Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 14

Does it show how utterly knackered I am?
Currently tucked up in my tent on a restoration area 60km from Storuman, refreshed after swimming naked in the nearby cold river. Very nice. Excited about tomorrow, when I'm finally going to cross the Arctic Circle and, if the weather permits, to see the Midnight Sun. But let's not jump too much ahead, I want to resume the last two days first. Though somewhat disappointing, they were also quite eventful. And knackerful.

The High Coast challenge
After saying goodbuy to Alice and leaving Ostersund, I went through a real ordeal to get to the Hoga Kusten (High Coast). When I scribbled the previous notes I was resting on the shore, in a hot afternoon sun, just before starting the actual High Coast trail. When I left that nice place, I hiked for about eight kilometres to the nearest settlement and slept in an open cabin. It took me 4 hours to do just 8 km. Quite worrying, considering that the original plan was to do the whole 130 km coast trail in a week. Obviously I'm still a long way from getting into proper shape after the comfy city life, but the the terrain is also fucking hard around here. Constant ups and downs, rocks, steep climbs, bogs, you name it.

I paid with a lot of sweat and sore muscles for this view.
Tired! Knackered! Exhausted!
The following day was the true ordeal, though. The first few hours on the track, dragging all my gear on the back, made me realise it wasn't going to be easy at all. Although I faced the hardest part of my walk in the morning, climbing a 240m mountain from sea level on an incredibly steep path, I was more and more frustrated as the day advanced, increasingly aware that doing the whole coast would take at least two weeks, and that my original plan had been far too ambitious. However, even more vexing was the disappointment caused by the landscape and the lack of enjoyment in the walk.

You can't imagine how hard it is to walk on that stuff.

Exhausted! Knackered! Tired!
It was a challenge, yes, but I didn't come do Sweden to walk a piece of coast as quickly as possible just for the sake of having done it, without enjoying it. Besides, the coastal trail, challenging as it was, hardly showed any coast. In fact, it wasn't anything special and most of the surroundings and vegetation were quite similar to what you'd find in my home country. If I wanted to see that, I could have just gone to my chata (cabin) outside Prague. I met two Czech guys on this walk and they disagreed, but I know better, especially after having seen Norway.

Fleeing the High Coast
After coming close to complete exhaustion by a 9-hour 15km walk through very harsh terrain, I had finally reached the tarmac road and a house. The locals were so kind to let me have a shower at their place and pitch the tent in the field behind the house (no way I was going to walk 3 more kilometres to the nearest lake). The next morning I made the decision to leave the Hoga Kusten and that part of Sweden prematurely and move on to Umea, a city about 250km further North. My first action there was to storm inside a junk food café and have a huge hamburger, greasy chips and drown it in coke. What a pleasure!

Umea is a student city and although it has very little offer in regards to architecture, there are many other views appealing the eye – young Swedish girls. If I ever revisit Sweden, I'll go to Umea. It was kind of pointless to stroll the streets alone before heading for the next point of my itinerary, but under different circumstances, I'd very much like to dedicate more time to Umea and the Umeanessess...

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