After the burst of inspiration that Ryan Jordan's '24' videos created across the ultralight backpacking community it was someone closer to home that inspired my latest outing. Phil Turner posted recently about his Local Adventure Project, an initiative to get people to look under their noses for the adventure and wilderness that we sometimes pass on our way to work or on our way to more glamorous, well known destinations. This resonated strongly with me. I no longer own a car and being able to access the wilderness takes a little more organisation but I'm also blessed by living in Bergen and wilderness, or some degree of it, is on my doorstep. Literally. One trail, that scars the bust of Ulriken (643m) starts inside of a minutes walk from my porch.
My own little adventure was penciled in for a quiet Tuesday night but was almost erased straight away when I double booked myself and arranged to catch up with a friend. Thankfully Steve understood my plans perfectly and after sharing pizzas and some cold beer we left my apartment at around 8pm, Steve riding his bike alongside my hurried stride, like a coach and a lightweight contender. Around the reservoir we raced the daylight before Steve headed off to a warm apartment and I struck out upwards, towards Satene (498m), the guardian headwall of the Svartediket valley.
The first hour was just a grind up the graveled path, stripping layers like an onion as I went. At the top I left the path and cut my way up the shoulder of Satene. As a reminder that Winter still lays claim to the higher elevations, my 'crux pitch' (I gotta stop reading so many mountaineering/'death in a tent' genre books) was a steep little ice and snow choked chute that was fun in trainers and trackies.
Racing the gloaming light I pitched my wee Laser Comp on the edge. I fired off some photos, munched some chocolate as supper and settled down on my rock, enjoying the stillness. Below I could see my city, my running track, the reservoir that supplies my drinking water and almost, but not quite, my own doorstep.
Across the valley Ulriken's illuminated tower was performing it's nightly twinkly light show, the glow from the restaurant windows making false promises. Every time I've made the circuitous trek up there for a hot chocolate and waffle it's been shut.
A final stroll around my precipitous campsite, admiring the onrushing night. A final piss but I knew, as always seems to be the case when camping, away from the convenience of a warm bathroom, that I'd have to get up again in the middle of the night.
Bergen winked goodnight, resplendent in her shimmering halogen jewellery.
Bergen breathed good morning with the familiar sting of needing a pre-dawn camping piss and also the sensation that the wind that had sprung up during the night was threatening to tear the Laser Comp off it's perch and into valley below. Reluctantly I squirmed out of my cocoon and took care of business. In an effort to ballast my beleaguered tent I got back into bed and relished the still-warm down.
After a snooze I surfaced to the rhythmic drumming of something hitting my tent. Nothing was forecast so it was with some surprise that I opened my tent to the sight of light snow whipping over head and swirling into the protected lee of the drop. Ah the joy of packing light, everything in stuff sacks and into my backpack in a few minutes. Then there was just the task of trying to hold onto a flapping tent as I took it down in a hooley.
Time to get back down to the city.
Light started to smear the horizon, hinting at the forecasted sunshine. Too late for me to sit around on my rock and enjoy the morning but it's warming rays would further erode the ice that stubbornly clung to the darkest corner of the top reservoir.
Down through the forest the morning light illuminated the emerald carpet under my feet. The feathery edges of the flora making it almost glow.
After the monochromatic winter it's warming to see different colours again, especially when it's presented in so many different shapes and textures, from the soft globs of moss to these sharp star-bursts of green.
Back on the path I took a moment. With Satene over my shoulder it was time to look forward to another day. It was a good way to wake up. I was up before the earliest jogger and my day was starting with a bracing pinch of wind, colour, cold, coffee.
The fresh, new colours continued around the reservoir. Yellow buds on the trees sprouted in fireworks of pollen. Before long the path under my feet seamlessly swapped from gravel to tarmac and I was slipping quietly through the streets as people were stepping out of their houses and beginning their days with the morning commutes. My own commute that chilly Wednesday morning had started with a little adventure. A very local adventure.