My sister Hanna and I sprinted down the dirt path, with our parents lagging behind. Ahead of us was one of the many stunning mountains that line Norway’s fjords. Waterfalls spewed from its cliffs. At the top was Buerbreen glacier. We had been to Norway many times before to visit our mother’s family, but this was our first trip to the west coast. As I raced Hanna to the beginning of the trail, I was unaware of how rewarding our hike would truly be.
Giggling with excitement and anticipation, Hanna and I bounded up the rocky, sinuous trail. It brought us through a seemingly endless tunnel of bright green leaves. They created shade on the trail, which was interrupted by flickering spots of light that they could not obstruct. Eventually, the tunnel ended and instead of vibrant trees we were surrounded by enormous, smooth rocks. The sunshine greeted us with a warm embrace, and we decided to take a break. We sat down and enjoyed the brisk breeze as we munched on some crackers. Just below us was a river of rushing turquoise water, unimaginably cold. After a few minutes, we continued on our journey.
While Hanna and I were still eager to get to the top, our bodies were tired and forced us to slow our pace. Yet, now we were faced with a 15-foot rock wall. Attached to it was a thick rope that slithered down into a pile at my feet. I knew we were going to have to climb the wall, but it did not bother me. In fact, I was excited. With both hands I clutched the rope and began my ascent. When Hanna got to the top, we continued only to find another rock face. This one was embedded with metal ladder rungs, and a chain for stability. Without hesitation, we climbed it. Every time we scaled a rock wall, we were promptly met with another until we got to the top.
Finally, we had arrived at our destination: Buerbreen. It was a massive sheet of ice that filled the crevices in the mountain beneath it. Small waterfalls formed as it melted, creating even smaller streams and pools of water that cascaded down the mountainside. They collected near the bottom to form the powerful river we had admired earlier.
I took my empty water bottle and began to fill it in one of the streams. Immediately, I jerked my hand out of the water and clutched my arm. There were shooting pains travelling up and down my forearm from the ice-cold water. After I recovered and did some brief mental preparation, I dunked my bottle in once again. Hanna had just experienced the same painful situation, so together we sipped our clean, cold glacier water. It was refreshing, and it was the purest water we had ever drank.
I turned away from the glacier to appreciate the view. Two lush, green mountains framed the deep blue fjord below. As I took a deep breathe, I closed my eyes. My skin was warmed by the sun and cooled again by the wind. I opened my eyes. In that moment, I realized the incredible power of nature and was overcome with emotion. This breathtaking, pristine, and tranquil place was surely one I could never forget.
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