What does modern storytelling entail? It appears we've long since passed a time in which words play a greater role than photos. The root of this is the much talked about decline in attention span, and the concurrent increased demand for instantaneous and a constant stream of new content.
The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is commonly misunderstood, and often unjustly validates this display of images rather than words. A picture can be worth a thousand words, but it does not necessarily. Just as a fishing rod can catch a thousand fish, or a flint stone can start a thousand fires, a picture can only portray a thousand words with the know-how and with the context.
As this blog lay dormant, using Instagram as my primary form of storytelling during my trip necessitated an approach that could greater interweave the narrative into a venue that is rooted in imagery. Captions are of course effective, but seem isolated. Thus, to create a true narrative, I found important a way to not only unify the photos, but to give legitimacy to the written word. By starting each caption with DAY X //, each photo became part of a whole, each day its own chapter, all with their own anecdote that somehow adds up to one wild adventure.
To reprise that method of storytelling, and establish a link between the further developed blog and the instantaneous Instagram, each blog post for the trip directly pulls titles from Instagram posts of the similar day. Not only do they begin with DAY x //, but the title itself comes directly from an Instagram post...
Day 2 // Noresbund to Geilo // 87 miles // 11700 feet elevation gain
The second day of any bike or backpacking trip is often the most difficult. The body realizes by the end of the day that its going to go through continuous efforts day after day, and the weight of travel starts to sink in.
This trip exemplified that pattern, especially with a very difficult route for the day. Like the previous day we started under grey, wet skies, though this time we left town in about ten seconds. We immediately took a wrong turn, taking us up a 1,000 feet climb that was wholly unnecessary. It was like getting in a street fight on the way to the boxing ring, unnecessary damage to the legs before a long day ahead.
We descended down the climb and got on the proper route, which went straight back up again, this time higher. As the road started to break past tree level (it went that high) we were offered stunning views of the lakes below and mountains all around.
I'm used to French and Italian mountain roads where you go up one side then descend the other into a valley; up, down, valley, repeat. This cannot be said for Norway, where at the top of this climb, like many, we got on a gravel road that ambled through the mountains for miles before descending.
The road was stunning, and let us know that the gravel on the previous day was no fluke. It snaked and weaved, climbed and bombed down, surrounded by trees and a thousand peaks.
The next forty miles were a perfect repetition. We descended out of the dirt, into a valley, up a hill and onto a gravel road. What was shocking though was that one valley over was totally different. This second valley had roaring waterfalls, sheep crossing everywhere, and craggy mountains almost like the Flatirons in Boulder or the Dolomites in Italy. Unlike Boulder and Italy however, the houses up in these mountain all had gorgeous foliage growing on their roofs for insulation.
We came out of the gravel on a gorgeous descent overlooking a green hillside and lush lake below. It was about three pm already, we needed lunch and were only halfway. The town at the bottom had no food, nor did the next. The third town had food, and a major hill to get to it.
It was the beginning of the end for Sam. We had at least 40 miles and 5000 ft to go, and he was toast. But a good picnic can go a long way, and we got over the first post lunch climb easily, a series of tight switchbacks leading up to an enormous damn. By then the sky had darkened with clouds and we were worried about rainfall. Sam, totally cracked went slower and slower, imploring us to call for the sag wagon. No way!
The next big climb out of the damn did him in. We mistakenly chose to not stop for pastries with 25 miles to go, and in ten miles dad and I got twenty minutes ahead. We were both pretty knackered, but the rolling hills made for fast going, and the lakeside views through the trees were enough to make us want to see around every bend.
Mom ended up rescuing Sam, fortunate for dad and I who raided the car of any and all food to get us into town. We still had fifteen miles and at least two big hills go. Before the last hill, I pulled out the remnants of lunch from my jersey pocket and ate plain salami slices, warmed from my body heat. Disgusting but desperation for salt, and any type of energy made me salivate in desire.
For 80 miles we hadn't had a single straight stretch of road for more than a few hundred meters. All of a sudden this last climb didn't move one meter to either side. It was an ominous end to the day, climbing directly straight to nowhere. There was respite, no escape from the burn of pedaling the bag-laden bike up another damn hill. And then it was flat. There wasn't even a breeze up top, just a serene pond and a few houses. The descent into town was the opposite of the climb, perfect turns, good gradient, smooth pavement to hit the fastest speed possible on the bike. The rush made us forget our hunger, forget our destroyed legs, nearly forget how cold we were. We had made it to the mountains.