New book sends hikers into ‘marka’

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SEE  THE VIDEO: Hundreds of the most avid hikers and skiers in the Oslo area flocked to a hillside in the valley of Sørkedalen last weekend. They’d been eagerly awaiting release of the local ski association’s new Kjentmannsmerket Handbook, full of 50 new destinations, to become even better kjent (acquainted) with the great and nearby outdoors known as marka.

(Click on box above to see photos and video from the launch party last Sunday, site of one of the posts in the new book, plus images of other Kjentmann’s posts in the Norwegian woods around Oslo.)

The handbook, which is released every other year, contains photos and written descriptions of 50 new Kjentmanns‘ posts that have been set up in the hills and forests around Oslo that form marka. Its fans reflect classic local patriotism in Norway, and their compulsion to gå på tur (head outdoors and get some exercise), with a bit of competition thrown in. Those who manage to find 40 or more of the posts over the next three years qualify for a gold pin to mark the accomplishment. Those finding 25 posts can claim a silver pin and 15 posts yields a bronze pin.

That’s just part of the fun, while the main goal of the program mounted by Skiforeningen is to get folks out hiking and biking when there’s no snow, and skiing when there is, and help them become more familiar with the sights, geology, geography and history of Oslo’s main forests: Kjekstadmarka in the southwest, Vestmarka and Krokskogen in the west and northwest, Bærumsmarka and Nordmarka to the north, Romeriksåsene in the northeast, Østmarka in the east and Sørmarka in the southeast.

Hege Blichfeldt Sheriff of Skiforening led the release ceremony for the new Kjentmannsmerket Handbook, flanked at left by Ragnar Svartor of the Sørkedalen Historical Society and Kåre Haug of the Kjentmannsmerket committee. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The various marka regions form a unique and highly scenic playground of sorts for residents of all ages, with wide open nature available to everyone thanks to Norway’s state laws that ensure public access. The 50 posts set up in the forests that form a horseshoe shape around Oslo provide specific destinations and goals for hikes that involve a certain need for planning, map-reading and exertion.

New this year is the program’s first post placed on one of the islands in the Oslo Fjord that are accessible by ferry from the plaza in front of City Hall. Another relatively easy post is located on a coastal trail near the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (art museum) at Høvikodden west of Oslo.

After the official launch of the new handbook, most hikers fanned out into the woods to start finding new posts. This quiet lake called Blekkevann in the nearby hills of Bærumsmarka was selected as the site of a post at the remains of an old dam hidden in the trees to the right. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The vast majority of posts, though, are located deep in the hills and forests, some of them involving long hikes or bike rides. Several involve distances of at least 10 kilometers from the nearest parking lot or public transport stop, others are closer to trail heads. All of them are selected because of their history, geographical significance or scenic beauty. Many involve World War II history, as the sites of plane crashes, gathering and hiding spots for members of the Norwegian resistance movement, or areas where allied planes dropped weapons and other supplies for resistance fighters.

Some of the most popular posts involve some climbing but then offer panoramic views over marka, towards the fjord or the mountains to the west. Similar programs are offered by many local hiking and skiing organizations all over Norway. The new posts around Oslo will stand until September 1, 2021, when another book is expected to offer 50 more.

For more photos, visit the website devoted to folks who participate in the Kjentmannsmerket program (external link, in Norwegian).

The book, also in Norwegian but featuring photos and excerpts from trail maps showing the locations of posts, is available for sale at Skiforeningen’s offices near the Holmenkollen Ski Jump in Oslo, open weekdays from 8:30am to 3pm. For new residents of the Oslo area, it’s a great way to get to know and use the locals’ main recreation areas.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund