It’s the evening rush hour, and busy city dwellers are scurrying past us on their way home. We drive for five minutes up Grefsenkollveien, heading out of the urban jungle. We turn right along Akebakkeskogen, and almost immediately we’re ready to begin our journey of discovery in the forests around Oslo. Ina Vikøren, her dog Lukas, and her newly adopted 10-week-old puppy Ailo, head eagerly towards the snow-covered forest trail.
– Many people think it’s stressful to get outdoors after work, but for me being outdoors is medicine. It helps relieve the stress of a hectic everyday life, says Ina.
A micro-adventure is when you go on a journey of discovery in your own ‘neighbourhood’. It requires you to try new destinations and preferably to go a little way off the beaten track.
Lots of people who have to work during the school winter break will still want to enjoy a little more time with their children. This makes it important to lower your threshold to make it easy to spend time outdoors.
– Outdoor recreation can be anything from several days in the mountains to an afternoon in the woods behind your house, Ina says.
No need to leave the city for a winter break
With her “20 within 20” concept, Ina plans to complete 20 different adventures, all within 20 kilometres of Oslo. She will record her experiences by blogging on turjenter.no and the Norwegian Trekking Association ut.no website. To start with, Ina will be accompanied by friends who are familiar with the terrain, but during the spring she hopes to be joined by other people interested in outdoor recreation.
– We had our first adventure in the Maridalen Alps on Saturday. It was completely different from starting at the bottom of a mountain, which is what I’m used to. I didn’t realise that we’d completed a ski tour, because the terrain was so varied and undulating, she says.
Ina says that she has a lot learn about the Maridalen terrain, and she’s eager to return there soon.
Out on a micro-adventure in Oslo
Ina always has a backpack ready. As long as she has a spade, a map, extra clothing and provisions, a micro-adventure is never more than a few minutes away.
– A micro-adventure is when you go on a journey of discovery in your own ‘neighbourhood’. It forces you to try new destinations and preferably to go a little way off the beaten track. It’s about exploring and having fun, she says.
She is convinced that these kinds of micro-adventures can be amazing experiences for children.
– Awaken their taste for adventure in places like the forests to the north and east of Oslo. This is an easy area for families with small children, as the terrain is flat and there are lots of cool huts and Norwegian Trekking Association cabins, she says.
- Also read: This family wants a car-free life in Oslo
Caring about nature
The snow comes up to our knees as we trudge through the untrodden terrain. Ina carries Ailo in her arms, while Lukas masters the terrain like a professional.
– There’s supposed to be a gapahuk [a traditional lean-to camping shelter] somewhere around here, she says.
In the distance, we see a blue tarpaulin and something that resembles a gapahuk. When we get there, it looks a rather dismal. Suddenly Lukas spots something and he runs off in pursuit. We trudge after him and see a large gapahuk just beneath the cliff we’re standing on. Ina slithers down with Ailo in her arms.
– Yes! This is more like it! she says happily, and immediately starts to light a fire.
The adventure tourism paradox
Ina is passionately committed to protecting the environment. She is a former downhill ski racer who is still an active skier with a fondness for trying slightly more extreme variations, such as speedflying.
– People who are into outdoor recreation often play a part in destroying nature by travelling so much. We call it the adventure tourism paradox. That’s why I almost never travel by plane, she says.
As a result, she is interested in possibilities nearby. One of her next adventures will be a tour-skating trip with an overnight stay at the other end of the lake. She loves camping, and recommends sleeping under the stars in winter.
– The winter darkness is completely unique, and it gives me a kind of Eskimo sensation, she says.
As long as you have your equipment in order, being outdoors is just as easy as at other times of the year. Here are Ina’s tips for sleeping outdoors in winter:
- Have a good winter sleeping bag.
- Sleep on an inflatable mat to lift you off the cold ground.
- Boil some water on the fire and sleep with a hotwater bottle.
- Wear wool on all your extremities – head, hands and feet.
- Have your camping stove and coffee mug ready just by your sleeping bag, to ease the transition from cosy sleeping bag to chilly winter air.
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Taking a winter break-staycation?
A staycation (a portmanteau word that combines “stay” and “vacation”) is a holiday where you stay at home. It’s easy, cheap, relaxing and eco-friendly. Almost a third of Norway’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from transport, and the number of flights we take has risen sharply since 1990.
Line Tveiten from ByKuben – Oslo Centre for Urban Ecology is also eager for people to discover the world by holidaying in their own city.
– Oslo is a fantastic city and has so much to offer. You can go to museums, as they stay open during the winter break, go cross-country skiing in the forests, and much more, she ways.
Back to reality
We turn back towards the floodlit ski trail. It feels as though we’ve been far off the beaten track, but in just a few minutes we’re back at the parking area. Ailo is asleep in Ina’s arms, worn out by so many new impressions.
– Pretty much anyone can manage this hike, says Ina, looking down at the snoring puppy.
The gapahuk is only 15-20 minutes’ walk from the parking area. Trams 11 and 12 stop nearby, at Dr. Smiths vei. Go on a quest for the gapahuk with friends of all ages during the winter break, but don’t forget your map and compass!
– Mobile phones die in cold weather, so don’t rely on GPS, advises Ina.
Ina’s tips for winter break activities
- An overnight tour-skating trip with a night under the stars at the far end of the lake.
- Spend a night in a hammock at one of the majestic viewpoints over the city.
- A cabin-to-cabin adventure on cross-country skis.
- A couple of ski tours in the Maridalen Alps.
- Freeride skiing at Varingskollen, Vettakollen, Ekeberg or Tryvann.
- Ski touring and powder hunting by headlamp.
This story was first published in Norwegian in February, 2018
- The City of Oslo has developed and adopted the Oslo Climate and Energy Strategy, which is in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
- The target is to reduce the city’s CO2 emissions by 95 per cent by 2030, compared to the 1990 level.
- The strategy is backed up by an annual Climate Budget, integrated in the city’s annual financial budget.