge. I love these historic places! This one was established as a small hostel for pilgrims back in the 12th century. It was King Fredrik IV who gave it its name in 1704.

The lodge today has 32 rooms, a lounge with a fireplace, and a dining hall that serves delicious food. It has won several awards. Innovation Norway named it one of the 50 best dining and accommodation sites in Scandinavia. It has also received the Olavrosa from the Foundation of Norwegian Heritage.

It is often very difficult to leave these lovely places! To get a glimpse of this lovely place, watch the YouTube video at—the music is wonderful!

Drivstua Stasjon
This station is no longer operational but has been preserved as a Cultural Heritage site in Norway. It is very quaint, complete with a traditional sod roof. As this part of the pilgrimage route is rather remote and drab, it was a treat to see this charming old railway station.

You can also find a very nice bed and breakfast here. Check it out at–drivstua-rom-oppdal,127.

Highest point on the pilgrim trail
I was warned that this part of my pilgrimage would be difficult. I would reach the highest point of my journey between Hjerkinn and Oppdal: 3,600 feet!

The part between Dombås and Oppdal is dangerous because the path is narrow and the slopes are steep. It has been called dangerous since the 12th century. For some reason it is considered less treacherous than it was in the past but I am not sure why. I will confess that I was definitely very nervous!

I will share a secret with you. (Perhaps it is not a secret, however!) I was told to take a typical Norwegian hiking snack with me—an orange and some chocolate. Norwegians usually take Kvikk Lunsj, Melkesjokolade, or Ballerina cookies. I, therefore, got an orange and then stocked up on chocolate! It was a suggestion I couldn’t refuse!

Ryphusan Pilgrim Refugium
I was very happy and relieved to arrive at Ryphusan. This is a very simple self-catered hostel with accommodations for ten people and a kitchen. I left my payment in the small box provided. Another example of trust in this beautiful country!

Sør-Trøndelag Fylke
I then found myself in the county of Sor-Trøndelag, the land of the Trønders. I discovered that these people speak a rather interesting dialect, Trøndersk Norsk. I have been told that even other Norwegians have trouble understanding the Trønders!

I was very excited to find myself in this county. Trondheim, my final destination, is in this county. I was getting close!

Smegarden Camping
I walked past the Smegarden campgrounds, where there are 15 cabins, each accommodating up to four people. They all have the traditional grass roof. As it is near the E6 highway, drivers as well as hikers stop here.

On this part of my journey, I really enjoyed seeing local people as I passed through more populated areas. And it was amazing how friendly these local people were! They were obviously used to having pilgrims hike through their villages and towns and they always gave us hearty welcomes. And they were generous in offering snacks and drinks.

Photo: Danielnorthall / Wikimedia Oppdal Kirke, a typical 17th century church.

Photo: Danielnorthall / Wikimedia
Oppdal Kirke, a typical 17th century church.

Oppdal Church
In Vang, not too far from the village of Oppdal, I discovered another lovely church, The Oppdal Church. It was built in 1651 after the Reformation. Like most churches at this time, it was not built of stone but of wood. It is white with a tall black steeple.

The interior with its decorated altar and pulpit is very beautiful. If you would like to go inside, go to YouTube at and you will hear a young boy and an older man singing “Pie Jesu.” Beautiful music in a beautiful setting!

The municipality of Oppdal today has a population of 7,000 people. Three main roads coming from Trondheim, Dovrefjell, and Sunndal cross through it. Its coat of arms reflects these three roads.

Oppdal (“Up Valley”) was named after a local farm that dates back to the Iron Age. Archeologists report that there were at least 50 farms in this area by the seventh century.

The largest Viking grave in Norway was found in this area. It contained more than 900 small mounds.

Oppdal is an Alpine community. It is a wonderful place for both downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter and for hiking when the weather permits. The climate is very harsh, however. It even snows sometimes on the 17th of May!

I have now completed Leg G. This means I have walked 292.4 miles. Less than 100 miles to go to my destination, Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim!

My previous progress reports can be in found in the following issues of the Norwegian American Weekly: December 26, 2014; January 23, 2015; February 13, 2015; March 6, 2015; April 3, 2015; May 8, 2015; June 12, 2015; July 3, 2015; August 28, 2015; Sept. 4, 2015; and Nov. 6, 2015.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 13, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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Christine Foster Meloni

Christine Foster Meloni is professor emerita at The George Washington University. She has degrees in Italian literature, linguistics, and international education. She was born in Minneapolis and currently lives in Washington, D.C. She values her Norwegian heritage.