Valerie’s Story of WalkingWomen’s first trip to Arctic Norway February 2024

Would we see the Northern Lights?

Norway

Or would we find something else?

This was the very first WalkingWomen trip to the Arctic . It all started on a holiday a year before. Women starting talking about the northern lights and we all started researching what was the best time to see them. The coldest,darkest time of the year seemed to be the best bet where there is little moon. “Ok’ let’s do it!

12 intrepid women set off to Arctic Norway to seek them out..

We travelled across Norway from Oslo to Tromso – flying over the icy,snowy lands was stunning. We took a ferry across the sea to an isolated hamlet called Mefjord Brygge – our home for 4 days. Our home to settle in and look up – to experience the true nature of the Arctic and live amongst a tiny colony by the sea. We went on snow shoes, we walked and we took a snow shoe safari. Every woman up to explore.

and one courageous woman on her first WalkingWomen holiday shared her experience… thank you Valerie.

I’m a lucky woman.  I was gifted this trip from a friend who knows and understands me better than most. She knew how much I would thrive in a winter trip, and chose this one for us to do together based on her previous WalkingWomen experience.

I had no idea what to expect.  Whatever vague expectation I had, wasn’t what I found.  I was intimidated and anxious. I’m a former ultramarathoner who got injured badly during the pandemic and life went downhill in many ways.  So I worried.  Would I let Maggie down?  Would I keep people back?  What if I couldn’t keep up, or do the hiking, or make the required mileage?

As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one who was less than maximum physical. I cannot express enough how it felt to just be in the snow, in the cold, to breathe the clean, crisp air. To let the white of the snow all around soothe my eyes and my spirit.  That would have been enough.  But I had opportunities to join others, to explore on my own, and the best of all, exploring solo, then joining up with others – by happenstance or at designated times – for sharing, conversation, memory making.

I didn’t ever, not once, feel compared, or judged, or less than.

I don’t know what these kinds of tours are supposed to feel like but I was worried that all the women would devolve into cliques and less than nice behavior, because we all know what women have as reputations.  I should have known better.  I felt accepted as I was, the schedule was flexible that I got to do the arctic dip and there was time for it – for me, even as the only person doing it that day. I got the feeling of an extended girls’ weekend where our WalkingWomen guides and hosts decided to invite some random friends to go on this trip.  And then they took care of the tricky logistics and we figured out some stuff along the way.

There was something for everyone.  Walking, hiking.  Snowshoes.  Sauna and hot tub. Boat rides.  Afternoon cocoa – or more interesting libations.  Even just hanging out on the back deck on the fjord in the snow.  Water!!  Arctic circle water sports!  Then museums, restaurants, cable car and drinks, cafes.  Small town and bigger city, still navigable and walkable.

I really liked the combination of alone (or not alone but do as you wish) time and group activity time.  For me it was perfectly balanced.

And the food.  Amazing. For the very first time I ate both halibut and salmon and liked it.  Normally they are what I consider fishy and I never will eat them.  Save the shellfish and tuna and grouper for me.  But this fish was incredible.

And as the trip came to end Valerie wrote …

I’m having trouble finding the words I want to use to express how I’m feeling right now… I feel like at the end of summer camp when I was a kid.  I have learned so much, you are all so wise and have so many diverse and really cool skills and interests and talents… this was my first tour vacation, my first vacation with all/only women, I truly had no idea what to expect and even though I didn’t do All The Things, I’m so grateful for your acceptance, everyone, not letting me feel too much like I didn’t belong or deserve to be with you; and Ginny and Ellen, I so appreciate your capability to accommodate and meet me where I am currently at.  Safe journeys and may our paths cross again one day, by design or circumstance.

 

 


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