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Since becoming employed full-time as an adventurer last year, he has walked all across Norway. This week, he concludes his journey at Vinjerock music festival.
Published: 19 July 2017
"I have just been in Alvdal Vestfjell, a terrific hiking area which I have not heard much talk about before. Perhaps because it is close to Rondane, Dovre and Femunden and thus gets a bit overshadowed. But, it is among several places that have undeservedly been given too little attention," says Andreas Orset.
In June 2016, he packed his backpack, laced on his hiking boots and headed off. He had been hired by shoe manufacturer Alfa Sko and the outdoor recreation organisation, Norsk Friluftsliv to spend a year walking and hiking across Norway, with additional support from Visit Norway.
"The year has passed much faster than I expected. There are numerous places where I would have liked to stay longer, but at least now I know where to plan on taking future vacations," says the 24-year-old.
"Oh, there are many places. Several of them are in Northern Norway, and then there is Western Norway. Børgefjell National Park in Nordland is an area I want to explore further. It is a large, unspoiled mountainous area where there are almost no trails," he says.
He says he has been cautious and did not take unnecessary chances, however, he did have a few close calls. Like when he went to the Trolltunga rock formation with 80 kilograms in his sled.
"The terrain is so rugged that the sled kept sliding into my legs all the time. A bunch of Spaniards came over to me and said 'You're crazy!', and they were right. But I couldn't go back over the Hardangervidda mountain plateau," says Andreas.
He has received some calls from home where his family is following along via the blog to know where he is at any given time.
"Sometimes they call and ask if everything is actually going well. Mom is most worried, and she usually knows better than me what weather is forecast where I am."
Some of the hikes are memorable because they have resulted in some fun experiences. Like when he was fishing in Sirdal and was about to give up without getting a single bite. His hiking companion was fed up and packed up the gear. But, Andreas just wanted to try casting his line out a couple more times. That's when his fishing line went taut, and he hauled in a 1-kilo trout.
Another unforgettable moment was when he climbed up Skamtinden outside Tromsø.
"I had climbed up to peak after peak for a week, all in the fog. And I was also doing this hike in dense fog. I became annoyed and was about to turn around, but then, all of a sudden, I went above the fog. And then I could see all the way over the other side of the summit, and it was totally clear. I was so happy that I just sat there enjoying the view right up until sunset."
Andreas has had time to get to know himself well over the past year. Although he has occasionally been accompanied by old and new friends, he has hiked a good deal while on his own.
"I wasn't accustomed to being alone so much, and all of a sudden I had a job where I'm hiking around alone for weeks in the mountains. At times it would get a bit boring, but I gradually got used to it. Once I accepted the situation, it was relaxing to be able to plan the day as I wanted," he says.
Although he is looking forward to having people around, all the time he spent alone did not totally turn him off to the idea.
"I could definitely see myself doing solo hikes again. I think it does us good; it's healthy to spend some time alone once in a while. Nowadays, everything we do is supposed to take place together with other people, and although there is nothing wrong with that - I'm a social person myself - it's nice to have time to think. Put things in perspective."
One of the best aspects of the adventure is all the people he has met. Time and again, throughout Norway, he has been invited home to dinner. Often, he was also offered a warm bed in the guest room.
"Out in the rural areas, people are especially hospitable and open, so it is easy to get in touch with them."
One evening when Andreas was going to set up his tent in the Lofoten Islands, he had a hard time finding a dry place. When he finally gave up and went with the best solution, a stream ended up flooding the front of his tent.
"I filmed it and posted the video via Snapchat. After only two minutes, someone who lived nearby invited me into their home, so I got to spend the night in a bed instead."
The year of hiking has not just been about those ambitious, long trips in the wilderness. The adventures in the woods behind the house or on the knoll near the city limits are also important.
"No matter where you are in Norway, you don't have to travel far before you are in beautiful nature. Bergen, for example, is very nice, with the seven mountains surrounding the city. I have the impression that people living in Bergen are good at enjoying the outdoors," says Andreas.
"First, one must get past the doorstep?"
"One good tip is to have your backpack packed and ready to go, as that lowers the threshold for heading outdoors. When you get home from work, you can just grab your backpack and go. This increases the chance that you'll go on more short hikes, which you might have otherwise not prioritised."
This week he concludes a year of hiking at the Vinjerock music festival in Jotunheimen. He also stopped by the music festival at Eidsbugarden last year, but back then he had only been hiking a few weeks and mostly talked about what he thought he had in store. On Saturday, festival participants will get to hear what actually happened.
"It will be nice to finish at Vinjerock. I will soon head back to Bergen to earn my Master's degree at the Norwegian School of Economics. I think it will be an exciting autumn, not least because I get to continue as a part-time adventurer alongside my studies."
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