Kungsleden 2016: Day 2

7th August 2016
8:15am – 7:45pm. 29km. 

I awoke a few times in the night and each time the tent was as bright as the other.
3am seemed no different to 10pm. It wasn’t too bright to get back to sleep, but just left you wondering what the time was. Although the sun drops below the horizon it never really gets properly dark.

I pack down my camp and hit the trail at 8:15am. Andreas and Ida are just getting up and are planning to leave around 9am. They are pleasant company but it’s nice to have some time alone.

The trail drops quickly off the side of the hill and into the forest. Unlike the first day the forest floor is dry and despite the roots and rocks I manage to get a good pace on. At times the now familiar boardwalks appear and I strut across with my poles outstretched like a confident tight-rope walker.

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The trial is winding its way around back of a lake and I’m in my own world. I’m wondering whether the sound of two feet and two poles could sound like a reindeer. Is there a chance of a being sprung by a bear? At that moment I hear a loud hiss. I jump to one side and there is a long black snake with russet brown triangles running down its flank. Although I’ve never seen one, I’m pretty certain this is an adder. As I snap some photos it continues to hiss at me and slithers its way round and under a rock.

Adder.
Adder.

I carry on picking my way along the path. At the end of lake are two bridges and under both are cascading torrents of water, flowing out into the lake. I stop at both for a while and take in this beautiful and powerful sight.

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The trail steadily rises and the combined levels of sun and exertion slow my progress a little. I stop for water regularly to keep hydrated. The streams are crystal clear and the purity of the water means you can drink freely without having to purify first.

I catch up with a couple (John and Janna) who were camped in the same location last night. They had left at around 7:15am but had made slower progress on account of their larger packs. They are doing the full length of the trail and have freeze dried their own food for each day. It’s impressive to see the way a chicken korma looks without any water. Just add hot water and leave in a thermos for 30mins and you have a meal. This does however mean that they are carrying around 12 days worth of food. At the start, Johns pack weighed a colossal 38kg! It’s a little lighter now but they will refill at Kvikkjokk where they have a pre-posted package waiting.

I take my lunch of BBQ Honey Mackerel in the forest whilst being chased by mosquitos. Dangling my feet in a mountain stream feels so refreshing. I get bitten on each ankle by a mosquito so that little pleasure is short lived.

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Not long after, the trail breaks out of the forest and onto the lower slopes of a mountain. The contours of the map are deceptive and it takes me a while to realise that the trail is going to crest a sharp ridge. I had been walking hard to get to what I thought was the top but as is often the case, the top is further. The last pull up almost wipes me out. It’s not helped by the fact that I had just run out of water. Nevertheless I make it to the top and over to what I can see is a second ridge behind.

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Looking forward … The trail crests the ridge to the right side.
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Looking backward … Exhilarating to see how far you’ve walked (even if the trail is hidden in the trees).

I’m not sure if it’s the altitude, latitude or just a turn in the weather but it suddenly feels a lot colder than earlier. I don a fleece to keep off the chill. It’s the first time I’ve sensed the arctic nature of this wilderness through the temperature. It’s true that temperature does change so rapidly in the mountains.

The trail runs down a gully between the two ridges and I find a bridge which had earlier elude my search. I had considered staying here and this would indeed make a great stop. At 4:15pm it is however a little early to stop and given the next few kilometres are all downhill I decide to mooch on to the next water source and look for a spot there.

As I near a lake with a steam, I can see that being slightly off the trail it looks like it’s surrounded by bog. I meet a Spanish guy and we exchange tips on what the trail is like ahead and possible places to stay. He mentions that the weather forecast is due to get quite wet tonight and in to tomorrow. It’s a no brainier – I have some legs left and it’s all down hill to the next river where there is an STF log cabin.

The trail heads down a gully off the back of the ridge. Half way down I feel hungry so I sling my rucksack down by a burbling mountain stream and heat up a chilli con-carne for my evening meal.

Al fresco dining
Al fresco dining

 

Within the hour I’m back on the trail. It’s a great feeling when your legs feel strong and you’ve completed your allotted mileage for the day. I could have slung my tent down anywhere that took my fancy.

As I plod on I notice that I’m, how should we say, quite ‘windy’. It occurs to be that I’ve not been to ‘the facilities’ for a couple of days. I consider the special lightweight toilet trowel in my backpack and wonder when I will need it and quite how it is best to dig a hole for these ablutions. It was a well timed thought for within a moment I had advanced to the legs-crossed gotta-find-a-loo double quick feeling. I’ll leave the details but everything went to plan – that’s another ‘first’ for me! Back on the trail it feels good to be a little lighter!

I notice Cloudberries are growing off the trail and pause to pick a few. I had learnt from Andreas that the ripe ones are orange in colour and to avoid the red ones. The flavour is quite unique and certainly not as sweet as other berries. A hint of potato would be my closest explanation!

Cloudberries. Ripe when orange.
Cloudberries. Ripe when orange.

I reach the STF hut. It’s a small wooden affair with a single room encompassing two sleeping platforms that might take two at a squeeze, a small table, a log burner and an emergency line to the police. In the corner is a makeshift bin. It is overflowing, despite the instruction that waste is to be carried out. Outside and a few meters away is a ‘long drop’. If I had known this was here I would have waited as I was less than 0.5km away when I had needed the loo. That said I might not have lasted that long anyhow!

A quick scan of all the notices and I see that this hut is 100 SEK for a night for STF members. It seems rather steep for such primitive lodgings and I’ve not yet bought my membership. John and Janna turn up and we agree that it would be more comfortable to camp for the night down by the bridge which we will have to cross tomorrow anyway.

Riverside pitch
Riverside pitch

It’s been a long but good day.
With my tent pitched and contents sorted I’m soon in bed and off to sleep.

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