You see pictures of it everywhere in Norway, this shelf of a cliff which is most picturesque with a brave person set standing, sitting or laying on its edge. Possibly even head-standing. Yep, I saw a head-stander. Pulpit Rock (Priekestolen) is named for its shape as seen from below. Since that's not exactly the viewpoint most people get of the cliff, I'll just go ahead and say that the name is most appropriate because every person standing at the Pulpit gets a glimpse of heaven, feels a little godly, contemplates their mortality (if they have even the slightest fear of heights).
National Geographic Traveler reports that Pulpit Rock is the most searched image in their entire database. Lonely Planet has named it one the 1000 Ultimate Sights and, more specific, one of the world's most spectacular viewpoints. Countless backpackers have called it "awesome, man." It takes about two hours to get up to Pulpit Rock, with some steep sections and a little scrambling, but the hike's end is so iconic that you see families with toddlers, tourists with flimsy footwear and people generally not ecstatic about hiking make the trek to Pulpit Rock. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to any of those people but, hey, adventurous spirits are great! (Though, dryer weather would have been better).
Especially with a wet-and-getting-wetter terrain beneath us, we hikers weren't really making any eye contact with each other. Everyone was looking down, being careful of their footing, hopping from rock to rock and finding alternative routes across some streams that had sprung up. The trail is rocky most of the way, paths that would make my rock garden aficionado of a mother swoon. "Leave me here!" she'd most likely tell me, snapping pictures of the ground at a particularly interesting spot. There would be no need for her to travel any further... especially because she happens to be afraid of heights.
And oh the height! Pulpit Rock is 1,982 feet high. For a comparison, that's 758 feet higher than the observatory at the Empire State Building. Without windows or walls or even a guard rail between you and the drop. If you want to compare the natural and the man-made wonders a little more - Preikestolen was formed by glacial shifts approximately 10,000 years ago - as opposed to glacial egos around 80 years ago.
There was torrential rain when I first reached the summit, but the sun came out a smidge when I was only a few minutes away. So, I scrambled back up to join the other wet, but victorious hikers. We all pulled back our hoods and looked out. A communion. A group who'd hiked all the way up with enormous chess pieces sticking out of their backpacks and big sacks of water to weigh the pieces down, went to work setting up their board while a cameraman filmed. The head-stander did his head-stand and I looked over the edge. The world famous view was pretty misted over. But I was absolutely thrilled to have made it there. And then I went back down.