Monday, February 7, 2011

Back to the Pond: Sannvannstalen

Homecoming:  Day unknown

Did we just get shot at?!"”

So, apologies, I just remembered, for some reason, I forgot to write about one of the sweetest experiences of my time in Kristiansand, Norway, and that was our excursion to the Wathne Family cabin- Sannvannstalen.

The entire trip I had heard so much about the family talking about this cabin out on another one of the family’s lakes that is, apparently, one of the most stunning places to be in the whole of Wathne. As I would soon come to find out- this is absolutely true.

Christian and I stated out the day with some good ole’ coffee with Farmor (of course) and then proceeded on our way out. Knowing that we were going on a hike, I dressed up ‘light-but-heavy’ i.e. I wore my under armor but no jeans, only basketball shorts, with a t-shirt and my vest;l light…but heavy. And honestly you may scoff at my ridiculious wardrobe, but it worked. I was quickly reminded of how hot I get when I go hiking, never mind hiking in the snow where every other step was a plunge into the unknown. So, the takeaway lesson is this: dress for success.

We started the hike by walking out on the tractor path, the same one we’d walk to work every day in the woods. Feeling adventurous, Christian decides to take a short-cut through over the more hilly terrain, which actually was fantastic. Despite being out of breath from walking uphill in the snow, the scenery and fresh air really did a lot to make up for the lack of athleticism. And as the story goes- '”over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go’, except it was more like as shit-ton of creeks as opposed to a single river.

I’m going to stop talking and show you what I’m talking about:

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Yeah- effing gorgeous, right?!


Check this shit out:

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Sannvannstalen II                                                   Inside Sannvannstalen I                                                      Sannvannstalen I


I know!!

Long story short, this cabin has been in the Wathne family for literally hundreds of years. At one point, I believe, they told me it was the original housing for one of the first family members. Over the years, as society and the town of Kristiansand evolved and progressed, the Wathne family moved their cluster of houses closer to the main roads, and closer together. Now-a-days, Sannvannstalen is used as a day trip retreat, or even a summertime get away. As it is briefly shown in the above middle picture of the cooking area, Sannvannstalen remains completely unmodernized- there is no electricity or running water, and there are only two main ways of heating the small cabin, both involve wood and waiting. The rooms, obviously built for a much smaller generation, left only centimeters for Christian and me; Christian, being taller, accordingly left with a more of a headache from hitting his head too much. In fact, even though I am only 5’9’’, I had to bend over to get in most of the rooms and even once in those rooms, had to occasionally tweak my neck to avoid a beam or two.

So, some more on Sannvannstalen II- it is a rebuild of a cabin that was accidentally burned down a couple generations ago. Farfar, the aforementioned bad-ass patriarch of the Wathne family, rebuilt it with a couple of his close neighbor pals and the inside is only rerally big enough for a family dinner table OR for a SLUMBER-PARTY, all depending on how many people and what kind of people head to Sannvannstalen. And I’m telling you- this cabin is legit; built by hand, all of the wood is taken from their property and one of those sturdy-ass woods that won’t rot or fall apart any time soon. The building is pretty much a life-like lincoln log cabin- but a hundred times more badass- obviously. Even the table, the benches, and a couple of the chairs are made of the very same logs that the cabin is, and anyone-ANYONE who enjoys cabins and getting away from technology would absolutely LOVE Sannvannstalen! I love it and I really actually want to hand-build a cabin now and I will not die until I do this.

Cabin aside, we spent the day the ONLY way- we made pølser [sausage] with bacon over a fire in the small kitchen (middle picture above) and chilled out (literally- the fire took a while to heat the room and Christian kept leaving the door open) in the main cabin.


The only thing we forgot were some good beers, but, lesson learned: bring beer to cabin. There, you learned two things today, just by reading this ridiculous blog!


We started hiking back and, in order to save time, we decided to walk across a frozen lake. Well, to be exact, we walked around the edge of the frozen lake because we didn’t really want to risk falling through the ice somewhere in the middle of the lake AND to reaffirm our decision, it was getting really dark and we needed to get back. So, we started off and not more than a minute after we started walking on the ice, we hear this MASSSIVEEEEEE


Now, normally when someone hears such a loud and thundering noise, they do what Christian did- and get the f8ck out of there [ true story- I’ve never seen him move so fast in his life!]. Other people myself included, stand around and look for the source of the noise. I like to think that if I were a deer, I would have ruined many a-vehicle because of my fascination with bright lights. But being that I am not a deer and I was in fact a human standing on a frozen lake, I decided to look for what scared the proverbial shit out of me. I didn’t find it (directly); however, Christian and I both agreed it kind of sounded like gun-shots, so naturally we started patting down our bodies to see if we had been shot. We looked at each other, laughed, and then proceeded to check our torsos once again. We came to the conclusion, after we had begun traversing the lake again, that it was the shifting of the ice, since during the big-boom we both felt it as well. That and in the days leading up to our trip the weather had been a little warmer and then on the day of our trip, the temperature decreased to such a dramatic point that the ice had decided to verbalize its discomfort.

Onward and over! Chip cheerio!

We kept walking until a point (now this gets ridiculous) where a small creek normally ran into the lake. If you know anything about hiking over frozen bodies of water (or the natural world even) then you know that this area was going to be one of the weakest spots on the lake. Primarily because during the warmer days, the water actually still runs under the top layer on the creek and down onto/into the lake. The effect of which is akin to cold water trickling on frozen shrimp- even though the shrimp is frozen and the water is cold, there is still enough of a temperature difference to defrost the shrimp. Christian, being the lightest of us, got over the area fine; Me, being heavier, staaaaaarted to hear some ice cracking beneath me…and then sawwwww ice cracking beneath me. Remember how I mentioned how I would fare as a deer in the headlights? Well, I’m also the dumbass who stays still on cracking ice. The worst part is that in every single movie I’ve seen with the protagonist in the SAME situation, I’m the first yelling at them to move and get the f8ck out of there! AND HERE I WAS- NOT MOVING! I’m the worst hypocrite ever because my hypocrisies end up landing me in some hot (or extremely cold) water. Fortunately, however, we discovered the thicker parts of the ice were the areas still covered in snow, so moving as quickly and lightly as I have ever moved, I snuck over to the thicker ice and was relieved to hear no more [ice] cracking.

We eventually made it back to Christian’s house safe and sound- and dry, for the most part. For the record, I never actually fell in to Sannvann (the lake we were walking on), so that was nice. The hike, in general, was a fantastic day trip and at that point, I was almost starting to regret coming in winter because I am absolutely sure that the sights I was seeing in the winter time would triple in beauty in the summer season; but I don’t regret anything on this trip, thus far. In fact, seeing as I am typing this in Boston after the fact, I am not sure if I regret anything….I guess we’ll have to see in the wrap-up post!

Mike out!

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