One of the most quintessential moments which describes perfectly the amazing experience I had in Norway is the weekend cross-country skiing trip I took with the mountaineering club in November of my year abroad. I had only attempted skiing the very first time about a month before, but I had skied every weekend (and a few times during the week) in that month, and while the description of the trip stated “some experience on skis required”, I decided to chance it. After all, I was among friends.
The trip began about as expected, a quick 45minute bus ride out of town (included with our regular student passes on public transportation,) and we were at the trailhead. The trail began with a steep, dramatic hill, which I managed to ski through like a pro. My confidence boosted, and I knew that I was prepared for this whole grand weekend adventure. Then, we continued. Kilometer after kilometer. As spills increased, and tiredness increased alongside, I began to doubt. But I had no clue what was in store.
The trail we were skiing along dead-ended into a lake. A frozen lake suddenly appeared out of the trees ahead, and there was no way around. Even the ski tracks, which we’d been following in coordination with our map, disappeared directly into the surface of the solid water ahead. We had a choice: turn around, and in so doing, abandon our trip, or plunge ahead, and trust the ice to hold all of us.
We went forward, and for the next 5 kilometers, we skied on smooth, silky ice.
It was terrifying. One of the most scary experiences I’ve ever had abroad. See, I’ve never been the strongest swimmer. I tend to avoid deep water when I can. But when your path goes directly over the center of a lake over 15 meters deep, you just hold your breath and hope.
Although I did wait until every other person in the group had successfully skied out a little way, and first verified that no massive cracking or strange shifting of the ice was occurring, sensibly. The trip was a thorough success. We stayed in a wonderful cabin in the woods, with heaps of snow outside making us truly appreciate the warmth of the wood stove and the deliciously fresh-baked bread and stew. I will forever cherish my entire year in Norway, but that trip was one of the finest weekends of them all.
– Paul Stanphill, University of Oslo Direct Exchange