In Norway, the Thursday, Friday, and Monday surrounding Easter are public holidays. Very few shops are open and most people are traveling to visit their families. Flights and hotels were more expensive over this time period so we decided to stay around Stavanger. It's rare that we have this much time off work with nothing planned and we definitely took advantage of it. Thursday was a completely unproductive, lazy, not-even-worth-fixing-my-hair-or-putting-on-real-clothes day. Oh how I love those every now and then.
Turns out, our day of rest was needed because we spontaneously decided to hike Preikestolen the next day. Our friend, Leif Christian, was around for the weekend and he was eager to come along. Jeff and I would have been capable of making this hike on our own but it really is comforting (and fun!) to have Leif Christian as our "Norwegian Guide" as proven on our last hike. Now, we know exactly where to catch the Stavanger ferry to Tau and how to make the short drive to the parking lot where the hike starts. I was also able to practice my Norsk on him, which I'm sure he appreciated :) The only thing missing was his lovely wife, Therese, who was visiting family up North. Next time, though!
Because the hike starts at 270 moh (acronym for meters above sea level in Norwegian), I was already impressed by the views just 10 minutes into the hike. But Preikestolen is 604 moh so we had more ground to cover. Onward and upward!
Before actually going on these hikes, I would wonder how on earth I would know where the trail was. Norway, with its penchant for getting people outside, takes most of the guesswork out of this while still allowing room to explore. Each season, a network of volunteers scours the country and marks trails with red T's along the most desirable route. Hundreds and hundreds of trails. That's dedication! My last question is... what do we do if it snows?... Bring Leif Christian!
I had also read on sites like TripAdvisor that there were complaints about the lack of safety features (railings, paved trails etc) and was anxious to form my own opinion. What I found was that even as a major tourist attraction, Preikestolen has not lost its fundamental draw - that it is nature. Wild, rocky, hilly, steep nature. It's true that there are no railings to keep you from falling off the very top or along the trails which I think just serves as a reminder that nature isn't to be trifled with. Get too close to the edge, you might fall. It's actually pretty humbling.
After two hours of semi-strenuous hiking (made more difficult by the surprise snowfall the night before) we made it. And there really are no words.
What we learned: pack layers for every occasion (or bring options in the car) because the weather can change/vary just in one hike. Start the hike early so that you are one of the only ones at the top. Also, a hot drink like coffee is the perfect treat once you make it to the top. Now, I just need a Thermos.