27-year-old Mary McPherson, who works for a small social enterprise tackling education disadvantage in London, is one of those people who uses every holiday to max out on travel and exploration. A self-proclaimed travel addict, she balances a busy job with frequent trips to new corners of the world, particularly Europe where she can be found gorging on local delicacies or climbing any nearby hills! [Check out our top 5 budget friendly countries in Europe].
We’re so excited to feature Mary’s #AdventureShare which speaks volumes of her adventurous spirit, courage and love of nature. Over to Mary.
My trip in a nutshell
Over the August bank holiday weekend I flew to Oslo for three nights. Originally booked as a weekend away with a friend, it ended up being a solo trip and I decided to approach it very spontaneously. I spent two solid days and one night on a hiking trip – a recommendation from a local couple. I met them via CouchSurfing and they told me about DNT (The Norwegian Trekking Association), an organisation with over 500 cabins all around the country. They said if I wanted to spend time in nature (which I did!), I should hike to one of these cabins using their membership number.
I ended up covering 60km in total, all the way to Katnoa Lake in the north of Oslo. My outbound hike mainly followed bike trails and passed over many hills and around lakes. On the way back, I took the forest route, hiking through a number of beautiful terrains. At one point I stood on a high ridge overlooking the spectacular Oslofjord. Even though the lovely cabin I hiked to (roughly 30km from the capital city) could sleep up to 17 people, it was totally secluded. I had the whole place and the whole lake on the edge of a forest to myself which was better than I’d ever imagined.
Why I chose to go hiking in Norway
I am on a bit of an obsessive quest to visit all countries in Europe (eventually all countries in the world!) and Norway is one I hadn’t been to. As soon as I booked my flights I knew I wanted to soak up some of the nature in Norway and started looking at lakes or forests or fjords I could reach from Oslo. I knew most of the incredible scenery was further west and north but had also heard that you need not travel far from any city to immerse yourself in nature and find interesting hiking opportunities.
What I loved most about this adventure
The fact that I was by myself. I met two Dutch hikers late on the first day and hiked with them for a small section of the route. I was in a predicament when I met them because I couldn’t get into the cabin, I had very little phone battery and no water left. They shared their water with me and leant me a power bank overnight. The next day I met up with them to return it and we shared a basic but warming lunch together cooked on their gas stove. I also loved the 20 minutes or so I spent with the Norwegian woman who helped me access the cabin. After being by myself for more hours than anyone normally would be, those interactions I had with complete strangers were all the more significant. I also think I am personally more open to meeting others when I travel alone. I don’t have the comfort of someone close to me so I reach out more, and always receive kindness from those I cross paths with.
The most challenging part of hiking solo in Norway
It was at the end of the second day when it was raining heavily, it was cold and beginning to get dark. My every muscle was aching and I didn’t even know for sure that I was on the right route so the last two hours seemed to drag on for eternity, trudging through the rain not seeing another soul.
My greatest memory of the hike
After trudging through the rain, I finally made my way inside the cabin for the night! Unfortunately I had forgotten the key I was supposed to take from Oslo, so a local lady (I say local but her house was a few kilometres away!) helped me break the lock and get inside. After hiking so far that day, being inside the warm cosy, cabin was bliss. Another highlight was having the lake to myself with a magical sunset.
Greatest lessons learnt
Optimism pays off. I think in day-to-day life I would call myself a ‘realist’, but on this trip I maintained an overly positive mindset and despite the challenges, I kept telling myself it would all work out, and it did. I also learnt to be brave as I did things on this trip I never thought I would do alone.
Tips for other women who’d like to hike in Norway
I’d say Norway is a great country to do your first solo hike if you’re considering it. The local lady told me that many young women go out hiking alone, as Norway is very safe. I would recommend doing some research though and downloading an app with the hiking trails on. Start off with a one or two-day hike and if you enjoy it, do one a little longer.
My next bucket-list adventure
I have a trip to India planned for the very end of this year. I have wanted to go to India for as long as I can remember, so I’m so excited to finally tick it off!
Follow Mary on her travel blog: feedthetravelbug & on Instagram: @maryjm90
Enjoyed Mary’s #AdventureShare? Also check out Lydia’s on travelling solo through the Middle East.