By James Wadman
This journey began in the city’s tourist information center, where I calmly began my conversation with the help desk by saying: “Well, it’s raining.” Bergen, the second largest city in Norway, boasts a population of over 250,000 people and it was quite evident walking around the port that the rain stops no Norwegian. In this spirit, we decided to venture into the rain and visit the most popular hiking destination in town: Mount Floyen. The rain came and went as it pleased, and we were fortunate enough to see incredible views from the top of the mountain. We dined on top of the mountain at a café, and then continued on toward the miles of hiking trails in the back of the mountain.
The drizzling rain was not enough to stop us, as each viewpoint that looked out over the city was more magnificent than the last. At a certain point, I realized that we were descending down the mountain, so I suggested that it was time for us to head back, or else we might reach the city in the valley and have to walk miles in through the streets of Bergen to get back to our hotel. I saw a winding path carved into the grass the led to a river, and we decided to journey back up the mountain on a new route. What we did not know was that in a few short minutes, the path we were on would end at a cliff on the mountain, and this mountain happened to be the wrong mountain.
We scaled the cliff, strategizing how to safely climb the slippery slopes in the rain. Still, there was no path. An hour past and there was no hope for finding the way back by heading forward, but the ambience of nature kept our spirits high. It didn’t matter that there was no path if we respected where we were and knew where (eventually) we were heading.
I am in love with everything here except for time, which unfortunately seems to exceed the natural limit, marking the transience of every journey.
I wrote these words halfway to realizing that we were completely lost on a mountainside. For me, a person who naturally feels secure in the wilderness and my unstable sense of direction, I was in harmony with the falling rain, the splashes my boots made in the muddy path (at least I thought we were on a path until I was proven wrong), and the promise that we would soon be high enough on the mountain to see where we came from. When we reached the summit of this mountain, one of seven in the Bergen area, we did not see what was expected. I urged the group onward in the pretense that once we made it to the top of this peak, we would be able to see where we road the funicular up to a smaller mountaintop and we could find our way back to the start. Instead what we saw was the continuation of luscious green forests, thin waterfalls streaming from cliffs, and a dense coat of fog stabilized in the valley beneath us.
This is where I learned how this moment ties into the rest of my life. Being lost is an opportunity, and wandering is a virtue. The ephemerality of our journeys is not a curse, and our longing to return is a blessing. When every journey is connected in a web of moments worth living, you construct a life that is truly special.
Eventually we did find our way back down. Ah, the signs of humanity. There was a paved road and other people just beginning their day’s journeys. I enjoyed this hike in Bergen particularly because we were transported into this beautiful solitary natural world, knowing we were always just steps from a viewpoint that looked out over one of Norway’s largest cities. It is nice to see the assimilation of urban culture and nature, something that should be an objective of all cities in some fashion.