University of Wisconsin–Madison

There is no bad weather…

So I’ve finally settled in to the little town of Bø and this is the view from my house. Not bad.

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We officially started the semester on August 15th, which I was a little surprised about. Apparently nobody here knows that you can’t start class before Labor Day! So I’ve now had about 2 weeks of class, kind of.  Last week I had a field trip to the local mountain, Lifjell, from Monday to Friday and then another trip to a place called Haukelig a couple hours away from Saturday to Sunday.  That was a little much for those of us in the course because we still had to go to class at 8am the next day. Rough.

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Lifjell (pronounced like leaf-yell) was great! We drove about 45 minutes and then hiked up the mountain for a little under 2 hours to get to this wonderful, quaint cabin called Hollane (pictured above) that was to be our home for the next four nights.

Notice the very Norwegian-looking guy in the yellow shorts with no shoes on.  Yea, he didn’t wear shoes all week. He’s hardcore. But extremely nice! His name is Fredrik and I idolize him.

We (the 20-something of us in Alpine Ecology) spent the week collecting plants, temperature data, vegetation analyses, fishing with gill nets, and doing some rodent and grouse estimations.  I learned way too many latin names to possibly remember and ripped heads off of dead fish so we could cook them later over a campfire.  I could get used to this kind of life!

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So Lifjell was angelic and we started home on Friday with bellies full of oatmeal and peanut butter and content.

Well I guess the weather on Lifjell was unusually fantastic because we sure got a different experience at Haukelig! Silly me, I assumed the great weather would keep up, so I packed only my Keen hiking sandals for shoes and a couple warm layers just in case. HA!

Our first excursion on Haukelig started out with a light breeze and sunshine. Within 5 minutes it was hailing. No kidding.  Then it started snowing sideways and we had a full-out blizzard on our hands.  But, of course, my teacher has no off switch so we all were perched on a cliffside with our backs to the wind pretending to look at plants that were quickly being coated in a heavy, wet layer of snow.  It was highly amusing to a person in a warm car looking up at us poor wretched creatures.  And they say there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. I couldn’t feel my toes for hours afterwards. Sandals. What a rookie.

The next day wasn’t much better.  I put on every item of clothing I brought; it didn’t snow, but we were surrounded by snowbeds nonetheless and the wind was ruthless on our hike up the mountain. This time I had socks on, but it didn’t help very much.  By the time we got to the alpine lake I was more than ready to head home and I wasn’t alone.  Other international students from Spain had made the same mistake I did and were not taking it very well.  There was a lot of talk of going back to Madrid and laying on the beach.

But there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. And now I think I really know what that means…

So next time I’m packing my hiking boots and lots of wool, the magic fabric of the alpine climate.  I’ve got a lot to learn, but so far I’m having a great time doing it wrong! How could you not in a place like this??

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