JOE day 1
Wake up call at 6.30am after a difficult night of sleep was a bit hard, but we had 2h to pack up and have breakfast before starting, so enough time to wake up. Our first stop is at the Lundhags factory and outlet. Here, a handful of employees are still producing and repairing boots and we are shown around (and I am not able to resist a big discount they offer us to buy the pants I love since yesterday after wearing it just one day).
After another stop at a supermarket for fresh food and chocolate we finally arrive around 12.30pm at the start of our trail.
Now we divide up into our four groups who all start separately. Our two chosen leaders for today take us a different route to an existing trail – which will prove to be the best decision!
The sky is a bit cloudy and it’s around 12 degrees Celsius, summer in Sweden 😉 My backpack weighs about 19kg, not the weight I am used to carry! The boots are not yet a perfect fit but the next days are for testing and not about making plenty of kilometers so it should be fine! It’s going uphill and with my cold I can’t breath very well or maybe I am already unfit after 3 months without hiking! But the forest is beautiful and the scenery absolutely different again from what I’ve seen so far in my life!
When we get up a bit higher we find blueberries to pick and later even cloud-berries, orange coloured berries looking like a tiny cloud! The taste is quite unique but hard to describe.
Around 2.30pm we take our lunch break at the river and learn from Eva and Pål who are our today’s leaders about Woolpower. Quite an amazing company, they still produce everything in Sweden and add the name of the person who was sewing the garment on a label. After lunch we continue slowly our way up, above the treeline into the sky getting real cloudy now with some little rain.
I see the first reindeers but they are too fast and then too far away for a picture! We now follow the river all the time to end at a lake where we will camp tonight and meet again the others. In between another short stop and at 6pm we arrive at the campsite. First setting up the group tent, then ours, a smaller but still big enough tent for us! I walk around a little, taking pics and water from the stream.
Then we all gather in the group tent to cook, sheltered from the rain that has now set in. It’s nice and cozy inside, it’s really nice to learn more about Sweden and the Sami people. But at 9pm we are all tired already, leaving for our own tents for some well needed rest in my case. My headache I got since the afternoon is only worse now and I hope it’ll be gone tomorrow!
JOE day 2
Finally a good night of sleep, luckily I slept at 9pm as we are woken up at 6.40am. For a 9am start!? Well, in a group you actually can take your time for breakfast, sorting the new gear (not everything has its own place yet in my backpack), packing up the (again wet) tent and changing it for the one we will have tonight. Yeah, tonight it’s a single tent. First a “clinic” on Lundhags and their products. Then we are off, in between the two lakes with a first river crossing. Easy for me after all the rivers in New Zealand, but also very much doable for everyone else.
With the boots from Lundhags my feet actually stay dry – which wouldn’t have been the case with all other boots I had so far! Then up the hill into the white clouds. We are still hiking off-trail, navigation with map and compass but luckily it’s not me yet who needs to lead the navigation! We get off trail and it’s only good that Johan and Eva from Lundhags are checking and sending us back on track.
It’s uphill but the pace is easy and nice so it’s not very challenging. Shortly after the highest point the sun comes out again and we decide to have lunch. It’s just before 12pm but breakfast was a long time ago. Just when we sit down it starts to rain – quick, let’s set up the team tent. Great to have a break shielded from the elements, it’s around 7 degrees Celsius and very windy plus the occasional showers.
After the break downhill, downhill, downhill into wetland towards the river. For the next real river crossing. Quite a big river this time with the water up to over the knees. I put on my sandals, with my cold I am a bit afraid to test the Lundhags method: remove socks and insoles, walk through the water with the boots on, remove the water at the other side and put back on insoles and socks, after an hour change into dry socks and everything is dry (it actually worked for those who did try!).
The crossing is quite nice, it reminds me of New Zealand! I wish I head these boots over there, they are still dry even after all the wetland!
Today we see the other 3 groups every now and then. We are now again bushbashing up to the trail, where we now see also other hikers.
Another break and then only 4 more kilometers to the campsite, all the way along a trail now. Easy.
It’s about 5pm and after setting up the tents I head for the river to wash myself and my hair, then trying to dry everything, dinner, talking, sleeping.