Four Seasons in Four Months – Part 9

It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.
– Laura Ingalls Wilder
Ritsem (Sweden) – Junkerdal Turistsenter
25 July 2017 – 31 July 2017
7 Days
191 km
TOTAL: 1348 km
25 July 2017 (Tuesday) — by the Padjelanta path, about 10 km from Låddejåkkåstugan, Sweden
Distance: 26.8 km+ok. 10 km by boat

Ritsem is quite a big tourist centre and there were many people here, so we had a challenging task in the kitchen this morning to prepare scrambled eggs, which we planned for today. Today we had a boat crossing to the other side of the Áhkájávrre Lake. The Sun was shining from the very morning and it promised a beautiful day ahead. The boat was leaving after 11, so we managed to have a coffee in the hostel beforehand.

After 40 minutes of crossing we were on the other shore of the lake, and we could continue our walk. There were many people walking this path, because it is very popular, so every now and then, we met someone on the way. The Padjelanta trail lead through beautiful valleys and it is also very well-prepared for tourists. The path is wide, well-trodden, with wooden footbridges across the swamp and bridges across the rivers. Our pace increased, at times we were almost running, it was going so well. It was also very warm, so for the first time we spent a whole day without jackets, only in t-shirts. Mosquitoes had a feast, but as long as we kept walking, there were not that bad. At every stop, however, we had to put on the jackets and mosquito head nets.

26 July 2017 (Wednesday) — by the Padjelanta path, about 6 km from Staloluokta, Sweden
Distance: 27.9 km

Our legs were not used to running on such terrain, so we could feel them next morning. All day long in spent in walking boots, in such high temperature does not make any good to your feet. That is why we always try to take our boots off during breaks, even if only just for few minutes, and if it is possible, to cool them in the water. Now, crossing the snow patches has been a pleasure, because it naturally cooled our boots.

At noon, we reached Låddejåkkåstugan hut. There we stopped for coffee, making use of the picnic table. There was information in the hut, that its host offered some products for sale (including smoked fish, which we got cravings for), but unfortunately the shop was to be open only after 14. We did not want to wait that long. We drank our coffee, talked to a girl with a red backpack, whom we saw yesterday on the boat, and now it turned out, that she was also a long-distance walker, and she had started from Nordkapp.

As it happened before, the coffee gave us more energy, and walking went very well, even though it was uphill. Further, the path also was in very good condition, and the mosquitoes were also having good time, feeding on us all the time. In the evening we arrived at next hut and there we made the most expensive shopping so far, for 150 NOK we got a bread naan, a tube of cheese and a can of energy drink. For a moment we talked to three gentlemen, who were on a short fishing trip. We walked for a few more kilometres and set up a camp by a stream, with a marvellous view of the lake.

Two paths are not the same — when the path is wide, with bridges and footbridges, well-marked, and not covered in snow, you can cover long distances every day. It’s a different story, when the path is less-trodden, leads through bushed and swamps, has poor markings and crosses may rivers, it all slows you down, but also take away some pleasure from walking.

27 July 2017 (Thursday) — by the E1 path, on the Sweden-Norway border
Distance: 30.0 km

We both got up willingly, ready for the next day. The sky was overcast, there was no wind, and such conditions are best for mosquitoes. We had to put on the nets on our heads, as they were biting mercilessly. We quickly covered the distance, the walk was nice and pleasant.

On the Padjelanta trail, Sweden

In the afternoon, we started climbing slowly towards the Sårjesjaurestugan hut. The higher, the more snow laid around, at first only in patches here and there. There was much more water, that came from the melting snow. Soon the greenery completely gave way to whiteness and greyness. Our pace dropped drastically. Today we met a few people on the way, and every one of them walked with fishing rods attached to their backpacks. Marcin talked to them about fishing, trying to assess the conditions and the more he was willing to do some fishing.

In the evening we crossed the border with Norway and set up our camp just pass the border, as there were still few places not covered with snow. The border between countries created also kind of weather boundary. In Sweden, it was already summer, and in Norway it was still winter.

28 July 2017 (Friday) — close to Sulitjelma
Distance: 28.7 km

It promised to be a hard day of walking on the snow, so we prepared ourselves mentally for those difficulties. From the morning we walked on the snow, along the lake. At coffee time we arrived at the hut, where, basking in the Sun, we spent a nice time. We talked to a travelling couple, which stayed overnight in the hut, and now they were starting their day. Later on, we passed them by, and we watched them, looking back every now and then, how they were going. After the break we moved on eagerly. As from the morning it was going well, we got motivated to try to get to the town today. First however, we still had to climb to a thousand meters. Then it was down the hill and across the river. Then up the hill again and down across two rivers. And uphill again. And all of this was walking on the snow. It was going well and we kept motivating each other.

In the end, we began descending to the valley, the snow began to disappear and there was more and more greenery around. We quickly were losing altitude, and because we were doing so well, we decided to get to Sulitjelma. From a thousand meters, where we still were about midday today, we went down to less than 100 meters above sea level. First, we went to the shop, where we bought a cake, and then we sat down on the bench near the store and had a feast. We were glad that we had such a successful day. Today, instead of mosquitoes, we were attacked by horse flies, big, annoying and leaving painful marks. Then we bought something for dinner and breakfast, went out of town and set up our tent by the river.

29 July 2017 (Saturday) –by the path to Coarvihytta
Distance: 16.8 km

We got up not in hurry, went down to town, where we sat on a picnic table with roofing, and prepared a breakfast feast: fresh bread, cottage cheese, tomatoes and fruit juice. Then we set up our command post in the store foyer, to sort ourselves out. First we asked about our missing parcel. The lady said she would call the service office as soon as the other sales assistant will come to help her. In the meantime we collected our parcel that was waiting for us here. We opened it and tried to pack the content cleverly. We were considering what to buy, so that it would be nutritious, but lightweight. We packed, repacked, bought supplies, it took us a while, but in the end we managed to sort it all out. Our backpacks were packed to the limits and were quite heavy. We also met our friend with a red backpack, who came to collect her parcel. In the meantime, we also found out, that unfortunately our package has been lost forever, it has been officially classified as missing and our case has been closed. Our only option now, was to request compensation.

Fully packed, we left the shop, and we met a lonely walker, Gerald from Germany. We just wanted to talk for a while, and not knowing when, four hours have passed, the chat was so pleasant. As we were heading the same direction for some distance, we had one more hour to talk. We came to the campsite, where we said goodbye to Gerald, and we moved further on along the road. We wanted to walk out of the built-up areas and pass all cottages, which there were many of. The rain forecasted for today, has accumulated itself and it poured down in the evening. We set up our camp in the rain.

30 July 2017 (Sunday) — by the E1 path, about 1 km from Ballvashytta
Distance: 26.1 km

In the morning it was still drizzling, so everything we packed was wet. To start with we had a section of walk on a gravel road. After coffee break, which we managed to have under the roof, we got off the road. The path was quite good quality, it led over the hills, up and down, some through the bushes, some through the marshes. We were doing quite well, despite the fact that the backpacks were heavy. Our bodies have already got used to the weight. The rain stopped, but as there was no wind, the mosquitoes were making our walk uncomfortable. Three times we had to take our boots off to cross the rivers, but we were doing it very swiftly now. There were many smaller rivers and streams, but these we managed to cross stepping on the stones or just jumping over. We met several hikers with fishing rods attached to their backpacks. Of course, we did not hesitate to ask them about the results and conditions for fishing.

On the E1 path, Norway
31 July 2017 (Monday) — Junkerdal Turistsenter
Distance: 34.4 km

We woke up to a fog that covered the lake. However, before we packed up, the fog disappeared and with every minute it was getting clearer. The path led along a magnificent valley, but nice parts were interspersed with thicket. Also, we had to take our boots off several times for river crossings. At coffee time we arrived at the Argaladhytta hut, beautifully located by the river, on a blooming meadow. While we were drinking coffee, an elderly man in glasses came by. We invited him to sit down with us, and we treated him with coffee. Basking in the Sun, we chatted cheerfully. It got so nice, but it was time to move on, we wanted to reach Graddis today.

Walking the path leading along the river, we came to a gravel road. Then, out of nowhere, the dark clouds gathered and it started to rain. And so it stayed until the end of the day. A few kilometres further on, we went back on the path, and there the difficulties appeared. We started from climbing up and through the marshes, the path was in some places indistinct, we had to look for it, which was adding to our tiredness, especially in the rain. Then we entered the forest, and we had to scramble through thicket — tall weeds, and everything was so soaked with water. Soon we both were all wet, from head to toe. However, it did not discourage us, because we thought about campsite in Graddis and about a warm shower. Unfortunately, we did not get it. We got there, and the reception was close and there was no one around. So I called the owner, who said that we could stay, and he will come in the morning. I asked about hot water and the possibility of doing the laundry, and when it turned out that they did not have a washing machine, we decided that it made no sense for us to stay. We were already a bit tired and hungry, and the prospect of a nice evening has gone away.

We have found looking on the map, that there is another campsite few kilometres away at Junkerdal Turistsenter. Although it was not on the E1 path, we could get back on it later on without problems. We decided to go there today. We walked fast, because we were on a flat road, and in an hour we arrived. And there… sweet Funny Adams. The whole centre looked closed, but the holiday park with cabins and caravans looked as open. The reception was closed up tight, and there was no answer on the phone. We thought it was only because it was quite late in the day. We looked around the park, there were many caravans and cabins inhabited. One of the residents of such a cabin, we asked about the possibility of setting up a tent for one night. He said that was not a problem, and he showed us the place. He also exchanged our money, so we had coins for a warm shower. Hot water washed away the hardships of the day. Later we had a small dinner, standing up, as the kitchen was so small there was no sitting area.

This stop also made us realize how bad we looked. We knew that we lost some weight, but when for many days one does not look at oneself in the mirror, one does not know. We both agreed that we need to eat more, because we won’t be able to go on. Once again, we had to analyse what we ate, and what we could eat, which would be nutritious and high-energy, but at the same time lightweight and small in volume.