VIKING HIKING by Tyr Neilsen

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Like their ancestors, modern Norwegians love to go hiking out in nature. Some of them like to hike with the best modern equipment money can buy, some with just the bare essentials, and others like me go hiking with Viking gear.

Only by living as a Viking is it possible to understand how it was to be a Viking. Before such big tasks like learning how to hunt or fight as a Viking, the first step, literally, is to start walking in nature as a Viking. By stripping modern equipment down to the essentials, with no electronic gear whatsoever, or making your own clothes and equipment as a Viking had to, you can experience a little of how it was to live as a Viking. By hiking out in nature this way in winter, spring, summer or fall, you can get to understand pretty quickly what Vikings had to deal with.

 Hiking over frozen lake in buskerud

Hiking over frozen lake in buskerud

With no roads, no fresh cut grass, and no quick fixes, a walk becomes a hike. You have to work to walk in long grass, deep snow, and to scramble over rocky areas. Scrambling is the term used for getting up steep terrain by having to use hands as well as feet, and this is something you have to do when out in wild nature.

Hiking out in the Norwegian nature with hand made shoes, clothes and equipment is just part of the experience. Seeing raw nature up close and a panoramic view of the scenery from the top of hills and mountains is something else, as is sleeping under the stars. Once you are out in this powerful nature, preparing food and cooking meals over an open fire is not a chore, it's an experience that you can live on for years.

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Hiking out in nature is a great way to improve your physical health. The muscles used for hiking in nature improves your balance and stability, and helps against knee and hip overuse injuries that can result from walking or running on level-ground . Walking and hiking are radically different forms of exercise. Your joints, heart and muscles work in different ways whilst hiking, compared with walking. Hiking out in nature recruits and strengthens different muscles, such as hips, knees and ankles, that you don't normally use when walking on flat, man-made surfaces. Passive dynamics is the name for walking on a level surface, and thanks to gravitational and kinetic energy, your walking stride keeps you moving with little effort. It's like the swing of a pendulum swinging back and forth without any additional energy input. But when you hike on uneven terrain, as you have to do out in nature, your heart rate and metabolic rate go up, you use a lot of energy and you burn more calories. 

Hiking out in nature, is also an easy and immediate way to improve your mood. The idea that nature helps our mental state goes back over a thousand years. The sights, sounds and smells of nature calm activity in a part of the brain that research has linked to mental illness. Hiking in nature reduces stress and negative, self-focused patterns of thought linked with anxiety and depression. Simply walking out in nature decreases negative mood and increases positive humor. 

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Our ancestors hiked in nature because they had to. We do it because we want to. Whether with modern equipment, or with hand made equipment, the results are always beneficial.  No matter what season, whether there is snow in the mountains, or the flowers are in full bloom,  whether you take a popular marked trail or an untamed unmarked trail, the mythical landscapes of Norway are worth a visit. Hiking in rugged nature, surrounded by fresh air, water, trees and plants, is a powerful experience, you shouldn't miss.

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