The rain bucketed down last night, and I was a bit worried my ultralight tent wouldn’t withstand the torrential downpour but I made it through the night and actually slept like a baby. The plan for today was to do a half day (25km) to Kvikkjokk where there is a hostel with a shower and elk on the menu. After cheesy grits, powdered eggs and coffee cooked in my sleeping bag, I got moving around 7am
It was misty but rain free for most of the day and I started with a nice climb up to the side of a rocky peak of Goabddabakte and then a long walk across the highlands, passing no one except for two tents in the first 10km
I ran in to the lovely David, a swede, on the descent down to the river at Tsielekjakkstugan. We had a good discussion on trail etiquette and confirmed that kiwi trail rules match Swedish trail rules, but we shouldn’t expect the English or Germans to follow the norms. He was off to Ammarnas but gave me a great tip about a side trail to Skierffe to see the delta which I will definitely do!
Taking a decided leisurely approach today I popped into the emergency shelter to make a coffee and have a snack out of the wind and met the lovely Johan from France (a proper globalista with South Korean origins and America citizenship). I made him a cup of tea (as he had no stove) and we had a wide ranging discussion about life, career and happiness.
From the shelter it was only another 12k to mallenjarka where you can call the boatman for a ride to Kvikkjokk as there is no trail. It was a rough rocky and rooty trail to rival some of the roughest kiwi paths with one tough deep stream crossing. I fell over hard twice and have a great bruise on my arm (slippery rocks 2:Mel 0).
I can’t complain though as I met the hardcore Veronica on her way up the steep hill with her mountain bike! She is doing some very long trail which goes for thousands of kms, and she said some sections had been tricky – I have no doubt!. I was impressed!
So it was meant to be a 20 minute ride to Kvikkjokk but I was still in the boat 3.5 hours later. Bjorn invited me to stay in the boat to go for a tour up to the entry of Sareks national park as he needed to drop some people off up there. I asked how long it would be as I was keen for food and a shower, and he said 40 minutes. I remembered how well things had played out for me recently when I went with the flow, so ignored my hunger and said yes
So we picked up Stefan and Alex (brother and sister from Germany) and Paco, Aman, Pepo and Duke (friends and son from the Canaries) and headed up river. Bjorn decided to give us an extra special tour so we visited the lagoon, stopped to pick berries and even sung happy birthday to Paco for his 51st.
After dropping them off we stopped for more berries and then Bjorn persuaded me I needed to go for a proper Swedish swim in the lake. So off we went! It was f’ing freezing, but actually surprisingly refreshing when we got out, and something I never thought I would do
Then we headed back to town where I met his partner Helena and checked out her amazing paintings (www.helenaadolfsson.se) and then he walked me to the hostel! What an amazing and totally unexpected afternoon!
I rounded out the day with more gossiping with my roommates Maya and Tova, and then an astounding huge dinner of salad, elk steak, and rhubarb tart. Bjorn and Helena also joined us for a drink at dinner
Am loving the friendliness of the swedes and it is amazing how nice it is to actually interact with humans after a few days of solitude
Distance traveled 25km from Barkavaratj to Kvikkjokk