Delete all the “what if’s“ once in a lifetime and embark on a great hiking adventure: Simon Michalowicz dared and did just that – he actually lived his big dream and hiked from Cape Lindesnes through all of Norway to the North Cape. Sitting at the desk and looking out the window instead of doing your actual work — a lot of the days in Simon’s office looked like this. Just thinking about adventure had become more important than the excel sheets on the screen in front of him. Could there be more to life than just sitting in the office?

Simon had long ago lost his satisfaction with his job, everyday life was monotonous and the longing to just get up and drop out of it all grew from day to day. Revenues at the company where he worked were also not as good as they had been in previous years. He increasingly became mentally detached from his job, employment relations were inevitably coming to an end. This end eventually manifested itself in a meeting room, so that immediately after this final conversation with his boss, Simon cleared his desk and never returned to the company and his job again. The best decision ever.

But let’s start from the beginning. In previous years, Simon’s wish to explore the world on foot and with a trekking backpack on his back had grown stronger and stronger. After the first hesitant attempts at long-distance hiking on the doorstep in the Sauerland, he did long hikes in Ireland and Scotland, and finally in Norway, where Simon fell madly in love with the Norwegian Friluftsliv.

The First Hike

The beginning of Simon’s outdoor life started not far from his home in Iserlohn in Westphalia, more precisely a good hour by train in an area called the Sauerland — a low mountain range with countless densely forested smaller mountains that tower up to a height of 850 meters. A crazy idea while having some beers resulted in Simon’s first hiking tour with his buddy Micha for several days. The newly established and 150 km long Rothaarsteig was very popular at the time, and that aroused the curiosity of the two new hikers. There were some things left over from previous bike and motorbike tours on the equipment shelf. Everything seeming suitable was packed, so that the backpacks quickly cracked the 20 kg mark. This way, their tour resembled an expedition right from the start.

And thus the two of them set off together with their huge backpacks, and with every meter on the trail their enthusiasm for long-distance hiking grew. Naturally the packs were incredibly heavy, the equipment was perhaps not quite ideal and the numerous meters in altitude made for a hard trip, but the joy of adventure and the numerous positive experiences and encounters in and with nature were great and, especially for Simon, a kind of eye opener – why hadn’t he started spending his free time and vacations with a backpack on his back and hiking boots on his feet much earlier?

After the first tour on the Rothaarsteig, it showed that long-distance hiking had found a permanent place in Simon’s heart from now on. And since he had had a soft spot for the north and Scandinavia for a long time, it quickly became clear where the next trips would take him. First he went to Ireland and Scotland and with every tour the enthusiasm for being outdoors got stronger. Simon got increasingly busy with researching new equipment, new tours and adventures.

The Dream of the North

Inevitably, at some point, the far north, especially Norway, came into focus. The reports that Simon read about tours there and the pictures he saw of them immediately captivated him. It was what he was always looking for!

The first steps in the Norwegian mountains were still unfamiliar, the weather was unpredictable and the backpack was even heavier than expected. But little by little, with every step and every day, Simon felt more comfortable: here in Norway, he had found exactly what he was looking for on long-distance hikes! This first hike through the autumnal Hardangervidda awakened a longing and passion in Simon that has not left him to this day.

When roaming through the wide mountains, the rough nature and the sometimes quite harsh weather around him, Simon feels more comfortable than almost anywhere else. Here you can prove yourself and challenge yourself, especially when you are alone out there.

Numerous other hikes in Norway followed, until it finally came to the said conversation with the boss in the meeting room. From then on it was clear what was to come. From a friend, Simon had heard about Norge på langs — or Norway lengthwise in English. Said friend had set out to hike this traditional Norwegian hiking tour in sections from the local German Ruhr area all the way up to the North Cape.

But the real idea is to cross Norway lengthwise. The classic route, if one can speak of a classic route at all, is to hike from Cape Lindesnes to the North Cape — a distance of about 2500 to 3000 kilometers. But it’s just an idea and not a marked trail like the PCT in the USA or a trail with certain points that you have to stop at. An idea that everyone can realize as they like. Some also start in Halden south of Oslo and hike as far as Grense Jakobselv, and still others go as far as Kinnarodden at the northernmost mainland point in Norway – there are endless variations on hiking this tour – and that’s what immediately fascinated Simon.

The Big Adventure

When he cleared his desk and left the office once and for all, it was clear to him that he wanted to go on exactly this hike and take a chance on this really big adventure. The fascinating experiences in the Norwegian Friluftsliv had manifested this desire in him, there was no turning back now. The planning phase started and Simon worked his way deeper and deeper into the topic. Since this tour was basically only known in Norway, it meant working through loads of internet blogs and websites in order to get closer and closer to his very personal trip. After a five-week long test hike in Norway, the decision was made: Simon would really take on this great challenge.

And so it happened that Simon set out at Cape Lindesnes at the end of May, always following the compass north into the unknown. The start was difficult, much more difficult and emotional than expected. It took a long time before he really found himself on his tour. To motivate yourself every day, to face challenges of any kind every day and to set off again every day with a heavy backpack on your back – all of that was incredibly difficult for a long time – because now it was no longer a simple holiday, now it has become daily life to keep walking out in the mountains in all sorts of conditions and weather, taking one step at a time.

At some point, however, well after the tour started, Simon realized that this hike was the best thing he had ever done, even if it often felt very different. He was able to do exactly what means most to him every day, he was able to be in the rugged nature of Norway, every day for months at a time. Who can say they spend their time doing what matters most to them? Step by step, day by day and month by month, he just kept going north and Simon slowly became one with the tour he was on.

But also, with every day that he went further north, he realized that he would eventually arrive at the North Cape, and then what? Before he started hiking, he had quit his job and his apartment, not knowing what would happen afterwards. A great void loomed on the horizon for the time after the hike. Simon felt a strange melancholy as he turned onto the home stretch of his hike. While the tour was a huge, almost impossible challenge at the beginning, it was now his life to be out and about in the Norwegian mountains, to feel the elements with the good feeling of really being able to reach the goal. But was the goal still worth striving for? Or hadn’t he found much more along the way?

The Goal

At some point the inevitable happened, Simon reached his goal, the North Cape. He was on the road from the end of May to mid-October and now he was at the northernmost point of his journey. Only the North Sea to the horizon, as far as his eyes could see. He had reached his goal, but his real journey had only started then, at the point he had been working towards for over two years from the idea to the planning to the actual tour.

This trip changed everything for Simon. There will only be the life before and the life after the tour for him. At home, his mind has kept wandering since then, Simon keeps losing himself in the longing for the simple life on tour. It’s so easy to leave the weight of everyday life behind when you’re on the go. Because it is only important to have a good time, a good place for the night and something to eat. It is not important when you have to pay your bills, when the garbage is collected or whether you have to go grocery shopping. On the road you live with what you have in your backpack. There is no such thing as an overstuffed wardrobe or an endless selection in the supermarket. Only what you can carry and what you need for your tour.

Your own well-being on tour is broken down to the essential needs, and this reduction then brings infinite freedom because you don’t constantly spend your time and energy making decisions about your choice of clothes or food. Simon was never as happy as on this long hike, and this relaxed state of mind being on the move is so fulfilling for him, that he has since returned to the north on shorter and longer hikes in summer and winter, throwing the weight of everyday life overboard and just traveling with what he can carry. And then Simon submerges himself in the mountains, the rough nature of the north, where he feels better than almost anywhere else!