Monday, May 12, 2008

Torghatten

Once upon a time, the troll Hestmannen (the horse-man) caught sight of the beautiful maiden Lekamøya and chased after her all night. As dawn approached he realized he could not catch her, and being something of a poor sport, he shot an arrow at her. The Sømna king, who had been watching the whole affair from the mountains, decided to intervene, and threw his hat into the path of the speeding arrow. The arrow pierced the hat just as the sun rose, and the magic of the moment turned the hat into a mountain with a hole in it. That's where Torghatten came from, and that's the absolute truth.

On Monday, finally recovered from my week-long flu, I took an early flight to Brønnøysund, a coastal town of 5300 people north of Trondheim an hour by plane or 4 hours driving. Sven and I came early for a Tuesday math event, and we went hiking on and through this extraordinary mountain.

It was cold and raining when we left the hotel, but the rain had stopped when we arrived on the trail up to the cave. It was a short easy walk up to the hole, and then we picked our way through stones and boulders to climb through the cave to the other side. The hole is no small thing... it's 160 meters deep, 35 meters high, and 20 meters wide! All the while, we're looking at the huge boulders inside realizing that they all fell from the ceiling at one point... and more could fall at any time!





The view from the end of the hole looks out over small farms and countless islands in the sea... just gorgeous!


Looking through the hole, in this picture you can see two figures standing at the far end.


After exploring the cave, we walked back to where we started and headef around the south end of the mountain to where the slope was not as steep. Here we scrambled up the rocky side.

As we neared the top, it got too steep to walk. Someone had thoughtfully mounted a chain that we could use to pull ourselves up the final 50 meters.



The view to the south...



... and to the north. We could see the town of Brønnøysund, just right of center in this picture, and to the right of that we could make out the airport landing strip on its own island.




On the top is a pile of stones encasing a plastic jar with a booklet and pens so that you can sign your name. It began to snow while we were up there!



We were advised not to ascend the north side, but we thought we'd try going down that way. It was very steep most of the way and would have been a very difficult ascension indeed. Going down was all right, especially since the mountainside is covered with thick soft moss. It was like climbing down a pile of pillows. I had the feeling that should I slip and begin rolling, it would be a most pleasurable tumble... if I could avoid the giant sharp boulders!



The cool weather was perfect for hiking, and the three hour climb was just the right amount of time. We arrived back at the hotel with sunburns, huge appetites, and feeling very satisfied.

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