Day 30 – One month!
Today, I’ve been one month on the trail. Being alone most of the time, I've learned a lot this month about myself. For instance, what triggers me. If I'm tripping, falling, loosing the trail, or make any kind of mistake, I get angry. And underneath that anger, lies fear. Fear of getting lost, of falling and breaking something. I know, I'm very hard on myself. So now, instead of getting angry, I try to be understanding. Self-love is the key.
If it's shitty weather, or there are a lot of mosquitoes, I get quickly irritated. And certain sounds really grinds my gears as well. Like this bird I’ve heard on my struggle through the marshes, with the most terrifying sound, a one-note shriek... It's like listening to someone who has just learned to whistle and can only whistle one tone.
But to enjoy the moment, and to live here and now, I'm starting to get the hang of. Of course, it's harder when I'm wet and cold and miserable, but I'm so grateful for the tough days too. They have taught me to be grateful for the nice and more simple days, and have left me stronger. They have been the key to my self development.
I've also gotten more experienced. In the beginning, I was not sure if I got pull it off, but now I'm confident and in no doubt that I can. I've learned from my mistakes and experiences, but also from what other people on the trail have told me.
There's a lot of "trail gossip", which I listen to, but try not to judge until I can confirm it myself. It can be so individual, some things one finds extremely difficult, another find very easy. It also depends on the weather and conditions. Like Lionel who told me about a mountain passage and a huge river he had to cross, advising me to take an alternative route. However, when I walked there, it had been warm and dry for almost a week, so where he had to cross the river with water to his waist, I could jump from stone to stone, keeping my shoes nice and dry.
So, it’s just as much a mental journey as it is a physical one. But I've definitely gotten stronger. I can walk further everyday without spending all of my energy, I don't mind the steep mountains anymore, and the weight of the backpack... Well, that's has not gotten any easier actually.
My brother's girlfriend, Elisabeth, was on a pilgrimage herself not too long ago, and she told me something that stuck with me. She said she got used to her backpack after a week or so, that she felt the extra load kept her more grounded, more connected to the earth. I've never thought of it that way before, and I found it very encouraging.
I therefore decided to name my backpack. Let me introduce you to Mr. Skywalker. He doesn't say much, but he does everything I ask him to, except loose weight. But I love him, he's a great companion.
It's clear that it's more inhabited here further south, or at least, the trail is more popular. The trail is very well marked, there are bridges over the worst rivers and the Trekking Association has, in some places, put planks in the marshes, so I've had days with dry shoes. Not hours, but days!
I meet people on the trail and in the cabins constantly, but mostly, I’m on my own. I have to take all the decisions, even though I feel insecure, I have grown and am now more confident than ever.
… I can’t believe it’s been a month.
After saying goodbye to Marit in the morning of the 27th of July, I headed towards Dividalshytta at top speed. It was another warm day. If it was windy or not, made all the difference in the world!
I celebrated my one-month-on-the-trail-anniversary by having the most physically challenging day so far. To climb up the steep mountain under a blazing hot sun and with zero wind was just too much, man! To reach the top, was therefore extremely satisfying.
At 5pm, I reached the cabin. Sweet, sweet cabin!
Day 31 – Bacon!
I started the day with loosing the trail. It was muddy and wet, warm, humid and mosquito-y. I felt empty and tired. In other words, not a great start.
To my great relief, the wind decided to be my friend again, and we walked together all the way to the next cabin, Vuomahytta. Again, it made all the difference in the world to have the wind as my ally. It made it easy to enjoy the hike and I quikly regained my energy.
When I arrived in Vuoma, I met a family from Harstad in one of the cabins. Magnus, Norun and Torbjørn were very interested in my journey, so they questioned me while feeding me soup, mashed potato and bacon. What a feast! I was so happy I could cry. Forever thank you!
After a nice chat, the boys headed out fishing. Norun told me that there was a Swedish couple in the other cabin carrying 8kg of camera equipment. It got me curious, so I went over to talk to them.
Pia, a documentary moviemaker, and her husband Hasse were hiking the Nordkalottleden, making a documentary as they walked. While we were talking, Pia took out her camera and suddenly, I was being interviewed. Soon I’ll be a movie star for sure!
Meeting such friendly people and with a stomach full of delicious food, I was so full of energy I decided to walk to the next cabin (Gaskashytta). My hike came to an end at 11:30pm and as it was the first time since Finland I had a signal, I called my boyfriend before going to sleep. A perfect ending to a quite perfect day.
Day 32 – Up and down
Because of my long hike the day before, I decided to take a slow day. Starting only at 12pm and stopping again around 3. After a 10km walk around Altevatnet, I arrived at this beautiful bay, deprived of wind and mosquitoes.
Off with my clothes and in to the water I went. It was cold, but refreshing. I then made myself some lunch and sat in the sun while talking to my mom on the phone.
Seeing as the next cabin was 27km away, my plan was to walk on a little further, so the hike the next day wouldn’t be too long. The three hours break did me good, but for some reason, I felt agitated and annoyed. When it started raining and I had to do some river crossings I had not foreseen, I got really angry.
Admitting defeat, I put up the tent and lay there listening to the raindrops, feeling utterly miserable.
Day 33 – Down and up
Everything felt wrong! After spilling the rest of my precious water onto my socks and sleeping bag, I broke down.
I was so tired of it all. Tired of being careful rationing the food and water supply. Tired of carrying everything with me at all times. Tired of being wet. Tired of going out when you want to be inside.
The rainy day did nothing to lift my mood. Nor did the feeling of ice cold water in my shoes after the two big rivers I had to cross. To top it all, I lost the trail and found myself at the wrong mountaintop. It was not too far to get back on track, but challenging. After fighting my way back through the snow, the descent from the mountain could finally begin.
One and a half hours later, my stiff fingers could lock up the cabin and get warm again by the fire. It was an amazing feeling to sit there and feel the heat from the flames. It made me tired and after a quick meal, I went to bed.
Laying in bed (!), I thought about today’s hike. It had triggered something, and I could feel I got in contact with a much deeper sorrow than just tiredness and exhaustion. Maybe that was the reason for my agitation the previous day.
I got a few hours of sleep, then I heard someone approaching the cabin. I got up to collect my things, just in case that someone needed to dry some clothes by the fire too. And quite right. Michael from Germany was dripping wet from top to toe.
I talked to him for a few hours, ate some food and appreciating the warm and dry cabin before going to bed again. I could hardly keep my eyes open, even though it was only 8 o’ clock.
Day 34 – Unstoppable
I got up at 5:30,and was on my way by 7 o’clock. I was so excited about reaching the next cabin where I was going to collect my box of resupply. But first, I had 40km to hike.
One of the first thing I did that morning, was to hit my knee pretty badly. It made the path, with its slippery roots and steep hills, difficult to walk.
After 10km, I met the main road (E10) and I made the decision to follow it, because my intuition told me to. Close to the road I met a Finnish couple and I asked them if they knew of any gas stations close by, because I was craving chocolate. They didn’t know, but they did give me chocolate.
Walking along the road was easy, but boring. Suited me perfectly. I was now in Sweden, heading for the Norwegian boarder. And three km from the border, I see the most beautiful sign ahead: “Food and rooms”. FOOD!
My pace quickened to almost a run and soon I was sitting in a restaurant eating Caesar Salad and garlic bread with aioli. And for dessert, cinnamon bun and coffee. I was so happy I felt high.
Here was another confirmation that it pays off to follow my intuition.
After a trip to the shop located underneath the restaurant, I walked on, crossed the border, and put up the tent. Before falling asleep, I realised I had walked 36km that day.
Vokterboligen, my third checkpoint, here I come!
Day 35 – Vokterboligen
So close to my destination and eager to get there, I got so impatient. I had a decent signal, so I could call my boyfriend and talk to him while I walked. The perfect distraction.
I told him how grateful I was that we both are busy with self-development, that we can grow both separately, but also together as a couple. It makes it easy to trust in true love and I feel my love grow everyday. For Simon and everything else.
I arrived Vokterboligen at 12. It was locked and I knew that the guy with the key, Sven-Erik, was not going to be there until 3, so I took shelter in the shed, made myself a warm cup of cocoa and waited.
Sven-Erik and his wife Tove, arrived three hours later. To get out of the rain, we all went inside. After giving me information and instructions, we all sat down in the kitchen and had a nice talk over a cup of coffee.
Before they left, Tove gave me a hug and wished me luck for the rest of my journey. It was the first hug I had received since I started my trip. It meant a lot.
With classical music playing on the radio, I enjoyed my dinner in front of the fireplace. A warm shower and a sauna followed after and I could go to bed warm, dry and relaxed.
To all hikers: If you are planning to walk in the Narvik area, I warmly recommend a visit to Vokterboligen. Good standard, beautiful location and great hospitality.
Sven-Erik and Tove, thank you so much for everything.
Not only did they bring my box of resupply my mother had sent to their address, they went to the shop and bought groceries for me, AND I could spent the night in Vokterboligen for free.
I will never forget it.