ROUTE AND STRATEGY
OUR IDEA OF A CLEAN THRU-HIKE
GENERAL NPL INFO
Norge på langs (NPL) means "The length of Norway". The goal is to get from Lindesnes, the southernmost point of Norway, to Norkapp in the very north. Or vice versa. There is just one rule. You must move only using your own power. The route is totally up to you. You can bike, you can hike, you can paddle, you can ski... Or you can run. Details about project HERE
Most people hike NPL with heavy backpacks for many months between spring and autumn. They mostly use a combination of asphalt roads and mountain trails. In the hardest part of Norway many people turn to easier terrain in Sweden and Finnland. Average length of classic NPL thru-hike is around 2600 - 2700 km, depending on which way you choose.
Only 2 people ran it. Both took it as a sport challenge, so they ran the shortest possible way and almost completely avoided running through wild nature. It was about 2550 km on busy asphalt roads.
OUR WAY OF NPL
Petr dreams about doing the historically first pure trail run through the wilderness of Norway. The idea is to connect the most interesting and various parts of Norway into one logical, clean, hard and absolutely stunning trail.
Clean trail means "to stay off the asphalt roads" as much as possible. Ideally just to cross them. In Norway, this is very hard. At the same time, he wants to create a trail, which will be repeated by many people in the future. So it must be not only hard and cool, but also fun and logical. So in special occasions, going very short stretch on asphalt road is OK. For example using a bridge, if you don't want to swim or fly across a few biggest rivers in populated valleys, which you must just cross on your way north.
Petr thinks he could keep the asphalt under 1% during the whole 3000 km trip.
Read important details about our ROUTE RULES AND ETHICS
Estimated length of this ideal clean Norge på langs variant is 3000 km.
Best case scenario would be to run about 50 km per day = 60 days. However... It won't be real every day. It sounds nice on the paper, but reality it is sometimes much more difficult.
We are in Scandinavia, far in the north. Our route often leads through vast pathless wilderness. In some parts Petr will have to find a way through the labyrinths of steep rock walls, thick forests, deep fjords, glaciers, wild rivers, wetlands etc. In such parts, it is succes if you "run" 1 km per hour, no matter how strong you are. On good trails in some famous national parks like Hardangervidda, you can be quite fast and do up to 90 km in one day.
Wading streams and rivers is a very frequent part of finding your own way across Norway...
TWO HARDEST PARTS AND STAYING IN NORWAY
Finding "the nicest route" was a very long mind-blowing thinking process. Petr has spent countless nights studying many different kinds of maps, articles, videos etc. He also spent many years researching possibilities straight in the terrain in many parts of Norway and he walked or ran about 40% of his ideal trail. Connecting these parts in one single long push will be an extreme adventure.
Each part of this route is generally very physically demanding itself. And then there are 2 extremely difficult wild parts without any trails, which most NPL thru-hikers partly or completely avoid. And instead use asphalt roads, a ferry boat or Sweden.
1) MYSTERIOUS SOUTHERN JUNGLE
The first extreme part is paradoxly the first 180 km in the very south of Norway, right from the first kilometer. That's because there are no connected marked trails in southern Norway and the landscape is very tough there.
Despite being totally in the south, the terrain "off the roads" is much harder here than in most much higher mountains more in the north. It is mainly very unpleasant yet cool green bushy jungle full of thorns, rocky hills, wetlands, tussocks, ticks and mosquitos.
Again. There is no nice obvious continuous trail in the south! Not even continuous logical line of gravel or forest roads. That is probably why 99% of the NPL thru-hikers walk the first 120 km either largely or simply all the way on the asphalt roads.
I talk about the starting section from Lindesnes lighthouse to Ljosland in magic Setesdalheiene (Setesdal highlands) where the OK marked trails start. On the road it is only 120 easy and fast, but boring kilometres. If you go "our way" (through the jungle), you cover about 185 very hard, slow and painful kilometres, which cost you energetically much more than 300 km on the asphalt. And feel so much more unpleasant, you will be scratched, burned, biten like never before. I really mean it. Especially the the first 30 km from the Lindesnes lighthouse to Jåsund bridge are maybe the most extreme kilometres of the whole NPL in terms on "unpleasantness" ;-)
But you see true hidden gems like nowhere else.
Some people even totally skip the first harsh long mountain range Setesdalheiene and bike the first 310 km all the way to the start of Hardangervidda plateau, and start walking NPL on really good and well marked trails with a dense chain of mountain cabins.
What is so nice about NPL is that any combination is "legal" and fine, unless you use your own power. Everybody has it's own style, and each succesful and fair crossing of NPL deserves respect, even if you only walk on the road or bike the hardest parts. It is all about how you feel it...
But we feel it is a big pity to skip so much beauty. Southernmost part Norway hides many truly unique, forgotten and atmospheric, sometimes even scary places. Places where time has stopped long time ago and you feel totally alone there. But again, you must REALLY BE READY to get super scratched, eaten alive, burned and wet just to get there ;-)
Petr dedicated a lot of energy to finding a hard but truly fantastic natural way without asphalt roads straight from the Lindesnes lighthouse.
During 26 days in the summer 2021 he, supported by Radka, ran 1253 km across the whole southern and central part of Norway, including the highest peaks. He started through the wilderness right from the first metres. We dare to say that his path, especially the first week before hitting the marked trails in Ljosland, was the hardest and most natural "NPL start" ever. Honestly, sometimes it was pure masochism...
But the clean, logical and super beautiful "unmarked path" from Lindesnes peninsula to Ljosland in Setesdal Heiene (where good marked trails start) is established. Now "just" to connect it with the rest 2800 kilometres...
2) NORWEGIAN YOSEMITE
Another huge challenge, beside staying off the roads, is to stay only on Norwegian soil. Sounds obvious, but it is NOT! Not if you want to stay off of the roads and civilization. Why? It is hard to describe in a few sentences, but it is a really complex problem. I will write a standalone article just about it a bit later. So just shortly now...
Norway is a very long country, but in one part, it's really narrow. The narrowest part between the fjord and the Swedish border is only 6 km wide. This part is really special.
We are talking about approximately 200 km long coastal mountains behind the Arctic circle between the towns Fauske and Sulitjelma in the south and Narvik in the north. In the east, this area is marked by the artificial and very straight border with Sweden, which you can't cross, if you want to do clean NPL. West border is natural and very curvy, created by bizarre coastal landscape. Enormous rock faces (higher than El Capitan in Yosemites) fall straight to the deep fjords, creating countless bays and peninsulas, which you can't cross, it is absolutely impossible here.
In between, it's a untouched land of steep walls, canyons, glaciers and also glacier rivers flowing to Sweden which you can't wade. Big parts are covered by snow the whole year. Far from any roads, mobile phone signal and fast rescue.
A seriously difficult, harsh and deserted stone heart of Lappland/Sápmi. Or as I call it - Norwegian Yosemite.