In 1997 I, my younger sister, my father and my mother all stayed at a cabin in Finse, a small mountain village in Hordaland county, Norway.
Only eighteen years earlier, director George Lucas had used this area to film the outdoor scenes for the ice planet Hoth, featured in the fantastic movie ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back’.
I was soon to share in some of the same icy experiences as Luke, Han Solo and Chewbacca..
We traveled to Finse from Bergen by train, and arrived at Finse Station, the station located at the highest elevation of the entire Norwegian railway system, at 1,222 metres (4,009 ft) above sea level.
The cabin was owned by the tech-company my mother worked for at the time, and was loaned out to employees. It was located quite a bit up a hill from the train-station, and its conjoined hotel.
From what I remember, everything in the cabin was outdated by at least ten years. Old radio, old furniture, a tiny old TV with one channel. That is part of the charm of cabin trips, and I bet a lot of cabins would not feature any modern luxuries at all.
I was only six at the time, so I may be wrong, but I think we stayed there for an Easter weekend. In Norway, some days of Easter are recognised as national holidays, so most people don’t work during easter. So we probably combined that with a normal weekend to have a little vacation at the end of winter.
At some point, while or before we were there, the entire cabin was snowed down.
We spent some hours digging tunnels in the snow, from outside to the window.
It was weird looking into a cabin from the tunnel I had been digging, and just as weird to see a tunnel when looking out the window.
The day we were leaving became very dramatic.
Due to the fact that this was a company cabin we had to leave it just as we found it, and I think my parents had miscalculated how long the cleanup process would take. I’m sure it did not help to have a two-year-old and a six-year-old stressing them out either.
We were starting to get worried that we were not going to catch the train on time, and we didn’t know when the next train would be leaving.
The weather had also become increasingly worse, and Finse was now in the middle of a snowstorm.
I remember struggling down the hill, with icy wind and snow whipping up at us. The only way we knew the direction, was to go down the hill, as the snow obscured our vision beyond a few meters ahead.
My father had taken my sister down to the hotel by pulling her on a small sledge down the hill. On the way down, she had complained that she could barely breathe, due to the wind and cold.
After leaving her in the care of the receptionists, he hurried back up to help me and my mother down.
I don’t know how dramatic this whole event actually was, but to my six-year-old head, this was all very exiting and scary.
And the perils were only heightened by the time pressure!
The train turned out to be extremely late..