There is music in landscapes, and conversely, there are landscapes in music. There is an atmosphere, a rhythm, a feel, a coming and going of energy. There’s softness and aggression, there are greys and greens, browns and purples. They shimmer and they shine, these colors. There are noise and silence…the plants are like notes, the earth rising like chords and rising from lakes to peeks. There is modesty and there is exhibitionism, as much in landscapes as there is in music. And as with music, there are so many layers, landscapes within landscapes within landscapes.
A landscape always brings music into my head when I stand to look at it, and feel it enveloping me. When I walk or ride through it I can feel that rhythm, the heartbeat of that landscape. It can be Hardrock or it can be minimal music. It was a feeling that connects me more than ever to where I am in that moment, which is what being outdoor, for me, is all about. It’s a form of meditation, being in the moment, and nowhere else. Where consciousness narrows to that single thing that suddenly becomes everything.
I had this feeling when walking through Oppland in March of this year. The landscape around us had just shed its thick white dress of winter, the season was still turning. We walked through icy snowfields but much more over the grey, black and green rocks, the heather with its small jubilant flowers. There were so many moments we dropped down to our knees to look closely at that microscopic landscape of mosses and sedum plants and tiny flowers. The intensity of those colors, the sturdiness of how those little plants felt.
As I write this in December, I know that same landscape is now covered in meters of snow, that temperatures are far below zero. And I know that it is covered but not gone and that in a few months it will begin it’s journey all over again.
We were in Oppland with Jeffry Oonk, a Friend of Haglöfs, the Swedish outdoor brand we have grown to know and like over the past few years. Jeffry is a fellow Dutchman, a man who travels and guides professionally. A photographer, Mountain Leader and a man who has seen so many landscapes all over the world as he hiked through them. “For me, hiking is the most intense way of enjoying a landscape,” Jeffry says in the film we made of our visit there and that observation has stayed with me ever since. Being somebody who enjoys high octane actions sports, my experience of hiking through that serene landscape that did not demand more of you than to walk, and breathe and look, was something I hadn’t done in a very long time.
We had arrived at the amazingly picture postcard wooden cabin of Beito Husky Tours (where Jeffry is currently active as musher) the day before and had already marveled at the Norwegian landscape we had driven through during our 3 hour shuttle from Oslo to Beito, near Beitostølen, a winter sports resort just on the edge of Jotunheim Nasjolnalpark.
On the day we arrived we met the 50 Siberian Huskies of Beito Husky Tours, which was an experience in itself. Amazing a large are, the kennel where the dogs stayed, filled with 50 dogs barking like maniacs and pulling at their chains when Jeffry approached. I love dogs, am not afraid of them at all, but when Jeffry opened the door of the kennel I was taken aback just momentarily, a vision of being torn apart by a bloodthirsty pack of semi-wolves, fleeting by just a moment.
Until I realized these were all really happy dogs, and they jumped and licked and barked and smiled as we passed by. Jeffry taking his time to greet every dog individually and extensively. We took two dogs from their chains and took them for a walk down to the Øyvagen lake. Our first taste of the smell of the Norwegian Woods, (no Beatles in my head though), the views over the lake, a low sun setting, a hard wind blowing.
Back in the cabin of Beito Husky Tours we slept in silence and comfort of natural materials and handmade surroundings. No plumbing, no electricity, no artificial light or warmth.There is a special kind of charm to that in itself. The next day we picked up two other dogs, Lillemu and Chewy, for our two-day trek into Jontunheim. For me, two magical days, with walking through that landscape, enjoying it to the fullest and in the meantime trying to interpret it as we filmed our two days. Thinking about what to film and how, how to convey the feeling of that area. Jeffry was our guide and cook at the same time, setting little fires in the windiest circumstances (luckily we had no rain the two days) and cooking meals of Norwegian trekking food.
Nothing really special happened those two days, except that the landscape continued to amaze using every direction we looked, silence and great conversations passed between us as naturally as the steps we set. Chewy ate a lemming he caught (although he was on the line all the time) and Lillemu al but chewed here way through the rope in the night), those were the most exciting moments I think. And the rest was, besides working hard to film everything we needed for the film, just feeling blessed to be there. Noticing how good outdoor gear helps you enjoy even more because it was quite windy and cold, and we did walk quite heavily packed. Keeping warm and dry (from the inside) is really important in those circumstances, and if the gear is good enough, you stop noticing it, and it enables you to focus completely on what surrounds you, how it envelops you and how you are making your way through it. If you want serenity, silence and a calm modest beauty to make your way through, then go to Beito.
In total, we spent 4 days in Oppland, and although it was short enough to call it not more than a trip, I would venture to say it was a journey. The difference in those two words, to me, is that a trip is something where you start and finish in the same place. A journey is where you start in one place and end in another. A trip is an experience you enjoy, a journey is an experience that changes you.
We want to thank Haglöfs for supporting us in making this journey in to the wilderness of Norway, Beito Husky Tours for the hospitality and Jeffry Oonk for his guidance, company, stories and kindness. And to Chewy and Lillemu for gaurding us in the night.