While this section was the longest section during the hike, regarding both time and distance, it is also the section with most impressions. Maybe because it was the very start of the hike, but also because I walked through various landscapes and probably mostly because the weather was extremely changeable and went from sunny and calm to strong winds and hail – and back again in the course of a few hours and sometimes minutes. But I’ll try to start from the very beginning…
Day 0 │ June 17 │ Arrival at Grövelsjön/Guevteljaevrie Fjällstation
I arrived with the bus in the afternoon, checked in, realized I should have pre-ordered the dinner (I was lucky and there was still food for one person left) and checked in to my room. At the reception I also met Per, who also walked the green ribbon and started the same day as me.
We had dinner together and it was such a relief and an also calming to speak to someone who was about to set off for the same adventure, as clueless as I about what to expect. And this dinner was also symptomatic for most meetings throughout this hike – there we were, two strangers, openly sharing feelings of anxiety and excitement, courageously sharing our fears and connecting through this vulnerable situation. This first meeting during the hike was the first of many beautiful meetings which would come to decorate my life on trail with a feeling of love and belonging, a particularly strong feeling while standing all alone on a mountain, but more about that in a later post.
Per and I decided to meet for breakfast the next day, and also to start our hike together, to leave the mountain station and climb that first hill together. I think this probably saved me from a sleepless night – although I cannot say that I slept calmly.
Day 1 │ June 18 │Grövelsjön/Guevteljaevrie – Slagusjön/Sluvvenjaevrie 16 km
As agreed, Per and I met for breakfast. Breakfast buffet is always a highlight for me and we were not in a hurry to leave – in the end we would be hiking for a couple of months, so why hurry now?
After checking out, we asked the friendly staff for the obligatory picture in front of the blue door… and then all of a sudden we were on our way. I remember passing by the sign “Treriksröset 1300 km”, and it felt just too surreal to understand, but I was grateful I was not alone.
We climbed the first hill together, and the higher we climbed, the more I felt that I longed to start my solo hike, and at the first crest I let Per continue in his pace. A few weeks later I thought about this moment and realized that if we would have met later in the hike, I would have loved to walk a few days together, but this early, I needed to find my own rhythm, and to calm my mind by listening to the silence.
While taking my first break a woman passed by. I asked her how she is doing and she answered, with a smile and a wide gesture that just underlined the message: “I am so happy!”. Her energy and the gratefulness she emanated accompanied me the next few days, her words just came back to me in seemingly random situations, reminding me of… yes, how lucky I am to have time, resources and the physics to start off on this journey.
Day 2 │ June 19 │Slagusjön/Sluvvenjaevrie – Rogen/Rovje 16 km
The second day was the day I first met the northwest wind, but certainly not the last time…
I woke up early as soon as the sun climbed over the hills, and enjoyed this sunny morning. ‘Col senno di poi’, it was a wise thing to do, as sunny, warm and mosquito free mornings were rare during the hike. When I was preparing breakfast, I saw a figure coming walking in the valley, and I concluded it must be Ola, who had started his green ribbon in the middle of the night – fair enough, as nights are bright at this time of year. He patiently waited for me to finish my breakfast and pack my tent and then we continued together. It turned out that Ola is a very talkative guy, and as I was still in the process of listening to my own thoughts and the silence, I let him head on in his pace after a few kilometers.
The open plain was beautifully harsh with very little vegetation, stones as far as I could see and an owl in the distance making the only noise I could distinguish. A little later i passed a clear spring, and the feeling that people must have been living here in ancient times was overwhelming. Later I heard that other hikers had seen traces of a bear just a few hours after I passed…
The trail was partly more a big heap of large stone blocks, which was tiring and certainly very beautiful. The sky covered bit by bit and when I reached the top of Tandsjövålen, the wind strengthened and I could see heavy rain showers rolling in. I can’t help but loving the power of the weather, but at the same time I always feel exposed.
It soon started to rain and after a few more kilometers in stoney forest I found a few stonefree squaremeters by a lake where I could pitch my tent.
Day 3 │ June 20 │Rogen/Rovje – Skedbrostugan 19 km
To my surprise I woke up to a calm and sunny morning )at 4 am). That the day would end with weather on the other end of the scale I couldn’t know, and the weather forecast didn’t indicate this neither.
I made breakfast, packed my tent and was on trail before 7 am, which was one of the earliest days during the whole hike. the path continued to be stoney and mostly in the forest with little views. After a few hours, the weather started to change and the sun was interrupted by short rain showers. After rounding Bustvålen and heading north again, the trail again switched to a sea of big stone blocks, the wind became stronger and the first hail shower crossed my way. Undiscussably beautiful how the surrounding changed from grey and hostile to colourful and sunny within minutes, but I started to get tired, and I concluded that finding a tent spot between the rocks which was reasonably sheltered from the hard wind is impossible, so I decided to aim at Skedbrostugan, where I spend the night in company of a German couple.
Day 4 │ June 21 │Skedbrostugan – Vättafjället/Våahta 19 km
It was still raining in the morning, but the weather forecast promised improvements during the next 24 h. The first part of the day was mostly in the forest anyhow, so I was protected from the still strong wind. This part was also much less stony. After lunch I climbed Rödfjället/Rååfjeelle. It was still rather windy, but the sun broke through the clouds every now and then, and once I had gained some height, the view both southwards and towards Norway was amazing. The sky was still wild and the snowy Norwegian mountains bathed in sunshine. Why are mountains in Norway always snowy? Finally on the crest, the trail felt like heaven. Stonefree, not a single tree or even bush in kilometers, and the rusty spring colour of the ground before everything starts to grow… The wind was strong and cold, but I was energized by happiness and continued along the crest. I realized I would have to find a sheltered camp site if I wanted to sleep well and after a few kilometers I passed an area with hills and little lakes partly still covered with ice. I pitched the tent during a hail shower and had a very quick evening bath in one of the lakes.
The feeling of gratitude was overwhelming this evening, being alone in this beautiful place felt unreal.
Day 5 │ June 22 │ Vättafjället/Våahta – Fjällnäs – Kroktjärn 17 km
Just by looking at the statistics in Lightroom, you can spot a sunny day – I simply take a lot more pictures when the light is beautiful!
I woke up at 3 am and realized that I was surrounded by thick fog. I took it as a good sign, and fell asleep again, hoping to wake up to a sunny days in a few hours. And so I did. And what a day! The views were just amazing and I stopped every other meter, because I couldn’t believe that it was real, that I was there…
The first goal of the day was Strandgården in Fjällnäs and the first waffle of the hike. I arrived there in early afternoon and sat outside this beautiful place and chatted to the owners at least one hours. They wanted to do something else in life, so they had taken a years off work when they found this place, and are now running this hotel/restaurant, and what a gem! And the waffles are amazing, so is the food as from what I heard from fellow hikers.
The day continued as it started: magically sunny. But while the first part of the day coloured in the pre-spring brownish red, now I walked through lush green birch forest bathing in warm evening light. There is not so much more to say, the pictures speak for themselves.
For the second half of the section, see here…