This is me at Lysefjorden, close to where I live. My name is Anne Espedal, I`m 45 and hiking and wilderness are my passions.
And this is my blog about my outdoor life, from both abroad and in my Norwegian backyard.
I`m single and childless, and I think there was a bit of a midlife crisis involved when I asked myself who am I, what matters to me the most and what are my dreams? Confronting myself to those questions, I knew that for the last ten years, I had spent way too much time worrying about work. Administrating my own dental practise had taken my night sleep away. I had to be available even at holidays, and being two weeks out of reach felt forbidden and wonderful. But the end of a holiday, or even a regular Sunday afternoon, was always spoiled by the dread of going back to work again.
So I did what I had to do – I sold my business.
And now I`ve bought a one-way ticket to North Cape, the northernmost point of mainland Norway. I`m free, I can do what I want! And the first thing I`m up to, is hiking Norway from north to south!
My embarking date is May 8, 2017, and I`m looking forward to wandering in the wilderness for so long that I don`t know whether it`s Sunday or Monday, to days when my biggest concern is if it`s going to be another rainy day or not, and to nights when my muscles are sore and acing from hours of trekking. I see myself sitting on the ground in front of a campfire, watching the flames die out, and I imagine how it will be laying on my stomach inside my tent, in the warmth and comfort of my sleeping bag, listening to the wind outside. In my mind, I picture myself studying the map in the light of my head lamp, planning the route for the next couple of days, and somewhere in my back head even drawing out an itinerary for the years to come.
If you imagine the typical Norwegian being practically dressed at the cinema in a wind-stopper jacket, a woollen hat and hiking boots; eating tinned mackerel for breakfast; paying the cafeteria check herself and going to bed at 10 p.m., well, that`s me in a nutshell.
The presumptions you might have about Norwegians, are probably confirmed if we meet. I go cross-country skiing in the winter, I hike all year-round and I`m not much of a hugger. “Petite” and “chic” are not words describing me; my feet and hands are swimmer`s size, my voice is piercing and my laugh is loud. My moves are effective, but not those of a ballet dancer.
I think “remote” and “lonely” are superlatives, but quite un-Norwegian I`m easily excited and do talk with strangers.
My country is one of the world`s most gender equal. If a man offers me a helping hand carrying my rucksack, my answer is “thank you, but I can do it myself”, and then, five minutes later, I realise I just turned down the finest guy.
Sometimes I wish I were a bit more gracious and sophisticated, but at the end, I`m ever so thankful for being born in a society where women can live on their own, trek in the mountains without a male companion, or, if we choose to, trek in the mountains with that male companion, either as friends or lovers.
I will use my freedom to explore the wilderness. I will walk alone, and I will enjoy the company of others. I will bring my camera with me, and my pen, and depict and describe my journeys. But now and then I will put my correspondent lenses aside and just take in the nature around me.