Kungsleden 2016: Heading Home

20th & 21st August 2016

It’s an odd mixture of feelings this morning as I pack down my tent. I’m definitely excited to be heading home and seeing the family. I’ve always known that I like my own company and being ‘on my tod’ for these two weeks has been great. But yes I’m definitely excited to see the family.
On the other hand this has been such an enjoyable adventure that after two weeks on the road, my legs feel great and I feel like I could walk for days and days.

Packing down for the last time ... on this trip at least!
Packing down for the last time … on this trip at least!

Packing away is slow. I’m once again packing for ‘flight mode’ with poles and non-cabin items in the main pack and a dry bag for hand luggage. I’m also making sure that everything is bone dry so that the damp doesn’t fester and so it doesn’t weigh too much on the flight. Tent and sleeping bags draped over the trees. Coffee brewing. I’m in no rush.

Once packed away I take a brisk walk down to the local supermarket for gifts and nibbles. I’m surprised that a large supermarket is not really any cheaper than the smaller cabins out on the trail.

Back at the Fjallstation I slip into the restaurant and once again, for 110 SEK indulge in the buffet. I’ve had little breakfast and just have a few snacks for the train this evening so I make the most of the excellent spread. The food is not only plentiful but delicious.

Back in the foyer I bump into John and Janna. It’s good to see them again and we exchange tales of the routes we have taken. They have had a great few days walk although didn’t quite make the full circuit they had planned and took a diversion as an alternative. They also have ‘news’ that they are engaged to be married. Its very exciting and so great to see them enjoying each others company and working so well together. I had wondered whether John might have that little trick up his sleeve. It explains why his rucksack was so heavy … all those diamonds!!!
Congratulations guys … very exciting!

We wait ...
We wait …
And off we go ...
And off we go …

By 2pm I’m heading for the train station and standing on the platform with a gaggle of fellow walkers. The train rolls in on time and I’m soon gliding through the Swedish countryside. I doze on and off before pulling down my bunk and drifting off to the gentle rhythmic rolling of the train.

Gliding through the Swedish countryside in the early hours of the morning.
Gliding through the Swedish countryside in the early hours of the morning.

My alarm awakes me early next morning and I slip down to the buffet car for a coffee and cake. I chat at length with the Dutch family and before long the train pulls in at Stockholm Arlanda. I’ve a few hours to wait so fight my way through the packed departure lounge and slip upstairs onto the observation deck where it is almost deserted. A few chapters of my book later and I’m boarding the Norwegian Air flight. Landing in Gatwick I’m pleased to see my rucksack and head for the exit. My family are there waiting and it’s exciting to see their smiling faces and hear about the adventures they’ve been having.
I’m home!

 

Kungsleden 2016: Day 14

19th August 2016
8:35am – 11:55am 14km

The mosquitos, though present, were not too plentiful this morning. Nonetheless I was eager to get to Abisko so ate breakfast whilst I packed.
Once on the trail the kilometres sped by. The trail was as easy they come.

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After just over an hour I passed a Dutch couple with their daughter whom I had chatted with the previous night. Exchanging a few pleasantries I realised that I had been in my own little world, drifting along, hardly noticing the beauty around me. The soaring mountains. The roaring river. I realised that although this was not as spectacular as some of the sights I had otherwise seen, but it was still a privilege to be here. I began to notice a change in the verdant greenery of the forest. Some of the trees were starting to lose some of their colour and tinges of golden orange were appearing. In only a week or two this place would be entering its autumnal stage. Another good reason to return one day – as if a reason were needed!!

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The end of the trail appeared more quickly than I had imagined. Over the last couple of weeks I had honed my skills at estimating my progress and predicting when I would arrive at a destination. The terrain, my pace and how hard I was walking would give me a good sense of whether I was covering three or maybe four kilometres per hour. On this smooth heavy-trodden mud surface with a slight downhill gradient and plentiful board-walk, even my steady rhythmic plod meant that I had averaged nearly five kilometres per hour.

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It felt great to be at the location where I would tomorrow be whisked off, back to my family. I knew that I would remember this place fondly in weeks and years to come.

Setting up my tent once more for the last time on this trip was, um, ‘less than wonderful’. I’m being diplomatic of course! The pitch was stoney and my tough titanium tent pegs broke up the ground. After the privacy of camping on a mountain side, this felt like a tent metropolis. Still, it’s a bed for the night.

Having learnt about the Swedish menu system I eschewed the showers in favour of some roll-on deodorant and headed straight for the restaurant. As before there were a few options for the evening meal but there was also an afternoon buffet. For a very affordable 110 SEK (£10) I loaded a plate with a delicious fish casserole, new potatoes and salad. Not wanting to be rude I enquired whether a second helping was ‘the done thing’. I was reassured that, yes, that’s the idea of the buffet. Great! Up I went for a second helping! With hot drinks being part of the deal I washed it all down with three mugs of coffee. Delicious!

The afternoon soon drifted by with the necessities of organising my tent, having a sauna and shower, and checking clothes which were drying in the “Torkrum”. After the outstanding lunch I did not feel too hungry so nibbled some Krosnobrod and cheese for tea. I’ve not felt any particular cravings over the last two weeks but suddenly had an overwhelming desire for fruit so grabbed a banana and a berry smoothie.
Tomorrow the plan is relaxed. Pack up. Wander in to Abisko town for a few essentials. Another buffet lunch to fill up for the journey home and then catch the night train.

Collapsing into a Fjallstation armchair I delved into my book and sipped my way through a splendid Sigtuna organic beer. At £7 a bottle it’ll just be the one tonight! Outside the rain clouds are gathering. Dark, menacing and a little apocalyptic. The wind herds the rain around the other side of the lake and off into the distance. The open fire crackles in the corner. What a great way to finish my last night on the trail!

The end of the trail.
The end of the trail. A great place to finish with a great many memories.