A major milestone for Norwegian hikers
150 years of trekking
Maureen B. Larson
The Norwegian Trekking Association, Den Norske Turistforening (DNT), is a national organization in Norway that was conceived by Thomas Heftye on Jan. 21, 1868, making 2018 its 150th year.
My first experience with DNT began as an introduction when I walked into the DNT shop in downtown Lillehammer in March 2005. Curiosity about the large red painted T on the signage drew me in. There I learned of the many hikes and ski tours in the area, all led by local folks. Some of the advantages I have had while hiking with a local guide through DNT Lillehammer have been in learning the history of the people, places, local farms and craftsmen, wildlife, flora and fauna, and much, much more. Den Norske Turistforening relies extensively on volunteers to lead hikes and cross-country ski trips and for the upkeep of the mountain cabins and marking trails bearing their signature red T. These volunteers help keep hikers and skiers safe on the trails and cabins in remarkably great shape.
After speaking with the woman in the DNT Lillehammer shop, without hesitation, I signed up for an overnight cross-country ski trip to Liomseter, a full-service mountain cabin in Gausdal Vestfjell. Since then, I have learned that the leader sets the pace matched by the slowest in the group; therefore you can rest assured that you will never be left behind.
From that time in 2005 until the present, I have been involved as much as possible with DNT while living in the United States.
On Saturday, June 26, 2018, I was a fortunate participant with the DNT chapter in Lillehammer on a special hike to honor the 150th year. Along with the local newspaper, Gudbrandsdølen Dagningen, DNT Lillehammer collaborated to offer a mountain hike from Værskei to Skjellbreidhytta in Gausdal Vestfjell.
The walking tour was a hit before it began, and I was one of 50 people who found a place on the bus shuttling us to the start at Værskei. Due to its popularity there was even a long waitlist for the hopeful wishing to join.
All participants received a Kvikk Lunsj (a candy bar similar to Kit Kat) to throw in their backpacks as an added snack and lip balm to protect against the intense summer sun. At the conclusion of the hike, upon arrival at the mountain cabin Skeibreidhytta, we also received heaps of varme pølse (warm sausages wrapped in lefse) and other delicious food, as well as a variety of door prizes, donations provided by Gudbrandsdølen Dagningen.
The hike was approximately 9 miles, and once everyone on the bus had been dropped off at its beginning point, DNT Lillehammer organizer Ragnvald Jevne gave everyone a map, and we were on our way.
Participants soon found their own pace, and small groups made their way through the mountains, pausing at the top of Hærfjellet (3,359 ft), Gammelhans (3,497 ft), Myssmørhelje (3,510 ft), and finally Prestkjerringa (3,477 ft). On the top of Prestkjerringa there was an orientation table showing the names and distances of other mountain peaks. It was interesting to find familiar mountains in the distance as well as new landmarks.
Following a nice long final break at Skeibreidhytta, participants were then bused back to Lillehammer. It was a full day filled with the beautiful nature of Norway, good companionship, and delicious food! An added bonus for me was discovering a moose antler out on the trail!
In addition to the sponsored hike, DNT Lillehammer published a book as a 150th anniversary gift for those interested in discovering additional trails in the district. The book offers a collection of 70 hikes in Øyer, Gausdal, Lillehammer, and the surrounding areas (70 Turer for Store og Små, Fotturer i Øyer, Gausdal, Lillehammer og Omland). The book suggests hikes conducive for a variety of ages and abilities and gives a good description of routes, distance, and terrain. I, for one, have already gone on two of the suggested hikes.
Wikipedia states that Den Norske Turistforening was started to promote tourism and has since become more focused on creating simple, secure, and environmentally friendly outdoor activities. My personal experience embraces those values and more. It has become a way for me first and foremost to experience the beauty and grandeur of the Norwegian landscape. It has also been a way for me to enjoy the Norwegian outdoors with like-minded people, contributing to building long-lasting friendships. Additionally, participating in local hikes has given me an appreciation of my capabilities and allows me to dream and imagine other challenges, such as Norge På Langs, which requires walking, skiing, and/or biking the entire length of Norway from the North Cape to the southern tip of Norway. Individually, it has allowed me the bonus of staying fit in mind, body, and spirit. I have used my time in the mountains for reflection, healing, and time away from everyday concerns. In the winter, I especially appreciate the cross-country ski tours. The layers of snow blanket the earth; the silence is incredibly peaceful. The landscape becomes a winter wonderland with the snow creating a wavy presence over the trees and boulders.
Often I have read that Norway is a country with a high quality of life, in which the inhabitants thrive in their daily lives. With Den Norske Turistforening and its popular tour choices, there is no doubt in my mind why Norway is a wonderful place to live and to experience a good quality life. By the way, I am moving to Norway this fall!
See DNT Lillehammer’s webpage for more information on the purchase of the anniversary book and the upcoming tours offered in the area, as well as pictures from past tours: lillehammer.dnt.no.
Maureen B. Larson will undoubtedly have lots more to write about as she begins her life in Norway.
This article originally appeared in the October 5, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.