day 15. hot chocolate – melted, and atop a mountain.

As I start shivering when the heat’s not turned on, and as the blue sky loses its strength to push through the rain clouds, I know that winter has really arrived… So I made hot chocolate tonight!

The introduction of hot chocolate powder, much like many other food-inventions, brought people convenience at the cost of great taste, unfortunately… So I stirred as the chunks of solid dark chocolate melted into almond milk over the stove top, my mind wandered off to the last time I made hot chocolate the old fashioned way:

It was atop a mountain in the Norwegian alps, it was shortly past midnight, and it was enjoyed along with the sunrise.

The time was mid-late summer, and the sun was still never-setting in the northern part of Norway. Having just come back from Knivskjellodden, our sleep schedule was completely off as we haven’t properly slept in days, and we decided to carry on the new tradition that has only been developed on this trip – starting our hike late in the evening (we started at 9pm this time). We were now in the mountains close to Svensby, and the sun was just about to dip below the horizon when we got to about 500m (1,640 ft) above sea level after roughly 3 hours of trekking and scrambling.

We were surrounded by mountain peaks that arise directly from the sea, some with lakes in between them, and some with glaciers decorating the top. The bodies of water were now slowly turning mysteriously dark, as the skyline burns with powerfully-bright orange and red clouds. We watched as it all dimmed down little by little, and we felt our eyelids getting heavier and heavier. “The sun is not going to be coming up for at least an hour,” that was useful information, as we had just experienced the midnight sun by the Barents Sea just two days prior, “let’s take a nap then.” Although it wasn’t easy trying to find a cozy spot that is shielded from the wind on an exposed slope, we managed to squeeze ourselves in between two larger pieces of rocks, and shut our eyes for a little while, ignoring the discomfort.

Ever felt like you were waking up in a dream? The sky was now purple with the softest touch of pink, and the water was blue with a tint of gray. All the clouds that were burning so passionately earlier seem to have dissolved into thin air, and replaced by only the lightest traces of smoky cloud-dust. Everything was so subtle, and so harmonious. I gently shook my friend to wake him up, and we sat there in silence, transfixed.

We were still a little bit shy of reaching our desired height, so we set out to climb up a bit farther. Our original goal was to reach the glacier, but as we came before a steep gravel drop separating the ridge and the snow-peak, where one mis-step would lead us back down to sea level, and not necessarily alive, we decided we would be content with just this highest point on our current ridge.

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We sat back down; this time, roughly another 100m higher than before. The sky was now gradually getting brighter, quietly chasing away that layer of gray. It was then I realized that we were facing northeast, as a few rays of sunshine reached over one of the snowcaps just off to the right. It was so perfect that it seemed as if I was not only in a dream, but also a painting, with the most metaphorical motif of light.

The sun kept on rising, but no longer in sight – gray clouds started rolling back in, even as the sky continued to get brighter. It was now 2am, we had one more thing to do before heading back down the mountain — make hot chocolate! That’s right, we juggled water, propane, burner, pot, and a block of Lindt chocolate in our hands as we climbed up the rocks, and it was so worth it! We stirred the water with a spork as it heated up and melted the chocolate; we were like little kids on Christmas morning, anticipating hands-down the best hot chocolate ever:

2 o’clock in the morning, 600m (1,968 ft) above the sea, surrounded by glaciers, mountain peaks, and lakes & ocean — just the two of us, and our freshly melted pot of hot chocolate.

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