A few hiking steps in Norwegian history.
It is over 70 years since refugees and couriers were playing cat and mouse with the German soldiers during the World War II. There were some Norwegians who refused to accept the defeat or were willing to risk there own life to help others. Sweden became host country for around 60 000 Norwegians. Some were jews or students, others were wanted by the Germans. People were using the whole borderline too cross over to Sweden. Most people crossed over to Sweden from Øsfold and Akershus county through the spruce forest.
One of the refugee routs known as Timian route, runs from Skullerud in Oslo and Eastward through Enebakk and Eidskog and then into Sweden, a total of 120 km. This route is now an Historic walking route. You could probably divide it in to stages, if you would like to walk the whole route.
My younger brother, Daniel and I, drove passed this route and headed a bit further South, driving alongside Rødenessjøen. When we finally came to the dirt road leading in to our night camp, we didn't get as far as we planned. A red barrier attacked by rust was blocking the road and you needed a key to open it. I guess no cars were allowed from this point. A little disappointing, since it was open last time I was here. With dogs drooling and panting in the back of the car making it all sloppy, after the long drive. I knew we needed a camp near water. A new look at the map didn't lift my tired spirit anymore than it already was. All the roads had a road barrier. We headed back to the main road and back North were we came from, we were taking a chance on an other road a little North from the road we were on, hoping the barrier would be open. With a little luck, it was open, so we headed along the dirt road, all the way to a little lake called "Nordre Bergtjern". A little open cabin could be located near the water, so we used the little parking space we could find. I brought my hiking hammock and was more than glad to jump in my sleeping bag and go to sleep. But first, set up camp and feed the dogs!
Daniel had brought his own Jerven Fjellduk, a multipurpose bivy bag. He had seen a video on how to make a hammock out of it, and he was more than eager to try. After a good snack, the dogs were dying to give Daniel a sloppy good night kiss. Especially after he looked so settle in, in is new hammock.
It felt like I was in an sauna when I woke up. That's how it is when you only have one sleeping bag and it's meant for freezing winter. It didn't really help with the annoying bugs, buzzing in my ear. I guess that's the natures wake up call along with the sun piking through the trees, as it was on it's way up. I could hear the wagging tails, tamping on the forrest floor as they could hear me waking up, eager to get started on the day. But first, we needed to check if Daniel was still alive, in his homemade hammock
As we were eating breakfast we decided to take a compass course through the woods and back to our original hiking trail. We had a map of Trøkstad Kommune and it showed us two areas where people used to cross over to Sweden under World War II. We had chosen the area South on the map, a hiking trail that goes in a circle.
I'm a big fan of hiking trails, life is so much easier with them. After being spoiled through the winter with all the equipment in a sled, I was the one who had to carry them now. With a backpack that rooms about 90 liters on my back, I should've
considered keeping in shape through the winter too. Then the beginning of summer season wouldn't be so ruff. With heavy load on the back and the uncertain forrest ground covered with moss and bushes. You could never really know if there was a rock or a hole under it, that would put you out of balance. This type of hiking is really heavy on your legs and you think you have been walking further, than you really have.
Daniel asked if he could be the map reader. He wanted to practice his map reading skills he learned from the military. It has been a long time since I have practice mine too, but I didn't mind. Besides if he's not sure, we could always check the map together.
Going of trail, you never know what you will meet. Other than what is shown on the map. I think we were lost for about a second or maybe it was an hour or two? I guess none of us would admit it though.
It was a hot summer weather, the sun was peaking through the clouds making my sweat boil on my skin. I had chosen shorts because I thought it would make my hike more chilled. What I did not think about was the bushes on the forrest ground. I think they had it in for me. Here I am, stomping around like an elephant. Their beautiful leafs they spread out in the summer, so it can catch the sunlight.
Disturbing their meditation and whispering talk in the wind. I made them naked by crushing them. And from being beautiful, they became angry whip's, slashing and ripping the skin of my legs. But I didn't really notice that before decided to take a short water break on top of a hill. We needed to find out where we are, so we could get back on our original trail.
Daniel is getting coordinates from his phone to find out where we are on the map. I guess in some way it is nice with a phone and all the apps, but we should keep in mind. You don't always have service everywhere you go hiking.
When we found out where we were, it didn't take long before we finally hit the trail.
I was so glad, I could kiss the ground. But I didn't! Sometimes you just need to behave properly when you are on a hike with someone who has been in the military. Not only has Daniel been in the military and keeps up with his training afterwards. He is tall and has long legs too. How do you keep up with his pace.
I could have run and even than, I would barely be on his heels.
Even though we disagreed on which way to take from time to time. It was nice being on a trip with my younger brother, Daniel. I can't really remember last time I went on a hike with him. The military might have tightened him up a bit on the behavior part, but my brother whom has always liked to joke around, is still there.
When I from time to time caught up with Daniel, he had found a sign with some information about the people in the area or the place where we were standing. It gives the place more soul, when you get to know history about it. It won't just be another hiking trip through the forrest.
On the way, we managed to miss the trail we were supposed to continue on. We ended up at the beginning of the trail. I kind a liked that, because there was a big sign with information about the couriers who had helped the refugees under World War II. Most of the time the couriers drove to Oslo to pick up the refugees and drove them to this area before they had to travel the rest of the way by foot. Sometimes they were picked up by boat at Rødenessjøen. When the Germans had caught the sent of an courier they became refugees and had to flee the country too. One of them actually got caught. He was put in prison and tortured. But they never stopped. As soon as one of the couriers had to leave, an other took their place.
Four couriers helped refugees to Sweden in this area, under the time of war. They had taken different trails through the forrest. It was like their backyard.
Today you can find a little round trip tour on the map. You can experience how it almost is, walking in their footsteps. The only difference is, you know you are safe from being caught by the Germans.
Getting the stories right before you go on the trail, you walk there wondering how it was back then. The heart beating so hard, you'd think it would jump out of your chest and run to Sweden on it's own, leaving you behind. The intense silence, the only thing you hear is the leafs rustling in the wind. The footsteps crunching on the forrest ground. And sometimes, your child whispering low: "Mom, I'm scared" and your answering: "It's okay sweetie, you'll be fine. We are getting close now." as you are sending prayers up to God that he will keep them safe.
My dried up tung, drew me back to real life. The sweat, bugs and heat was killing me. The tung actually felt like a dried up raisin and my throat was starting to feel like sandpaper. My steps were getting shorter and shorter. Daniel had to wait more and more on me, but he had told me the stream shouldn't be to far away now.
As we were closing in, my brother didn't look to happy, now that he had found the stream. Have you ever seen a movie, where they have been hiking for days and is out of water? And when they finally find a pond, they just fall into it, because they are so thirsty.
Yeah, no that wasn't me when I finally reach the stream. My lifted heart fell all the way down to the bottom of my stomach. The stream was nearly gone. Dead flies, midges, and other bugs. Didn't really help, when my dogs jumped strait into it, mixing the dregs with the leftover water. They definitely didn't mind, they were obviously more desperate than me.
The lunch I had been looking forward to, was rather a pitstop. I felt like a whale, just opening my mouth consuming everything that went down. Then me and Daniel shared the few last drops in his water bag, before we grabbed our packs and got away from that bug hole. But the refuel did help and now it wasn't far to the borders.
You know when you are at the Borderline, specially if you cross over in a forrest area. There is a wide open and chopped down tree line that separates Norway and Sweden.
I asked my brother this: "Have you ever been at two places at the same time?"
"Place your right foot on that side of the line, and your left foot on the other side of the line. Now you are in two places at the same time. In fact! You are actually in to different countries. Norway and Sweden."
After reading up on the historical sign, we needed to head on back in to Norway. It was getting dark and we needed to find our camp ground. Besides, Sweden didn't want us. At the borderline we hit a wall of midges, who were more than glad to attack us. They were actually enjoying my already damaged legs. I guess that made Daniel run off. I did in fact not see him once before we hit the water, Svartevann, where our camp were to be set up. But I did hear his bird sounds signaling which way to take on crossing trail.
In my younger days, I would probably had jumped straight into the chilled water. But as I have gotten older, I'm more as a pussy, some might call it. But Daniel didn't hesitate. He jumped in and as soon as he hit the water, he looked like he got big spasms. And it didn't take long before he found his way to solid ground again. I guess I should be glad I sent him into the water first, just to prove I don't need to try it. The sun was going down and the forrest got a more fairytale sense, as we were eating pancakes for dinner. But in stead of all the nice little fairies sprinkling dust and whispering enchanted words in our ears. We got the tiny midget monsters with small weaponry, feeding on our skin.
So Daniel and I, set up camp and went straight to bed. Closing up every cracks and holes you could find, so they wouldn't attack our good night sleep.
That feeling when you wake up and swore that your dog was white when you went to bed last night, but somehow is black the next morning. And then, when she wakes up, stretching and waggling the whole body so the midges would fly away. You realize oh, I kinda forgot them for awhile.
Daniel said this: "I came to the nature to enjoy it, but instead it's attacking me."
Looking at my swollen legs, it was an easy choice taking the hiking pants today. Even though the weather was even more heated and nicer than yesterday.
Leaving the back pack behind, we headed back to Sweden. Further up the the trail, there is an other trail heading a little further North, taking you a little higher, giving you a looking point over Sweden. I'll tell you this: The roundabout trail is a good marked trail, with one fault. If you go the opposite way, you might have some difficulties finding the mark for the continuing trail at the crossing of a dirt road. The reason why is. The mark is on the other side of the stone, or tree, which you will see if you go the correct way.
Now, at this point of the trail you have a decent marked trail to "Brennerihula" but when you finally get there. The marking stopes. You don't know where to continue to find this decent viewing point over Sweden.
At Brennerihula it is just ruins left from the house they used to burn secret letters. I guess that is why it got it's name. You can easily see there was a fireplace there. I wondered what was written in those letters they were burning. Was it from the King? News from our government that had taken refuge in England? Tactics for the couriers and the home front?
No matter what it was, They definitely didn't want the Germans to know. They must've been sitting here at night, with the door closed. Hoping the Germans would see or smell the fire. Telling each other what was going on in the world and war, before heading back where they came from.
It makes me think about the movie Max Manus. The true story about one of the most brilliant saboteurs during World War II here in Norway. A great insight on how it was during the war. A good start before heading out on a hike like this.
Daniel had decided not to bring the map. I'm just telling you this, try not to do the same mistake.
But instead he had taken a compass course, and we both decided to try and find this viewing point over Sweden. We did find, a viewing point. I would say, it was really lousy. But you did see a bit, like windmills and trees. Lots of trees.
As we were heading back to the camp a little disappointed, we actually found the trail again. Since there were more time left of the day, and no heavy back packs. We continued the trail back to Sweden, and again loosing the marking of the trail at the borderline.
After getting a little bit lost, and didn't have any map. We decided to fallow the borderline back to the trail where we were yesterday, and continue from there and back to the camp. Even though I had stocked up on water on my bottle before I left from camp. It was getting more and more empty the more sun rose high upon the sky. I was kind a glad when I was back at camp, but it had been really nice not having that heavy back pack with me. It was good to take a lunch break and stock up on water again, before we needed to head back to the car. Everyone needs some fuel to keep on going through the day.
On the way back to the car you actually meet the bear stone. It is a story about a bear hunter, who shot a bear and had to run around the stone until the bear fell over and finally died from the gunshot wound. Maybe I should've been really in shape for this trip. Lets just double check that there are no bears around. I really don't think my dogs would save me from a bear. I think they would leave me for bait so they have the time to get away.
It's not before I had to actually go of the trail and through the wilderness of the forrest to get back to the car. That I could feel how tired my legs were. But with Daniel more focused on actually going of the trail taking compass course more correctly than last time. I think it went faster, even with my shaking legs. He was dead on every step of the way, but there were so much more hills this time. The last few steps I could actually hear him saying loud and proud: "I can see the car."
The windows were all the way down, music was playing and the wind was decreasing my over heated and sunburned face. Even though we had been attacked by bugs and heat, it had been a nice and historical hike. But we both agreed, this hike is more likely to be done as a one day hike, instead of two next time.
But maybe me and my younger brothers hiking journey would take us somewhere else next time?
Map for the hike: