Featured writer: Erica K. Haugli
Some days are worth remembering, reflecting over, and sharing with others. For me, May 20, 2012, is one of those rare moments in time. I had the privilege of witnessing two very determined, weather-worn and humble men, accompanied by their faithful Greenland Husky, finish a journey of a lifetime. After four-and-a-half months on skis (and occasionally on foot), and still smiling, this traveling trio completed a 2,500+ km (1,555 mile) expedition, trekking the length of Norway, from Lindesnes to the North Cape.
You could say Henrik Teigøyen and Håkon Johan Brandvold’s journey has been a lifetime in the making. These twenty-seven year olds have known each other since preschool, growing up in the same small town of Vinstra in Gudbrandsdal, Norway.
They’ve always been avid outdoorsmen, and as the years passed, hiking and skiing trips increased in distance and difficulty. The idea of trekking the length of Norway became a topic of conversation when they were teenagers. Even when they moved away from their hometown to pursue college degrees, Henrik in Librarianship and Håkon in Geology, their common desire to make the trip wasn’t forgotten.
In May of last year, Håkon and Henrik took the most difficult and critical step of the entire trip: They decided to “Just do it.” Or in their words, “Det passer aldri bra, derfor gjør vi det nå” – “The timing will never fit, therefore we’re doing it now.” They both agree that when they made that decision, the rest of the preparations for the journey fell into place.
They started saving money, gathering the equipment they already had acquired, as well as searching for good deals on finn.no (similar to craigslist or ebay). The local community and an outdoor sporting equipment company, Bergans of Norway, also helped sponsor their trip.
On January 1, 2012, they set course towards the North Cape. I asked whether or not they got on each other’s nerves while living under such close living conditions. I was surprised and once again, impressed by their positive attitude. ”No, we got along. In fact, at the end of each day we shook one another’s hand and said ‘Thanks for the hike today’.”
Their deep friendship was apparent, as well as their wisdom in preparing for, and carrying out, their four-and-a-half month winter ski trip. They had clearly set job descriptions, and each day they alternated roles. One man had the responsibility of waking up first, melting snow on the stove and preparing breakfast and coffee, as well as feeding Andy. The next day he’d be the happy camper that got to sleep 30 minutes longer and be served coffee and breakfast in his sleeping bag, before stepping out of the tent into -20 C (-4 F) and strong winds.
The division of duties also included one taking the lead and reading the compass and map, while the other one cared for Andy and the heaviest pack.
Both agreed that patience was one of the most important qualities to hold onto during such a long trip. Unexpected situations put their patience to the test, such as equipment breaking, a dense fog or storm blowing in and hindering visibility, and rapidly melting snow that resulted in the final 250 km being completed in tennis shoes.
They learned to press their limits and travel longer distances in a day. Henrik said, “Tweny kilometers was a lot longer before this trip than it is now.”
On May 20th, the three of them reached their goal. Not without one last unexpected event. Wind gust between 20-25 mps (45-55 mph) were whipping across the Nordkapp plateau as they walked the final stretch.
Since meeting these three Nordkapp travelers, almost one month ago, I’ve thought of them many times. I was impacted by their humility and deep friendship and am grateful they allowed me to be present as they accomplished a journey of a lifetime.
It was a profound moment being present as Henrik and Håkon reflected over their 2,550 km expedition coming to an end. A rare mix of emotions – from elation to let-down. It’s a day I won’t soon forget. And with that being said, here are some photos from the last leg of their journey. Thank you, Henrik, Håkon and Andy! It has an honor to join you on the last day of your journey.
(For more stories from the far north, please stop by Experience North Cape. Photos from Henrik Teigøyen and Håkon Johan Brandvold are used with permission.)