The agenda of the day was to explore the city center and then to hike up the Mount Fløya which overlooks the city and the fjord. It is renowned to offer spectacular panoramas. The city was much more flourished and modern than I had expected. The colorful wooden houses standing out on snow cladded carpet gave this arctic city a unique charm. I met people who came as far from Australia just to witness their life time dream of seeing the Northern lights. The city has much more to offer blessed by its location close to mountains and sea. Activities ranging across sailing, canoeing, snow shoeing, skiing, hiking, whale watching to name a few.
Though it had snowed heavily the past days, some parts of the city were dangerously slippery and I was a victim to it. I regretted not taking my shoe spikes which would have prevented that fall. Anyway I ignored the slight pain and went on to pursue to my favorite sport – hiking. There was of course a cable car going up and it was my backup plan for the return journey if it gets dark. It was supposed to be an easy trail, only uncertainty being the amount of snow on the path. Having done a couple of snow hikes in Germany I was confident to tackle it. The initial part of the hike was relaxing and the view got better as I hiked. When I almost reached the mid part, the trail started becoming unexpectedly slippery. It was just ice and all the snow was only a thin cover on it. Though I had carefully chosen hiking shoes to outwit such situations, the steepness of the trail surpassed my calculations. Every step forward resulted in me slipping back a few steps. I realized I was stuck. Having very few trees or anything else to hold onto for grip, I had no option to go forward. I had to make a quick decision as it was getting colder and I could feel my body starting to freeze since I was static. On the verge of dropping the plan and sliding back, a Norwegian couple came as my savior. They had excellent snow shoes with spikes using which made cutouts on ice where I could get some grip. I had to succumb to their query that if I was very new to snow. After reassuring me that the difficult part is done, they left me to continue on my own pace. As I got higher, it got more exciting and the views forced me to make some photos to cherish. I could clearly see the tower on the top and I calculated I should be there in 15 minutes. Then came the totally unexpected twist of events.
The winds became stronger and eventually turned into a snow storm. The visibility reduced and I saw the tower disappearing. Soon the winds erased the trail left by other hikers and I lost track of markings leading to the top. I continued fighting against the wind in the direction I had in mind towards the tower. After almost 5 minutes of dragging myself through the snow I realized that it was not the right path. The snow was getting deeper and the storm stronger. My pace reduced, which further aggravated the coldness. With the aid of a small branch which I used to check for depth of snow I struggled forward. The snow was until my knees and it was extremely difficult to walk. I paused and looked down considering the option of going back. That sight gave me the shock of my life. I had climbed up a very steep section and any step downwards could result in a snow slide and I could get buried under the snow. I started to panic and to top that, the pain from the previous fall in the city kicked in. I had no option but to go forward. I thought about calling the emergency number and asking for help. Then, literally as a ray of hope I could see the light from the top of the tower. I made small and careful steps in that direction and after almost an hour of struggle, I reached the top of the hill. I just stood there embracing the moment. It was magical when the storm subsided, the view got cleared and city lights started decorating the colorful tiny dots all over the island town. My hands were numb, my body was aching and my feet were cold, but the feeling of success after the struggle complemented by the summits and silence gave me a sense of delicious warmth and freedom.
View from Mount Floya:
Before the start of the snow storm: