Many months ago, I had the bright idea to participate in the 7fjellturen (7 Mountain Challenge) an annual Bergen tradition in which seven mountains are hiked consecutively. Bergen, you see, is known as the city of seven mountains (one delightful Wikipedia entry that I read before my arrival notes that the Bergensere (Bergen citizens) argue about which of of the nine mountains that surround Bergen actually constitute the “seven mountains”).
I thought that hiking the 7fjellturen would be a truly Norwegian experience, that it would be great exercise, a good excuse for many training hikes, and great fun – as I love to hike. It sounded like a great idea in September, October, November… then in December I herniated a disc in my back, and although I hoped against hope that it would heal in time, it hasn’t yet healed.
Maybe, just maybe, I’d be ok, I thought, if I took it really easy and didn’t slip (my Manuel Therapist said it was okay to hike, but forbade slipping). Surely, I could still participate…
Well, I tried. And failed. And here are the reasons why.
First of all, a PWSRN, or person-who-shall-remain-nameless (and who, I expect, wishes to remain anonymous) might have ‘sorta’ gotten the directions to the starting point wrong. Hence the morning began with an extended scenic stop at Loddefjord terminal where we waited for the same bus we’d come in on to take us back near the Sentrum in order to reroute to the starting point (missing the 9am cut-off for the start time). Ultimately that hardly mattered, as we got off the bus between the first two mountains and joined the hikers-already-in-progress. What’s that you say? Cheating!?
Well, yes, cheating from the very start. I know, I know (hangs head in shame). Had I been in good working order I would have felt determined to starting at the start line, even running late. However, as I was uncertain about my back I thought it best not to push. I knew at this point at best it would only be a six mountain challenge. Still, I thought, six is better than nothing…
No, no, not really, I actually love other people. But, I will admit that long lines of people hiking and passing me –because of my back, really guys, I’m not slow (no that’s not true, I am a bit slow, but I have endurance!) — made for a less than ideal hiking experience.
But none of these reasons are really why I gave in after a single (second) mountain. Why did I quit?
Of course, mud. Not because of it’s characteristic dirtiness, I had mud on my hands, on my pants, in my hair… but I didn’t care. No, it was the rivers of mud and shear rocks, which cause me to slip over and over again (with accompanied swearing) and the knowledge that I could be setting my healing back significantly that caused me to head home, disappointed. I still wanted to hike so badly that I chose to walk rather than bus back to the Sentrum from near Løvstakken… with an added stop in Nygårdsparken to try to see ‘The Sheep’ as part of the Bergen International Festival. Of course, I just missed the performance and instead saw them ‘being herded’ back to their green room (a tent). It was not my day.
So, I failed the 7fjellsturen challenge this year. There’s always next year… And, despite hearing tales of harrowing journies from other 7fjellsturen participants, I still want to go for it!
Mountains… seven of them
Ready to consider next year’s 7fjellsturen?
Check out the 7fjellsturen website, and start thinking about next year’s challenge. You can read about the history of the 7fjellsturen here. There’s also a four mountain option for those who think that after seven they, like PWSRN (who really only did six) will be saying, “Why did I do this to myself?”. PWSRN characterized the event as a whole as “mud and pain”. It is nothing if not a challenge!