Because some people of our class already planned on going to Tromso that week and were planning to do their self-organized trip there – our group formed because we were the “left overs”. Which was really nice because some new people, which I hadn’t spent that much time with before were now in our group. So a group of seven people, three tents and two cars had to self-organize a winter field trip of at least three days and two nights in a row outside.
First of all we were all researching where we could go or what we would like to see. Pretty soon Trolltunga was on our minds. Everyone was obsessed by the impressive rock and it’s basically a must see for every tourist in Norway. So we started planning on a trip hiking or skiing in the Hardangervidda nasjonalpark and visiting Trolltunga. We spent some time on working out a whole plan with tracks, directions, coordinates and sleeping spots with maps from kartverket.no. But checking the weather forecast and snow depths on yr.no was not really promising. Loads of back and forth and different opinions on the conditions. But in the end we had to admit to the rather bad conditions and find a solution – suitable for all seven.
Everybody got back on researching and investigating, agreeing on a better weather forecast in the east. We found a really nice area around a lake called Nestvatn between in the Vestfold og Telemark close to Agder. Again we got maps from kartverkert.no and planned a four day trip around the lake following the summer hiking path first and then the winter loipe. Having three sleeping spots in the tents always close to an emergency hut for the worst case. This time we had different opinions on the actual snow depth – some of the group were pretty sure we had to ski – others were doubting it and thought we could maybe hike. In the end we agreed on taking the skis with us – because that’s what yr.no said as well. So off we go …
… starting with some troubles on the first day already: after a stop one of the cars was not starting and did not make any engine noises either. Luckily the Norwegians are a very nice folk and we found someone to help pretty fast. But because it was already 5 o’clock in the afternoon and the car would not be fixed within the dawn – we decided to put up the tent up straight next to the car on the field of the farmer who helped us. The car got fixed by a troll man with magic hands, our tents were set up and the evening ended up with a nice bonfire and bbq in the snow. With the hope the worst was already over we started the next day early to drive another hour to the starting point of our planned trip. We parked the cars, waxed our skis and grabbed our bags ready to finally start. But the luck wasn’t ours … After 10 meters and us trying to conquer the first little hill realising that we are actually failing. Bad wet snow, no klister on our skis and too heavy bags were challenging our balance and we ended up face forward in the snow. We all agreed that our plan doing 40-50km on skis with those conditions will not work out if we already fail in walking a few meters or rather just balancing on skis. Time for a new plan! Solution: walking back to the cars and drive a little further to the prepared ski track to actually be able to move for some kilometres. On the loipe it was much more easier to move forward.
What group dynamic processes did you observe ?
A group of seven people with different characteristics and experiences in mountains/hiking/touring/weather makes planning very hard. In addition no one of us had any previous experiences with snow and conditions in February in Norway.
We had for sure different roles in the group: Social orientated, task orientated, safety/sceptical, optimist, planer and team player.
Because of the already mentioned troubles/fails some people – especially the planers and task orientated – were annoyed and down pretty fast because our plan did not work out. With their attitude they would have gone further or tried even harder but at the same time we had some safety and sceptical roles in our group as well who were the complete opposite. Those roles were for sure linked with knowledge as well. Because those who have the knowledge and experience would try harder and would not quit just because it didn’t worked out straight from the beginning. So there were two groups facing each other … good that there were some team players and an optimist as well … to be the bridge in between.
At the same time I realized that even though each of us had different goals/feelings/… we knew that this was a group task and that we should find a solution with which everyone is fine with – and we did.
After two rainy nights in the tents and some moving on skis, wet clothes, tents and bags and a kind of completed task we thought it would be the best idea to get a cabin or Airbnb nearby the coast for the rest of the week for some hiking and especially to cheer some people up again or keep the mood up. Our cosy little troll hut turned out to be the best for our whole group dynamic. Because there was literally not much space – the squeezing ended up with massaging circles, cuddling and lots of bed talks and you could literally feel and see how everyone got really close.
What have been the learning outcome from this trip ?
No one can control the weather and you can’t do anything about the weather. But the weather can control the mood of a group completely. So just because wet snow, rain and a grey sky was so much more down compared to the warmer days at the coast with sun.
For me it was still a really nice trip and because I am trying to get the best out of every situation my mood did not change much even though we had some troubles. I had no expectations and no goals to achieve.