Kungsleden day 9 – enforced rest

Given the vagaries of the boat and bus schedules I can’t actually start hiking today until about 3pm. I am in saltuluokta, where the Kungsleden breaks and then restarts about 70k away, which requires a ferry over the lake followed by a two hour bus ride.  And the ferry does not leave until noon

So I used the free time to get some calories in.  Again, I had an amusing breakfast experience with some surprised swedes wondering how I could eat two bowls of muesli, three eggs, and pretty much a whole loaf of warm bread with marmalade!   Actually it was pretty easy, washed down with four cups of coffee.  

I stocked up with some outrageously expensive chocolate in the shop and also gave in to the Swedish tradition and bought some proper long pants as have been warned it might get even colder.  It will be the first time ever hiking in trousers – even in the Alps in the snow I was in shorts – but hopefully I won’t get another case of the shakes if I can stay warm

And then I hung out in front of the log fire eating cookies and drinking coffee until the ferry came.  In true Swedish egalitarian tradition the boat was driven by two young women.  I arrived early so helped them unload about a tonne of heavy boxes, and was impressed that they both had knives strapped to their pants!  

Off the boat and onto the bus.  I was on the bus for ten minutes, then had an hour stopover before the next bus, which takes 35 minutes to get to my destination.  Oh well, had a chocolate brownie and a cup of tea

I finally left vakkatovare at 3pm in the drizzle and it was a nice uphill climb to warm me up!   While it was cloudy it was stunningly beautiful, with amazing views from the ‘balds’ as these high plains are called in Swedish.   

The wind picked up on the balds and the clouds closed in and I relished having warm legs in my new long pants.  When my fingers went numb I tried a new practice of putting all my layers on including my down jacket under my waterproofs.  Normally I save some clothes for when I stop moving but that didn’t work out so well yesterday.   After a while I could feel my fingers again 🙂

After a lovely wander over the balds, it was down to teusajaure lake which looks like the Milford sound or a Norwegian fjord.   I raised the flag to let the hut warden on the other side know I wanted a motorboat pick up as it was too windy to row and he came over straight away (even though the sign said he wouldn’t come for an hour).  

When he told me the temperature was four degrees I decided to go luxurious and pay the extra 20 euros to sleep in the hut rather than pitch my tent, so am sharing a very nice six bed room with kitchen with Michael and his son Simon from Switzerland.   We have the fire blazing and it is almost too hot.   

I had a quick sauna in the ladies only time to get my extremities nice and toasty…. But I didn’t follow local practice of jumping in the lake afterwards.   Some delicious Mac and cheese for dinner with biscuits and chocolate and we were getting ready for bed at hiker midnight when three very wet Swedish girls arrived and made lots of noise!

Distance covered 18km from saltuluokta to teusajaure hut

A note on cute Swedish manners – so it turns out that Swedish people are so polite that it is customary in Sweden to put your groceries on the conveyor belt at the supermarket with the bar codes already facing the scanner. Of course it is obvious how helpful this is for the checkout assistant now that I think about it, but never in my life would I have thought about doing it.    Next time you go to Sweden it is worth bearing this in mind as they probably think we are all uneducated louts.

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