21 March 2013

what we love about winter: DNT cabin trips

Norway is awesome for many reasons, but right now it's the most awesome for it's trekking association, Den Norsk Turistforeningen (DNT).  As members of this organization, we can get a key to any DNT cabins and stay at the cabins in Oslomarka (Oslo forest) for free! We've been hearing about DNT for a while now, but we just never got around to paying 300 NOK for the membership.  Finally, last week we decided it would be fun to stay at a cabin in the woods, so we bought our membership. It's already been worth it.  This past weekend we took a little trip to a cabin in the Østmarka, called Bøvelstad.  Here's the story of our cabin trip adventure:
We left Thursday afternoon with our friend Jana (more friends would be joining us later).  Unfortunately, between our directions and some advice from a Norwegian man we met, we got a bit confused and had to walk nearly 2 hours.  The forests in Oslo are more geared towards skiers than walkers, so we assumed we'd be skiing to our cabin- this walking business was not so fun.  We were quite discouraged, hungry and cold when we came upon another DNT cabin called Øvresaga.  We figured that we still had at least a few kilometers to Bøvelstad (our intended cabin) and we might have to walk, which could take a while.  Øvresaga was empty, so we gladly made ourselves at home and spent the night there.  It was a wise choice.  We started a fire, lit some candles, fetched water from the stream, cooked dinner, drank tea, played games and finally, went to bed right in from of the fire.  Even though it wasn't our final destination, it was cozy and relaxing.

Most of the DNT cabins don't have electricity, but they are well equipped with everything you need except for food.  It's about as rustic as a cabin trip can be, but still quite cozy.  The cabins have bunk beds with pillows and blankets, although you are advised to bring your own sheet or sleeping bag.  The cabins have wood for the fire, pots, pans, matches, candles, outhouses with toilet paper... well equipped, I tell you.  
We set off on Friday morning for Bøvelstad, but due to our bad directions we ended up walking through the woods in knee deep snow for 1.5 hours.  Finally we wound our way down to the lake (frozen over, of course) and skied in what we thought was the right direction.  Off in the distance we saw a cabin!  As we got closer, we saw a second cabin, which turned out to be Bøvelstad.  We were overjoyed.  It was quite frustrating that our directions didn't lead us to the skiing trails and we didn't have a good map with us.  (Lesson learned.  We've already planned better for our next cabin trip- we have clear directions and a detailed map.)  

We were expecting four friends to meet us at the cabin on Friday evening, so we spent most of Friday afternoon worrying that they would also get lost.  After warming up the cabin, we finally made dinner without our friends.  Josh and Jana had to break a layer of ice off the well before drawing up some water. Just as we were starting to play some games after dinner, Jana went outside and saw lights on the lake.  People were coming!  As they got closer Jana could tell they were speaking German (our expected friends are German) and we excitedly called out to them.  Sure enough, it was our friends!  They were not nearly as excited as we were because they had no problem getting to the cabin.  Thankfully they had gotten better directions and had a map. Whew. Crisis adverted. We made a second dinner for the new comers and played games, ate chocolate and had a merry time.
The next morning three of our friends had to get back to the "real world" for studying and ski jump competition watching. The four of us left (Josh, Jana, Tabea and me) had a nice long breakfast, took a ski trip and ate lunch at a nice, sunny restaurant cabin. We ate soup for dinner, played more games, ate more chocolate and had our own little trivia game.  (Norwegians seem to LOVE trivia games.  I've done more trivia here than in the rest of my life combined.)  The weekend was full of relaxing and enjoying the simplicity of life in the woods. Also, some skiing across long, beautiful, silent lakes.  Bøvelstad is kind of remote; it's tucked away on a lake a few kilometers from other houses and areas where people ski a lot.  It was a bit eery to ski from our cabin out into the more populated areas.  I felt like we could be lost and no one would know.
Josh became a skiing paparazzi, which is pretty awesome.  I like his handiwork. 
The four of us left on Sunday morning after a pancake breakfast and a cabin clean-up.  We had a smooth trek back to the bus stop- we skied whole way (minus 800 meters of walking) and did not get lost!  It was really cool to see another part of Oslo and to get away from the normal pace of life.  I loved the candle light and sitting by the fire.  I loved seeing so many stars on my way to the outhouse.  I loved walking on the lake exploring the crazy ice cracks.  I loved sharing meals with friends.
I loved crawling into bed at night (just like on all camping/backpacking/ski trips) because it just feels so well deserved. Do you know that feeling?
Well, we loved our first DNT cabin experience so much that we're going back to the woods this weekend!  Josh will spend Thursday night in a cabin called Tømtehytte and I will join him on Friday afternoon.  We realized last weekend that there aren't many places in the world where we can simply ski to a cabin in the forest and stay the night.  It's a pretty rare gem that we will miss a lot next winter.  We intend to plan several hiking trips to DNT cabins this spring!

Have you gone on a cabin trip before?  I'd love to hear your stories! 


  1. i LOVE those pink pants!!! i am a firm believer in bright colors at all times, but especially in the winter :) i loved seeing yellow coats amidst all the black ones when i was on the east coast.
    all this skiing and adventuring sounds so fun!

  2. Haha. Those pink pants are actually my long underware worn on top of my running pants. It was super cold, so I needed to layer up! Skiing is SO fun. Have you done it?


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