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Femunden på langs

Black Forest cycling route
October 26, 2023
Finding balance
March 2, 2024

Friday 9 february - Røros


It's expedition day! Today we begin the adventure Femunden på langs. The first part we follow ski trails. This is ideal for getting used to skiing, the sled, the equipment and all the new routines. There are lots of new things happening: waxing skis, sticking climbing skins under skis, getting used to layers of clothing and learning how fast you get hot, cold or hungry. And more! In winter, at -20 everything is different from a regular hike. "Discipline" is the word needed.

Ramon seems a little better today, but as soon as we start the long climb we see how low his energy is. He swings back and forth from fultlessness. We first take his food out of the sled, and eventually we take over his entire pulka. Both he and we know that the chances are growing that he will have to return home. But this boy has mental strength. Barely 17 years old, part of the youth fire department, incredibly positive, knows his limits, dares to talk about his "can't do it anymore," and not for a second does he complain. Two hours after his fultlessness, he picks up his sled again. He looks better, and every day from then on he improves. Later this week we call him "the bulldozer" and call Ramon when we need a snow breaker from the front.

It is almost four o'clock in the afternoon. In an hour it will be dark, time to pitch the tents. We learn how to set up camp, organize our place in the tent, melt snow, go to the toilet in winter and how to keep ourselves as warm as possible. Again, routine and organization is important. At the end of we week a beautiful statement comes out of Ben's mouth, "Actually I don't like the word discipline, I even hate the word. But last night it occurred to me that we have found a routine. First something is new, then you learn how to do it, then you know how to do it, and have found a rhythm that fits the circumstance. Actually, discipline is nothing but having a rhythm. And that's not so bad!"


Day 2: Wind

Although a windless week was predicted, the weather is always different in the mountains. Today we cross the mountain and there the wind will only increase. This is the real Arctic feeling. Wind makes everything a challenge and can even be dangerous. It is about -10 degrees, but with five beaufort winds the wind chill is -20.

We get wind gusts of 60 km/h. Tough, but certainly not uncommon in the barren Norwegian mountains. It is important to cover our faces to avoid frostbite. Frostbite can easily mean the end of the expidition for one of the participants. Again, the importance of a team. We check each other and warn each other. Frostbite is something that you don't notice yourself, but others can see it. Yet there is no need to be afraid of the wind. It is beautiful, almost magical to stand on the plain between the wide mountains with the wind undulating over the snow! This is expedition!

Day 3: Sun!

Today is our first day with a tiny bit of sunshine! What a treat that is! We decide to set up camp earlier and make a campfire. Everyone is diligent about learning how to make fire in winter and how to make fire without lighters! We build our own cooking tripod from our ski poles. Fons makes his first own fire for the first time without a lighter or matches! Incredibly clever and quickly learned! Great to see everyone grow so much!

Wout is probably one of the most positive people we have met in recent years. He laughs, jokes and smiles. No matter what we feed him or what he has to do, he enjoys himself to the fullest. Wonderful to see someone so easily satisfied. There is only one thing that makes him quiet: his cold feet! He had ordered special shoes for camp, but unfortunately the package arrived a day late. His other "winter shoes" are two ice clogs. Poor Wout has been putting "heat packages" in his shoes for half a week, but as we watch along, it turns out they don't work at all!


Day 4: Cabin

Marjolein and Maike are our ladies in lead. They hold the map and navigate us through the mountains. They love being on skis all day, setting up camp at night and breaking up in the morning to keep going. They tell how their heads are slowly calming down. The joy radiates from them and we see them grow immeasurably in their winter role, becoming more confident and familiar with their own rhythms.
Marjolein and maike are also true outdoor enthusiasts. Despite the warm cabin, they head outside to enjoy the view both in the morning and in the evening. Enjoying the place where they are. If an extra ski trip is in the cards, they grab it with both hands. These are ladies who will have many adventures to come!

Day 5: Mist

Today we were promised beautiful sunshine, but when we get up there is a thick fog over the lake. One that we know will not go away. Unbelievable how the team handles it. Just as it should be. There is complete satisfaction with the new ski day and the magical fog! A top team! And look at the pictures!

How deep or hard the snow is determines the day's distance. Open plains are often hard "blown" by the wind. Through forests, the snow is usually soft and deep. The group gets to see how the condition of the snow determines how far we get. The pace drops to one kilometer per hour in the woods, but on the lake we reach four kilometers per hour.

We offer Maike and marjolein to sleep under the tarp for a night. Surely that's another level of adventure! More exposed to the cold and wind than in a tent, and they predict snow. There will be more snow that night than we thought. When the next morning comes, two smiles look at us.


Day 6: the last day

Our last day is a shorter distance. It may be one of the most beautiful days we have. The trees are covered in a light frost and the sun tries to peek through the clouds. We cross the big lake and plow another bit through the deep snow.

Since we arrive early, we leave the sleds in the middle of a lake and head out for a few hours without a sled. Ramon and Fons have a great time on a steep slope, while the rest take a short trek to a mountain peak. Without the weight of the sled, we have free rein. We can go up steeper and make sharper turns. Everyone is enjoying!

At four o'clock the cab picks us up and drives back to hut. Ramon is soon asleep; the rest are puffing in the 25-degree temperature of the cab. Although the luxury of our mountain hut is enticing, we secretly miss already setting up our camp and then crawling into the warm down sleeping bags. Everyone has pushed their limits this week. The sick Fons and Ramon have shown tremendous perseverance at 17 years old. These best friends are going to have great adventures yet to come. Ben and Wout, the two brothers, showed that there is no age on adventure and enjoyment of life. For Ben, a new desire arose during the week to camp with his grandchildren. Being outdoors and adventure shows us what we really value in life. Maaike and Marjolein are our two powerwomen. They sparked a desire in Zoë to organize a women-only winter trip next year!
It was another wonderful edition that tastes like more!

Do you want to join next year? Here you will find all the information!

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