Tryvann Trek

September 7, 2015.  The days are getting a bit nippy, and some of the nights are downright frigid.  Clearly, autumn is just around the corner, much to my dismay.  To enjoy the last dregs of summer, Matthew and I decided to hike through Tryvann — known as “Oslo’s Winter Park, where skiers can enjoy dozens of downhill runs and cross-country trails.”  But even when there’s no snow, it’s still nice to amble along Tryvann’s pathways for postcard views of shimmering lakes and vast swathes of forest.

Built in 1931, Tryvannstua hosts visitors year-round, no matter the weather.
Built in 1931, Tryvannstua hosts visitors year-round, no matter the weather.

Matthew and I typically like to motivate our treks with a rewarding end goal, meaning one that usually involves food.  Today our target was Tryvannstua, another of the many adorable log-cabin restaurants situated seemingly in the middle of nowhere to accommodate hikers and skiers.  Dozens of trails lead to Tryvannstua, but because we got a late start, we decided to travel by train to the nearest station.  (In other words, we were weenies and whimped out, foregoing a long slog through the woods so that  we could just get straight down to the the business of filling our plates.)

We jumped off the T-bane at the Voksenkollen stop with the idea of taking a short uphill stroll to the eatery.  And we rationalized our “food first” focus by promising ourselves that we’d take a much longer hike all the way home.  But as usual, the signpost at the trailhead provided a confusing list of options.  Three different markers labeled “Tryvannstua” pointed in three completely opposite directions, each with an estimated distance that differed by less than a half kilometer.

Note the many confusing placards assigned to this post.  Suggestions, anyone?
Note the many confusing placards assigned to this post. Suggestions, anyone?

We decided to poll passing Norwegians for their recommendations, but everyone shrugged and suggested a different trail, some not even marked on the bristling signpost.  I felt a bit like I was in the middle of a Three Stooges movie, with Mo, Larry, and Curly each pointing up, down, and every which way.  We finally selected the sign sporting the shortest distance and took off down the path.

In retrospect, I wish we’d emphasized to our potential wayfinders that we were looking for the most scenic route, because the trail we’d chosen turned out to be not so very picturesque.  It looked as if a storm or some sort of blight had moved through recently, toppling or killing many of the trees so that they’d had to be chopped off right above the soil line.  Hundreds of dead stumps studded the pathway’s shoulders, giving the hillsides a scarred, logging-camp vibe.

The trees are so close that they seem to leave little room for error if a ski jumper flies off track.
The trees are so close that they seem to leave little room for error if a ski jumper flies off track.

Eventually the wasteland gave way to a more forested section that somewhat surprisingly hosted an old wooden ski jump.  The whole thing looked a bit rickety to me, but the signs made it clear that kids still use it for training.  Trees clustered around the structure, so close that they overhung the ramp itself.  I can’t imagine who’d want to take the leap and risk getting blown into the encroaching treeline and possibly skewered by a pine, though.

The trail itself continued along a steep pathway laced with gnarled tree roots that threatened to trip us with every step.  Huge stones littered the path, making it look as if it had been paved for the giants said to roam these woods.  Towering anthills and waist-high thickets of ferns gave the whole place a fairytale feel, and I could see how the atmosphere lent itself to legends of gnomes and trolls.

Around a sharp bend, we stumbled into a wildflower-studded meadow buzzing with the efforts of giant bumblebees drowsily harvesting the year’s final crop of nectar.  Snow cannons and an empty ski lift testified to the meadow’s origins as a winter ski path.  A funky 1960’s TV antenna crowned the top of the hill and provided an excellent viewing platform for the panoramic woodland vista.

Tryvannstua provides a perfect picnic spot on summer days, and a great warming house during winter.
Tryvannstua provides a perfect picnic spot on summer days, and a great warming house during winter.

A few more wrong turns, and we finally wound up skirting the edge of a pretty little lake bordered by birches and picnickers.  Tryvannstua beckoned to us from its perch atop a bluff overlooking the water, so we traipsed inside for a snack.  Kanelboller (cinnamon buns) were clearly a crowd favorite, but we opted for goulash and gulrotkake (“carrot cake” — much tastier than the awful name implies.)

The interior of the place possessed the true hygge (cosiness) that I’ve come to associate with these woodland retreats.  Candlelight, fireplaces, carved woodwork, and antique skiing gear give Tryvannstua a warm, homey touch that feels authentic and time-worn, not Disney-esque and manufactured.  According to the literature, the restaurant has its origins in a 1930s storm that downed tons of trees, which became the lumber for the cottage’s construction.  (Perhaps this explains the deadwood field we’d walked through earlier.)

After a bracing cup of coffee, we took a stroll around the building to admire its traditional sod roof, ladened with wildflowers as well as ripening grain, blueberries, and raspberries.  The path homeward took us through soggy wetlands decorated with colorful mushrooms and even more berry bushes, just as we’d hoped.  Luckily, we’d asked the kitchen staff at Tryvannstua for a spare container in case we encountered such delicacies. We managed to collect a couple of pints of berries that we made into muffins as soon as we got home — one final taste of summer before winter hits.

4 thoughts on “Tryvann Trek”

  1. You & Matthew are having some awesome adventures! I look forward to reading your posts–especially those with descriptions of the unusual yet yummy-sounding food. Do you have a recipe for the caraway drizzle you used on the root veggies last Christmas?
    Merry Christmas🎄


    1. Hi Chris! Here’s the recipe for the Roasted Root Veggies with Caraway:
      * 2 16-oz jars of whole pickled beets (or you can roast 16 oz of beets, which is what I typically do)
      * 3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
      * 1 medium fennel bulb, cut into wedges
      * 2 Tbsp. olive oil
      * 1 tsp. caraway seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle
      * 1/4 tsp. salt
      * 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
      Heat the oven to 400. Place the beets on one side of your roasting pan, and the parsnips and fennel on the other side (so they don’t turn red from the beet juice.) Drizzle all the veggies with the olive oil, then sprinkled them with the caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Stir them to spread the spices evenly, then roast them for 40-45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until they’re slightly browned and tender. Place them in a bowl and pour in the Caraway Drizzle (recipe below). Toss them until they’re well coated, then sprinkle them with a bit of sea salt when they’re done.

      Here’s the Caraway Drizzle recipe that goes with the veggies:
      * 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
      * 1 Tbsp. olive oil
      * 1/2 tsp. sugar
      * 1/4 tsp. caraway seeds crushed in a mortar and pestle
      * 1 small garlic clove, minced
      * dash of freshly ground black pepper
      Bring all of these to just boiling in a small saucepan, then pour them over the roasted veggies as described above.

      These are a great complement to herring or salmon, along with some rye bread. Enjoy!


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