I had completed the second section, but the feeling was strange. I was struggling with pain in my feet and consequently also the doubt if I can finish the hike. The big map of Sweden at Kallsedet was both encouraging (I had actually walked a substantial distance already!) and challenging (that concrete block was waaaaaayyyy up and I had to stretch to reach it…). But it turned out to become the most wonderful, heart warming and memorable time!
Day 17│ July 4│ Resting day at Kallsedet 0km
Having been so warmly and caringly welcomed by Jörgen and Marian at Kallsedet Fjällcenter taking a resting day was a pleasure. I thought about making my way to Järpen to Lundhags to see if they have something to improve the situation for my feet, and also possibly to by head phones. Because while I was never listening to music or podcasts while walking, commuting or running, I realized that I wanted to do that during those long sections on road ahead of me.
A guest at the the Fjällcenter was driving towards Järpen and would have taken me there, but getting back again would be too difficult as there was no bus on this day. As if it was the most normal thing in the world, Marian and Jörgen offered me to borrow their car instead! So all of a sudden I found myself driving along Kallsjön towards Järpen. And as a magic coincidence, one of my best friends and her boyfriend from Stockholm was passing through Järpen that day, so I could also look forward to a hug from a friend. What a luxury!
At Lundhags, I bought new socks, as one of those I had taken with me, already had a whole. So I just decided to get three new pairs and send the two intact ones home. I also got some new inner soles, even though I was a little hesitating if those would maybe create new problems, but it was definitely worth a try!
And I walked into a supermarket and while being overwhelmed by the amount of food and choice, I decided to buy strawberries (easy choice!), herring and sourcream and to have a post-midsummer-dinner! And avocado.
I turned back and just enjoyed the views along the roads. The weather was changing and sun and rain where constantly changing the scenery. Beautiful. And even more beautiful to not be out and exposed to the NW wind for once!
Day 18│ July 5│ Kallsedet – Edstjärnen 28 km
It was time to move on said… well… I don’t know. I wanted to proceed, but on the other hand, the 50+ km on roads weren’t too tempting. But after a coffee in the café with M&J they sent me off with some encouraging words – and all of the sudden I found my self happily walking on the road in the sun and the still strong and cold NW wind.
The new inner soles felt… well better for the front part of my foot that had been very painful. But after only a few km I started to have pain in my heels and in the center of the foot due to the “pillow” (see yesterdays pictures). The relief of the previous pain was stronger though, so I decided to keep using the soles that day – I had the old one with me.
It was a sunny day, bot roads, roads, roads. I listened to pod casts, sang loudly and put one foot in front of the other. My feet became more and more painful and when it was time to find a camp site, I just couldn’t find any that was reasonably dry and flat with access to water. So I continued, with some detour to the lake and eventually I found a possibility to pitch my tent – just a few meters from the road, but taken that it was not exactly a highway, it would not be a problem of noise! 😉
I put up the tent surveyed by the local mosquito family and got into the tent. And I wasn’t in a good place. My feet hurt, I was afraid they wouldn’t be strong enough for this, and I barely had reception. But I managed to send an sms to my dear friend who jokingly offered to order an Uber to pick me up.
What if I couldn’t continue? There would be so many people I would never meet… and that was a painful thought!
Day 19│ July 6│ Edstjärnen – Olden 18 km
Fourth day on the road… weather forecast was reasonable and I had a decision to take. My original plan was to cut over Offerdalsfjällen via Korsvattnet, but with my painful feet – even though walking roads was tough for them, I was just afraid they would resign – and if that happened, I’d rather be on the road than in roadless land. So I decided to walk through Olden and Jänsmässholmen instead. More roads, but not so much more time in the end.
So, I packed the tent and got on the road again. In Åkroken I chatted to a woman who just arrived at her house, Höjden was a beautifully picturesque little village and I passed by the sign to Frankrike (France). A few km before Olden, a car stopped and a friendly, elderly man offered me chocolate. I immediately realized that this must be Stig, who is monitoring us hikers every summer (and winter) and make sure we are doing fine, offering food, company and a place to sleep. So my goal for the day became Olden, where I was treated with food and a couch to rest my painful feet in. It was a perfectly calm night and I pitched my tent just behind the house and I slept like a baby.
Day 20│ July 7│ Olden – Jänsmässholmen 20 km 🏡
Fifth day on the road, but today forest roads and then a few kilometers of swamps. The sun was shining and I was in a good mood. The heels were happy about having spent some hours at the couch with feet high and I was looking forward to approaching the mountains again. I was walking along those forest roads, singing along loudly and hoping that nobody was anywhere near. And I take full responsability if the hunting season this year was bad, because I probably scared away all animals with my singing and I am not sure they will ever consider to come back! 😀
The forest road was a forest road. The swamps were the most shitty so far – and actually also to come. But 3km swamps versus 15km extra on roads was an easy choice and eventually I had reached the road again. Bu that time I was both tired, thirsty, sweaty, eaten by mosquitoes and – surprise! – my feet hurt. I was NOT in a great mood when I walked into Jänsmässholmen, but eventually a dog came to greet me, and then I started to talk to the owners. A few minutes later a guy walks up with a big smile, greets me with a “Hi Anna!” (meanwhile I was aware that locals are keeping track of us) and then he said “Well, we are going to collect our reindeer tonight, and if everything works well, we will start marking tomorrow, you are very welcome to join!”. And well. If I was ever tired or unwell, that was all gone. To join for reindeer marking has been a dream ever since I was in the Swedish mountains for the first time, and I couldn’t really believe that that dream would just come true. Because I happened to walk into a village on a random day in July.
I walked to the hotel in the village, usually closed in summer, and was greeted by Yvonne, Thomas and their daughter Erika, who were having coffee on the terrace. The just invited me in, prepared a hotel room and with the greatest hospitality invited me to their dinner table.
This unconditional hospitality is something I experienced several times during the hike, and it truly is something I want to take with me and incorporate into my life. It is such a beautiful gift to us hikers and it just makes the hike so special.
(And on a side note, Yvonne is a fabulous cook…)
Day 21-22│ July 8-9│ Resting days and reindeer calf marking 🏡
The time in Jänsmässholmen deserves a separate blog post including the experience of reindeer marking. Sorry for the cliff hanger!
Day 23│ July 10│ Jänsmässholmen – Bustadtjärn 26 km
All good things come to an end. Or a wanderer has to wander. Or… well. It was time to leave, although it was painful. I came to feel at home in this place, I got to know everybody in the village (except Pelle, the reindeer)… And finally a day without roads (at least almost). So i followed the offroad track through the forest, over the swamps… I got a little lost in the forest just before the Ansätten village (two houses), spoke to a man living in Ansätten during summer, and shortly after I sat down to have lunch in the sun. When looking southwards I saw a big cumulonimbus forming and it was raining over Åre (or at least somewhere in that direction). I was not very happy to see that and didn’t felt at ease at all anymore. But I was happy that I would at least pass a hut a few kilometers later in case the weather would shift.
My feet were also much happier, in fact the pain was almost gone and I had also switched back to my original inner soles again. So it was a great day on trail! I walked over blooming meadows, passed by several water falls, and covered a few km on gravel roads. I decided to give it a go at the wind shelter at Bustadstjärn and when I arrived there, there was a Swedish guy and his Spanish girlfriend fishing. I was a little afrid I was disturbing and they might have planned a romantic night by the lake – but they stayed in some hotel in Rötviken and we sat by the fire which kept the mosquitos away until they left an hour later or so.
I grilled the sausage that Yvonne had given me, so it was a perfect evening and one of the first evenings with a sunset, no wind and no rain….
Day 24 (I)│ July 11│ Bustadtjärn – Rötviken 8 km
The weather forecast had promised a few rainy days, and in fact it just started to rain just before I packed my tent (rare! Usually it always started just after I had packed it…). But as I was camping at a wind shelter, I could just put everything in the wind shelter and my gear was reasonably dry when I left. Next stop was Rötviken, where I had to pick up the next resupply box.
It was mostly roads, very rainy, and a quick hike to the supermarket, where I arrived rather wet. The girls were very friendly, helped me to send back some excess food (Not sure how I had calculated for the next section, it took me 5 days and I had calculated for 7 I think…) , and I could also dry a little while waiting for the worst part of the rain to pass before heading out on the fourth section towards completing 1/3 of the hike…