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Camping in the dark with a Stavanger City view - Premium Private Guided Hikes

Updated: May 17

And so I have been on my second hike on my challenge for the year: 52 Weeks of Wilderness: A Year of Adventure Camping and Hiking in the Stavanger Area, Norway

Minimum one overnight sleep in the nature every week in 2024.


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After a hectic start to the week, with work piling up and hardly any time to focus on other things, like this project, a window of opportunity finally emerged on Thursday evening. Having wrapped up an intense two-day negotiation course, which demanded plenty of preparation and energy, it was truly refreshing to pack my bag and head out for a peaceful evening. Surrounded by nature and immersed in my own thoughts, it was a much-needed break from the bustle of daily life.


Now, to get to the heart of the matter, I have completed my second overnight stay, and here is a brief summary:


 It's important to watch where you place your feet with every step.
It's important to watch where you place your feet with every step.

Weather and Conditions: 

Given the time of year, it's unsurprising that the days are still dark and the weather is quite cold, a trend that is expected to persist for a while. However, on this particular day, I was fortunate to experience no precipitation and relatively little wind, which was a relief. The wind that was present was brisk and originated directly from the north.


In this region, it's uncommon to encounter challenging conditions while walking in low-lying areas. However, currently, there's a bit of a challenge due to the transformation of all running water and waves, which previously washed onto the shores, into slick, icy surfaces. This creates potentially hazardous walking conditions.


The photos to the right, captured en route to the camping site, illustrate the importance of being cautious with every step. When water turns to ice, particularly in areas with frequent water flow like near rivers or shore, it often results in a thin, uneven, and slippery layer. This ice can be treacherous, increasing the risk of slipping. These circumstances also serve as a reminder of the beauty and unpredictability of nature, transforming familiar landscapes into unique, albeit challenging, winter wonderlands.


The fire is placed next to the rock to utilize the radiant heat.
The fire is placed next to the rock to utilize the radiant heat.

Campsite Selection: 

As previously mentioned, there was limited time to plan this trip in advance, resulting in a relatively local excursion to an area I'm quite familiar with. This location is peaceful, with minimal light pollution or people nearby, offering a haven from the cold north wind and a splendid view of Stavanger city across the fjord.

I chose to pitch my tent on a small elevation, sheltered by a large mound. The campfire was set up near the rock, a stone's throw from the tent, where I could enjoy a fine view of the fjord. Experience has taught me that it's wise to place the campfire a bit away from the tent, especially on windy days. This is because campfires often emit flying sparks that are unpredictable in their landing spots. Placing the fire near the rock wasn't a coincidence; it significantly enhances the warmth as the rock or stone heats up alongside the fire, radiating additional heat.


A tent far away from the city

Preparation and Gear: 

If you're interested in a more detailed description of the equipment I use and my thoughts about it, you can read more about it in THIS post (upcomming).


I didn't have much time to plan this trip, so I just took the equipment that was left in my backpack from the last outing.


 Self-made tent pegs.
Self-made tent pegs.

For those interested, here's a summary of what I brought:


  • Leatherman Wave multi-tool

  • First-aid kit

  • Toilet paper

  • Water bottle

  • LED tent light

  • Buff (versatile neck/headwear)

  • 2 firestarter packs and a lighter

  • Foldable cup

  • Small electric pump

  • Sami knife

  • Folding saw

  • Headlamp

  • Winter sleeping bag

  • Sleeping pad

  • Tent

  • Foldable chair

  • Gloves with electric heating


 Self-made tent pegs.

I didn't bring a camera on this trip due to the cold and the risk of frost, similar to my

decision last week. After setting up my tent, I realized I had forgotten the tent pegs. It remains a mystery where they went, but I suspect they might have fallen out of my backpack on the last trip. I'll have to search for them later. In the meantime, I had to improvise, something I've done before. As shown in the picture, I used dead juniper bushes, cutting them into appropriate lengths and sharpening them with my knife. Driving them into the frozen ground was a bit challenging, but as the other photo shows, it worked out well and was a successful solution.



Tactical Foodpack for hiking in Norway

For food and drink, I brought:


  • 1 liter of water

  • A pack of Tactical food (freeze-dried meal)

I've eaten a lot of freeze-dried meals over the years and had high expectations for this one. Unfortunately, it didn't quite meet my expectations, but it did fill me up adequately.



Thoughts and Experiences: 

Contrasts

After setting up the tent and getting a good fire going, I found myself sitting by the warmth, gazing towards the city. It's quite fascinating to sit in the darkness on an island, surrounded by silence and nature, and look at a city. It makes you think about how different the experience would be if you were sitting there, looking back at where I am. Likely, from the city's perspective, you'd just see darkness, making it hard to imagine what lies out here.

This contrast between the urban and natural environments is striking. In the city, the lights, sounds, and constant activity create a completely different atmosphere. 


This moment of reflection highlights the importance of preserving natural spaces. In such settings, one can truly appreciate the tranquility and beauty of nature, which is often lost in the hustle and bustle of city life. It’s a chance to disconnect from the fast pace of modern living and reconnect with the natural world, offering a sense of peace and grounding.

Moreover, this experience underscores the value of perspective. From the island, the city seems like a distant, almost separate world. It’s a powerful reminder of the diverse lifestyles and environments that exist within a relatively small geographical area and how our environment shapes our experiences and perceptions.


The view of the city (Stavanger) from the fire. One can see the warm light of the fire spreading across the ground in front of me.
The view of the city (Stavanger) from the fire. One can see the warm light of the fire spreading across the ground in front of me.

Light Pollution

Light pollution is a term that might be unfamiliar to many, but it becomes very apparent in situations like this. Let's take the example of observing the starry sky. On a clear night, you can indeed see stars from a city, but only to a very limited extent. The photo below clearly demonstrates the impact of light pollution by comparing the number of visible stars over the city to an area where light pollution is less prevalent. When I turn around and look in the opposite direction, away from the city, I see more stars, but still not as many as I would if I were far away from any urban areas where light pollution is absent.


Light pollution occurs when artificial light brightens the night sky, obscuring the stars that are otherwise visible in a natural, dark environment. This phenomenon not only affects our ability to enjoy the night sky but also has ecological consequences, as many species rely on the natural patterns of light and dark for their behavior and life cycles.


Here, the effect of light pollution from the city is clearly visible. Looking towards the city, one can hardly see any stars.
Here, the effect of light pollution from the city is clearly visible. Looking towards the city, one can hardly see any stars.

Deer meeting

On my way home just before sunrise, I inadvertently woke up a herd of deer that was resting in some nearby bushes right by the path I was walking on. The experience was quite startling for me as well, as there was a lot of noise when they suddenly got up and scattered in all directions. I'm not sure if it was a buck expressing irritation and trying to scare me off, or a doe calling out to her fawns in an attempt to gather them, but there was certainly a loud deer that stood out, bellowing until I was far away from the area.


A deer from a previous encounter I had in the same area. Perhaps the same animal?
A deer from a previous encounter I had in the same area. Perhaps the same animal?

For those who haven't heard it before, the sound is akin to an old farm dog barking. This was an interesting and memorable experience that stayed with me throughout the day. Encountering wildlife in its natural habitat like this offers a unique glimpse into the lives of animals and the dynamics of their interactions. Such encounters can be unexpected and a bit startling, but they also enrich the outdoor experience, reminding us of the diverse and active wildlife that exists just beyond our usual paths and routines.


Learnings and Adjustments: 

So, reflecting on my second overnight trip of 2024, what did I learn, and what adjustments might I need to make for next week?


First and foremost, the most obvious lesson is the importance of double-checking that all equipment is packed before setting off. For instance, forgetting the tent pegs wasn't a major issue this time, but I have previously managed to leave behind something as crucial as my sleeping bag. Therefore, a thorough equipment check before departure is always a wise idea. To assist myself in doing this more systematically and efficiently, I've created a small app. This app is a helpful tool that ensures I don't overlook anything important. It's a personalized checklist of sorts, which I could share more about at a later time.


Secondly, as I mentioned, I learned that not all freeze-dried meals are equally tasty. While sitting by the fire, I actually found myself missing some delicious snacks to munch on. So, for my next trip, I plan to pay more attention to the selection of food I bring along. This experience has taught me the importance of not just focusing on the functionality and convenience of the food but also considering the enjoyment and comfort it brings, it's also about the pleasure and comfort that a good meal or snack can provide in the wilderness.


Thirdly, and on a more positive note, I was reminded once again that even though it may seem daunting to head out into the dark and cold wind, it's incredibly rewarding once you get out there and disconnect from the daily grind around a campfire.


This experience reinforces the idea that sometimes the most challenging part of any adventure is the initial effort to get started. The thought of leaving the comfort of home, especially to face cold and darkness, can be off-putting. However, the tranquility and peace that come with being in nature often far outweigh the initial reluctance.


and old beautiful house in a sunrise
The sunrise turned out to be beautiful this morning, and by the time I got home, the sky was magical. I must say, it wasn't tempting to go inside and sit in front of a computer when nature was putting on such a display.

Summary

To sum up the trip, I'd describe it as a successful overnight adventure and a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Squeezing these weekly excursions into a hectic daily life can indeed be a challenge, but so far, I absolutely feel that the effort is well worth it.


I'm definitely motivated to continue this journey, though I have to confess, I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of spring :) The weather forecast for next week includes snow, wind, and cold temperatures. 


As I look ahead to the upcoming trips, I'm reminded of the dynamic nature of the outdoors and the constant learning opportunities it provides. Whether it's mastering the art of staying warm and comfortable in cold weather or simply enjoying the silence of nature. Stay tuned for more stories from these weekly adventures, each one bringing its own set of surprises and delights.


See you on the trail!!

Espen


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