An easy walk.
Yesterday at work, Paul Anton, having looked at the weather forecast, told our French post.doc. that tonight would be an excellent opportunity to experience a proper Norwegian winter. With a temperature of -10, and wind enough to make it effectively -20, it will probably be one of the colder nights this side of Christmas. "Excellent!", I said. "We should have a barbeque!" And thus it was decided that we would go for a walk into the forest, make a fire and barbeque some sausages.
We decided to go for a relatively easy option, so we drove up to Dragvoll, and walked the rest of the way to Estenstadhytta
. An easy walk, as there is a road all the way up. Halfway up to the cabin, I realised that I had forgotten to bring coffee. Very embarrasing, as that was my main responsibility, and I almost considered running back down to get some, but some of the others had brought some hot chocolate and in the end I decided that would have to do. I was still bitter, though, in particular because I had been planning to introduce our Frenchman to karsk, a very popular beverage in this part of the country.
As it turns out, if we had been there any other week of the year, we would have been able to buy hot drinks, probably including coffee, at Estenstadhytta, as it is usually open until 9 on weekdays. This week, however, it is closed for maintenance work, so no luck. I'm definitely going back there, though, and on Wednesdays, they also serve dinner. Not bad at all, and they even have potetball, so we are definitely brining our French friend there.
After we reached the top, we figured it would probably not be very popular to leave a large pile of ash just in front of the cabin, so we randomly chose a direction, and walked a couple of hundred meters into the forest. To prove our worth, we then set about making a fire using only wood we found in the forest. I volunteered to build the fire, mostly because it's less hassle than trudging around in the snow, looking for dry branches, and a few minutes, no cheating* and two matches later, I had a nice fire going.
Tor displaying mad skills building a fire.
No reason to dress like a barbarian,
even if you intend to eat like one.
Normally, making a fire with what you find is quite easy, at least if you are in a forest. The bottom branches of the spruce are usually quite dry, and if you also find a birch where you can peel of some bark, you're pretty much good to go. If it's been raining heavily, it can of course be a bit more challenging. See the article Villmarkens sønner
for å discussion of advanced techniques.
After drinking hot chocolate for a while, and occasionally throwing some more wood on the fire, we were able to cook some dinner. We only had sausages, tortillas (which are superior to the Norwegian lompe, because they don't fall apart as soon as you touch them), mustard and ketchup, but it tasted absolutely delicious. But of course, so will pretty much anything else you cook on a fire you built yourself after having walked a few kilometers in snow. Still, I think I might try something more advanced the next time we decide to dine out.
In the end, it wasn't quite as cold as advertised. The thermometer in the car indicated -12 when we arrived, and -15 when we left, but I couldn't feel the bite in the nose you normally feel when it's that cold, so I'm not convinced of it's accuracy. I suggested that we immerse the car in a mixture of water and ice in order to calibrate the thermometer, but my idea was not met with enthusiasm from the owners. Anyway, I'm very pleased with the trip. It's the first time I've done this kind of thing in Trondheim, but I'm hoping it won't be the last. Our French friend was even more enthusiastic, and keeps insisting that we should go back next week, and spend the night outside in a tent. I'm a bit skeptical, but then again, I haven't slept in a tent for years, and it's been even longer since I slept outside in winter, so I should probably go for it, to keep myself from growing too soft.
Paul Anton demonstrating the danger of throwing sawdust on the fire.
*Newspapers, firelighters, candles, gasoline, that sort of thing.