Kungsleden 2016: Day 1

6th August 2016
Walking 8:30am – 6pm / 24km

Dozing for a couple of hours I listen at one point to a few drops of rain. Fortunately it doesn’t amount to anything. I’m not opening my tent yet. I’m reluctant to face the mosquitos, and damp boots. On the plus side, having knocked back 15km yesterday I could do just 5 today to meet my minimum, but it makes sense to cover some more ground to account for what I hear will be some heavy rain around Tuesday. Here goes …

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Ready for the off!

Putting damp boots on is never great but this morning they are not too wet and soon warm up. I pack down my tent, eat some breakfast and join the Swedish couple as we make a 30 minute trek down through the woods and out onto a small beach on the side of a lake.
Andreas had phoned ahead to book a boat which was just as well. I hadn’t realised that this was necessary here. in my research the only lakes I had seen have a white bucket on a flag pole. When you hoike the bucket up, they know to come and get you. At this lake the trip across is a good 6km and the landing site is out of view in another bay. As we speed across the lake it feels good and the weather looks hopeful for a great day. The cost for the trip was 300SEK (£25).

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The first few kilometres plunge us back into the forest. Surprisingly the mosquitos are few and far between. The ‘going’ is generally good, and although a little damp under foot it’s rarely a quagmire.  The boots feel great. Shoulders a little sore maybe. On the whole, a modicum of hard work but certainly enjoyable.

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We start to talk about lunch and decide that this should be at the momentous point of crossing the arctic circle. We stumble across a board upon which we can just distinguish the words “Polecirkeln”. That’ll be it then!

The arctic circle. Time for lunch .
The arctic circle. Time for lunch .

This first 80km stretch to Kvikjokk doesn’t pass any civilisation so I have 5 days worth of food to see me through. I don’t intend to carry so much further up the trail as there will be huts with supplies. I pull out a packet of mackerel in a honey and bbq sauce. Food in the outdoors always tastes great but this is even better as it’s again reducing my pack weight and what’s more, this was a bargain at a knock down price of only 58p. I’ve got four more of these for the next few days.

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Spot the lego man and butterfly!

Over lunch a snap a couple of photos the butterfly and lego man which Noah snuck into my bag before I left home. I’ll email these to them later and see if they can find them in the picture.

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We plod on, crossing the occasional river and eventually break out of the forest and make our way up the lower slopes of a hill. We will be climbing from about 440m to 1000m in this next stretch.

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The sun is shining and the wind is a welcome breeze to keep me cool. I fall into a natural rhythm. My legs and feet feel fresh and I pick up pace. Striding along I leave Andreas and Ida behind for a while and make good time to the top.

Andreas and Edda
Andreas and Ida – good company!

The view is ever changing and becoming more scenic as I rise. Gone are the trees where you can only see a few meters in front. This is a view that stretches for miles and miles.
I’m quite aware that in the UK you would look out at such a view in the knowledge that there are houses and transport links dotted through it. Not so here. What you can see is just forest, lakes and mountains. The only thing living in them are animals, the odd reindeer herder and a few hikers.

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Oh and the odd lego man!!

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This is a perfect walk. The weather. The views. Feeling strong. Feet not sore. Arms a little aching but nothing to ‘write home about’. All in all perfect.
Andreas and Ida catch up and as we descend the other side there are Reindeer scattered across the hill. They look at us in a puzzled and slightly skittish way. As soon as we draw closer they dart off.

Reindeers
Reindeers!

Our camp site is nestled reasonably high up in a secluded rocky out crop. A tent with a young couple is already there and another young lady arrives whose mother bizarrely lives just outside Cheltenham. The ‘young couple’ turn out to be John and Janna who I later bump in to on a number of occasions.
I erect my tent in double quick time. The control freak in me relishing the order and structure of the unpacking operation. On the menu tonight is chicken tikka masala with extra rice. It’s one of Britains favourite dishes, and right now it tastes a whole lot better than ever up here in the mountains.

What is the collective noun for tents ... A gaggle?
Like minded hikers – not so many on this section of the trail!

Dinner done, I take a wander to capture some photos of the long shadows as the sun descends. With the clear blue skies it may not get as dark tonight, though if I go by last night, I’ll sleep through whatever.

Fresh water!
Fresh water is never far away.

A heritage Sami reindeer herders hut.

A heritage Sami reindeer herders hut.

A shot fit for the Berghaus catalogue!
A shot fit for the Berghaus catalogue!
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