Wild at heart: Norwegian gives up home comforts for a cave

When the US philosopher Henry David

Thoreau took his year out to live off the

land in 1845, he lamented the swift rise of

modern communications, writing in Walden

of "pretty toys, which distract our attention

from serious things". To him, that meant

the newly invented telegraph machine; his

21st-century counterpart has smartphones

and the avalanche of social media to

contend with.

Ida Beate Loken, a 19-year-old Norwegian

student, has been living in a cave at the foot

of a mountain since last May, sleeping on a

bed of straw and sheepskin and collecting

rainwater to wash with and drink. Sitting

on a rock surveying a landscape bathed in

sunshine, Ms Loken does not look like she

misses the daily demands of Twitter,

Instagram and shopping malls.

"It does something completely different to

you than waking up in a bed, when you

don't want to get up and go to school," she

says in a video made by the local newspaper

Firda. "But waking up for a climb through

the scree is quite fun – you get a completely

different hiking experience and respect for

nature, and experience different birdsongs

around you."

Ms Loken was inspired to change her

lifestyle by a boyfriend who had previously

occupied her cave. She concedes that living

outside by choice is "pretty weird in the

society we live in now", but was still

shocked by the most common question

people ask when they find out about her

unusual abode: "Most people just wonder

how I charge my phone – I think that is

excellent proof of the society we live in and

how incredibly dependent we are on the

luxuries around us."

It's no paradise: the ceiling tends to crumble

away in her hands, a stray cat ate her

butter, and when it rains she has a slippery

and cold climb home after a day's studying

at the Sogn Agriculture School in Aurland

municipality. But she has no plans to

abandon her home under a boulder.

"Home is where your rump rests," she says,

quoting Pumbaa from The Lion King. Being

19, she takes her cue from Disney rather

than Thoreau, but her description of

eschewing consumerism for a life in the

great outdoors could easily have come from

his pages. "It's all about the gadgets we

own," she says. "I have found that I don't

even use half the things I own. I sent a car-

load of things home. And then another.

Even then, I found that I didn't use all the

remaining things."

But she is not entirely cut off from modern

technology. Ms Loken is a member of

Norway's Green Party, and needs some way

to communicate her message. While

Thoreau published Walden, Ms Loken has

Facebook, posting updates on issues such as

recycling and sustainable land use. She also

has worried relatives to placate, especially

after her mother saw the precarious

scramble over moss-covered rocks she has

to make each day. "She made me promise to

send her a text each night saying I'm alive,"

Ms Loken says, though quite how she keeps

her phone battery charged remains a



Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku

I am a Ghanaian Broadcast Journalist/Writer who has an interest in General News, Sports, Entertainment, Health, Lifestyle and many more.

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