Day 25 St. Olav’s, August 9th, 11km, Vuku > Stiklestad
We woke up and cooked breakfast, then collected our clean, dry laundry from the line we strung across the room. This was going to be a short day, so we weren’t in a rush to leave the comfort of our cozy little cabin.
Shortly after we got on the trail, we met a very friendly adventure cat, then walked past some of the densest forests we had ever seen. After a brief seven miles, we arrived at our stop for the night, Stiklestad.
We didn’t know much about the historically significant “must-sees” when we first started St. Olav’s Way. So when we learned about Stiklestad, we knew we needed to spend some time there.
This is where in 1030, King Olav Haraldsson was killed in battle on his campaign to retake the Norwegian throne. Shortly after his death, several miracles supposedly occurred, such as his spilled blood healing the wounds of one of the men that killed him. He was canonized the following year, 1031.
The life of King Olav Haraldsson expedited the Christianization of Norway and reshaped the country’s politics.
The museum grounds consist of a village, an amphitheater where they reenact the battle every summer, a Viking longhouse, a guesthouse, Olav’s Chapel, and a cathedral. Guests can stay in the longhouse and guesthouse. We were too late to explore the grounds, but we scored big by being the only guests in the guesthouse. Real beds and hot showers two nights in a row!
After hot showers, we sat at the massive table and cooked dinner. Since we had the luxury of an electric kettle, we boiled extra water for post-dinner tea, a nightly ritual we had picked up from our friends Hans and Astrid. Warm and cozy, we settled into the sleigh-style bunks, curled up beneath the sheepskins, and fell asleep.
Day 26 St. Olav’s, August 10th, 19K, Stiklestad > Flatåsen
Burnin Fuel to Find More Fuel
The next morning we explored the museum grounds, starting with the Viking longhouse. Huge, deep bunks lined both walls and massive windows opened over the center of the room. There were intricate carvings around the doors and on the supporting structures. A system of levers and pulleys were used to open the ceiling for ventilation.
It was a beautiful structure and had us wanting to build our own longhouse.
On the rest of the grounds, actors performed re-enactments in the village, such as gardening, chopping wood, and making tools. There was another area showing what a settlement might look like during that time.
Before we left Stiklestad and got back on the trail, we wanted to stop in to see the cathedral and get a stamp in our passport. The cathedral was busy with back-to-back weddings, so while one wedding party was taking pictures, the next wedding was setting up. We waited for our moment, then we ducked inside the church to get a stamp in our passports and snap a few pictures. We shuffled back outside just in time to avoid the next wedding party.
Leaving Stiklestad, we needed to stop for groceries and to find fuel for our camp stove. This should have been an easy task. Camp stove fuel is typically available in convenience stores, grocery stores, or, as a last resort (because they are less available), sporting goods stores.
This was not the case on this particular day.
We wasted about three non-trail miles and two hours going to different stores. To make matters worse, it was raining again. Finally, at a home improvement store, we found a massive can that could have lasted us until the end of the trail.
It was frustrating to spend so much time and energy and make such little progress on the trail, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
We finally got going, eating some raspberries that were growing along the trail out of town. After a few miles, the view opened up and we were overlooking a fjord. We realized later that this was Trondheim Fjord. The same Trondheim that was our end destination. This was the beginning of the end of our Olav’s experience.
The rain lightened up just in time for a beautiful sunset. We paused for a few moments to take it in.
We hadn’t decided where we would camp that night, and this was a nice area. While we were debating on whether we wanted to set up camp yet, Andy spotted a large, strange figure in the field.
“Is that…a moose?!”
We stood still, squinting in the distance at the awkwardly shaped creature until it moved.
Our first Norwegian moose!
We stood there watching each other for probably 15 minutes until we decided we needed to keep moving to find our camp for the night.
Lucky for us, there was the perfect spot less than a mile away. It was a dedicated rest stop for pilgrims, complete with a picnic table, a water jug, and a laminated business card from the people who take care of the site. We set up our tent, cooked some ramen, and enjoyed the rest of the sunset.
*This is THE BEST instant noodle brand, by the way.
Day 27 St. Olav’s, August 11th, 16km, Flatåsen > Ådalsskogen
Stay Sexy, Don’t Sleep in a Creepy Ass Cabin
After our traditional Olav’s breakfast of eggs, cheese spread, and jamón Serrano on polar bread, we broke down camp and got on the trail.
The walk that day was beautiful and the winding path led us alongside fields, past monastery ruins, and up into pasture land where sheep were grazing. The path was less defined here and oftentimes it felt like we were wandering around in someone’s sheep pasture. We were just looking around for the next marker, hoping it would lead us back to a trail.
The rain started again, so we decided it was time to start looking for a place to make camp. We came to a clearing and spotted a cabin at the top of a hill. There was no other sign of life around, so we decided to check it out. As we got closer, we realized the cabin was run down, with broken windows and holes in the floor. I peeked in one of the rooms and saw an old, broken-down baby crib and immediately decided I would most definitely not be sleeping there.
Shaking off the willies that the place gave me, we made our way down the hill from the cabin to set up our tent. There were some trees separating us from the cabin, but I still felt its presence. Its broken windows gazed down at us.
It didn’t help that I had been listening to My Favorite Murder while we walked through the pastures that day. I had downloaded an episode about true crime stories from Norway and had thoroughly creeped myself out.
We set up the tent in the rain, then grabbed the mess kit and hiked up the hill to the cabin. We used the shelter of the porch to cook and eat dinner. Creepy or not, it kept us dry.
After dinner, we made our way back down the hill to the tent. We had started a new book, A Sense of the World, and settled in for some reading before falling asleep to the sound of the rain on the tent.