Section 1 - The Far North



Every beginning is hard - no exception here.  On the contrary!  All the uncertainty regarding the Corona virus is affecting my motivation to plan the trip. Still, I get my act together and plan as good as I can. Not a perfect preparation but sufficient. In fact I make it to Nordkap without much hassle. Flying to Alta and hitch-hike to the Kap - the starting point of my adventure. All goes surprisingly smooth - as does most of my hike. I don't want to go too much into detail here - it would be neverending. Feel free to check my blog for a better insight. 

 

46 days - nearly 7 weeks on E1. From Nordkapp to Skorovatn. Halfway across Scandinavia. 1500 kilometers, 3 countries and lots and lots of experiences. Mostly great ones, but obviously some not so great ones as well. 

 

While the first two days, with the combination of sea and mountains, are scenery wise a spectacle par excellence (especially with the midnight sun) the following week gets pretty flat (literally!) and monotonous, not to say boring. Together with the mosquitoes, I'm not enjoying the stretch from Olderfjord to Kautekeino that much. In fact, I get somewhat dubious about the sense of my hike. Why am I going through all this trouble? As a result, I do long, hard days to get over with it quickly. Luckily the beautiful weather is somewhat keeping my hiking spirit up. 

Once past Kautokeino, together with the change in landscape, my attitude changes as well. I start to enjoy the hike and appreciate the scenery.

With rockier, more undulating terrain going gets harder, or maybe I should say more interesting. Every day is different from the other. The landscape, the country, the people. The cool, funny but taciturn Finns, the welcoming, relaxed Swedes the polite but slightly distant Norwegians. However, many days are passing by without seeing any soul at all. 

After crossing the challenging and extremely rocky Caihnavaggi Pass, I get slightly overwhelmed by the feeling of remoteness. 300 kilometers without much civilization and possibilities to bail out of the trail in between should anything happen. A feeling that flares up when I cross sketchy bridges and am close to hypothermia while walking through an early autumn storm. Just me and my backpack. 

These experiences make me enjoy the pleasant moments of the trail even more. Be it the lovely stroll through Padjelanta National Park in beautiful weather or my two off trail days in Naurstad.

These two days make me realize how much I miss the coastline, the sea, which I haven't seen for weeks. 

The trail continues Inland though. While going gets generally easier, I feel like idling, like being stuck. Not a nice feeling that luckily vanishes once south of the polar circle. Before I realize it, I pass Umbukta and approach Bjorgefell National Park. The last big challenge - or so I thought. In fact it's not nearly as demading as I feared it would be.

It's also during these last few days, when I have the privilege to enjoy Norwegian hospitality, which boosts my trail experience even more - actually it is these experiences that are making trail life so special - adding a lot it to my addiction to this lifestyle. 

 

Speaking about the level of difficulty of the trail: Technically I don't consider it to be a very challenging hike. Apart from a short stretch in Reisa National Park, the trail is never exposed at all and only very rarely had I used my hands in steeper terrain. Expect snow (mostly from last winter) throughout the hike. But usually even if you slip, the fall or slide shouldn't have ugly consequences. 

Due to the favorable weather,  river crossings were straight forward. However, I appreciate that if the weather throws the worst at you, going can get very challenging. Not only river crossings but also the exposed landscape will make your hike challenging. 

As mentioned before: The remoteness is what made this first section interesting. Be prepared to see no other person for days and carry your own food for close to 14 days. These last points make me suggest to not attempt the hike if you are a completely inexperienced hiker.

 

I never set a point I aim for or a distance I want to walk for this section. Yet, I have to admit, the region between Royrvik and Skorovatn struck me as a good place to finish section one already during my planning. I've had it in my mind for quite a while during the last few days of my hike. 

The next 250 kilometer stretch from Skorovatn to Meraker, again unmarked, will be interesting not to say challenging again. In combination with the unfavorable weather forecast I decide that Skorovatn is a good place to finish indeed. And a good place to start next again next summer - with a clear goal: reaching the terminal of the ferry taking me from Sweden to Denmark. Wherever exactly that might be. I don't know yet. My planning isn't that advanced.

Hopefully, the Corona panic will have eased until then, making traveling a bit easier. Even though I think I haven't broken any rules regarding quarantine restrictions, the uncertainty about border opening and closing was another unnecessary thing to deal with and it's not something I feel like discussing here too much. 

 

I arrived here in Scandinavia as a stranger. As someone, who didn't know anyone, didn't know the landscape. I had no idea what to expect. 46 days later, I leave the country with the comforting feeling of being a small part of this spectacular region. I made friends, know the the irks and quirks of the nature. 

Unlike after Te Araroa I don't feel an emptiness. On the contrary! I can't wait to plan section two and continue my journey. 


Route

From the Nordkapp, the official starting (or ending) point of E1, the trail leaves Magerøya via the Nordkapp tunnel. The trail soon enough leaves the coastline and follows inland thorugh the sparse Finmark landscape to Kautokeino. These first few days are mostly flat, easy going with some interesting river crossings. Expect tons of mosquitoes during the summer months!

From Kautokeino, E1 follows the amazing Reisa River towards the Finnish border, where the terrain gets rockier. Passing the Three-Country Point (Sweden, Norway, Finnland), E1 follows the Norwegian-Swedish border for its remaining distance. The stretch between Abisko and Sulitjelma along the Nordkalottleden is especially remote. Expect plenty of snow and adventurous bridges (where there are). The spectacular landscape makes it very rewarding though.

Soon enough, E1 crosses the polar circle and first farms appear along the way. Pine trees mix into the dominating birch forest.

Terrain gets wetter and once in Børgefjell/Byrkjie Nationalpark, expect long days through very wet terrain. Markings do not exist and navigation is my map and compass or GPS.

 

The brown dots on the map are log points, the green one are overnight spots. I spent the majority of my nights in the tent. Every once in a while I stayed in a hut or hostel (there aren't many along the way).



Photos


Blog

Map

The Days After

55 days, a bit more than 2000 kilometers. All in sandals once more. That is section two of my E1 adventure in a nutshell. Distance wise more, time wise less than I was expecting. 


How come? Well, while the first three weeks are basically a continuation from last year, with plenty of pathless sections in rather mountainous terrain. At times navigation is challenging, especially during adverse weather conditions. Progress is good but 40 to 50 kilometer days are not really possible. The terrain soon gets flatter, completely different. The skiing town of Sälen, in fact, marks that very clear border, where I dive from mountains into the forest. Gone are the sweeping views, the river crossings, the exposure to the elements. The change is sudden. It takes me a while to get I used to the different environment. 


More road walk follows, my pace as a result getting higher, I don't need to take anymore rest days. Walking in the forest becomes like a blur. I can't recall each single day. They all are simply too similar. The vindskydds, a wonderful discovery, are becoming the highlight and motivation of my days. Usually located near a lake, I spend many night in them. Sheltered from the elements. I love them, have them mostly for myself. 


Without really noticing it, I am approaching Halmstad with big steps. It's only after Göteborg, still hiking in the forest, when I realize that I am actually really close to the finishing line. I don't feel like finishing though. It just doesn't feel right. If I finish now, all I remember is forest. And the location of Halmstad is bugging me a bit too. Somewhere along the coast. Nothing special about it.


But what can I do? Continuing south? I've got the time, I've got the energy. However, I just have to leave the forest, the ticks as soon as possible. So heading down south in the middle of Sweden is not sounding appealing at all as it's mostly through forest. It's only when I meet Julia, who draws my attention to Skåneleden, a coastal trail starting just south of Halmstad and following the coast for roughly 300 kilometers all the way to the south.


The discovery of the trail makes the decision to continue easy. It would add an additional element to my hike: the coast, something that I, as a landlocked Swiss, love. And it does not disappoint: Open views, plenty of beaches and seaside towns in warm late summer weather on nice trails are accompanying on my last week along the coast. It were these things I was missing and so, as getting closer to Smygehuk, I start feeling ready to finish this summer's hike at Sweden's southernmost point, where I arrive at exactly 100 trail days after starting in Nordkapp in 2020. 

Having crossed the Scandinavian peninsula all the way from top to bottom feels great, better or how should I say, a bit more epic than crossing it from Nordkapp to Halmstad as I initially planned. 


Yes, there was a lot of forest. Yes, there was a lot of road. While plenty of stretches might not have been as spectacular (or, let's be honest, as boring) as part one up there in the far north, it has still been a wonderful journey. Mostly great, warm weather, plenty of lakes to swim in, the fishing villages and beaches. And the vindskydds too, my personal highlights. And of course the locals, which were always friendly and helpful and sometimes went out of their way to assist me. It's the people that give my hike that special extra. In Norway as well as Sweden. 


Speaking of these countries: which one do I prefer (I'm don't put Finland into this evaluation as I only spent 3 days hiking there)? 


It's clearly Norway. It set the expectations for Sweden so high, leaving Sweden with basically no chance. On the one hand it's the open, more breathtaking landscape. The midnight sun. The clear, blue lakes, whos water you can drink with no need to worry. Towns and road are few and far between, which lead to that wonderful feeling of remoteness - solitude (out of 3500km I walked 3490 by myself as there wasn't anyone to hike with). A feeling that I somehow lost in the Swedish forests. I had to be careful that it didn't turn into loneliness. There were more people but at times I found it hard to connect with them. Something I never encountered in Norway, where I consider the people as more open. Many times I was told that people in the north are open, friendlier. And I can definitely agree. 


So what now? Good question! It's been roughly a week since I arrived in Smygehuk. I teamed up with Julia and continued on Skåneleden for 80 kilometers. It felt good to walk with some company. Now I'm on my way north again. The Koster Islands to be precise. I spotted it on the map during one of these long, bright nights up north and I thought I have to visit them. It's the only thing I planned on doing after my hike. Everything else, I will simply let it happen. I will see where my travels take me until I have to return to Switzerland in early October. 


Last but not least some stats for the first 100 days to be taken with a grain of salt:


Days: 100

Kilometers: 3500+ (I did not always count them exactly)
Average: 35km/day
Zero days: 5 (section 1: 4, section 2: 1)
Longest day: 65km
Shortest day: 8km
Hiking trail: 75%
Road (gravel, tar-sealed, forestry,...): 25%

Most challenging things: remoteness of the trail, ticks and mosquitoes

Rainy days: 10
Sunny days: 50
Cloudy days: 40

Nights in tent: 50
Nights in hut: 10
Nights in vindskydd: 30
Nights in hostel/airbnb: 8
Other nights (bivy, tower): 2

Mosquitoes killed: 3578
Ticks removed: 73

Bears seen: 0
Reindeer seen: 1255
Trees seen: 788'546'644

Hardest days: Day 24 (a wet one) Day 60 (a rocky one) 
Favorite days: Day 1 and 2 (walking in the midnight sun), Day 27 (Padjelanta), Day 95 (the beach)                             
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Day 100: A Good Number To Finish With

Torup to Smygehuk

Distance: 40km

Two hikers who, with their headlamps, flooded the vindskydd with light just before midnight as well as a cat that gave me a scare when it jumped into the vindskydd made for a not very relaxing night.

The day starts with a bit of lovely beech forest, followed by open farmland and the beach again. It's windy. Mostly sunny with a short downpour, which is leaving me completely soaked. I get it all today.

It's during my last 7 kilometers along the Baltic Sea, when I start feeling emotional. I take a trip down the memory lane, thinking of my first steps at the Nordkapp, with the midnight sun in my back. At that time I had no idea what would expect me on my journey. Now, 100 trail days later I think I can nearly consider myself as a Scandinavian hiking expert. At this point, I don't want to go too far into all the experiences I was lucky enough to gain. It's too late, I'm too tired. But I will write a little summary within the next few days.

Smygehuk. Until very recently I never heard of the place. Now I am here. There's no possibility to go further. Unless I was a fish. I arrive at around 16:00 with all the shops about to close. A déjà vu of my finish last year in Skorovas, where I arrived a tad late as well. At least this time it's sunny and if it wasn't for the wind pleasantly mild. I savor the moment, take some photos, explore the place, which is not as busy as expected. I'm not too emotional anymore. While exploring I also check for suitable camping spots. Plenty of good ones but I don't think it's exactly legal to camp. So I wait for the night to come, spend my time planning, trying to fill the emptiness, which instantly opened up once I arrived. It's always the same. Being on the trail, I have had a goal at all times. Now it's different. What am I going to do tomorrow? Day after tomorrow? So many questions. So difficult to find answers. I haven't really finished but am already missing the simplicity of the trail life. But of course, I am also looking to exploring Sweden in a different way than by thru hiking it. 

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Day 99: Bye Bye Motivation

Saxtopsdammen to Torup

Distance: 45km

A question has been occupying my mind for a while now: on a cycle track, do you walk right, with the traffic, or left, against the traffic? On a road with cars is clear that you walk on the opposite side and I think it's worldwide the same.

On cycle tracks however, I am never so sure. I try to observe the locals but they don't seem to have a clear rule either. Which is the same as in Switzerland. So I walk sometimes left, sometimes right but never entirely sure if I so it the right way.
Today as well. With a particularly high percentage of cycle tracks.

The morning is warm but grey. High humidity and poor visibility. My skin feels sticky soon after leaving the vindskydd. A bit of rain later fills the air with even more moisture.

The hike is completely unspectacular. With the exception of the Lomma, which, with its busy harbor, is quite interesting.
It's also where I leave the west coast for good. At least on this hike. 
I'm heading inland. A lot of industry until I finally reach open farmland and soon afterwards Torup, a super busy recreational area. 
The vindskydd is free though so I make myself comfortable.

Today, I was suffering. Especially in the afternoon. As always on my second to last day on a long hike. It's purely a mental thing. Probably, my brain is already seeing me in Smygehuk. It's so close. 
Close yes, but I am not there yet. Tomorrow I will be there. Hopefully. Another 40 kilometers. Should be manageable. And the last day usually goes much more smoothly again. Then the sign post (or whatever is expecting me in Smygehuk), which I will touch later that day is motivation enough to keep me going. 


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Day 98: I'm Ready

Rydebäck to Saxtopsdammen

Distance: 30km

I get waken up by a service vehicle cleaning the beach from washed up algae and other dirt. After the two long days, I take it easy today and stay in my sleeping bag until sunrise. Another beautifully warm, sunny day lies ahead of me. It's so warm, I can change straight into shorts and shirt without feeling cold. A small luxury. The first half of today is along the cost. Exquisite hiking once more. At around nine I take a stroll out a pier for a morning swim in the 18.7 degrees warm, clear water. I feel like being somewhere in the Caribbean. At one of the harbours, I refill my water bottle at a tap. A couple of minutes after drinking the water, my knees start feeling wobbly and my head dizzy. Must have been the water. Luckily, the unpleasant feeling goes back to normal as I am  approaching Landskrona. 

After Landskrona, the hike is quickly getting dull. No more coastal walk. I feel sorry for the people in the small villages I pass. Very close to the sea, yet they are separated from it by a noisy motorway with no direct access to the coast at all. And they got the aircraft noise from Copenhagen Airport... 
So I am not expecting to much of today's shelter as I am getting close. But... I'm positively surprised. Great location by a artificial, clear lake. I chat with a local, who tells me that the area once was used to get sand for cement, which then was used to build the bridge between Sweden and Denmark. Now it's all back to nature with only the hole remaining, which is now filled with water. Perfect for a swim after a hot day on the trail. 

The last 10 or so kilometers have been hard. Nearly 30 degrees, initially along a busy road followed by forest, my legs not in their best shape. Also my back seems to feel stiffer with every step. It's also then, when I realize I am ready. Ready to finish section two. And the timing is perfect. Two more days, if everything goes according to plan. Then I will arrive at Smygehuk. I have no idea what will be expecting me there. Tons of tourists like at Nordkapp or Cape Reinga? Or just a small note saying it's Sweden's southernmost point? I don't really care. 
All I do now is looking forward to be there. 


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Day 97: Well Fed

Josefinelust to Rydebäck

Distance: 50km

I don't sleep particularly well. The ground is not completely flat and I keep shifting.

At around four I have enough and decide to get up. Another mild morning makes it rather easy. With my headlamp on full power, I make my way down to the beach and up again to the trail, which is taking me to the Kullen Headlight, where I arrive at dawn. It's only me and I enjoy the solitude. Just me and the rotation beacon. I'm wondering whether the ships out there in the mist are actually using the light as reference. I guess not. Newer technologies will have taken over by now. 

Mölle is my next stop. A lovely fishing town. The locals are wandering through the streets with their bathing robe on. Going for a swim seems to be a popular thing to do.
It's all flat from now on. In Viken, I get invited for tea and pastries followed sandwiches by a local cleaning his mailbox. Of course I accept. I think it's a win-win situation. I like being fed like a hungry lion and the people feeding me are hopefully happy about my healthy appetite. 
He has a wonderful garden and offers me some fige. I had no clue they would grow here. As he has been living in this town for over 50 years, he has numerous extremely interesting stories to tell. So for example that the ex CEO/inventor of IKEA, 3M and TetraPack are living in this village. Or where I can see seals (which I would later on spot indeed). 

With plenty of figs, I am on my way again. Denmark is only around 3 kilometers to my right. Trees and buildings clearly visible. In less than a year, I will hike that coast. I'm wondering how will I feel then, looking over to Sweden. 
I take a direct route through Helsingborg, a rather big city. I simply am not a city boy and feel more and more uncomfortable in them. So I am rather happy once I reach the outskirts of the city. Raa to be precise. Another picturesque fishing village.
From there it's another 4 long kilometers to my vindskydd as I start feeling my legs. They are tired after 4 long days. 

The amazing vindskydd is well worth the effort though. Located right by the beach yet very private, hidden by some bushes. 
A local family barbecuing invites me for some sausages. I can't resist. 

Sunset is a spectacle. The first proper sunset since I joined the coast. 
Well fed and happy I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep. 
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Day 96: I Wish I Was A Fish

Torekov to Josefinelust 

Distance: 65km

Clouds were rolling in overnight, keeping the warm air beneath them. Therefore, getting up on this mild early Wednesday morning is quite pleasant.
I leave Torekov during blue hour, the harbor town still fast asleep. Me, however, I am on a mission. I've set an ambitious goal for the day: Josefinelust, some 65 kilometers away. In fact, I can spot it on the other side of the sound. If I was a fish, I would be there by lunch time. Unfortunately, I'm not so it will take me a wee bit longer. Yes, it's mostly flat, easy going terrain mainly over pasture with some beach in between. However, with the days getting shorter, I can't waste too much time. Especially since I am not a particularly fast walker. A walking speed of more than 5 kilometers an hour is not realistic.
I make good progress, I even go for a quick swim. While I pass through all these villages rather quickly, it never feels like I'm rushing. To be honest, they all look very similar anyway. After a dull morning, the sun comes out during the afternoon.

My body feels quite alright. Even after 60 kilometers nothing is aching. And since I have some extra minutes left, I do a little detour climb the highest point of the Kullaberg peninsula. A mere 188 meters above sea level! From there it's a quick walk down to the shelter. Which is occupied. Bummer. The 'drinking' water, which is supposed to be there is not drinkable according to a sign. Another bummer. I don't feel like camping next to the shelter (it wouldn't be allowed anyway). Too many people and motor homes. Stupid. Just stupid to put a vindskydd right next to the parking lot. What were they thinking.
After 65 kilometers, more than 13 hours on the trail and with daylight running out quickly, I have to quickly come up with a plan B. I decide to climb down to Josefinelust Beach and try my luck there. In fact, as it's getting dark, I will have to stay there, no matter what. Luckily, I find a rather lovely spot high above the beach. Not enough space for the tent but for a bivy it is suitable. As I couldn't fill up water, it's going to be a dry camp. Doesn't matter. I am too tired to cook anyway. But I'm happy. Very happy that I have reached my goal. 65 kilometers. I will sleep well tonight. Let's just hope there won't be any rain. 

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Day 95: Life's A Beach

Trönninge Beach to Torekov

Distance: 50km

33 nights ago... That was the last time I have pitched my tent. It's so long ago, I had to look it up.
To be honest, I didn't really miss it. Especially, once I realize my rain fly is soaking wet. Sand everywhere and high humidity. The little pleasures of camping on or near a beach.

I start early. Initially along a cycling trail before hitting the beach. Now, finally, the happiness, which I was missing yesterday, is here. I enjoy every step along a wild, lonely beach. Unfortunately though, I have to head inland after a couple of kilometers. There's a estuary, which I deem as too dangerous to cross. I'm not even trying.
Soon, I'm back at the beach. With the sun now shining over the dunes, I go for a quick swim in the clear, calm water. Warmer than I thought!

As much as I enjoy beach walking - I find it tiring, even on rather hard pressed sand. Maybe it's the barefoot walking, maybe the sand, even though pretty hard, still moves under my feet. The closer I get to Bastad, the uglier the beach as it's also open for driving. Yet, it's still a beach. I shouldn't complain.

After Bastad, it's road and hiking trail. Hillier, the closer I get to Hovs Hallar, some nice rock formation. Initially, my plan was to camp here in the vindskydd. It's nothing special though and I feel like walking a bit further than the 45 kilometers. 
The last 5 or so kilometers are across pasture. Reminds me of the Isle of Man I hiked a couple of years ago. 

Before 18:00 I arrive at my hidden vindskydd. In a forest, roughly 50 meters from the beach. Probably to keep it out of sight from the many tourists. 
After dinner, it's now time to enjoy the sunset. One of my favorite events while hiking the coast.
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Day 94: The Sea Is Calling

Vessigebro to Trönninge Beach

Distance: 55km

Despite being in the middle of the town, surrounded by lights, which for no obvious reason would stay on the whole night, I sleep rather well.
It's a chilly morning though and I decide to get changed in the nicely heated toilet/shower. With first light I leave Vessigebro. Initially along Hallandsleden along a farm track, before leaving it direction Halmstad. Road walk all the way through. The first 20 kilometers are on surprisingly scenic back roads with not too much traffic. I walk it non stop. Only before reaching the highway E6 (the same E6, where I started my E1 on at Nordkapp) I have a quick break. Luckily, the shoulder to walk on is very generous, making it an okay walk. Thinking of the sea my motivation this afternoon. Eventually, I leave the highway again and follow back roads into Halmstad. A busy city. Larger than I was expecting it to be. Until very recently my planned end of E1 in Sweden. 

Plans changed though. Luckily. Halmstad wouldn't have been a worthy ending. Located halfway between Göteborg and Malmö. Nothing too exciting about its location. And I don't feel like finishing either. It feels like something is odd, missing. After mountains and the forest I'm craving for the coast. And it's right here, here in Halmstad. With time and weather on my side, I see nothing against continuing. Especially, since there is a coastal trail called Skåneleden, starting just 30 kilometers south of Halmstad and going all the way down to Malmö. 

So I dart right through the town. Takes me two long hours until I reach the other end. From there though it's not far to the sea anymore. With more than 50 kilometers in my legs and a close call with a cyclist (I completely blame it on me) I pitch my tent at the basically first contact with the see. Seems to be a popular spot with the locals, despite the motorway being clearly audible in the background. Yet, it's a lovely place with a great view up and down the coast. 
Me a happy camper? Honestly? Not as much as I thought I would be. 
I guess I still need a couple of hours to realize that I have finally made it to the sea. Something I was daydreaming about for a long time. Probably I am just too exhausted from my day. 

Tomorrow, I am quite sure, I will wake up with a big grin on my face, full of fresh energy and motivation to explore Sweden's west coast. 

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Day 93: So Long, Forest!

Gällarpesjön to Vessigebro

Distance: 45km

No one showed up yesterday. I don't mind as I can pack my stuff without worrying I might be waking up anyone else. It feels good to be on the trail well before sunrise. The peacefulness, the intense smell of the forest. A lot of beech forest today - welcome change to the birch and pine forest. Yet, also this late change won't make me miss the forest. Don't get me wrong, I like forest. A lot. Just as much as the mountains. After nearly a month between the trees however (I counted 643'754'490 of them), I feel like a change again. The ticks, the mud further north and the freshly chopped forests did not exactly help to improve my experience. Nevertheless, the trees gave me shelter from wind and rain, kept me cool in the afternoon sun and they allowed blue- and blackberry bushes to thrive below them. To be fair: I'm certainly gonna miss those healthy sweet treats. 

While the "official" E1 would continue one more day on forestry roads, initially heading east before circling back to Halmstad, I head straight down to Halmstad. Saves me one day. A day I rather spend somewhere along the beach on Skåneleden. 

But at this very moment, I am still on E1. Vessigebro to be precise. A lively, small farm town. Here I have found a supermarket and stumbled across a park/playground/football field. There's a shelter with toilet, shower and electricity nearby. Especially since my batteries are getting empty, the power outlets are highly appreciated. And the shower is a nice extra too. I'm actually really happy to have found this place. Thank you Vessigebro for this nice place! 

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Day 92: A Hymn To The Vindskydd

Stora Hornsjön to Gällarpesjön

Distance: 30km

A warmer night for a better sleep. In fact I sleep until I am waken up by the first rays of sun finding their way into the vindskydd at around 06:30.

It has gotten late again yesterday. Mathias from Träslövsläge, joined me later that evening in the vindskydd. I got offered a beer and together we spent the evening talking in front of the fire.

I'm about to leave, when Mathias hands me a cuppa coffee. Of course I gladly accept. It is a short day and I'm not especially keen on hitting the overgrown trail anyway. While the first few kilometers are okay, the trail soon gets a bit less enjoyable. There's not much to write, really. Lots of forest. All I am looking for is dinner at my vindskydd. 

Vindskydd. A word which I have never heard until I actually arrived in Sweden. In Sälen, to be precise, when I was planning my next sections, I first read about them. But even then, I had only a vague idea of what they are, what I have to expect. Something sheltering me from the wind. 
Now, nearly a month later, they have become an essential part and highlight of my thru-hike. In fact I think they will turn out to be one of the most memorable things in Sweden. They gave me shelter from wind and rain. They all looked similar, most of them were beautifully located by a lake. That's why I can't recall every single one of them. But all together of them formed a very clear picture of a typical vindskydd. And it's a lovely picture. 
However, it's not only the location, it's also the people that made them a good choice to stay. I met other thru hikers, cyclists, fishermen, two day one night trippers, fathers who needed a weekend away from their wife and kids. With all of them I had interesting conversations, learning new things. I enjoyed the talks in front of the fire. Talks, which were getting deeper, more sentimental as the stars came out and the fire getting weaker. That was not a hymn, was it? I couldn't find a better title. Sorry. However, I think it was high time to appreciate them. 

And tonight? Gällarpesjön? Another nice one. Not the most scenic I have been to but I will definitely have a lovely evening in front of the fire. So far no one else showed up. There's a family camping nearby. But being a sunny, mild Saturday evening, I wouldn't be surprised if more people are showing up. I'll let you know tomorrow. 
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Day 91: Dreaming Of The Beach

Hjälm to Stora Hornsjön

Distance: 30km

What a beautiful start into the hiking day, as the low sun is flooding the lake and farmland with golden light. The tranquility ends, once I pass a rather big school. An armada of mothers in their Volvo SUVs is dropping of kids in front of the school. It looks like madness. I guess in Sweden the way to school can be long.

Leaving the busy street behind, I follow some kind of ridge, offering spectacular views towards the sea. It's close, very close. Only around 3 kilometers to my right. I can't wait to finally dip my feet into the salty water.
Soon enough, reality is catching up on me. I follow an overgrown trail for several kilometers, knowing that I collect ticks with every step. The last few days have been completely okay. One or two of them each day. That is fairly acceptable. Today it's a whole lot more. To prevent them for climbing to far up my leg, I stop every couple of minutes, doing a strip tease in front of some trees or amused cows. Bending and twisting my back to check if there are any ticks on my back. I try to see the bright side of it. It's good stretching. Yet, I try to keep my hiking spirit up by day dreaming of the beach. Walking with bare feet, sand between my toes, the ticks far, far away. Soon, I say to myself. Soon. 

Currently, I am living or hiking for the vindskydds. Often, they are the highlight of my day. Not different today. Sweet location by a sandy beach, several fire place and basically no other soul around.
As it was just 30 kilometers today, I arrived early and now have plenty of time to savor the rest of the day: Reading my new book at the beach, going for a quick swim and cooking dinner over the fire.
I enjoy every minute as long as I still can. Tomorrow will be the last time staying in a vindskydd by a lake. Day after tomorrow's night will probably be spent somewhere in the forest and then... No idea if they have the shelters at the coast. I certainly hope so but you never know. 

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Day 90: New Possibilities

Norra Langvattnet to Hjälm 

Distance: 30km


After lots of talking until late last night, I take it slowly this morning. Julia is ready at roughly the same time and as we're headed in the same direction we join up for the morning.
The nice company and the generally refreshingly diverse Bohusleden, which we are following make the time fly. Julia is making a short day and after 3 hours it's time to say goodbye. Even though the hike together was short, I enjoyed it and gave me some well needed motivation.
Bohusleden eventually turns into Hallandsleden. Less traveled, not as well defined as Bohusleden at times but still clearly marked. This time in blue and orange. Forest gives way to farmland as I am approaching Hjälm vindskydd. 
Plenty of firewood. It's going to be a good evening in front of the fire. 
An evening with a lot of planning. To Halmstad and further. Julia told me about Skåneleden, which is following down the coast to Malmö. Since I love coastal walks, it caught my attention and I obviously had to google it. Immediately, it makes sense to continue or extend my hike southbound.
Roughly an additional 250 kilometers. With a promising weather forecast, I most probably will give it a shot. 

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Day 89: A Taste Of Göteborg

Stora Härsjön to Langvattnet

Distance: 35km

As one of my favorite followers correctly observed yesterday, the vindskydd was located right under the departure axis of Göteborg Airport.
While the German couple and I were sitting around the fire, taking a trip down the memory lane and exchanging stories of northern Scandinavia, I regularly looked skyward, admiring the aircraft climbing into the vast Scandinavian sky, their navigation lights becoming more and more visible as the sky turned from yellow to dark blue and finally black.
With the fire on it's last legs, it was time to say good night.

I had a good sleep until I was woken up by the rustle of a plastic bag. This familiar sound can only mean trouble. And sure is. Food from today's food bag is scattered all over the vindskydd. The thief ate its way through my cotton bag - the hole clearly visible. Luckily only the peanuts and raisin were stolen. The chocolate, my main concern, was left untouched. Not so bad after all. 

After unsuccessfully trying to sleep a bit longer, I leave for the outskirts of Göteborg. It's mostly on well formed, well marked hiking trails. Eventually, the trail gets surprisingly rocky and steep in parts. Parts where I realize, how stiff my body really is.

Going is hard today. However, at one point, I catch a great glimpse of Göteborg, can even spot the cargo port in the far distance. The sea!
This gives me a lot of motivation and on a busy but lovely lakeside trail, I now follow a more southerly heading again.
Eventually, I spot a lovely new shelter on a peninsula. I didn't know it existed but it's perfect for the night. Spontaneously I decide to end today's hike here. 
For the first time I share a shelter. It's huge so there's plenty of space for me and a German long distance hiker, who has been hiking across Sweden for 1000km.
We get along well, exchanging trail stories. Feels good to finally meet some other long distance hiker again! 

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Day 88: Easy Vindskydding

Abborrsjön to St Härsjön

Distance: 25km

I'm planning on staying in my warm, cozy sleeping bag until the sun is heating up the vindskydd. The mystical morning mood however, makes me crawl out of my sleeping bag well before sunrise, to take some nice photos. It was well worth it I think. 

By seven, I'm back on the trail. Destination: Hindås. Not much to write about the hike. My legs feel tired as does my whole body. After a brief resupply stop in Hindås and a visit to the second hand store to finally get a book (it took me 3 weeks...), I am leaving Sjuhäradsleden (even though Rita tried to teach me how to pronounce it, I'm still unable to do so) and joining Vildmarksleden, which will take me all the way to the outskirts of Göteborg.
Not much changes. The markings look a bit different, the trail generally wider, better maintained.
It's a hot day. Not much wind. I can't wait to jump into the water. So I push a bit on the last few kilometers, passing plenty of little lakes. Before 16:00 I arrive at the vindskydd. What should I say? As beautiful as always. Right by the lake, perfect for swimming. 
A German couple, which has been cycling for the last three months, is joining me. Tomorrow is their last day before returning to Kiel.
I still have to go a bit longer. I don't mind. At all! I am really looking forward for my last few days. 

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Day 87: Time To Slow Down

Borås to Abborrsjön

Distance: 25km

I slept well indeed. Yet, as my body got so used to it, I awake with first light on a foggy Monday morning. 

Rita spoils me with a big breakfast before taking me for a tiki tour around Borås. I have to admit, I do not have great expectations and am ready to explore a somewhat run down, deserted ex industrial town, which once was big in the textile business. However, I am positively surprised by the architecturally attractive town and its vibe as students are swarming the street on their way from the bus and train stations to the uni. The international town seems very much alive and is surprising me with unexpected elements such as a several meter tall Pinocchio statue. 
Borås is apparently the rainiest town in Sweden. Luckily not today. As the fog is lifting, well needed sunshine floods the town,making it look even prettier. 
Eventually, it's time to say goodbye to my lovely host and trail angel and I continue on my way towards the west. As the trail doesn't go through the town, which I think is a pity, it takes me a while until I rejoin it. Once on the trail, it is getting noticeably quieter. As much as I liked the 100'000 people town, I still prefer the solitude of the outdoors. 
After an unspectacular afternoon I arrive rather early at Abborrsjön vindskydd, once again wonderfully located by the lake. After two nights not sleeping on a lake, I'm looking forward to spend the night again close to the water. 
I go for a very quick swim (the water is freezing cold) and spend the evening relaxing and planning - planning the last stretch to Halmstad. I decide to slow down my pace for the last 250 or so kilometers. I want to savor them, enjoy this vindskydd hopping and "in the forest but by the lake living". The weather seems to be on my side, time is no factor. So why be in a hurry? And besides, my legs are tired from all the walking and they can need the slowdown as well.
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Day 86: Big City Life

Raska Minas to Borås 

Distance: 25km

As the day is going to be short I take it slowly on this cloudy Sunday morning.

By 7 o'clock I'm on my way. Surprisingly, there is a fair amount of hiking trail today. Mostly nice and easy to hike. Only the trail marking is, in my opinion, a bit bewildering at times. Markers were there but not exactly well placed, making me take the wrong way every now and then. As I am approaching the outskirts of Borås, I give up following the markers and use my phone to navigate. Being a friendly Sunday afternoon, after a couple of rainy days, lots of people are out and about. 
By 14:00, I arrive at Knalleland. A massiv shopping mile just north of the city. It's a somewhat funny name as in German it means "banging land". Anyway, it's where I meet Rita, my couchsurfing host for tonight. She's a wonderful host, offering me everything I need. A warm, delicious, late lunch, laundry and hot shower. We have some great talks, where I learn interesting things about the Swedish society, before we had back to Knalleland for some shopping. 
I feel a bit lost in this vast shopping area after spending the last couple of weeks on mountains or in the forest. Nevertheless, I find everything I need, eventually:
Gas, finally, and food for three days. Enough to the outskirts of Göteborg, where I will turn south towards Halmstad. At this moment, I have not decided yet, whether I should head respectively detour into Göteborg or continue directly to Halmstad. It will be a spontaneous decision. 

What a great feeling, sleeping on a real bed again. A welcome change from my inflatable mattress. I think I will sleep like a baby. 

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Day 85: One Day, Two Breakfast

Jogen to Raska Minas

Distance: 40km

Third rainy day in a row, 95 percent road walk. A day to forget? Not at all!

Three hours into a pretty boring road walk, I sit down at the side of the road for my breakfast. While opening my food bag, I am approached by a friendly local. She invites me for coffee, sandwiches, cinnamon rolls and fresh, delicious cherry tomatoes from their garden. After hiking in the light drizzle for 15 minutes, it's a great feeling to warm up with coffee. Together with her husband, we have a wonderful chat about my journey south. As they are attending a car race and I still have a good 25 kilometers ahead of me, we soon say goodbye. 

From their place, it's only a short hike to the industrial part and shopping malls of Ulricehamn, a rather large city. Being a Saturday morning, the are is rather busy and I don't feel like going shopping in my full rain gear. I have a hard time navigating through the area, take some wrong turns but eventually make it out of there.
Shortly after I miss a sign again and find myself in the middle of nowhere. According to the map I am on the right track but there are no signs and only a faint track, which I follow and eventually, after taking another wrong turn, reunite with the track. There, I soon enough stumbled across Dino, an English man, who is walking his dog. Without any hesitation, he invites me for a warm meal. I follow him to his and Marta's cozy hideaway in the forest. While he is cooking, he offers me to take a shower. After nearly 2 weeks of cleaning myself in rivers and lakes, I quickly agree. 

Out of the shower, a delicious English breakfast, or fry-up as it's apparently called at 2 in the afternoon, consisting of beans, bacon, tomatoes and eggs, is awaiting me. A very enjoyable meal, especially as it brings back wonderful memories from the breakfast made by George in Te Whare Kererū. 
Dino is a well-traveled man, has plenty of stories to share and I really like listening to them. 
Eventually, it's time to continue again. It's not too far anymore though. As the rain is getting heavier again, he offers me an umbrella. Might sound strange but it's in fact a perfect addition to my gear. With all the roadwalk from here to Halmstad, I can exchange my hiking poles with the umbrella in case of rain. 
It works like a charm and completely dry I arrive at Raska Minas. An old cottage from the 19th century. It's not meant for sleeping though so I make myself comfortable in the brand new vindskydd right across the cottage. I skipp dinner as I am still completely full from my two breakfasts. 

While hiking-wise it might have not been a memorable day, the amazing hospitality, which I had the opportunity to enjoy today, turned this day into a wonderful one. Especially after the last, rather lonely couple of days. 



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Day 84: Turning West-Southwest

Södra Kroksjön to Jogen

Distance: 40km

My early starts are becoming later and later. Maybe a bit because I am getting lazier but mostly because the days are getting shorter rapidly. Today, with thick, black rain clouds hanging low above the trees it is especially dark. So dark in fact, I walk the first 30 minutes with my headlamp on. And by then it's well past six in the morning.
The rain or rather drizzle is soaking me quickly. Especially thanks to the strong wind, which makes the water hit me horizontally. Hard to stay dry. At least those rainy days usually mean good progress as I walk quickly and hardly ever stop to look around or take photos. My light backpack helps as well. In fact, I am running out of everything. Water, food, gas, battery... (okay, the low battery doesn't really make my pack much lighter). With the more frequent towns and resupply options, I continously postpone buying proper hiking food like pasta, raisins or peanuts. Just the usual bread and ice cream, which are gone within seconds.
Same today as I pass Mullsjö. Some bread and chocolate. Mainly just to get out of the rain. I am loitering around a quiet entrance for a while, charging my phone, waiting for the rain to pass. That really is trail life for me.

After a good hour I continue my hike, now heading away from the Vätern lake. West-southwest on a new trail with an non memorable, hard to pronouncing name. Initially it's aimlessly meandering around a forest before it follows a road for 15 or so kilometers, which on a much drier afternoon are quickly covered.
I'm not sure what would expect me at Jogen lake. Some sources say just a BBQ/pinic place, some say a vindskydd. Of course I hope for the latter. As I get closer, I can smell burning birch wood. Hopefully, the place is not occupied. That would be a bummer. 
When I arrive, all I find is a nicely burning fire but no one around. They must come back shortly I think and wait a bit. Nothing happens. Oh well then, thanks to whoever made the fire. I gladly make myself comfortable, using the fire to cook my dinner. Saving some gas. Sweet!                      
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Day 83: The Easy Way

Vitsjön to Södra Kroksjön

Distance: 30km

Neither as much rain nor as much wind as expected during the night. And by the time I am about to leave, it's dry. Nevertheless, I'm dressed in my rain gear. If I wouldn't, Mr Murphy would make sure that I get hammered by rain. And this would be a pain in the ass. Stopping and putting on the rain gear after a couple of minutes.

Hiking is easy. Very sandy soil, a pleasure for my feet. Also the scenery is great as the path is following several small lakes. Plenty of fishermen waiting patiently in the rain for their dinner to bite the hook. Or whatever it's called. I still haven't learnt how to fish.

At one point, I find a sweet shortcut through a nature reserve. Saves me from an hour walk in the rain. No idea why the official trail is making a big loop around it. Anyway, this shortens my day considerably and I make it to my vindskydd by 14:00. There's no other shelter within reach today and with the bad weather, I'm glad for an early finish. Going the easy way. 

Speaking of the "easy way": I walked past a sign this morning, giving me the option for an easy way. Being on a long distance hike, I usually follow the more or less easiest way. No need to make an already long hike longer. Especially on a wet day like today. Maybe it's not always the prettiest one but eventually there's a goal to achieve. If I would climb every mountain on the way, detour for every waterfall, I'd still be in Finmark. While it would certainly be an option for a different kind of hiking, for me, I definitely prefer the easy way on such a long distance walk. 
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Day 82: Precious Water

Röåsjön to Vitsjön 

Distance: 37km

It's been a lonely hike yesterday. Yes, I saw plenty of people. People sightseeing in Forsvik, people shopping in Mölltorp. Still, I haven't really talked to anyone. When hiking in the mountains or forest the whole day, without seeing anyone, then, strangely, I never feel this kind of loneliness. So I hoped someone might overnight at the vindskydd as well. However, I've usually had the shelter for myself. I didn't expect it to be different.
And sure enough, I had the vindskydd all for myself during a windy but extremely mild night.
My belly coped with the filthy water just fine, even though it made some strange sounds. Like a warning not to repeat that. 

Today's hike a mix of okay hiking trails, farm and forest tracks. Shortly after leaving the vindskydd, I slip on a sandy, steep descent. I hit my knee slightly. Nothing to worry about. Yet it shows that while the trail is not demanding anymore, I still need to concentrate.
There's a bit of drizzle in the morning. The first sign of the bad weather slowly creeping up and which will hit my area tonight. Well, after one week of sunshine, I should be able to handle two rainy days.

What currently is a challenge is drinking water. On the one hand my broken filter is not exactly helpful on the other hand there simply isn't any water apart from some filthy streams and ponds. I wouldn't even drink that after filtering it.
Luckily the Swedes are a helpful bunch of people. I ask a sweet old lady, who is sitting in her garden for some water. She happily agrees. Even though we don't speak a common language, I can more or less explain what journey I am on. She seems impressed and even asks for a photo :)
After this lovely encounter I continue. Feels good to have a full water bottle and having talked to someone again. 

Before 16:00 I arrive at Vitsjön vindskydd. It doesn't disappoint. Wonderful location by the lake. As usual.
I settle in, preparing for an initially stormy and then rainy night. 

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Day 81: In Need Of Motivation

Stora Djäknasjön to Röåsjön Vindskydd

Distance: 38km

A continuous up and down. Not the topography my trail life. While yesterday was a super hiking day, it looks different today. Not the first few kilometers to Granvik though. They are fairly nice. Also the bathing place of Granvik itself looks inviting. Maybe at 6 in the morning a bit too early for a swim but the views across Vättern are pretty.

From there the trail climbs and descends surprisingly steep over several rock formations. While I don't mind, I wasn't expecting it. When the trail is becoming more and more overgrown it's becoming annoying. At one point, when the trail veers off to the north, I decide to abandon it and walk along a gravel road. Saves me 5 to 10 kilometers and a lot of nerves. Luckily, the military shooting range seems quiet. Maybe they follow the Swiss schedule and don't do any exercising before 8.
I pass the museum like town Forsvik and then climb Vaberget, which offers the only decent views of today. Also from up here, Vättern looks big.

At Mölltorp, I resupply. Nothing else to do and see there. The pizzeria looks not too inviting. They never do when they combine it with a Kebab place. I guess as Swiss living 20km away from the Italian border, I am a bit spoiled.

More road walks follows. I feel tired, unmotivated and am relieved when the last 3 kilometers are along a good hiking trail. The vindskydd though. A bit of a letdown. Really. They chopped the forest around it. A rather sad sight. I'm out of energy though to continue. And I wouldn't no where anyway. The next shelter is 13 kilometers away in the middle of nowhere. No reason to go there.
After unpacking, I head down to the lake. The water looking extremely filthy. As I am not exactly prepared for a dry camp, I get some water for cooking nonetheless. I'm positive my stomach can handle it just fine after boiling it for five minutes. If not, well... Better not think too much about it. Bon appetite! 

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Day 80: So Long, Bergslagsleden

Kråksjön to Stora Djäknasjön 

Distance: 37km... again! 

I got slightly carried away chopping fire wood yesterday. Shortly before slipping into my sleeping bag, I tossed the remaining logs into the fire, which let the fire keep burning well into the night. Together with the howling wolves somewhere on the other side of the lake, full moon (I know, there's no connection between full moon and howling wolves) it produced a special atmosphere.
What about today? Well, it has been an exquisite day on the trail. Already the first few kilometers along a lovely trail through alpine pine forest, partly covered in fog are a real mood booster. In fact the trail reminds me of my running trails in Celerina. You couldn't tell the difference.
After a non memorable hike through more forest, I enter the Tivedens national park. A rough trail but it's meandering between huge, mossy boulders. I feel like in Jurassic Park. 
Shortly afterwards, I leave Berglagsleden, a trail I have been following for the last 250 kilometers. While fairly underwhelming in the beginning, wet and rough, it got better and better. With today's fantastic finish, I will keep it in good memory. 
The trail drops me in the middle of a large campground. I'm somewhat lost. No signs of another trail, a trail, which takes me south. Aimlessly, I roam around the campground, filling my water bottles on one of the many tabs. Eventually, I spot an orange sign, leading me beneath a skilift onto a terribly overgrown trail. I bash my way through. Not as bad as I feared. Still, hopefully no bad omen. Going gets easier and by 17:15 I reach Stora Djäknasjön Vindskydd. Located highly above the lake. Berglagsleden might be behind me but these shelters seem to remain quite amazing. 

There's no firewood though. I don't care. Too hot anyway. The weather has been spectacular once more. There's a jetty down at the lake though. Perfect for swimming. After a long, sweaty day a must do. 

The trail I'm now following is the Vätterleden. It will lead me south, along the massiv Vättern lake and I plan on being at it's southern end in 3 or 4 days. There I will turn west and set course towards Göteborg on yet another trail, which name I don't know yet but will eventually find out. Like Vätterleden. A name I read for the first time today. My planning... A disaster. However, I made it until here. So I'm not doing it all wrong. I guess. 
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Day 79: The Southbound Tick Express

Södra Holmsjön to Kråksjön

Distance: 37km

My eastwards facing vindskydd offers me an amazing view at the burning morning sky. Still nicely wrapped in my sleeping bag, I cook some porridge. Breakfast in bed. A little bit of luxury out here. 

I take it slow. Scared to walk as I know the first few steps will hard. They always are after a long day. Eventually, nature calls and the 50 steps to the toilet are torture. Luckily it only last for a couple of seconds. Once hitting the trail, everything is back in the green. Not much to write about today. So forestry roads, but mostly on great footpaths, leading me through the forest. They are overgrown though and I am an easy prey for the ticks. By 8, I have removed around 10 of them, at the end of the day, 25 maybe? I stopped counting. This really is a pain in the ass but that's just part of the trail. Something I got to deal with. 

At least I'm now on an a heading, which more or less takes me straight to the south. After all this detour to the east and west quite a relief. In fact, as of today, I'm further down south than Stockholm. Some motivation for the coming days. 

Around 17:00 I check-in at Kråksjön vindskydd. Another amazing shelter. Thank you Sweden for providing them. They make my trail life so much better. 
Today it's time for a fire again. But that comes with a price: without sawing and chopping wood, no fire. It takes me 30 minutes, however, it's a welcome change from walking. 

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Day 78: A Looooong One

Göljan to Södra Holmsjön

Distance: 57km

A long day, my energy right now subzero. I try to keep it short and sweet.

I got fat since there is a supermarket every few kilometers. Well, maybe fat is a slight exaggeration but I definitely gained some kilos, which I don't feel like carrying around. Hence, I have set an ambitious goal for today: 57 kilometers. 

My plan is to average 4 kilometers an hour. Since it's mainly hiking trails today, it depends on them if I can keep the pace. If I am slower, I won't make it as I don't want to walk for more than 14 hours. 
I leave my wonderful vindskydd with first light, still using my headlamp for the dark forest parts. The start into my hiking day is surprisingly diverse, passing plenty of little lakes, all of them steaming in the cold morning air. 
Going gets a bit more monotonous, the trail meandering through the forest. I'm tempted to shortcut again but decide to stick to the trail, which passes through a national park and several nature reserves. It's not worth the extra kilometers though. No views and not much different from the other parts. 

Four and a half hours or 20 kilometers into the hike, which has been going great so far, I take my first break at a vindskydd, where a party of three is just getting ready to start their day. I get a bit jealous. A lazy start into a new day sounds tempting. Especially after getting up at four this morning. But then again, with my restless feet, I'd probably getting... Restless. Without too much talking I continue. Three fast hours to the next vindskydd for my next break. And look who's there: the same party as before! Quite a coincidence. It's not like Sweden is a small country. 
They must think 'this lazy guy is always taking breaks'. And I am wondering how they managed to get here before me? Was I really hiking so slowly?! Turns out they took the car. I'm relieved ;) 
After a long rest and a lovely chat with this great bunch, I continue. I would have loved to talk a bit longer but I can't get too comfortable. 
More road walk ahead so I can make a more accurate prediction of when I will arrive. It's getting tougher by the minute. Nothing is hurting but after 45 kilometers with plenty of up and down my legs are running out of energy. 
As I must have lost the O ring of my water filter during the last couple of days, it has become useless. I am a bit pissed off as I knew it eventually had to happen but I never really cared. Luckily there's water in Sixtorp. I empty a 1.5L bottle in one go and fill up another one. 3 additional kilos. My legs are not happy. 

Somehow I manage to keep going for another 10 kilometers until, after 13 kilometers, I reach my vindskydd. It's not nearly as scenic as the one last night. At this point, I could not care less. All I need is food and rest. No fire. Too much work. 

After removing a tick, which somehow managed to bight me into my hip, right where I have my hip belt pressing on it for 13 hours, I eat my pasta and crawl straight into my sleeping bag. 

What should I say: It feels good reaching my ambitious goal. It shows I am reasonably fit. But it all feels a bit rushed. Only push, push, push. I'll probably take it slower the next couple ofdays. I have had my 'fun' today with going fast and far.

By the way: exactly 700 kilometers. That is the distance still ahead of me. 

And... I could not keep it short. Oh well, I guess long day, a lot to say. 

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Day 77: Lost In Time And Space

Storsjön to Göljan

Distance: 40km

The last dozen or so days have been similar. Not boring. But similar. A lot of trees, many red houses and small lakes. Maybe it's because of this that I lost track of where exactly I am (in the big picture), how far and how long it is to Halmstad, South of Göteborg, where I will most probably finish section two. At the moment I'm living or hiking in the here and now. Still, it might be a good idea to get back the big picture. Especially since I get asked a lot how many kilometers I have walked or how many I still have to walk. After finishing writing this blog, I will check how far it is to Halmstad. 

But first, let's talk about today: Another early start. I deviate from Bergslagsleden to get resupply in Nora, a surprisingly nice town (at least the center and lake front) , looking neat in the early morning sun. 
With groceries done, I rejoin the trail at Pershyttan, an interesting little settlement, where everything is about mining. After having a look around, I continue. It's mostly a pleasant walk with just a very few rougher, slower sections. Shortly before reaching my planned vindskydd near Kilsbergstugan, I take a wrong turn. Takes me nearly a kilometer until I realize it. I know I should take it easy but it is always pissing me off. Big time. Angry as I turn around, angry at the stupid way marking. It's completely my fault though. The marking is clear as day. I didn't pay attention. 
Still fuming, I reach the vindskydd. It's not looking inviting at all. Especially with the smell of a dead animal in the air. 
My earlier mishap gave me a lot of energy. Negative motivation. Maybe not the best kind of motivation but an effective one for sure. So I decide to continue to the next vindskydd, 4 kilometers down the trail. And oh boy, it is so worth it. Amazing location, overlooking the lake and plenty of firewood. After a quick swim, I start the fire. Like yesterday: a super enjoyable ending of the day.
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Day 76: Few Good Views, Plenty Of Blueberries

Stjernfors to Storsjön

Distance: 40-45km


I sleep like a baby. It's windy and the waves from the lake are calming. 


Yet, I wake up just past four in the morning for an early start. The way I like it.

E1 in Sweden: every day is a surprise. You never know how the trail is gonna be. Today: wet and overgrown. Slightly annoying to walk. It's a rewarding morning walk though as the views from Mackarsberg are fabulous. I have an early break, soaking up the scenery. There really aren't that many sweeping views anymore. Once I have enjoyed enough, I continue. After following the trail for a wee bit longer, I opt for a shortcut along a gravel road, as the trail is meandering east and west through forest. As much as I want to hike the complete Bergslagsleden, which is a part of E1, it's just too much detour at times. Even though I have enough time for all this meandering , the urge to head south is strong. Extremely strong. 


Before noon, I rejoin the trail, which now leads me through farmland. A very welcoming change and, if it wasn't for the red houses, reminds me of home. While stopping for my lunch break, I head, like so often, straight into my midday crisis. Usually 20 to 30km hiked and nearly as much still to go, when your body is already tired. Not too motivating, really. 

Anyway, I usually get my act together quickly. No difference today and so I am off again. 18 kilometers to go. 

They are relatively easy kilometers. Plenty of blueberries to keep my stomach happy, a dry, well formed track. Initially along ATV and farming tracks then forest and eventually some boardwalk, before I reach Storsjön, my destination. 

Another lovely vindskydd. Right by a tarn, just me and even an open shed with firewood. 

Before settling in, I cut some not very dry wood, make a fire. Not easy. After a difficult, smokey start (I'm gonna smell like a smoked sausage tomorrow), it's burning surprisingly well. 


A fire at the end of a day is something I really enjoy. Somehow rounds up the day nicely. No different today. 

Before the now slowly dying but still warming fire, I'm typing these lines. Life is good. 

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Day 75: Drying

Nothussundet to Stjernfors

Distance: 40km

Rain. A lot of rain. It's pouring down the whole night. Also when it's getting bright, the rain is still heavy. No way I go out there right now. I rather stay in my cozy shelter, listening to another chapter of my audio book.
By seven, I make the decision to leave at latest by nine. Otherwise I might not make it to Kopparberg. 
However, shortly after that, the rain slowly but surely is becoming lighter. I start packing and by the time I'm ready to leave, it's actually just some droplets falling out of the sky. Good timing.

After 20 hours in my vindskydd, it's time to say goodbye. It did a great job in keeping my dry.
The day starts with a bit of roadwalk (I opt again for the parallel running road instead of the hiking path) before I make a hard right turn into Bergslagsleden, a trail which I will follow for nearly 300km. Hiking on the well defined trail is mostly fairly pleasant, despite it's partly submerged and some bridges actually floating. Crossing them is a fairly wobbly thing that is actually quite fun and something different. By the time I reach Finngruva, it's already 15:00, the rain has stopped completely. At Finngruva, an old mining site, I leave Bergslagsleden and drop into Kopparberg for resupply. The town and its inhabitants look fairly run down. I first thought of changing into clean clothes before heading into the supermarket. However, looking at the people going in and out of the store, I won't stand out too much.
Further up north, I left my backpack outside, sometimes even charged my phone somewhere in the shop while shopping. Here, well, I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it. In fact I even take my hiking poles with me. Kinda sad but I've left the "safe" world from norther Scandinavia.

Shopping is a quick and easy undertaking as I only need food for 2 days. Without wasting too much time, I leave the town again. The last 6 kilometers to my vindskydd in Stjernfors are tough kilometers. But I make it. Just before seven, I arrive at the vindskydd. Again a nice location right next to a tiny sand beach. 

I'm going through my usual routine: eating and a short dip into the lake before I crawl into my warm sleeping bag, getting ready for the night. 

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Day 74: Short But Wet

Smedjebacken to Nothussundet

Distance: 25km

Despite the rain, I leave early. No point in waiting as it will be raining throughout the day. And the longer I wait, the harder it will become to leave warm and cozy Lottas Krog.

By six o'clock I'm on my way into a short hiking day. 25 kilometers to Nothuskojan is the plan. Basically a straight line south. The first few kilometers are along or beneath a high voltage line, following a sometimes muddy, sometimes overgrown maintenance track. The rain is getting heavier and by the time I pass Björsjö, it's even torrential rain. No chance in keeping myself dry. There would be a hiking trail from Björsjö to Nothus running parallel to the road. I opt for the road though. Mainly because I am soaking wet and starting to be uncomfortably cold. Without any break I reach Nothus just before noon. There I have the option to stay in a basic hut in the forest or in a vindskydd by the lake. The vindskydd looks more inviting with a lovely view over the lake.
Even though it's only 12:00 I decide to call it a hiking day. I'm in no rush, especially not when it's pouring down.

So I make myself comfortable: Getting changed, having lunch, listening to a John Grisham audio book and writing this blog. Plenty of time. But I enjoy it. Taking it easy and looking at the raindrops hitting the lake from my sheltered hideaway. 

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Day 73: Tougher Than I Thought

Spansfäbodarna to Smedjebacken 

Distance: 40km

An early start again. Not because it will be a particularly long day but rather because of the forecasted rain this afternoon.

Fairly quiet I leave the hut, which is located within a fäbod and right next to the road. I'm surprised there weren't more people staying. Anyway, I don't complain.
After yesterday's great trail marking, today, well, there aren't any. Using GPS to navigate. But when the map is outdated, respectively trail on the map don't exist in real world, it gets tiring. Half an hour after leaving the hut, I find myself lost in thick forest, a trail nowhere to be seen. It's a pain to bash my way through to the next road. Even though it's just a kilometer. While markings are still missing, at least the next short off-road stretch has a faint trail to follow.
Things improve once I join Sméleden, which is properly marked all the way to Smedjebacken. As it's mostly road walk, that doesn't matter though.

It's mostly easy walking. Yet I don't feel too fit, taking breaks every couple of kilometers. My backpack, which is comparably light with food for 2 more days, feels heavy nonetheless. The weather seems to stay favorable for longer than I thought, so no stress. An overlook on top of a hill offers sweeping views of the area around me. Lots of forest.
It's also where I discover two ticks on my legs. Pretty unnecessary but after all this hiking through forest inevitable. Still, quite a bummer and it's definitely dampening my mood. For the remaining 10 kilometers, I constantly keep checking for ticks. 

Smedjebacken is reached by 15:00. Well, I don't go into the town itself but rather stay at Lottas Krog, a nice, old hostel, located right next to the trail for the night. After 6 days it's time for a hot shower again.
I've been looking forward to treat myself with a pizza from around the corner, which in Scandinavia is a kilometer away. I slowly walk there only to realize it's closed for renovation. Oh well, so back again. Some more kilometers after a 40 kilometers day don't make a difference anymore.

With my belly full of pasta, I go back to my room, using the wifi to plan the next couple of days. More towns, more forest. I don't expect it to be too challenging. But with thru-hiking... You never know. 

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Day 72: The Luxurious Hut

Gradbodarna to Spansfäbodarna

Distance: 30km

I sleep like a baby and wake up well rested. There's no need to hurry as it's a 4.5 kilometers walk into Mockfjärd, where the supermarket opens at 08:00.

Knowing my pace quite well, I time my departure time in order to make it there right in time. On a comparably cold morning I walk on a nice trail towards Mockfjärd, where I arrive at 2 minutes past eight. Not bad but also room for improvement.
Resupply is a quick and easy task as it is only for two days. By 08:30 I'm back on my way south. Mostly forest, with some fäbot offering a welcome change of scenery. E1 is clearly marked today. You might not believe me, however, these E1 signs not only making navigation easier but they also have a positive impact on my motivation.

About two thirds into my hike I meet a fairly large, good mooded hiking group from STF, the Swedish touring or hiking association. Wonderful people. A Swedish German teacher (does this make sense? ;) uses the chance to practice some German. Should you read this, it was a pleasure talking to you and if you need a Swiss German speaking long distance hiker talking to your students, drop me a message! 

From there until I reach my overnight stay, it's extremely wet terrain with myr, which is fine with me, but also some outright muddy parts. Going is rough, even hard at times. The scenery and vegetation is different. More like around Skorovatn, where I started nearly a month ago. Also a gorge makes for a nice change to the usually flat terrain. Dragoberget, a lovely, bright hut with large windows looks inviting to stay. It is too early to call it a day though. And I don't feel like starting tomorrow with mud bashing. And mud bashing it is on the last 5 kilometers of the day. Hard work. I pass a 327 meters tall antenna and suddenly start feeling uncomfortably dizzy. Not sure if it is the radio waves cooking my brain or the overripe cloudberry I ate a couple of minutes ago. Anyway, if I pass out and fall, with all the mud, at least it will be a soft landing.

Luckily without passing out, I reach the hut. Well, hut an understatement. With electricity, a kitchen and a heated toilet it's a level above a hut. And all this for free. A mom with her daughter made themselves comfortable in the living room, where they have warming fire going, I take the bunk bed in the sleep room. After a quick swim in the cold lake, I have some interesting talk with the two of them, mostly about Swedish food. A very important topic as well. 

By 20:00 it is time for the daughter to hit the deck and I also retreat to my room. It's going to be an early start tomorrow. Trying to beat the weather once again. 

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Day 71: Short And Sweet

Brasjön to Gradbodarna 

Distance: 30km

I made promises to myself yesterday to squeeze in these extra miles. And promises are here to be kept. So I enjoy my porridge with extremely locally sourced blueberries (from behind the vindskydd), while watching a lovely sunrise.
It's (for me) late, when I leave the vindskydd shortly after 6. 
The trail is not nearly as nice to walk as yesterday. Muddy, wet. These muddy trails usually are full of prints: boots, dogs, (rein)deer. More or less always the same ones. Well, not today. Today I spot something different. Something big. My first thought: bear. And this sends a shiver down my spine.
Double checking with a "find out which animal it is guide" quickly confirms it. I'm not alone out there. I sing a bit louder on the next kilometers.

As I'm getting tired of the mud, I decide to walk on the parallel road. Saves me the hassle and some kilometers.

My second promise, to keep my hike short today, is also easily fulfilled. By 15:00 I reach Gradbodarna, where I plan on camping in the vindskydd. I'm about to unpack my stuff, when I am approached by someone with the usual question where my hike is taking me. It's an ice breaker question respectively answer, as it's not something too common I'm doing here.
Anyway, we have a lovely chat about the history of this place, which dates back to the 16th century. He offers me to stay in his cabin's BBQ hut, which I gladly accept. After providing me with firewood and fresh water, he leaves me to it and drives off back to his home. 

With a warming fire going and after three long 50km days, I enjoy a long, relaxing afternoon. 

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Day 70: Squeezing In Some Extra Kilometers

Södra Garberg to Brasjön

Distance: 50km

Friday the 13th... Bad luck? Well, the day starts reasonably okay. Firstly, I didn't get eaten by the ants. In fact they behaved good and didn't disturb me at all. Secondly, I'm positively surprised by the long drop toilet. Clean, plenty of toilet paper and one of the few toilets, which isn't close to overflowing.
Anyway, let's not talk about shit. 

Yesterday left a lot of room for improvement. And an improvement is definitely here. The trail is so much smoother than yesterday, walking a pleasure dispite feeling rather stiffly. 
Taking it slow, I take an early break, where I am approached by a Swedish marathon runner. We have a great chat and it's actually my first longer conversation with a Swedish person since arriving in Sweden. Hope you ran a good race should you read this) 
I pass many small settlements (called fäbodar I think). They were used as summer grazing sites for cows. Similar to the Alp in Switzerland. 

Walking past one of these fäbodar, I meet 4 girls from Stockholm, who are on 4 day hike along Siljansleden. For a couple of kilometers, I join this funny bunch. If I remember correctly it's the first time since Nordkapp that I'm not hiking by myself. It feels good, even though it's just for half an hour. 
They turn left towards Siljan lake to spend there, I turn left to Kollsjön to spend mine there. Well, that was the plan at least. There's a shelter, a so called vindskydd, but the lake itself is not accessible. And in general, it all does not look too welcoming. So what now? The next vindskydd and suitable place to spend the night is 7.5km away. Should I go there? No, too far. Or isn't it? After a second thought I give it a go. I trust my instinct that the Brasjön vindskydd will be much more pleasant to spend the night. Slowly but surely starting to run on fumes, I'm heading towards my definite final destination for today. I'm motivating myself with a shorter day tomorrow and a porridge for breakfast. Just before 19:00 and a couple of minutes before the forecasted rain starts I reach the shelter. And oh boy... It was worth every extra step I've done today. Lovely location with unobstructed views and access to the lake. While dinner is in the making, I have a quick dip in the lake. A pleasure after sweating like a bull throughout the day. 

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Day 69: Another Day To Forget

Sundetkojan to Södra Garberg 

Distance: 50km

A mediocre day from morning to evening. Really. I don't even know what to write. Early start again. It's foggy, mystical but cold until the sun starts finding its way through the pine trees.
I pass by a group of 5 or 6 south easters Asian looking men, camping out in the forest. They don't seem to do it for the fun of it. But rather because there might be no other place for them to stay.

This shows me how incredibly privileged I am. I choose to do the hiking, to live the simple lifestyle on the trail, to camp in the forest because I want to, not because I have to. Always with the reassuring feeling of knowing that my salary gets wired to my bank account every 23rd of the month. Even when I am not at work.

I keep thinking about these people for a while. There's not much else to do. The trail is a racetrack (it really is as they do bicycle races and long distance running races on this tail from Mora to Sälen). Every couple of kilometers there is a water refill station, free internet and benches. Hiking made ease.
It all changes after 30 kilometers. It's 11:00 when I leave Vasaloppsleden and make a right turn onto Siljansleden. Much rougher from the beginning. To be honest I enjoy it less and less the longer I hike it. Especially the descent from a surprisingly picturesque N Garberg on the completely overgrown trail is lowering my hiking spirit. I short cut once (on a marked snowmobile track, which turns out to be a pleasant walk and saves me 2 kilometers) and use forestry tracks wherever possible. Tomorrow's gonna be the same I assume. So I rather not aim for a too ambitious number of kilometers tomorrow. After two long days it's time to slow down a bit anyway.

On a positive note: I reached the Södra Garberg Raststuga. 
It is borderline to unacceptable though . No water close by, thousands of (winged, male?) ants are in there. Crawling around and what looks like slowly dying. They don't bite, still not something I can really use tonight. 
I will spend the night here anyway, as there's literally nowhere else to camp within miles. No river, no lake just trees. Millions of trees.

On another positive note (so today's diary is not tooooo negative): the weather has been amazing once more. And I am enjoying it as long as it is prevailing. 

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Day 68: Electrifying

Sälen (Vindfallen) to Sundetkojan

Distance: 50km

After taking it (too) easy the last few days, my restless feet want to be unleashed again. Before five, I leave my cozy cabin.
A bit of road bash along a quiet highway takes me to Sälen, where I join the Vasaloppsleden. Overall, a pleasant mix of forestry roads and forest tracks. Some of them boardwalked (I actually quite like these boardwalks as I feel like floating above the ground), some rocky bits but mostly pure, soft forest soil. Pleasant and easy to walk.
I'm thinking big today. About me, skirting around Göteborg in a few weeks, the beach walk in Denmark next year and my arrival in Switzerland. Of course, I need to think big when I plan my big hikes. However, while hiking, thinking too far ahead is usually not a wise thing. It makes me feel small, the goal unachievable when I walk with my 4 kilometers an hour.

Anyway, I pass some little villages and some ancient mills (not George ;). The day goes by fairly unspectacularly. Until some towering cumulus clouds bring in some spice when they turn into full grown cumulu-nimbus clouds. And I am headed right for them. Luckily, the lightning seem to be within the cloud. Still, the thunder directly above me is impressive. It's a constant rumble. I keep on pressing, aiming for my hut. Shortly before reaching it, fat, lazy raindrops start plunging down. I'm astonished it took them so long. Now... should I change into rain gear or continue in my sunshine outfit? I go for the latter and with a sprint I make it reasonably dry to the hut. Spectacularly located on a lake.

While it's pouring down outside, I unpack and get my food ready. 50 kilometers make me hungry... Before eating and changing I quickly jump into the inviting lake. Surprisingly warm but I retain from swimming out. Would be a shame to get struck by a lightning with dinner already cooking. 

After finishing my big pot of pasta, I play 3 rounds of Yatze with my young German hut mate (and stand no chance). While playing weather improves greatly. In fact the weather and the glittering lake look so inviting that I finish a lovely day with a sunset swim. 

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Day 67: Zero Day Sälen

Sleeping in, relaxing, eating, fixing one of my sandal's sole and a tent pole and buying food for my next 6 days stretch to Mockfjärd. So just the usual stuff I do on a Zero Day. 


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Day 66: Mission Cashless Laundry

Östfjällsstugan to Sälen Lindvallen

Distance: 8km

A very short day. After a quick swim in the lake I make my way down towards Sälen. Initially a wide gravel path followed by a tar sealed path. It's, since resuming in Skorovas, my first dry feet day!

The skiing village (or mountain biking villige in summer as it looks) is extremely spread out. My small airbnb however is conveniently located close to a supermarket. Before shopping though I absolutely have to do my laundry. Especially after these hot few days a couple of days ago, my clothes are in a really bad shape. Even for me, walking in them, was uncomfortable.

This town is a cash less town. So only credit card or a Swedish pay app accepted. For the laundry I'd need to download yet another app to pay and start my laundry. As I am not Swedish and have no Swedish bank account, I can't use the app. It's a tiring back and forth with the reception of the shopping center (where the laundry is located) until I finally have my clothes washed. Took me longer get the machine started than the washing itself. Making things unnecessary complicated...

The rest of the day is relaxing, cooking, a bit of sauna and catching up with friends and family. 

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Day 65: One Last Day Above The Tree Line

Granfjellssätern to Östfjällsstugan 
Distance: 20km

The title says it all. Today, and for a few meters tomorrow (but I do not count that ;), E1 will be taking me above the tree line. Soaking up the sweeping views one last time. Looking towards the south - east over the vast Scandinavian pine forest - forest, where I will spend most of my remaining weeks in Scandinavia in. So I take my time today, take it slowly, don't want to rush out of the mountains.

The coming weeks will be very different. Flatter, more forest, more towns, more culture. Not worse or more boring than the previous parts. Just different. I'm honest: I will miss the Fjell - the mountains. The views. The solitude. But I am also looking forward for a change.

Back to the now: it's a late start after a extremely rainy night. It's only 20 kilometers lying ahead of me. So no rush. After a uncommon breakfast, I leave my sheltered, warm place. The trail is wet. Actually, I am not sure if it's a river or a trail. No rain but clouds accompanying me until the next hut, where I meet a father and son, who envite me for coffee. An hour later, we are on the way again. Even though they are headed in the same direction and I thought I would take it very slowly, I quickly leave them behind. I guess when you spend so much time hiking, there's not such a thing as 'slow hiking'. 
Weather improves, the trail stays wet and bumpy all the way. In fact it's quite undulating terrain and I did a good amount of vertical meters. Once I get closer to my designated camping spot, more and more people are crossing my path. Mostly families enjoying the sunny Sunday afternoon. I'm definitely getting closer to civilization, where I will arrive tomorrow, after a short 8 kilometers hike. Check in time at my little cabin is 11:00. So it's going to be a late start again tomorrow. 

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Day 64: Up, Down, Up, Down And Up

Tangasdal to Granfjellssätern 

Distance: 30km

Somehow I am glad I didn't end up in the first, locked hut. On the one hand I have a great evening with the French guys with good talks and marshmallows over the fire, on the other hand it would make today a somewhat easy hike.
Yet, I start early. Bad weather is expected for the afternoon. A good trail takes me out of the valley and 10 kilometers later down again into the same one. After a bit of road it's up and down over a small pass again, mostly through pine forest over dry ground. Over a wide river with an impressive foot bridge and some wetlands I tackle the last climb. It's a surprisingly rough, muddy trail, especially as I get closer to the hut. As it's only early afternoon, I don't mind the slow progress. Anyway, I am happy to spot the tiny little hut. More a shelter for emergencirs than anything else. After yesterday's long hike and today's up and down, my legs are tired.

They will have time to recover though. Tomorrow will be a late start as I have two days to cover 30 kilometers. And the 3rd day will be a zero day. Via airbnb I rented a cabin. Located on the trail and private sauna included :) 
Am I becoming a couch potato? Maybe so temporarily. However, I want to give my body some easy days so I can crush the kilometers again well rested on my next leg. 

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Day 63: Closed Hut, Long Day

Id-Persätern Tangasdal

Distance: 48km

Long day, I will keep it short and sweet. 

The day starts as it finished. Walking in the forest. However, it's more wetlands (they called it myr) this time, which look mystical in the early morning fog.
I'm feeling okay. Not great, not bad either. On the somewhat neglected, overgrown trail, I make progress but my feet feel stiff and somewhat rusty. After passing Gördalen, a short but juicy climb takes me up and into Fulufjällets National Park. It's rocky terrain again, my feet and ankles are protesting but I ignore them. Well, I go slowly. No need to hurry. I plan on staying in a hut, roughly 38 kilometers from Id-Persätern. So a comparably short hike.
Despite the bumpy trail, the views on this high plain are lovely. And I am not the only one. The park is actually rarher busy.

Anyway, slowly but surely I make it to my designated hut. It's wonderfully located above a lake. I can't wait to cook my dinner. Once at the door, I want to open it. Nothing happens. Locked! I try once again. Nothing. I'm surprised. The website says it should be open. 
Shit happens. And this is rather harmless shit compared to other things happening on the trail. 
The weather is good so camping is definitely a possibility. It's windy though. Too windy. So I decide to continue just a bit. During this little bit, the trail improves significantly. Soft, grassy, wonderful! You might not believe me but this trail is actually relaxing my tense muscles. So yi keep going. Flying I should rather say. 10 kilometers in just a bit over 2 hours have passed when I arrive at the next hut. It's open! But full! Oh well, I make myself comfortable outside. The three Frenchmen, who are there, are great company. They have a fire going, cooking their food. Canned spaghetti. And I always thought French are gourmets.

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Day 62: Let's Talk About... Food!

Stupsjön to Id-Persätern

Distance: 40km

To beat the mosquitoes, I'm on my way by 05:15. It's another cold morning but the rising sun is warming me up quickly. The first roughly 10 kilometers are forestry roads, the remaining 30 kilometers are on a hiking trail. Again through forest and wetlands with very limited views. It's fairly easy going, well marked, clear path. 30 kilometers on the same trail is a long time though. Time is passing slowly (and this is only a taste how the landscape will look like further south... ) I kill the time by randomly trying to name all US-States. I think I got around 30 out of... Good question. Around 50?

Anyway, eventually I make it to my sleeping place at Id-Persätern. Lovely old shelter and perfect for the night.

There's not much more to tell so let's talk about food. Food - one of the most important things on a hike. You burn a lot of calories, you need to eat lot of them. If you run out of food, you run into trouble. Simple facts.

To avoid running out, I usually always carry one or two extra days worth of food. Be it because I am slower than planned or I have to sit out bad weather. For this 275 Kilometer-stretch I have food for 8 days. For each day one bag. Dinner is straight forward: usually 250 grams of pasta with fried onion. I'm not picky here.

I never eat breakfast as I am an early bird when it comes to hiking. Usually I have a first break after 2 to 3 hours where I start opening my food bag. It weights roughly 750 grams containing mostly peanuts and raisins (I don't really like it so I don't eat it too quickly). Then comes the delicious stuff, which I hide beneath the peanuts and raisins and varies from one time to the other (depending on what I find in the store). For these 7 days it's 100 grams of chocolate, 1 Müsli bar, 1 Norwegian Version of KitKat, 6 cockies, licorice and some dried fruits.
This is going to be all I get until dinner. If I run out, too bad. Only when I get closer to resupply again, I start to splurge a bit, eating through my reserves. However, mostly just the good stuff like chocolate and cookies ;) 

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Day 61: The 2nd Milestone

Revlingsjoane to Stupsjön

Distance: 45km

Even though I pitched my tent, without thinking to much, on the first suitable spot yesterday, I notice this morning that I pitched it on a strategically good spot. The first sun rays hit my tent at 05:35. Highly appreciated as it's a crisp morning. My outer tent is actually covered in ice.

After yesterday's rocky nightmare, I'm scared it might be the same again today. But no! It's much smoother going. Proper hiking trails with, thanks to the gorgeous weather, spectacular views. I'm flying towards the border - extremely happy that I can leave Norway on such a lovely trail. Leaving Norway: after hiking 60 days through this amazing country (with a quick detour through Finland and north Sweden) it is, for me, quite a big milestone. In fact, after crossing the polar circle, the second milestone on this trip. I need this milestones. They are "proof" for me I am making progress. 
On the Araroa for example, these milestones were Auckland, finishing the North Island and then Queenstown. 

So it's bye Norway and hello Sweden. Not much changes though. The trail markings change from dark red to orange. A welcome change as I had trouble with finding the dark red markings when facing the sun. Which is often the case, when heading southbound (on the northern hemos3at least). The area around the border (Swedish side) is busy with dozens of cloud berry pickers. There really are a lot of berries here. 

It gets quieter quickly and soon I am in the forest, all by myself. Eventually I join a forestry road and after 45km pitch my tent on the road side. The like I was aiming for unfortunately has no access. Still, while my spot is not necessarily romantic, it has all I need. It's flat, it's shelter, it has water... and unfortunately mosquitoes. 

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Day 60: A Sign!

Langtjonnbua to Revlingsjoane

Distance: 45km

I sleep like a baby, a weird dream but I wake up completely regenerated and relaxed.

Well, the energy flies away quickly on the rock littered trail. Going is mostly hard, even brutal at times. It's a constant fight, keeping my head down all the time. Tripping hazard: extreme.
Completely exhausted and with my ankles glowing, I make it to my camping spot (there isn't anything suitable for a long time). After 14 hours of fighting.

But... It's not all bad today. Guess what: I spotted an E1 sign earlier today. This made me actually so happy! The first sign since, hmmm, the region Kautokeino up in Finnmark. Great to see I am on the right track.

To be honest: there are some lovely stretches and views as well. A lake with white sand beaches. As unexpected as you can imagine. Out there in the Norwegian mountains. It's windy at time so I only stop briefly.
Langeggtjonna is another lovely lake I'm passing today. The trail leads along a narrow ridge with water on both sides. Unique as well.
Then there is the part after Rovollen. A completely straight, 6km trail leading up a ridge. The interesting landscape makes it feel like I'm walking on a different planet.
Last but not least, my camping spot is top notch once more with amazing views. That alone is worth the effort. 

Yes, I made good progress. However, I think it was a bit too much today. Especially because of the difficult terrain. And tomorrow, looking at the landscape ahead, won't be much different. Let's worry about that tomorrow.

Now it's time to enjoy my last night in Norway. Sweden here l come! 

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Day 59: Shop'n'Hike

Roros to Langtjonnbua

Distance: 35km

Sightseeing and shopping day! 
I need to wear my best, cleanest, least smelliest clothes. Which means wearing the clothes I use to sleep. Meaning I don't have to get charged in the morning. Sweet! 

Just before seven, I slowly walk into downtown Roros. Setting course to the train station once again. Same procedure as yesterday. Even with internet this time. As I still have to wait for the shops to open, I use my waiting time wisely. Planning my next 8 day stage to Sweden, calling home and getting an update on what's happening on this world. Time passes by quickly and soon I am off for my resupply. Not something I especially love but something super important. Shopping and repacking takes roughly 2 hours, another hour goes by writing postcards. 

It's nearly noon, when I finally leave town, doing a bit of tiki touring on the way out. With the preserved mines and houses, the town looks like a open air museum. In my opinion exceptionally well done. 

I overate. My belly about to burst as I'm climbing the first hill. A short break, releasing pressure and changing from my pijam... eh clean, acceptable clothes back to my hiking clothes helps and I start enjoying the hike. Beautiful views from the hilltops, easy going most of the way. Yet, it is a lot of up and down and I feel the heavy backpack. Initially, I thought I might hike for two or three hours. After the slow progress the last two days I feel unleashed and keep on pushing. 10 kilometers, 20 kilometers, still going strong. At this point I realize I can make it to a Statskog hut. So I push on for another 15 kilometers. But I start feeling every muscle on my body. Luckily, the last couple of kilometers are easy going (except for the last rocky one, which is a pain in the ass, as the last kilometer is always the hardest anyway).

20:30 I spot the hut. Admiring the wonderful location right by the lake, makes me happy that I pushed so much today. In fact, I didn't take a break for 30 kilometers straight. Hopefully this won't bite me back tomorrow. 

I wasn't intending to make a fire. Looking at the rubbish loaded oven makes me change my mind though. Time to burn that shit in there. Some people are just inconsiderate pigs. Especially those throwing in plastic and aluminum. Anyway, the fire warms up the place and is cooking my pasta. Always see the bright side of things! 

Speaking of bright things:
At this point, as I'm about to leave Norway, I think it's time to thank all the Norwegians I met and who assisted me on my hike. Wonderful people, who made my hike through their country so special. Be it the sauna in Umbukta I could sleep in, the introduction to liquid potato and fishing or the possibility to sleep in a little airfield's tower. Just to name a few.
I'm very grateful for these experiences. And looking back on them gives me motivation when I need it. 

I hope I'm lucky to make similar experiences in Sweden. But as always, I never take them for granted but rather as an unexpected surprise. 

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Day 58: Holy Mountain

Stormolinga to Sjobakken (Roros) 

Distance: 20km

Yesterday evening, when I did some more dolce far niente, I felt extremely happy. Happy to be on the trail, having everything I need in my backpack. Living day by day, living the simple life. All the trouble and daily bull shit far away.

Well, this morning looks a bit different. I pack my soaked tent, my hands freezing. It's drizzling when I leave for my short hiking day. The cold is going all the way into my bones and I would kill to be in a sauna at this very moment. Obviously that ain't gonna happen, out here in the middle of nowhere. Step by step I get closer to Glåmos, a little town with a church, a supermarket, a school and train station - and that's where I am aiming for. Not to take a train (which, considering the weather would be tempting) but I gamble that there would be a heated waiting room. And indeed there is one. It's nearly as warm as a sauna. Not bad at all. After I feel reasonably comfortable, I head out again. Destination Roros or close to it. Only 12 kilometers to go. I take it slowly, make a detour up a small hill. Many cars are parked up there in front of what looks like, because of a big cross hanging on the wall, a church. I sit on the lee side, having something to ear while looking down at Roros. Shortly afterwards, I'm approached by an older man, offering me to come inside for coffee and cake followed by a service. While I can't really be bothered with religion, I agree anyway. I've got plenty of time, it's something different and unexpected and it's inside, meaning it's warm.
The chat with the guy and some other people sitting on the table is lovely. It's a wonderful company to have cake and coffee with. I learn the building used to be a surveillance station for the NATO before it was turned into a church. 
Then comes the Lutheran service. I don't understand a word but the atmosphere seems relaxed. The view outside is spectacular. Only 6 people are attending and after 30 minutes it's already over. So quick. I wish the service was so short and easy going as this one when I was a kid. 

I make my way down towards Roros, looking for a place to camp right in front of town. Easy. Plenty of suitable, dry spots. People passing by more or less ignore me. Probably I'm not the first one tenting here. 

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Day 57: Lazy Saturday

Litlvola to Stormolinga

Distance: 30 kilometers 


No wind, no river, no birds. The night is eerily quiet, the sleep quite okay.


As mentioned yesterday: I'm in no rush at all. If I cover 30 kilometers today, that's more than enough. So it's a lazy start into my hiking day, following up nice trail towards Kjolihytta. Dispite being overcast, the visibility is good enough to enjoy the view. Ahead and slightly to the left I can spot Storskarven, where I am to pass by in a couple of hours.


Yesterday, while going through the trail notes, I discovered that there will be another unmarked route today! The E1 GPX track, which floats around the internet and which I use as guideline, deviates from the trail note, makes a far, unnecessary detour. So I entered some reference points from the trail note myself, making way finding easier.


Even without my entered markers, I find my way easily. You can't go wrong. Follow a lake, skirt around a mountain and then through a gap between two other mountains. Easy. Especially with the now magnificent views and even some sunshine. 

Terrain is a bit rough in the beginning but pretty smooth on the way down, from where I follow a dirt track to a gravel road. 15:00 and 30 kilometers done. I pitch my tent right next to the road, spending the afternoon with reading and planning - dolce far niente. 


No use in going any further. Tomorrow's distance will hardly be 20 kilometers. Mostly on roads. Quick thing.


A short outlook: Monday morning I will head into Roros, do a little bit of sightseeing (I was told it's a pretty little mining town), shopping, charging batteries, then hike some more, maybe 15 kilometers out of town. My backpack will be heavy as I will carry 8 to 9 days of food - hopefully be enough for the 270 kilometers to Sälen. I won't be carrying y too much extra food this time. Should I run out of food, roads are never too far away, from where I could hitch towards food. 




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Day 56: Temperature Shock

Fiskahogda to Litlvola

Distance: 45km


Thick fog is engulfing the hut when I head out to take my morning leak, careful not to let the hut get out of sight. That would be a shitty start into the day if I would not find back.

While out there I notice that it's considerably colder than yesterday. A typical autumn morning. After yesterday's long, fast hike I feel a bit rusty and my motivation to leave the hut is not what I would call high. Anyway, eventually I make it out of the hut. As the hut is about 2 kilometers off trail and I want to short cut back to it, I decide to go off trail. Terrain is easy but navigation with basically zero visibility is tricky. Mr GPS saves the day again. After a few hundred meters I join a reindeer fence I follow and which takes me back to the original, mostly boardwalked trail. At the end of that track, I pass a massive hut complex, before hitting the road to Stugudal. It's a miserable walk. Wind, fog, cold. Simply miserable and I can't wait for it to end. I left my gloves deep down in my backpack too. I could punch myself for doing that. I should  know better. 


12 kilometers later, I finally arrive in Stugudal. I head into the supermarket. Not mainly to buy something but rather to warm up. 20 degrees colder within one day. My body got definitely taken off guard. 


The warm up helped and an hour later I am on the road again, which I am happy to leave after 4 kilometers as traffic gets heavier. From there it's a short (but steep) climb to Litlvola. The first time I'm not cold. It took a while. It's already 16:00 and after the previous long day I decide to call it a day. No need to rush anyway. It's only 60 kilometers to Roros. Too much for one day, but easy to hike in two days. 

Speaking of Roros, there's hardly any accommodation left when I checked a couple of minutes ago. At least nothing affordable. I know, chances are subzero. However I try anyway: if there is, by any chance, a Roros person reading this blog, would you have 4 square meters of your lawn to spare for my tent? 😂 It would be highly appreciated! 



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Day 55: Goals And Motivation

Oian Airport to Fiskahogda

Distance: 45km

Finally some well needed, deep sleep. I wake up well rested and take my time to get ready.
I know, I shouldn't waste too much time, since the weather forecast predicts thunderstorms and rain this afternoon and I plan a long day. But it's just so comfy up here in my tower.

Eventually I get my act together and take-off, heading 180 (south for my non-aviation-friends). Destination: Fiskahogda. An ambitious goal. 45 kilometers. But then again, defining such a goal definitely improves my motivation. Something, a place, I have to aim for. Wanting to reach it, I can squeeze out some extra energy. 
On the other hand I have days where I just walk, without any set destination. It's a different kind of hiking. Less pressure, more relaxed. 
A mix of both suits me well. What isn't working though are non-ambitious goals. I can't find the motivation and walking gets surprisingly difficult. 

Anyway, the initial 12 kilometers road walk and the following trail help to get closer to my goal. It's a far cry from the trails I hiked on the previous days (if there was a trail). Well marked, easy to walk. They are even about to install boardwalks over wetlands. Once they are ready, it will literally be an autobahn. It's 14:30, when I have left 35 kilometers behind me. Surprisingly good pace. Fiskahogda now just a stone's throw away. 

Well, it can't be that easy. And it isn't. The trail is still great but the bad weather is closing in, massive cumulus towering above me. Soon afterwards I get hit by the first fat raindrops. I don't care about the rain though. It helps cooling down. However, the lightning strikes are bothering me. Since I nearly got hit by a lightning while camping two years ago, I became more cautious and aware. Luckily, the lightnings strike more towards the west, over the lake. Still, I push even harder know. The last couple of meters are steep and seem to take forever. I would be royally pissed off and even a bit desperate if the shelter was either locked or occupied. There is no plan B. The shelter is at over a 1000 meters above sea level and exposed. No way I could pitch my tent anywhere nearby. And I don't have the energy to continue. 

Luckily the shelter is neither locked nor full. Even the sun comes out briefly. But only for a couple of seconds. The shelter is nothing to remember (it has a weird old-people's-smell) but is perfectly suited to sit out the storms, which are rolling over from Sweden tonight and tomorrow morning. 

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Day 54: Norwegians Rock

Ferslia to Oian Airfield 

Distance: 35km


I didn't end up meeting my friends yesterday. So I pitched my tent high above a tranquil river. 

However, they'd envited me for lunch today. 
So the plan looks like this: walk to the cabin, having a loooong brunch break there and then continue towards Meraker for resupply. I deviate from the official E1 trail, which would circumnavigate Meraker to the east. Less road walk, definitely, but no possibility for a resupply. Again, E1 seems to avoid civilization like the pest. 

As it is only 8km from my camp spot at Sulaa River to Olav's cabin, I make a (for me) lazy start into the day. Just before 06:00 I am on my way. 
Initially along ATV tracks, I soon join a gravel road leading me to the cabin, beautifully located at Feren lake. I have some time left, which I use to take care of my feet and read a bit. 

Olav unfortunately couldn't make it, however, his working colleague Vidar dropped by. Together we enjoyed a delicious late breakfast with amazing views of the lake. After two hours it's time to say goodbye. It was lovely seeing him again and sharing memories when we met at Namsvatnet. 


From the cabin to Meraker it is a 17 kilometers road walk. Not much to talk about. I cruise at a constant 11 minutes per kilometer (Norway roads often have a marker every kilometer) without taking any break. Only a short stop when I have a chat with a camper, who only speaks Norwegian. Still, we somehow understand each other. 

Therefore, I rather have a look back. One week on the trail. It feels like I never left E1.

The last days have been mentally and physically challenging. Especially in the beginning, when my backpack was heavy, the terrain steep and unpredictable and the weather unfavorable. It all improved over the last few days and I'm delighted to be back hiking - hiking mostly on unmarked terrain without any visible path or footsteps to follow. Not something I've done that often, hence many things which I discovered:

Plan more time
Navigation uses time. Be it with GPS or map. Expect detours and backtracking if the route you choose is not smart. 

The terrain is your friend and not your enemy 
In the beginning, I tried to walk a straight line, disregarding the terrain. Make your life easier by reading the terrain correctly, make use of geological features like a long, flat ridge to follow. Even if it adds a kilometer. 

Avoid scrubs and forest
If I had to bash my way through them it always ended with me swearing. Going around was better for my nerves and heart. 

Have a backup 
I admit it:  without GPS I would have been lost. Completely. Knowing that I have a backup in my backpack, gave me piece of mind. 

Factor in the weather 
Bad weather made navigating much harder as there are no distant references available. 

Expect to be the only one 
During my off trail hiking, I haven't seen anyone. Also elswere I was usually the one. One hiker, one cloudbery picker and two farmers were all I met (not counting the two quiet soldiers). 

Looking back, I enjoyed off trail walking. A completely different experience. Despite or maybe exactly because the challenges, which come with it. 

Back to today: with shopping done (I felt sorry for my fellow shoppers, as I was sweating. Even though I took a rinse in the lake earlier today. It's just useless when it's so hot), I continue my road walk. I have no plan where I would stay. Walk until I find a suitable spot. 
It's around six, when I spot a wind sock and what looks like runway markings. Out there, in the middle of nowhere. As someone with kerosene in my blood, I have to check it out. So I walk up the driveway. A very nice guy (who turns out to be the owner of the airport), tells me a bit about the airfield and invites me to stay in the "Tower Flat" Even though I initially debate a bit whether I should continue, I quickly know that I can't refuse such a once in a lifetime offer. 

All these helpful Norwegians like Vidar or now this guy. Full of hospitality. They are really the one's who make my journey so exciting. 

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Day 53: Early Bird

Bustadtjonna to Ferslia

Distance: 30km

Another stinking hot night, another early rise. My plan: Leaving well before sunrise to beat the heat. It's 03:33 when I leave my lovely campspot. The sky behind me is burning. Gosh, how I love these endless Scandinavian dawns. It's a pleasant 5kn walk to the road, which I then follow for half an hour.

It's just shy of six, when I suddenly stand in front of a military road block (I am only a few 100 meters away from the Swedish border, on the road coming from Are. A famous skiing town in Sweden.
The soldiers, sitting in front of the fire, seem to be as surprised as I am, and don't even return my greetings. Or maybe they just can't be bothered as their night shift is about to end.

Soon afterwards, I turn left and leave the road again. The sign says 29km to Ferlia. According to the trail notes it's rather 23km. Doesn't matter too much, as I still got the whole day ahead of me.
While the beginning on a overgrown, muddy trail is hard going, its character eventually changes completely. Dryer, rockier, steeper. Reminding me a bit of the landscape between Sulitjelma until just before Borgefjell. The nice trail and views are helpful to keep my hiking spirit up. And I can need it. High temperatures and tired legs makes progess difficult. Well to be fair, even though it's only 13:00, thanks to my early start, I walked for 9.5 hours or nearly 30km.

I'm sitting in the shadow, on a lovely rocky river Bank, writing these lines. Roughly 3km from Ferslia. Currently, I'm not sure yet, wheter to set camp here, or continue to Ferslia. It depends, if the guys I met in Borgefjell last year have time to meet up, then I will continue. They live close and we would meet at their cabin. Since they are busy, they won't know until short notice. I'm in no rush either. I enjoy the river until I hear from them. And you will here from me tomorrow, where I ended up staying. 

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Day 52: Swim And Hike

Skjaekervatnet to Bustadtjonna

Distance: 40km


The thunderstorm remained well south. So no problem there. It was a hot night though, without much sleep. At 04:00 I start packing, while the red sun is rising behind the mountains. Being so far north, sunrise and sunset take much longer than close to the equator. By the time the sun is fully up, I'm ready to hit the trail. What should I say? It is along marked trails, but still tough going. Not only wet, but also increasingly muddy. Some randomly placed boardwalks drastically improve the overall hiking experience. They vanish as unexpectedly as they appeard out of nowhere. 


As the day goes by, temperatures get uncomfortably high. I'd estimate them to be just shy of 30 degrees Celsius. Luckily there are plenty of lakes and more than once I have a quick swim. Such a fantastic way to beat the heat. Also the constantly wet feet help to cool down. 


It's been a long day on the trail. My legs are aching from the difficult terrain. Therefore, I am more than relieved when my intended camp spot is no swamp. In fact it's a sweet little spot overlooking the lake. A great treat after a exhausting day hiking. 

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Day 51: Hot!

Hanaa to Skjaekervatnet

Distance: 30km

I like pitching my tent beside a river. The sound is very calming and helps me sleep. 
Well rested, I wake up just before six. It's cold and humid outside, my tent soaked. Therefore, I waste no time to hit the trail. Initially through forest and wetland, before climbing away from the wide valley. With the temperatures rising, the views are improving. In fact the side river, which is called Squirrel River, is looking spectacular in the bright morning sun. The contrast of the dark blue water, the red river stones and the bright green looks gorgeous. 
As I climb higher, wetlands give way to rather rocky terrain, many alpine tarns scattered in between the rocks. They look so inviting, I actually jump in for a quick wash. Especially, since it's already quite warm. 

I don't navigate strictly by GPS but rather freely, looking for a smart way through the undulating terrain. My route is certainly not the shortest or quickest route but it brings me where I want to be. 
After roughly 25 kilometers through vast wilderness, I spot some signs of civilization: sheep. And a farmer, who tells me he's here because a bear killed 3 of his sheep. Hopefully the bear is not hungry anymore. 

The last couple of kilometers are all through wetlands. Hard on my feet, as there's a constant vacuum building up under the sandal. Lifting the sandal needs a lot of effort, effort my feet are not really used to. By now it is stinking hot. After a river crossing I feel the urge to jump into the river again. What a great feeling to wash away all the sweat and dirt. 

Anyway, eventually I start feeling sick and tired of the wetlands and I decide I have hiked enough and pitch my tent on a hill, overlooking the mountains towards the south. Massive cumulu-nimbus clouds are forming in the distance while writing these lines. Fingers crossed they won't come too close. 

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Day 50: (Cloud Berry) Heaven

Lake South of Vaalta to Heinaa

Distance: 40km


Honestly, I don't know where to start. Maybe first of all: it's been a fabulous day. The trail magic has arrived.


From the beginning: I fell asleep with my shin still awfully painful. Despite the pain I sleep surprisingly well. Waking up at around 03:00 I notice the pain is gone and I can move my left foot freely. Now that's promising. When the first rays of sun shine one my tent (yes it's going to be a wonderful, sunny, warm day) just after 04:00 I go out to take some photos. Again, I can walk like yesterday never happend. Still, I'm sceptical. Will it be like this even after I start hiking? Should I even start hiking today? After a short debate with myself, I decide to give it a try.

As it is mosquito-rush hour, I'm in my full mosquito gear. The hat and net work like a charm. Thanks Fredy for lending it to me.

The vista with lakes far below and mountains in the early morning sun is breathtaking. Initially along a marked trail for a kilometer or so, I go off trail again. Terrain is okay, navigation in this weather fairly straightforward. Hundreds of cloud Berries are waiting to be eaten by me. All in all I probably eat over a kilo. Probably even two. I truly believe that a fruit, able to grow so plentiful in such harsh conditions, has to be extraordinarily healthy.

It's a mix between marked and unmarked sections. All are extremely wet. Probably 75 percent is through swamp. The last unmarked 14 kilometers section takes me along a telephone line. There's an unclear path. Cables, which must have fallen down years ago, lead to an unnecessary tripping hazard. The walk along the line or poles (most of the cables are on the ground) seems neverending. Therefore, I am relieved when I finally spot Gaundalen farm. A lively place. A farmer offers me syrup. I gladly accept the welcome change from water. They offer cabins to stay as well. Even though I have been waking for 10 hours already, I decide to continue a bit further. The weather is great and it is too early in my hike to already sleep in cabins. The tent has to do it for know.


And my shin? Nothing! Nothing at all. Other parts or my feet are aching a bit. As usual after 35 kilometers. But not my shin. I can't completely believe it. Still, I am still not overly optimistic. Who knows how it looks like tomorrow morning.


From the farm I continue along a very smooth track north west bound. A have a brief chat with the first hiker I meet this season. He's going the opposite way. I'm glad I don't have to do this stretch to Borgefjell anymore. My feet would fall apart.

40 kilometers in (didn't I say I will take it slowly today? Mea culpa!) I spot a nice spot on the river. Exactly at 18:00, I put down my backpack.


What a great day it was! 


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Day 49: Own Navigation

Hykelneselva to a Lake South of Vaalta

Distance: 35km


The forecast was wrong. Unfortunately. It's raining again when I pack my tent. To be fair, it's more a drizzle, not bothering me too much. Like yesterday, no trail and no markings means I have to plot my own route, using the trail notes as a guidence. While they are extremely helpful, sometimes I have the impression, they don't always guide me along the most plausible way. So for example around Bukvatnet, which I circumnavigate to the west, saving a few kilometers. 

The clouds are low this morning, so low in fact, it's actually foggy. I'm honest: whiteout GPS, I would be lost. There simply aren't any references to use. But even without the fog, which eventually clears, navigating remains tricky. Still, I make my progress, not too fast but faster than the day before, thanks to the easier going terrain. 

I pass Gressamoen, a private hut as it seems. The only sign of civilization during the whole day. 

What follows shortly afterwards, is a beautiful stretch of walking. Firm ground with plenty of flat rocks and amazing views. I thoroughly enjoy myself. 

Time is flying when all the navigation needs to be done by myself. It's after 1900 when I finally pitch my tent. This time, as winds are much calmer, I try to find a windy spot to dry try my tent and keep the mosquitoes away. And I'm quite successful. 


On a side note, and I hope it remains a side note: on the last couple of kilometers I start feeling my shin again. Those of you, who have been following me since New Zealand, know that my shins are somewhat prone for injury. In fact, my left shin starts aching so much I can barley walk the 10 meters to the lake to source some water. So far away from civilization it is not something I need right now. I put on a bandage, whiteout much hope it will help. Despite I hate doing it, I also take a painkiller. The first one since I started long distance hiking. I hate doing it, but I keep my fingers crossed it might help to fight the inflammation. 

Now all I can do is try to get some sleep and see how things develop overnight. 


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Day 48: Blown Away

Holmtjonna to Hykelneselva

Distance: 30km


The forecast was right. Unfortunately. Strong winds and rain. An unlucky combination, which is supposed to last the whole day. During my last summer here in Scandinavia, I think I never had to pitch or pack my tent in rain. This year, it already happens after my first night. Hopefully not a bad sign.

It's raining horizontally by the time I stuff my dripping tent into a plastic bag - glad it's not out in the elements anymore.

The day starts as it ended yesterday. Navigating through wrinkled terrain (I can't find a better way to describe it), backtracking frequently because I stand in front of a small cliff respectively a hidden lake. It becomes frustrating. 2 kilometers on the map takes me 4 kilometers in real life. At least I need to concentrate so hard that I almost forget it's raining and taken off guard when I spot a moose with it's calve ahead of me. 

After crossing a bellybutton deep river/lake (I couldn't find another way through) going gets easier on flatter, albeit especially wet swamps. Luckily there's a bit of road walk halfway through the day. Better progress and a break for my tired feet and legs. The first few kilometers have taken their toll. From 0 to 100 in 2 days. Really no time for a warm up. 


Soon it's back to off trail. Luckily the terrain is easier going this time and progress good. Even the sun is shining briefly while I climb out of the valley.

Eventually, I cross Alma river. Much further upstream than suggested in the trail notes. I was a bit worried earlier today as it might be tricky to ford because of the rain. However it is no challenge at all.

After 10 hours of walking, I start looking for a place to set up camp. Rain, wind and wet terrain don't make it easy to find a suitable spot. The higher I go, the dryer the ground, however the strong, gusting wind up there is the prohibiting factor. Like a good Swiss man, I make a compromise. Somewhat sheltered in the lee area of a hill yet reasonably dry. In fact I'm quite pleased with my camp spot.


With my tent pitched and dinner cooked, I retreat into the tent quickly. Hopefully the nasty weather will leave me alone tomorrow. 


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Day 47: Flashbacks

Skorovatn to Holmtjonna

Distance 20km


The ride from Trondheim to Lassemoen is incredibly scenic. Along fjords, lakes, waterfalls and through forest. Still, I am not in the mood to enjoy the view. Too excited, too nervous. Usually I don't have such strong feelings. This time, the circumstances are different though: I'm not starting a new hike, I'm resuming one. One I know is challenging in terms of its remoteness, weather and unmarked, non-existent trails. When I start a new hike, I don't know what is expecting me. Something, which makes it easier for me.


I wish, the train ride would last forever - enjoying the comfort of civilization. But no, the diesel engine is pulling me mercilessly towards the north. 


So here I stand on the platform, looking a little lost even though there's no need to: My plan is straightforward: walking 2 kilometer to the road leading to Skorovatn and hitch a ride. I settle in for a long wait. Not much traffic going to this sleepy village. Luckily I guessed wrong and only 15 minutes after arriving at the road, I'm riding shotgun in a battered Saab. 


Nothing has changed in Skorovatn. The weather is still cold and windy, the bear still there. After taking the mandatory photo and eating the mandatory ice cream, I hit the trail. It's amazing how quickly I'm back in hiking mood. It seems like the 9 month break never happened. 


Initially along a marked trail, I eventually veer to the east, finding my own way. While the terrain is not especially steep or otherwise difficult to hike, it's not always easy as many lakes and little cliffs (or drops), which, even though they are just 2 meters high, force me to take a lot of small detours, making navigation tricky and progress a bit slow. I pass the odd cloud berry. Gosh, how I missed them. 

It's mostly wet under feet. Nothing different than last year. It's windy, no rain though, so I keep walking until my legs say it's enough. At 2200 I'm all set. Dinner eaten and tent pitched. And me ready to sleep. 


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Night Train To Trondheim

Immigration process was slow, so slow in fact that I wasn't able to make into town by 2100. Especially waiting I line to get my Corona test too ages.
Luckily I got a gas canister in a hardware store. It's a rather bulky one but it will get my food warm.

While writing these lines, I enjoy the views from the night train to Trondheim. It's 0400 and still quite bright. In fact, it never got completely dark. The weather is gorgeous - fingers crossed it will stay like this for a while.

Somehow, I have a difficult time realizing that, if I get a lift from Lassemoen to Skorovatn this afternoon, I will hit the trail this afternoon already. This moment seemed so far away until this very moment. But now it's really happening! 
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It Ain't All Shit

Who would have thought... I'm writing these lines on board Lufthansa 2456 from Munich to Oslo, trying to kill the 2 hours flight time. It's still over an hour until touchdown and I can't wait to get rid of my face mask, which apparently is not mandatory in Norway! Yay!


The flight is delayed due to some baggage loading difficulties. Estimated time of arrival 1925. It took ages to load the bags. On a positive note: I spotted my backpack and it still looked in a fairly intact shape (I never like checking in my bag as I know how it gets treated from the ground staff 🙄).


Throwback to this morning: My sleep is light and I wake up early this morning. As my flight won't depart until 1300 and my backpack is completely packed, I decide to go for one last, short 45 minutes run. On the one hand it will calm my nerves (which are tense as, I'm telling you!), on the other hand I want to enjoy the feeling of not carrying a ridiculously heavy backpack (thanks to 10 days worth of food) one last time. 


Like last time, Fredy gives me a ride in his crappy (no offense ;) Volvo. But... It takes us safely to the airport. Checkin and security are straight forward. Faster than I was expecting. The first flight to Munich on the other hand is rather underwhelming. Stuck in a narrow regional jet, a family of around 10 from a country surrounded by Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt (I'll let you figure that one out), think they own the jet. Booked in economy class, they try to sneak their way into business class, ignoring the repeated request from the flight attendant to wear the mask properly and fasten their seat belt. With some satisfaction I see three armed police officers awaiting our arrival in Munich. 


Anyway, back to the future: once in Oslo, I'll have to do another Corona test and wait for the result until I will be allowed into the country. Don't ask me what I have to do if I test positive. I really have no idea and don't want to now to be honest.

However, after testing negative yesterday evening it would be some pretty bad luck if I return a positive test. 

It will get a bit stressful afterwards as I need to take a bus to Jessheim, where I have to get a gas canister. With most shops closing at 2100, the lengthy immigration process and the flight delay I won't have any time to waste. 


With a gas canister in my backpack (hopefully) I will take the bus back to the airport, where I catch the north bound night train. Then finally I will have some time to let the fact sink in that I made it to Norway - it ain't all shit after all 😆

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New Year Same Shit

New year - same shit. Not exactly the words I was hoping to continue my blog with. However, the once more extremely uncertain Corona situation makes planning challenging. Not knowing if I can fly to Norway or not has an adverse effect on my motivation. Obviously, you might say I should stand above something like this. It’s easier said than done.

Anyway, eventually I have to start planning. In fact, it’s high time when I finally find the motivation to book my flights (which get cancelled and rebooked several times), go through the trail notes (which are not many because they stop once I cross into Sweden) and get my gear ready. All this despite not knowing if Norway will open its borders by mid-July.

If everything works out as planned, I’m flying to Oslo on the 20th of July, where I have to get, time permitting, a gas canister (which I can’t carry in the plane) and then board a night train to Lassemoen (because of my late booking flights to Trondheim, which would be considerably closer, are prohibitively expensive). After completing the 12-hour train ride, it’s a short hitch to Skorovatn, where I finished my hike last year.

The first 250 kilometres will, as it currently looks like, be the most challenging ones. Basically no visible path and no markings. Similar to Børgefjell National Park last year. From there it will be easier hiking. Flatter, marked trails and open areas will eventually give way to forest. Less views but more sheltered. Which I don’t mind, especially since I plan to hike well into October.

Besides the remoteness, river crossings and challenging navigation of the first part of the trail (Norway), the second part I have to keep an eye out for wolves and bears. However, after talking to many locals last year, it seems like these animals are rather shy and I would be more than lucky to actually spot them. Still, I will take the usual precautions like not leaving food lying around my tent etc.

My goal is the southern terminus of E1, which is either Varlberg or Halmstad (depending, which website you take as reference) or around 2000km.

 

If I don’t make it there, it’s no big deal at all as it’s an ongoing project anyway. Now, all I can do is playing the waiting game and keeping my fingers crossed for open borders.

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The Day After

46 days - nearly 7 weeks on E1. From Nordkapp to Skorovatn. Halfway across Scandinavia. 1500 kilometers, 3 countries and lots and lots of experiences. Mostly great ones, but obviously some not so great ones as well. 


While the first two days, with the combination of sea and mountains, are scenery wise a spectacle par excellence (especially with the midnight sun) the following week gets pretty flat and monotonous, not to say boring. Together with the mosquitoes, I'm not enjoying the stretch from Olderfjord to Kautekeino that much. In fact, I get somewhat dubious about the sense of my hike. Why am I going through all this trouble? As a result, I do long, hard days to get over with it quickly. Luckily the beautiful weather is somewhat keeping my hiking spirit up. 

Once past Kautokeino, together with the change of landscape, my attitude changes as well. I start to enjoy the hike and appreciate the scenery.

With rockier, more undulating terrain going gets harder, or maybe I should say more interesting. Every day is different from the other. The landscape, the country, the people. The cool, funny but taciturn Finns, the welcoming, relaxed Swedes the polite but slightly distant Norwegians. However, many days are passing by without seeing any soul at all. 

After crossing the challenging, rocky Caihnavaggi Pass, I get slightly overwhelmed by the feeling of remoteness. 300 kilometers without much civilization and possibilities to bail out of the trail in between should anything happen. A feeling that flares up when I cross sketchy bridges and am close to hypothermia while walking through an early autumn storm. Just me and my backpack. 

These experiences make me enjoy the pleasant moments of the trail even more. Be it the lovely stroll through Padjelanta National Park in beautiful weather or my two off trail days in Naurstad.

These two days make me realize how much I miss the coastline, the sea, which I haven't seen for weeks. 

The trail continues Inland though . While going gets generally easier, I feel like idling, like being stuck. Not a nice feeling that luckily vanishes once south of the polar circle. Before I realize it, I pass Umbukta and approach Bjorgefell National Park. The last big challenge - or so I thought.

It's also during these last few days, when I have the privilege to enjoy Norwegian hospitality, which boosts my trail experience even more - actually it is these experiences that are making trail life so special - adding a lot it to my addiction to this lifestyle. 


I never set a point I aim for or a distance I want to walk for this section. Yet, I have to admit, the region between Royrvik and Skorovatn struck me as a good place to finish section one already during my planning. I've had it in my mind for quite a while during the last few days. 

The next 250 kilometer stretch from Skorovatn to Meraker, again unmarked, will be interesting not to say challenging again. In combination with the unfavorable weather forecast I decide that Skorovatn is a good place to finish indeed. And a good place to start next again next summer - with a clear goal: reaching the terminal of the ferry taking me from Sweden to Denmark. Wherever exactly that might be. My planning isn't that advanced just yet. 

Hopefully, the corona panic will have eased until then, making traveling a bit easier. Even though I think I haven't broken any rules regarding quarantine restrictions, the uncertainty about border opening and closing was another unnecessary thing to deal with and it's not something I feel like discussing here too much. 


So better let me focus on the "now". I walked quicker than I thought. Much quicker. 

This leaves me another 3 weeks to explore spectacular Norway. Unlike after Te Araroa, I am not feeling an emptiness. In fact I can't wait start exploring. Especially, when hearing that you need wear face masks in public transport and in shops, I'm in no hurry at all to return home (at the moment I have no plan on how to get home anyway. Plane, train, bus? I will see.) 

As a landlocked Swiss mountain boy, I want to explore the sea. To be more specific: the coast between Bodo and Trondheim. An area that was recommended to me by several people I met on the way. 

Being away from civilization most of the time, I never really had the possibility to plan my remaining days in Scandinavia. 

That's why, after doing my first laundry in three weeks and having my first shower in two weeks, I decide to have a planning retreat. 

And more or less by chance, I find this spectacular place, where I am currently writing these lines, called Granneset. A restored farmhouse from around 1850. Not too far away from E1 in fact. Maintained by Statskog, available to use for free by everyone. Absolutely amazing. Exactly the place was looking for. How long I am going to stay? I don't know. 2 nights, maybe more. Doesn't matter. It's perfect for planning, relaxing and just being sheltered from the rain and wind. Things that were scarce on E1. 



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Day 46: Section One Complete

Hovden to Skorovatn

Distance: 42km


A wet, rainy night, a lazy start into the day. With the weather forecast not too promising, I decide to take the easy way and follow the road instead of navigating on unmarked trails again.


With this decision made, it's clear I would reach Skorovatn tonight and with the terrible weather for the coming days, it's also clear that Skorovatn will be the endpoint of section one of E1. Roughly half way through Scandinavia and roughly where I was hoping to finish this year.


However, I am not there just yet. A road marathon is still waiting for me.

After getting completely soaked after two hours, I am thankful for the sun warming me up during mid day. 

I feel good as I am thinking of the past great 7 weeks I had on the trail.

It's along backroads. Very quiet. Very pleasant to walk. As I approach Skorovatn, I'm feeling a bit sentimental. Sad it's over but also slightly relieved. Especially, because I know I will be here in 9 months time, continue my hike. Fit and motivated to tackle the next challenging section. Of course with Corona, work and my health permitting.


Weather is deteriorating quickly. With the store in Skorovatn closed (I'm 45 minutes too late...) there's no ice cream, no trumpet to celebrate. So, after taking some mandatory end-of-section-photos, I find a sheltered spot behind the church to pitch my tent. Right after attaching the rain fly to the last peg, rain starts. 

So I celebrate my last evening with some crumbled cookies and a sip of Norwegian river water with a big smile on my face. 


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Day 45: Wet, Wet, Wet

Storelva to Hovden

Distance: 30km


Yesterday evening has been another one to remember with great, interesting food (fermented fish, moose heart and a sausage with something in it they wouldn't tell) and nice talks.


While in the begging of my hike, back in Finnmark, it seemed like this long-distance hike would be mostly about scenery, rather than cultur and social interaction (which made Te Araroa so special to me). Nothing bad, just pure hiking.

This has changed, especially since Umbukta, when the Norwegians caused me all these great trails moments. Be it the lake side cabin in Umbukta, the coffee and biscuits on a farm or now this wonderful experience.


It's raining when I pack my tent. Second day in a row. Still, I can't complain about the weather. While initially along a trail, I soon go off trail, using my map to navigate around Namsvatnet and later Storgollomsvatnet. Like for the previous section to Storelva, the official trail notes are a big help. Without them I'd be somewhat screwed. I read them carefully and plotted a rough route. A route, which takes me through the swamps, even though I have to backtrack a few times as I get stuck in the forest or rocky terrain. You can find the route I walked in my 'follow me' map. Most probably there are better routes but it took me to the other side of the lake in 7 hours.

7 mentally challenging hours, requiring a lot of capacity for navigation. I am relieved once I can follow a road all the way to Royrvik, where I camp on an island right before entering the town.


A tough but rewarding day. Happy I made it through Bjorgefell, which was not as challenging as expected. After hiking all the way from Nordkapp, there wasn't anything completely new. Terrain is neither steep nor rocky. All river crossings fairly straight forward. Instead of poorly marked trails further in the north, there are no markings at all in Borgefjell. Maybe that's even an advantage as you are not constantly looking for markers. 

That said, it's no section for beginners at all. Navigational skills as well as the ability to deal with bush bashing and constantly wet feet are essential. 


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Day 44: Hang Over In Storelva

I've pitched my tent for quite some time, when the first two members of the fishing group arrived. Wonderful people. Working colleagues on a fishing trip into the wild. Pretty much the first thing they did: frying a fish for me! They than took me for a ride on the lake. My first ever fishing experience. Dispite not catching any fish, I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular scenery. 

During a great evening around a warming fire, they were spoiling me with slow cooked lamb, more fish and potatoes - in firm of liquor. Strong stuff! In fact so strong, I hardly made it back into my tent, which is 15 meters away from the fireplace.

Already then I knew: I won't make it far tomorrow. 


And that's exactly what happens today: Zero walking. I'm in no hurry so why not enjoy such a beautiful place and atmosphere for another day? Especially after checking the not very promising weather forecast. 


I fall asleep in and once I wake up and make it out of my tent I soon get offered fresh fish, potatoes and bacon for breakfast. 

Wow, Norwegian hospitality at its finest!

The remaining day I spend mostly around the fire. Not doing a lot. Just enjoying the scenery and not walking through wetlands. 

With my lazy day and all the good food, I should be fit enough for the 20 kilometers bash through wetlands and scrubs. Let's just hope the weather is not as harsh to me as predicted. 


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Day 43: Bye Bye Nice Weather

Raentserenmejkie to Storelva

Distance: 25km


Not much wind but rain overnight. Persistent rain. Also by the time I'm ready to leave. For the first time since Nordkapp, I have to leave my camp in rain. Incredible, how lucky I have been weather wise. 

Everything takes a wee bit longer, as I pack my backpack inside my tent. A bit cramped but doable.


My walking day, another one without any trail nor markings, starts with following a reindeer fence. These fences, while making it easy to navigate, really spoil the scenery. Eventually, I leave the fence and cross a snowfield while climbing over a pass followed by long descent to Namsvatnet. Terrain is never steep and once over the pass easy to navigate, as I am following the true right of Virmaelva. Sometimes closer to the river, sometimes a bit further away. Continously trying to find the easiest way, which is, once the vegetation gets denser and denser, through wetlands. Rain is easing as I approach Namsvatnet. Finally.

After fixing my sandals twice within 15 minutes (they start annoying me...) I approach Viermahytta. A tiny hut. It looks full, even though no one is inside. I enter the hut anyway. If it's just to escape from the cold weather for a few moments. It's 14:00 and as I am in the hut. Rain starts again. That's the sign to call it a day. I will spend the night in the tent outside. Not as comfy but still beats a cramped, probably reserved hut.


For tomorrow: I'm not sure yet, if I should walk out to the road (20 kilometers through wetlands) or take a boat, which I'd have to order. Weather is crap again tomorrow, however the boat is,  if I am able to reach the ferry man. 

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Day 42: Borgefjell It Is

400m above Grannes to Raentserenmejkie

Distance: 40km


Yannick, the German hiker didn't make it out of the valley. But I had the wind knocking on my tent. First gently then uncomfortably firm. The result: a terrible night sleeping. The brisk southerly breeze is bothering me nearly all the way to Harvasstua, ruining an otherwise sunny morning. In fact, the gusts are so strong, it feels like walking into a wall. Yet, there is a highlight as well this morning. My fanciest river/lake crossing ever. You have to check out the photos below. 

Once in Harvasstua, I have two options: turn right into Borgefjell and follow the official route or turn left and take the easy option via Sweden. You might think, of course turn right but until the very last second I was planning with the easy Sweden option. I can't say what made me change my mind so spontaneously. 

With this decision made, I head into Borgefjell. No trail, no markings. Nothing. Nada. I feel slightly uneasy in the beginning, finding my way through scrubs and wetlands. Luckily, the sun makes navigation easy. All I have to do is walking right into it. The 'official' trail notes suggest a much more northerly route, leading past a hut. I opt for a direct route, saving me roughly 12 kilometers. 

Eventually I am above the tree line, where going gets easier. The wind is back though. With full force. 17:00h: No way to pitch my tent. It would get torn up instantly. So I continue. 18:00h: Wind is easing but still too strong. I've been walking for over 12 hours and my legs are screaming for rest. It's flat up here, at 1000 meters, no sheltered place. I pass a collapsed rock bivy. No use. For a thru-hiker, it's not uncommon situation. There's no other way to continue if there isn't a possibility to pitch the tent. So it's wise to have some reserves. 19:00h: I get uneasy for the second time today. My body, after 13 hours intense hiking, starts quitting.

The first best place I see needs to be good enough. 30 minutes later my tent is somewhat errected - on uneven terrain it's not easy. Especially, if you are tired and all you want is to eat your pasta and crawl into your sleeping bag. 

Luckily, the wind is continuing to ease. Still, as I am writing this, the odd gust is still rocking my shelter. Fingers crossed for not much wind and rain. 


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Day 41: Happy Trail Day

Krutvasshytta to 400m above Grannes

Distance: 40km


With the stove still warm from yesterday, getting up and ready goes reasonably comfortably.

After taking it easy the other day, I hit the trail early and a over boardwalks I head towards a burning morning sky.


Perfect weather and perfect trails make for a perfect day, which becomes even better when I get invited for coffee and sweet treats by a local woman and her hubby. On the veranda we have some great talks. A German hiker, who I met earlier and who just started his first thru-hike from Umbukta to Bremen, passes by. He gets invited as well but declines the offer as he seems to be in a hurry. More sweeties for me :) 

With my tummy and mobile phone battery full, I say goodbye to the lovely couple. 

I fly along the great trails and soon catch up with the German, who is having a break. He feels stupid for declining the offer for coffee. 

I know exactly how he feels. I used to be the same in the very beginning of my thru-hike career: so focused on the hike that I forgot everything else around me. Like with everything you do for the first time.

Now, as a well seasoned thru-hiker, I have become different. I can savor these moments on the trail, enjoy the trail magic.

I leave the young German behind and continue my pace. We have roughly the same goal for today. Seeing him there, looking exhausted, I somehow doubt I will see him again. 

A last steep descent followed by a last even steeper climb (which, after hiking for nearly 40 kilometers is tough work, requiring a last big effort) bring me to my camping spot, high above Grannes. What a lovely day it has been. Thru-hiking at its best! 

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Day 40: Trail Chatter

Aksla to Krutvasshytta

Distance: 25km


Weather: great. Trail: good. This basically sums up my day. 


But there are some things to add. After yesterday's long day, I'm suffering somewhat today. Everything feels stiff and I never get into the hiking mood. I rather pick Cloud Berries, which are everywhere. 

It's only 15:00h, when I decide to call it a day, spending the remaining afternoon in a lovely seaside hut. My first Norwegian hut, where it's completely legal to sleep. No need to worry getting kicked out in the middle of the night. 

I have a quick, well needed wash in the lake. It's warm. No mosquitoes. I'm enjoying the view while I get dry. 

Even though it's wonderful outside, I head back inside. I guess if you spend most of my time outside hiking, you appreciate my time under a roof as well. 

With a fire going, it's getting comfy quickly. 


Oh yeah, the title... About half way into my (short) day I meet three cool guys from South Norway on their way to Nordkapp. We have a nice talk, exchanging experiences. Also the phone I found comes up. The three hikers are following "Team Ida" on Instagram. Two girls, both named Ida, hiking to Nordkapp, too. Apparently they posted that one of them needs a new phone as it got lost. It's the same girl that, according to the guy in Umbukta, needed new shoes. Bingo! Happy I found the phone and hopefully they get it working again. Anyway: this example shows, the "trail world" is small. It's like a small family of similarly crazy people. And it's something I love about long distance hiking. 

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Day 39: Back To Normal

Grasfellkoia to Aksla

Distance: 35km 


With the first sun rays I start into my hiking day. It's six o'clock - in the morning...

This time definitely suits me better. Even though I have to admit: walking into sunset has been spectacular. 


Despite the early morning sun rays, it's a cloudy morning as I am on my way to Gresvatnet. Still, the views of the glacier covered mountains ahead of me are impressive. Less impressive is the trail along Gresvatnet. For roughly 2 kilometers it's tough going along a muddy, steep and partly washed out trail. Feels like Te Araroa all over again, when I have to hold on grass and branches. At least there are Cloud Berries again that keep my hiking spirit up.

Going gets more pleasant again. It is still very wet underfeet as I cross never ending wetlands. However, it's not as annoying as it might seem. A bit like beach walking (at least I'm imaging it this way): needs a bit more effort but it's actually quite straightforward hiking. 


After yesterday's long waiting times, I feel like I have to catch up. My body is feeling fit today, allowing me to push it a bit, making use of the weather (which is improving during the day). If the forecast is accurate, I've got three more days (not including today) before a bad weather period settles in.


After walking across some farm land, the first one I encounter on E1, a last steep climb takes me to small flat. Looking at the map, it seems like a good place to camp as I soon will head into wetlands once more.

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Day 38: An Involuntary Quickie

Umbukta to Grasfellkoia

Distance: 10km


My hiking day starts shortly past five. Not morning but late afternoon...


While the trail is quite nice to walk, it's a continuous up and down. Quite steep at times. As a result, despite the short day, I feel rather exhausted when I reach the hut 15 minutes after sunset. However, it's not only the hike that was tiring. The whole day was somewhat exhausting.


It starts at 08:00h. After a filling breakfast in the restaurant's kitchen a say goodbye to my lovely trail angel and head to the road, trying my luck to hitch a ride to Mo I Rana. Well, after a 4 hour wait I get lucky and get a ride to a shop in the outskirts of Mo. As it's Sunday, most parts of the shop are off limits, yet I get everything I need.

On the parking lot, I rearrange all the stuff, getting rid of all the packaging. People passing by usually watching me closely what I am doing.

30 minutes later, I try my luck again. This time the opposite way. Many cars are passing by, none stops for the first three hours. The cars are all shiny and new. The sort of cars that usually never stop. It's usually the older cars that stop. The older the higher the chances of getting a ride.

And one of these old cars finally gives me a ride. Not far but at least out of town. Surrounded by pine trees, I start waiting again. Slowly but surely I get restless. My hope of making it back to Umbukta are vanishing.

Then an old, battered car pulls over. A couple asks me where I am headed. Even though they go the other way, they drive me 20 kilometers to Umbukta. What a great experience. They saved my day.

Once I get off the car, I turn on my tracker and start hiking immediately. No time to waste the remainder daylight. 

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Day 37: Umbukta Express

Kvepsendal to Umbukta

Distance: 35km


With hiking to Umbukta and resupply in Mo I Rana I have an ambitious goal today. So I start with first light, which is currently at 05:00h. Initially, the trail continues the way it was yesterday. A pleasure to walk on. Unfortunately, it becomes muddier, rockier and overgrown once it passes north of Melkfjellet. At one point it is more of stumbling than walking. Anyway, I eventually make it up to an unnamed pass, at 1050 meters the highest point of today. A steep climb over mossy rocks and snow.

On the other side, going gets surprisingly easy again and the Umbukta Express is speeding towards its destination, which it's reaching at 15:30 - well ahead of schedule.

Once there, I try to find the owner of the Umbukta fjellstue, to hand him over the phone. Not easy but eventually I spot him. A cool guy, hiked the length of Norway three times. Twice by foot, once with skis.

The phone has a shopping list attached, which, among other items, says 'new shoes'. He remembers having hosted a guest, who mentioned buying new shoes. If it's really this guest's phone it would be super cool.

Anyway, the owner asks me what my plan is for today and adds, I could stay for free in his lake side cabin and join a group of horse riders for dinner tonight. Sounds extremely tempting and I tell him that if I can make it back to Umbukta today, after shopping, I would take up the offer.

So I quickly go to the highway to start hitching. Problem: basically no car is passing by as the Swedish/Norwegian border has closed again last night. I wait and wait and wait. The few cars passing by don't stop.

By 17:00h I decide: screw it. Would be a shame if I got stuck in Mo I Rana, while a nice cabin is waiting here for me. I will have to figure out tomorrow, how to resupply. But for now, I'm in my warm cabin, waiting for dinner to be ready. 


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Day 36: Easy Cruising

Randalselva to Kvepsendal

Distance: 30km


First thing I usually do when I wake up: checking if the rain fly of my tent is wet. Usually, it is. Overnight rain or high humidity. But not today! Saves me from cold hands when packing and makes my pack a few 100 grams lighter. It's easy going all the way. A bit of up and down, mostly on grass. Would be perfect for some barefoot walking if it wasn't that cold. There's not always a visible trail but it's marked excellently. Even a blind chicken like me finds the way easily. 

I haven't been walking for long l when, it starts to drizzle. Not long enough to really annoy me. Virvatnet, a lake, looks spectacular with its unique islands. A huge cottage somewhat spoils the scenery though.


What else to say? In fact it is so easy going, by 14:00h I reach my planned overnight place. Should I stay or should I continue. Always the same question. I opt for the former. Just too lazy to continue. 


Oh, and I found a smart phone today. Lying there right on the trail together with some tissues and lip balsam. Strange combination. All items soaked, the phone dead as a rock and no one around. 

Still, I call 'Hello, anyone here?'. No response. Obviously. Maybe fallen out of the backpack?

I don't like finding these things as I never know what to do with them. Leave them and hope for the owner to return and find them or take the items and drop them in a town? The only shoe prints that looks recent are the opposite way I'm going. And they look like the size of a shoe for women. Which would make sense as the phone has a pinkish color. 

Anyway, I take the phone with me and will leave it in Umbuktu. 


Speaking of Umbuktu. No, it's not a city in West Africa. It's a small settlement on a highway, which I hope to reach tomorrow. Once there, I have to immediately try to hitch into Mo I Rana to buy food for the next 8 days. The shops I plan on going are closing at 21:00h. If I don't make it, it's going to be a challenge to resupply, as will be Sunday the following day and the possibility for resupply rather limited. 

You will read it here if my plan works out or not... 


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Day 35: Arctic Circle

Old Stone Cottage to Randalselva

Distance: 35km 


The last few days it feels like my progress is stalling. Like I am standing still. Obviously, that is just a imagination from my side as I am continously hiking 35 kilometer days. Yet, I wonder where this feeling is coming from.


Back to the topic: for the first time since Nordkapp, I use my headlamp. It's dark inside the cottage and I want to make sure I packed everything.

The first few meters are a pleasure to walk on a a dry, well formed trail. A great way to start into a new hiking day.

As always: the pleasure doesn't last long. It gets wet. Very wet. Lots of wetlands as I'm following Bjollaga River. Eventually, I cross the river via a bridge. Speaking of bridges: since Sulitjelma, all of them have been in a superb state. Once across, the trail wastes no time and climbs steeply away from the river above the tree line into my favorite terrain. Or so I thought. To my disappointment, it remains boggy, even as the trail climbs a bit more. Now rocks come into play too. And it happens when I cross one of these rock fields. I stumble, falling towards a thankfully flat rock. Chest and hands simultaneously hit the rock.

Beside some discomfort in my chest and wrists, everything seems alright. However, it shows how quickly something can happens.

Coincidence or not: a few minutes later I walk past a sword, rammed into the rock. In memory of a guy, one year older than me, who passed away (I assume at this place) a couple of years ago. 

The outdoors are a dangerous place. But so are cities and roads. In the end we all have to go.

I'm I get carried away again... Back to my hike: I pass Raudfjelldaskoia, a tiny hut and decide to have my late breakfast/early dinner break. It's 10:30h.

Inside the steaming hot hut, I meet Martin, a Norwegian thru-hiker heading the opposite way. He's taking his sweet time to start into his hiking day. We have a wonderful chat about our gear, especially my sandals (he used to hike parts of PCT in Lunas) and exchange what to expect trail wise in the coming days.

An hour later I say goodbye and a few steps further up the valley pass the Arctic Circle. It's a significant milestone for me and maybe makes the feeling of not making progress go away. Trail wise the remaining day is straightforward, with a bit of roadwalk.

My plan in staying at Randalska ends in a disaster. Firstly, I have a hard time finding 'it', even though a sign says it's only 15 meters away. Secondly, when I finally find 'it', I can't believe what I see. Hard to describe. I suggest you look at the photo below. More a place for Hobbits than for me. While I am certainly not picky when it comes to places to sleep, this thing is a big no-no. Especially, as it's filled with rubbish.

A bit disappointed, I continue. The sun is shining brightly though, making the search for a campspot quite enjoyable. It's a short search as there are suitable spots like sand on the beach. Too easy. 

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Day 34: Can't Think Of Any Title

Vestreviskisvatnet to an Old Stone Cottage

Distance: 35km 


After a quick descent to Lonsstua, a long climb follows. Initially through lovely alpine pine forest, followed by not so lovely birch forest before climbing above the tree line, which is roughly at 650 meters above sea level, where I currently am. It's usually the landscape and trails I like most. Not muddy anymore and not yet rocky. As the climb is rather steep, I pass through my favorite layer quickly and enter rocky terrain soon. While not painfully slow, walking across never ending Lapptafaggetlahtsa, a pass or even a high flat, is tiring. It's windy and cold at an altitude of 1000 meters. I'm worried about the descent, which I fear is rocky too. Luckily, it's not the case. The landscape changes from rocky to dandy within meters. A lovely trail takes me down into spectacular Bjolladalen, where I walk past an unlocked old stone cottage, with great views down to the river. Not too cozy but since I've been walking for 11 hours, I decide to call it a day. A very unspectacular day. Haven't met a single person, weather was medicore with no rain but lots of clouds and a chill breeze. 


Edit: it's not exactly fair that I called the cottage not cozy. Once I kept the fire going, the cottage, which reminds me of these Ticino/Italian stone buildings scattered all over the alps, becomes very comfy. Just, the backfiring chimney is a bit unlucky. I'll smell like smoked reindeer the next couple of days. Maybe it will keep the mosquitoes away, which, basically out of nowhere, started annoying me again yesterday. 

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Day 33: Sun, Rain, Sun

Laggejahka to Vestreviskisvatnet

Distance: 40km


What a gorgeous morning! Yesterday's dramatic sky gave way to mostly clear sky. 

After a surprisingly good sleep (I didn't wake up a single time, which is highly unusual) I leave before sunrise, which is later every day. Yes, the days are getting shorter incredibly quickly!

A clear night means a cold morning. Frost makes my feet freezing. At least until the sun pops up behind the mountains. 

The trail continues the way it finished yesterday. Rather hard going. Two hours into the hike, I leave Balvatnet and follow Skaitielva river for quite some time before climbing out of the valley along a gravel road. Weather up here can change quickly. Like today. By noon, I'm just walking this gravel road, rain starts hammering on me. While I should actually descend to Graddis, this stupid road keeps climbing and climbing. My mood drops to sub-zero. Eventually, I make it down to Graddis. Plenty of berries along the way. There are some red ones, which I haven't tasted before. Risking getting some discomfort in my tummy, I eat a few of them. They are delicious. Scandinavia: berries everywhere. 


After Graddis, it's up again. Before I start my climb, I pass a couple from Bodo. The first two people I meet today. They offer me coffee and pack of biscuits. So we stand there, in the forest, in the rain, chitchatting about my hike. I really start to like these Norwegians! 


Well fed I tackle the last climb. A lovely one in fact. Over huge flat rocks, the scenery spectacular. Once more. Eventually, even the rain stops. I'm a happy camper. 

Speaking of camping: time to find a camp spot as I have been hiking for 12 hours. It doesn't take long and I pitch my tent above some small lakes with a clear view towards the west, where I am about to head tomorrow. 


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Day 32: Back On Track

Sulitjelma to Laggejahka

Distance: 30km


After a heartily breakfast, my lovely room neighbor Jurek gives me a ride to Fauske, where he is collecting old clothes destined for Eastern European countries. Rain accompanies us for most of the 40 kilometers rides. Also, when he drops me on the intersection to Sulitjelma. 15 minutes later I sit in a car together with two girls, who are about to hike to Padjelanta - the opposite way I hiked a few days ago. Before they drop me off at the supermarket, where I finished my hike on Friday, I let them know about the broken bridge. The least I can do.


With an ice cream in my left hand I start my hiking day. It's 9:30h. A late start but still earlier than I thought I would begin. 

As E1 seems to avoid roads and towns like the pest, it doesn't come as a surprise it actually doesn't pass through Sulitjelma but rather stays high above the valley. Therefore, I initially follow a road, which is climbing parallel to E1 towards Balvatnet. Despite or exactly because of my rest days I feel like a flat tire. A typical Monday morning mood (literally). I'd rather be somewhere sheltered and warm. Going is tough. Rain doesn't make it easier. My thoughts are everywhere just not with the hike. Music helps me to keep going.

At 15:00h I approach the road end and I don't feel like leaving it. Especially, as a hiker I met earlier today has warned me that the trail is wet, muddy and a constant up and down.

The trail is undulating indeed. Not as bad as I was expecting. And yes, it's wet and muddy. These parts are far and few in between an otherwise beautiful trail with even better views. Especially, with the weather, which improves dramatically. The landscape is similar to Padjelanta. But in a smaller scale. In fact, the trail is so easy to walk, I can take my away from the ground and enjoy the scenery. Just the Cloud Berries are slowing me down. After four days without eating a single berry, it's high time to catch up. 

Only the few last meters, it's already 19:00h and time to pitch my tent somewhere, are muddy and slow going through scrubs and across several rivers. With some swearing I make it across and find a beautiful spot overlooking Balvatnet. I enjoy the scenery until the next rain shower sweeps over my camp spot. 



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Day 31: Zero Day Naurstad

Second zero day. Dolce far niente.

Well, not completely. I did go to Saltstraumen, which was spectacular. At least for a landlocked Swiss cheese like me. Never before have I seen such a strong tidal current.

Many thanks to Jurek, who stays at the same airbnb and gave me a tour around the area. 


The remaining day will consist of eating and packing to be fully ready tomorrow morning. Hitting the trail again!

Just need to get back to it somehow... 

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Day 30: Zero Day Naurstad

Doing a lot of nothing today. It's rainy, very rainy actually. Still, I go down to the sea for a wee bit to get some fresh air and to reflect the last month.


30 days, 1000 kilometers. A bit faster than I expected. A combination of the long days and mostly favorable weather conditions. I was expecting much more unsettled weather and not the sunny, warm weather that I was fortunate enough to enjoy. I have to be honest: the few rainy, cold days showed me how harsh the weather can be north of the arctic circle. Showed my and my gear's limits. Sleeping bag, tent and clothes - it's all on the marginal side. But that's thru-hiking: a tradeoff between comfort and weight.

The trails: while technically easy (never exposed or extremely steep), walking kilometers through wetlands, constantly looking for a faint trail or markers as well as very uneven ground (be it vegetation or rocks) made going challenging at times. Especially, when being chased by mosquitoes, which, by the way, haven't been a problem since Abisko. 

Compared to Te Araroa, river crossing were straight forward and not a single time did I feel uncomfortable. Unlike when crossing bridges in Norway. Some of them are a real disgrace. Outright dangerous and not what you expect from one of the richest countries. 


While crossing these bridges, the remoteness of the trail, mainly during the last nine days, is something that crossed my mind. What if I fell off the bridge into the glacial water? With the poor weather and no possibility for a rescue by helicopter, it might or possibly have taken more than a day for help to arrive. An unpleasant thought.


Yet: this remoteness, the open landscape, the sheer size of the area, the views, the people, when there were (their helpfulness and their stories), the Cloud Berries made it a great experience so far. Also thanks to my extremely forgiving body. It's an amazing job it is doing. 


So what's next. Tomorrow I will do another rest day, checking out Saltstraumen. 

On Monday it is time to resume my hike and will cross the arctic circle a few days later. From there it's another few days to Umbukta, where I will hitch a ride to Mo I Rana for resupply.

So far I hiked 1000 kilometers and, weather permitting, I hope to walk another 500 kilometers, which will take me roughly halfway across Scandinavia. 


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Day 29: Snow To Sea

Sorjushytte to Sulitjelma (and a hitch to Naurstad)

Distance: 15km


A clear, cold night - a wet tent. Still, I am positively surprised that low clouds are not dominating the sky this morning.

I leave early once more. Starting my day with a climb over easy going rocks and scree and snow fields. Soon enough I reach the highest point of today. A bit over 1000 meters. The views are wonderful once more.

Slowly, I start the long descent towards Sulitjelma, which is at 200 meters. It's seems much shorter than I was expecting and by 11:00 I'm licking on a chocolate ice cream, considering all my options. 

Sulitjelma, a skiing town, is like Celerina during off-season: dead. 

There's a hotel and not much else. A campground in the middle of nowhere, too. But I don't feel like camping. 

Fauske, the nearest larger town has no suitable place to stay either. I try Bodo. Nothing that catches my intention. 

Then I try airbnb and find a reasonably priced accommodation in Naurstad. On a fjord. Looks nice. Just, how to get there? An option is public transportation but it would take ages. So I throw out my thumb and it doesn't take long I'm on my way to Fauske. I learn a lot about the mining history of Sulitjelma from the friendly driver, who drops me at the edge of town. After a 30 minutes wait two young workers take me all the way to the Naurstad intersection, from where it's am easy hitch to Anne-Lise's lovely place. A bit far away from everything but going from complete remoteness directly into into a big city might have been too much for my brain to process. 

Still, later that day, when my host decides to head to Northern Norway's largest shopping center, I use the chance and join her. She gives me a great tour around Bodo, passing the airport and the aviation museum. 

With bags full of groceries and some stuff, with which I can hopefully fix my sandals we return home. Now it's finally time relax and enjoy the comfort of a real house. 


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Day 28: Back To Norway

Arasjahka to Sorjushytte

Distance: 35km 


With the days getting shorter rapidly (roughly 30 minutes every day), I currently start my days more or less with sunrise. Today, the rising sun paints the mountain tops in a blood red. The spectacle only last for a blink of a second before clouds moving in front of the sun end it abruptly. These clouds bring rain shortly after. It doesn't last long luckily. At Staloluoktastugorna I leave Padjelantaleden - a hiking trail leading through Padjelanta National Park - after following it for the last 40 kilometers. Initially still a good trail, it gets fainter and rockier as I approach the border. At Sarasjaurestugan, I have wonderful chat with the hut warden. I am intrigued by the fact that he has been here since mid-July. Nonstop. No signal, no shower, basically no contact to the rest of the world. If I recall correctly, he hosted 13 guests only during the last five weeks. Corona... 

Somehow it's something I would love to do once in my life. Disconnect from the hustle and bustle. 

After an hour I continue my hike. Another 10 kilometers Sorjushytte. Another border crossing. Another broken bridge. Slowly it's getting ridiculous. This is not what I expect from a country like Norway. Anyway, I am more worried about all the snow ahead of me. Snowfields, which I have to pass tomorrow. And from experience I know, a snowfield at the wrong place can ruin a day. The tricky section is not long though. 10 kilometers. Then I will reach the road taking me down to Sulitjelma. I hope right in time for a late lunch.

For now, I pitched my tent right in front of the hut. While the hut is unlocked, they ask hikers not to use it. I respect it. I need to dry my tent anyway. Let's just hope it's not a rainy night. 


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Day 27: Padjelanta Calling

Karsajaure to Arasjahka

Distance: 40km


The last few kilometers yesterday gave me an idea what to expect today: nice trails and good weather. Therefore I can't wait hitting the trail, which will pass through Padjelanta National Park. 

It's surprisingly rocky though, the first two kilometers. The rocks then are giving way to a wonderfully easy going trail. However, I don't make it far. Not Cloud Berries this time. The view. Spectacular. Overlooking the foggy flat below, with snow covered mountain in the background. Something to remember. I savour the moment before heading down towards the flat. Lots of boardwalk. The frost covering them makes them slippery. Luckily the sun is heating up the ground quickly.

Perfect conditions for hiking. Even the bridges don't look like they want to kill me. 

By 13:00h, with 25 kilometers covered already, I pass Laddajakkastugan, a big hut complex. A helicopter is dropping or picking up something or someone. I'm too far away. Yet the sweet, sweet smell of Jet A1 fuel enters my noise. Lovely! (only aviation lovers will understand ;)


My legs feel like rockets today and fly up the 300 vertical meters to Parka Boarkka and down on the other side. Going so fast is taking its toll just a bit later. Going gets hard from one second to the other. With now burning legs I reach Arasluoktastugorna, a Sami settlement, where I meet the hut warden. The first warden I see since Unna Allakas. I use the chance to buy some (ridiculously overpriced) reindeer meet and local bread. E1 is so remote that I kinda have to use every chance to get to know the local culture of the countries I hike. 


Even on a great trail - after 40 kilometers it is game over and I pitch my tent shortly after leaving Arasluoktastugorna. With black clouds now hanging low over me and a fresh breeze from the west, suddenly I feel cold. Instead of enjoying my dinner (consisting of reindeer meet, bread, 300 grams pasta and 100 grams chocolate - I still feel hungry though while writing this) outside, I choose to eat inside. A bit of a unworthy ending of an otherwise wonderful day.


Addendum: I was a bit early with writing the last sentence. Already in my sleeping bag, listening to music, the sun makes as quick, dramatic appearance just before disappearing again behind the mountain moments later. Happy End! 

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Day 26: A Pleasant Stroll

Ravddajavvre to Karsajaure

Distance: 20km


The 20 meters morning walk to the toilet... That feeling in my knees. Like bone on bone. Not pleasant at all. Yesterday has been a hard day. 


Later than usual, it is almost seven, I leave the hut. But not before checking on the girl. She seems alright. After seeing the huge serving she ate last night, she can't feel that bad anymore.

However, I don't come far. I decide to eat a healthy breakfast for once: Cloud Berries! As I am no hurry, I take my sweet time.

A lovely morning. No wind, not to cold and barely any mosquitoes. Maybe, my hope that some of them got blown to Murmansk by the strong westerly winds, might have come true. The trail is nice to walk with plenty of boardwalk across the numerous swamps. I feel dizzy. The Cloud Berries maybe? No, I don't think so. Luckily the trail is fool proof, not requiring much concentration. After I get rid of my rain jacket and long johns, I start feeling better. Maybe I was overheating a bit, without noticing.

The closer I get to Vajsaluokta, a hut with its own ferry terminal and helipad (it would be one of my bail out points) the trail becomes a rougher. Strange. They usually improve the closer they get to huts.

From a save distance, I watch the 11:50 ferry service across Akkajaure to Ritsem picking up some hikers. For me it's no ferry but rather a climb up to Karsajaure. Not before making use of the signal, checking weather (which looks okay for the next three days) and updates the loved ones.

The climb is less steep than it looks on the map (usually it's the opposite. These Scandinavian topo maps make the impression terrain is flat but is far from it in reality) along a wonderful trail. Well marked, well visible path. A rarity. The view back towards the lake are fantastic. Going goes surprisingly well until close to my overnight spot, when everything seems to start aching at the same time.


You might think: why did he walk 45 kilometers that first day from Abisko ? No wonder he is suffering now.

Well, it was the weather forecast, which was scaring me a bit with wind, rain and low temperatures. Not the weather you want to cross E1's highest pass. 1200 meters here equal roughly 3000 above mean sea level meters in Switzerland. If I crossed Caihnavaggi a day later, there would have been snow up there, making an already tricky passage even more dangerous. So yeah, even though my body is aching, I'm happy with the way I hiked.

Speaking of dangerous: while climbing away from the lake I'm asking myself the question 'am I inclined to take more risks while on a through hike?' Obviously, doing a hike like this is always riskier than - let's say - sitting like a potato on the couch. What I mean is: would I risk things I wouldn't if I wasn't on a thru-hike? The answer is definitely yes. Like crossing that bridge. Never ever would I  cross it while on a day hike. I would just turn around. Same goes for river crossings and other technically difficult sections like rock scrambling. On a thru-hike, turning around is extremely hard for me. The urge to continue is incredibly strong. In last week's case with the bridge, it would have meant a 100 kilometers back track to find an alternative route. It would need a lot for me to do that. Hence, the greater acceptance to risk. 


Back to the topic: it's only 16:00h when I safely arrive at Karsajaure. Plenty of time to treat my feet a little while enjoying a spectacular view of Allak. 

I should mention here that Ravddajavvre and Karsajaure are shelters intended for emergency only. There is plenty of space to pitch your tent though. 

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Day 25: Of Rivers And Hills

Sargga to Ravddajavvre

Distance: 35km


Mosquitoes or rain? What's worse? If you asked me this question two weeks weeks ago it would have been the mosquitoes - hands down. Now... After not seeing a mozzy in three days but spending these days hiking through driving rain, it's the rain - without a doubt.


On a serious note: rain and with all its consequences like high rivers, hypothermia etc. has a much bigger impact on the trail life than some mosquitoes, which are basically just a nuisance.


Anyway, after a cold, windy night I can't wait to hit the trail. My day starts with a few kilometers off trail walking. This time not as easy to navigate as yesterday, when I all I had to do was basically following a river. 

Eventually, I rejoin the trail. Undulating terrain for most of the morning as the trail leads south and perpendicular to the rivers, which are flowing west to east. It's a constant up and down with four big rivers crossings. Tough work, slow going. Still, time is passing quickly and just past noon I approach Valldajahka. The last big river crossing today, probably the last one for the coming days as the most rivers should be bridged from now until Sulitjelma. Should...

I cross Valldajahka way further downstream than depicted on the map. Easy crossing. Saves me a 5 kilometer detour.


On the other side, plenty of ripe Cloud Berries are awaiting me. Well needed vitamin C after these rainy, cold and windy days. Eating all these delicious orange berries is slowing me down considerably. I'm like "I should really start walking again". 20 steps later: "Oh, look, Cloud Berries!" These berries really make me happy. I hope there are many more to eat.

Hard to believe, but I eventually make it to my today's overnight place. A tiny hut. A long day. At least the weather was quite friendly throughout the day. 


I meet another hiker, who intended to walk the opposite direction but took an involuntary dip in one of the rivers yesterday and returned to the hut. Sleeping bag, clothes all wet. Feet full of blisters due to wet shoes and socks. I ask her if I can do anything for her. She just shakes her head. All she needs is rest. Poor girl. It happened to me before. Falling in a river. No fun, glad she's okay.

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Day 24: Norwegian Bridge Experience

4km South of Baugevatnet to Sargga

Distance: 30km  (maybe a bit less) 


Somehow I ride through the stormy night. With the wind rocking my tent constantly, I barely fall asleep.


Weather wise, today is similar. Rain in the morning, improving towards the afternoon. It is much colder though, the snow down to roughly 1200 meters, which is 300 meters above my camping spot. So I am not surprised, when the odd snowflake appears between the rain drops.

Going is tough, not to say miserable - once more. I can't wait for sunny or at least dry days (let's be humble). Water from above, water from below. All these streams I need to wade are melting water. Yup, that is cold.


I cross Bavrojavrre via a natural dam. Only 20 meters are newly bridged. Until last year, rowboats were used to cover the gap. Quite cool, today, with 30 knots crosswind, I would have ended up in Murmansk with my boat.


Weather improves as does my mood. Especially, after crossing the damaged bridge, the hiker warned me of yesterday. Crossing was borderline to reckless. While climbing the timber ladder to the bridge, the ladder partially collapses. Even though I was expecting it, I am still take off guard. Still, I manage to reach the wobbly bridge, which I cross on my knees, bright blue glacial water below. Slow and steady I make my way across. With a bit of adrenaline and the sun, going gets easier along several lakes. There's even some beach walk. Oh, how I miss it... Shortly after crossing Svartijahka on a much safer (Swedish) bridge, I check the map and decide to skirt around Svartitjahkka (a mountain) on the south side instead of the north. Saves me a kilometer or two and I feel like some off trail walking anyway. 6 kilometers without looking for a poorly marked trail but plotting your own route through the terrain. A nice change. 


Weather deteriorates quickly and when I spot a shelter on Grensleden (another trail) I decide to call it a day. The shelter is extremely basic. 3 walls, 1 open side. It's rocking back and forth whenever a gust hits the structure. But it does its job just fine. Gives me desperately needed shelter from the wind and the rain. 

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Day 23: Stormy Times


Skojaddejavre to 4km South of Baugevatnet
Distance: 35km

It's a tough morning. Driving rain, wind, cold and a steep descent on slippery rocks. The descent takes me down to a road. If I turn right, it would take me back to civilization. If I turn left, I continue on E1. All wet and miserable, it's incredibly tempting to go left. Having a good dinner and a warm, comfortable place to sleep. But I don't give up so quickly and follow the road deeper into the wild. The wind blowing the rain straight into my face. No fun. Luckily though, the rain slowly stops and for a few moments the clouds give way to the sun. Such a motivation booster. Eventually, I leave the road again (there won't be another one for the next 200km) and climb out of the valley along some bulldozer tracks. It's super steep, making my heart beat like a machine gun. Once on top of a flat, a wonderful trail awaits me. A pleasure to hike it. 
I cross another hiker. He tells me, a bridge I am supposed to cross tomorrow is broken. The water too deep to cross. Shit. The good news: He was able to walk around the lake. A three hours detour. Could be worse. 

The lovely trail trail leads down Baugevatnet, a green-blue shimmering lake. At the end of the lake should be a emergency shelter, which I plan on staying since strong winds should make camping uncomfortable tonight. 

Okay, there's a shelter. However, it's looked with a key, like all other Norwegian huts. A bit angry that an emergency shelter is locked, I hike on. Not much I can to. Mostly I am angry at myself because I haven't gotten this freaking key yet. I definitely have to do it as soon as possible. 
After another hour I spot a nice place for my tent, behind a rock, which hopefully gives me shelter from the expected storm tonight. 

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Day 22: Rock'n'Rocks

Aksoluoppal to Skojaddejavre
Distance: 30km 

Another early start into a new hiking day. At 4:30h I hit the trail. Crazy? Maybe. But for me, walking in the morning goes so much better than in the evening.
Initially quite flat, the trail the trail then climbs towards Caihnavaggi Hut. From there it's getting really tough. All reports I read in preparation for this trip state it's a hard going section. And they are right. While I don't think it is very steep as some of these reports state, it is extremely rocky. With the rain (which it shouldn't be according to yesterday's forecast), the rocks are slippery as fuck. One wrong step, I would go down like a bag of potatoes - with my heavy backpack there's hardly a chance to save something. I try hard not no imagine what bones could break if I fell. It's a never ending section. The most challenging thing: The sheer length of the rock field, trying not to rush through it, placing one foot in front of the other. With 1200 meters, this is also the highest part of E1 in Scandinavia. Only when in Switzerland, E1 will beat this altitude. Kinda impressive. I celebrate it with a 5 minutes break in the rain and a bit of chocolate (to be honest my knees are feeling like pudding by this time and are it is them screaming for a break) 11km later, it took me a whopping five hours, I cross a dam, follow a gravel road for a wee while before climbing up towards Skojaddejavre. Still rocky but no comparison to what I hiked earlier. 
I pitch my tent shortly after the hut, only to pitch it again an hour later a few meters away as I notice only then that the soil of my first spot is too wet. To my defense, at 1000m the places to pitch a tent are fairly limited. Mostly it is just rocks. My new spot is not exactly sheltered. Fingers crossed it won't be a stormy night.
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Day 21: Overweight Departure

Abisko to Aksoluoppal

Distance: 45km


There's not much to say about the trail. Mostly straightforward, especially in the beginning, when E1 and Kungsleden (a popular long distance hike) share the same path. A bit more slow going as the day proceeds. 


I leave early for two reasons: one is the weather forecast, which predicts rain for the afternoon, the other is, I need to keep going. Besides my pack, with more than 20kg way too heavy, I also start to overthink, putting even more pressure on my shoulders. That is why I get up at four, stuffing a Müesli into my mouth (despite not being really hungry) and start walking at half past four. With my brain cells still occupied thinking about the border crossing, the upcoming bad weather and the rock fields, time flies. After walking five hours non-stop, I force myself to take a short break. Mosquitoes make it not exactly a relaxing break.

With the wind picking up, my second stop three hours later is much more enjoyable. The views are much better, too.

Soon afterwards, just as I am crossing the border, a shower passes through. A sign for me to look for a campspot, which I find close to Cunojavri Hut, right after crossing another not very trustworthy looking bridge. 


Timing is great. As soon as I finish my dinner, it starts raining again. 

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Day 20: Zero Day Abisko

Zero Day Abisko

Distance: 0km


Not much to write today, really. Taking it easy, recharging my and my device's batteries, eating a lot and reading the trail notes for the upcoming days, trying to mentally prepare myself  Feeling slightly anxious about the border crossing tomorrow as well as the remoteness as I do not know what to expect during the next 300km, which I hope to cover in 10 days. 

Other than that, I try to distract myself by exploring the very tiny village and writing postcards. Well, and of course I am looking forward to my second sauna visit tonight. 

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Day 19: My First Sauna

Palnostugan Hut to Abisko

Distance: 22km


Right after finishing my yesterday's blog, a Swedish hiker, tramping around the area for the last month, enters the hut. What followed were lovely hut talks until late in the evening (it is easy to forget the time when the sun sets so late (around 23:00h)). I was feeling like a sponge, soaking up all the interesting information and also found out the fish I enjoyed the other day was an arctic char. 


This morning I leave early. My goal: reaching Abisko at 14:00h, right in time for check-in at the hostel. The Holzhackerweg continues until I cross a highway. Still, the views of Torneträsk and plenty of blueberries make it an enjoyable walk. 

After crossing a highway , going gets easier and historic as I follow a WW2 defense line, protecting the ore railway from the Nazis. A lot of board walk makes me feel like a train as well. 


Eventually, the trail descends to Torneträsk, the views fantastic. I take a loooong break, soaking up the scenery, which reminds me of New Zealand's South Island. From there it's only a few more steps to my hostel. It's getting touristy and it suddenly feels somewhat strange to be back in civilization. The uneasy feeling of not belonging here but rather out in the wild. An ever-returning change I encounter on my hikes. 

Still, after taking a long hot shower, slipping into my freshly washed clothes and some ice cream, I feel quite comfortable. 

The rest of the day (yes, I checked in just before two) is spent with buying and organizing supply for the next 12 days, eating and a sauna visit - my first one! 


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Day 18: Hello Sweden

Salvasskardet to Palnostugan Hut

Distance: 20km


Rain the whole night. Not heavy, more like drizzle. Without the wind, the sound of the droplets on my tent are calming and I have a really good sleep. 

It's a comparably late start into day 18 again. Again because of the rain, which I am waiting to end. 

Once it does, I follow the gravel road for a wee bit, which turns into an ATV track and eventually disappears all together. It is a very shallow climb on a nice trail, allowing me to keep the pace high. At one point, I start feeling my left shin. Not hurting, just a vastly familiar one, which I had the first time on Te Araroa. At that time, I didn't give it any attention, which resulted in a week long break. 

I've gotten wiser in the meantime. So I reduce my pace significantly and continue slow paced over a very wet high plain. The feeling in my shin disappears as quickly as it showed up. Still, I will keep an eye on it. 

The shallow climb and the flat follows a steep descent towards lake Torneträsk, spectacular views and a great trail make for a pleasant hike. At least until I cross into Sweden, where going gets significantly rougher. After another 2 kilometers, I reach Palnostugan Hut. Should I stay or should I continue. A very familiar question. At 14:30 it is somewhat early to stop. On the other hand, after most huts in Norway are closed, I don't have many hut experiences yet. There is also no need to rush. 

So I opt for the lazy day and make myself comfortable in the hut, which offers a lovely view over Torneträsk. 


Sweden: today is the first time I really am in this country. 2 years ago I've flown into Stockholm on an observer flight. At Arlanda Airport, I walked once around the aircraft, before flying back to Zurich. The second time was a few days ago, when I briefly cut the corner in Norway and hiked through Sweden for an hour or so. As you can see, until now I never had the pleasure to enjoy this country. But this is about to change. 

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Day 17: My First Rainy One

Geibbaluobbalat to Salvasskardet

Distance: 30km


After a lot of text yesterday, I will keep it short today. Not much to write anyway. 


It's stormy and rainy outside. I don't feel like leaving my tent. So I sleep in (well I call sleep in) until 7, when the rain finally stops.

The first 3 hours are mostly over rocks, the descent to Gaskashytte over grass. My feet and knees are greatful. 

From Gaskashytte it is mainly through wetlands. Rough track in the beginning, getting quite flat later on. Plenty of boardwalks help to improve the hiking experience, which I somewhat need, as it is raining again. Quite heavily at times. My first rainy day on E1. I've nearly forgotten what a huge impact the weather has on my spirit.

The last few kilometers to a road I walk together with a fisherman, doing a bit of smalltalk to distract myself from the rain. By the time I reach the road, which I follow for 30 minutes, I feel uncomfortably cold. Luckily the rain stops shortly just before crossing the Altevatn dam. I use the chance to pitch my tent shortly after the dam. Not in the mood to continue further. The camping spot is surprisingly nice though. With lovely views a up and down the valley.

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Day 16: Fishy Trails

Jalggohas to Geibbaluobbalat

Distance: 30km 


While hiking yesterday, I decided to take it slower for the coming four days. I might be able to make it to Abisko in 3 days. However, with regards to the next 300km section from Abisko to Sulitjelma, I want to give my body the chance to regenerate before starting this next section (I will additionally take a zero day in Abisko). 300km is a long distance and a lot of food to carry and I'm currently quite nervous to be honest. Never have I hiked such a remote section.


But let's focus on today. Where should I start? So much to tell.


Maybe early in the morning. 2:15 to be precisely. I have to take a leak. I know nothing special. Luckily, most mosquitoes are fast asleep and it's when I open my tent that I get blown away by a fantastic morning sky. Over the past few years I have seen a fair amount of spectacular skies and this one ranks up very high. One to remember. Satisfied and with an empty bladder I go back to sleep. 


The day starts with a swamp crossing. Yeah, exactly the way I like it... The trail gets nice to walk to very soon afterwards. Many reindeer cross my path this morning. Somehow I find them cute, with their tail pointing skywards. Yesterday, I was whistling the Top Gun soundtrack during the final kilometers. Today, the melody is completely gone. I cannot recall it. It drives me nuts. Well, compared to my Lunas breaking apart, my hiking poles losing parts and my matress in self deflating mode, this is a little problem. 


Eventually, I descend back into birch and pine forest. Plenty of cloud- and blueberry. I simply can't resist. The trail still quite nice. At one point I take a little shortcut by fording Divielva river instead of taking the bridge. Saves me 2 kilometers. After 20 minutes through pine forest I rejoin the trail right at the sign pointing towards Vuomahytta. Perfect! So I follow the clearly visible trail. No markings and it is not following Anjajohka, which it is supposed to. Strange. At least I'm heading into the right direction. The trail gets fainter and fainter and is basically invisible when crossing the numerous wetlands. It is sheer luck I always find back to the trail. At this point I am sure, it's the wrong or an old trail. There is even a pile of boardwalk stacked up next to the trail. The prints of the boardwalk are still visible in the mud. From a navigational perspective, it is the most challenging part of E1 so far. While navigating through the birch forest, I remember the  Top Gun melody again. This gives me peace of mind. Roughly 4 kilometers later, I rejoin the correct trail. While initially nice to walk, it quickly turns into a piece of shit. Muddy as and extremely slow going for over an hour. A shameful trail.


Much later than I intended, I pass by Vuomahytta. The lovely hut wardens explain me a new trail is in the planning, hence the current one is not maintained anymore...

One of the but wardens ask me 'Do you fish?' 'No' 'But you eat fish?' 'Yes!' So away he goes and returns with a 1 kg fish filet. It is Arctic something. Very tasty. He caught plenty this morning and would like to give me one. It would be delicious, with no bones. Perfect to fry or boil. 


With the fish attached to my pack and my brain cells working out a way to cook this massive piece of fish in my tiny pot, I walk another kilometer to a small tarn, pitch my tent and eat the best tasting fish soup ever. 

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Day 15: Routines


Cievccascahca to Jalggohas

Distance: 30km


While on the trail, I have a morning routine, which I follow basically every day when tenting. I deflate my mattress (at the moment there is usually not much air in it anyway as it is leaking once more) while still lying on it. This will press all remaining air out quite effectively. I stow my sleeping bag and the matress into a dry bag, which requires some physical effort that is warming me up. Time to change into my hiking gear and tidy up everything still lying around in the tent by putting it into dry bags, which I place in front of the tent. Once the tent is empty, I put on sandals, get out of the tent and stow the dry bags in my backpack before packing the tent. One last look around an away I am. Breakfast follows later. For me it is important to be on the trail as quickly as possible. Getting my body up to speed (and temperature). From deflating the matress until my first steps it's approximately 30 minutes, sometimes a a few minutes more.


Today's no different. Just a bit earlier than usual as some strong gusts rock my tent and wake me up from my bad sleep. As my tent is not like such a Hilleberg-tank-tent and rather prone to strong winds, I decide to get up at 4 am already. At 4:35 I am on my way.


The trail: a typical hiking trail with a bit of everything. Rivers, rocks, snow and grass. Sometimes easy to walk, sometimes not. Especially the rock hopping is cumbersome. 


The weather: cold, cloudy and windy in the morning. Sunny in the afternoon. Like so often since I started at the Nordkapp. 


Excitement of the day: I want to finally have a look into an official Norwegian hut, as most of them are locked because of Corona. I do so at Rostahytte, which is open, only to be scared away by an angry hut warden...


My evening routine is way more relaxed and flexible. What always comes first though is pitching the tent. Never know when the rain suddenly starts or a mosquitoe invasion (like today) taking place. On this trip, I'm really into listening to music once I'm in the tent. Half of the day I'm looking forward to the moment I can turn on the music. Who knows, maybe it is something I need to counter the solitude and silence I'm experiencing at the moment. 


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Day 14: 1 Hiker, 3 Countries

Kilpisjarvi to Cievccascahca

Distance: 35km 


Fog is engulfing the campsite, when I leave it, continuing along the road direction north. After a few 100 meters, I'm back on the hiking track, which climbs steeply, taking me out of the fog quickly. The views are gorgeous and I taking photos is an acceptable excuse to take it slowly. I definitely feel my heavy backpack.

Soon the trail descends back into the valley. A typical "Holzhackerweg" (the closest word I can think of in English is "lumberjack track"), how I call these kind of tracks. Slow going, rough, no flow. Every step needs to be placed carefully. 


Eventually, I reach the 3-country-border (Sweden, Finland and Norway), with great views of the mountains, where I am about to head into. 


Luckily every Holzhackerweg eventually ends. Otherwise, I would have given up on hiking a long time ago. This one ends right at the Finnish-Norwegian border. Coincidence? I don't think so... 

From there hiking is pure pleasure. A nice trail, with boardwalks across swamps, climbing higher and higher, sometimes descending steeply into a gully. On the way I meet two women from Switzerland. The elderly ladies hiking from Kilpisjarvi to Abisko as well. They take it a bit slower than I though. 


The trail is climbing further and further. While briefly crossing through Sweden, dark clouds ahead of me are building up quickly. Together with my now tired legs it's time to find a suitable camp spot. Not too easy at 900 meters above sea level, where rocks are dominant. I find something acceptable to pitch my tent right in time before the first rain drops knock on my tent. 

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Day 13: Time To Reflect And Resupply

Kuonjarjoki Hut to Kilpisjarvi 

Distance: 20km


Something I forgot to mention yesterday: I passed the 500 kilometers mark. For me the distances I usually get into the thru-hiking rythm. Hike, eat, sleep, repeat... It's also the time to reflect. 500 kilometers in 12 days. Much faster than I anticipated. Much faster than Te Araroa, where I reached Auckland (which I think is 500 kilometers into the hike, isn't it?) after over 20 days. 

I wouldn't call it walking like machine, Klaus ;) Rather a combination of loooooooong, endless days, amazing weather and trails, which made for easy progress. And maybe my age. With thru-hiking it's like with men and wine: the older they are the better they become (until a certain age at least ;) 

However, the more mountainous terrain I'm currently in is slowing me down as the last two days have shown. My days will probably be shorter from now on. Distance wise at least.


The rain were just a few droplets and by the time I leave the hut, the soil is already dry. On a side note: I am not the first one up today. At 5 am all but one are all packing their stuff. Early birds these Finns.

The trail, well it is a hiking trail. I don't enjoy it. Very rough and worn out. Lots of rocks, which are getting more annoying with every one I have to balance on.

So I don't mind at all when I arrive in Kilpisjarvi, consisting of a few houses scattered all over the place and a food store - a surprisingly good one with a huge selection. Food and none food wise. There's also a sport store right next to it.

As the camping is another 5 kilometers down the road, I do my whole resupply fore the next 6 to 7 days here, on the far end of the parking lot. With bags to be filled scattered all over the place. Organized chaos I would call it.


Fully loaded, I follow the main road to the campground. Busy road, no shoulder. Not too great of a walk but a bit of sweet, flat tarmac after all these rocks and stones feels like heaven for my feet.


Btw: I just realized that Finland is in a different time zone. This explains, why everyone was up so early. Not so early birds after all, the Finns. 

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Day 12: Hello Suomi

Nahpat to Kuonjarjoki Hut

Distance: 35km


Bad sleep, my stiff neck is killing me. I fear it only gets worse once I get going again. Therefore, I am somewhat reluctant to get up but eventually do, well have to...

It's a gorgeous morning. Not many mosquitoes, clear blue sky and quite warm. Strangely, or luckily I should say, the pain in my neck stops with the first few steps. I don't complain. 

45 minutes into the hike I pass by Somashytte, which would have been a nice place to stay. Another 15 minutes later I cross into Finland. The only thing that changes are the trail markings. Wodden poles instead of cairns. I prefer the former. Easier to spot.

Terrain gets rockier soon and many rock fields make progress somewhat slow at times.

At Pihtsusjärvi I encounter lots of people. Some of them on the way to Halti, Finland's highest mountain, which is in Norwegian territory (worth googling I think), some fishing. 

The track gets increasingly rough with more and more of rock hopping. The rocks are not big but need all my attention as a misstep would probably mean the sudden end of my hike. Mentally and physically exhausted I reach Meekonjärvi. Such a picturesque spot. Time for a well deserved, long break. 

Would the next section be similarly tiring as the previous one? Luckily not. It's more like an autobahn. Great hiking track, which fast forwards me to Kuonjarjoki, my overnight location. 

During these last 10 kilometers, winds are picking up quickly with dark, thick clouds looming over me. Hopefully, space in the hut is available tonight. 

Approaching the hut, several tents are scattered around it. Not looking good. 


Anxiously, I enter the hut, which is roughly half full. Sweet!

Cozy and warm the hut, which even has a gas stove. Luxury compared to what I have experienced in other countries. 

Now the rain can come... 

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Day 11: A Tough One

1km short of Sieimahytta to Nahpat (close to Somashytte) 

Distance: 35km


The trail continues the way it finished yesterday. Overgrown, hugging the river most of the time. 

Shortly after Sieimahytta the trail becomes very rough and unpleasant to walk. Luckily it improves again quickly. There would have been some lovely campspots there.

My body fills stiff and somewhat out of power. I hope I haven't exaggerated it the last few days. However, I know my body quite well and never felt like I've gone close to its limits.


The 700m climb towards Somashytte starts steep. Through beautiful pine forest on a great track. The similarity of the area with the one of the Engadin is astonishing. There's literally no difference! And I say this as someone, who knows the Engadin like the back of my hand.

Soon after beginning the climb I pass an impressive waterfall (well that certainly is a difference to the Engadin, even though there are some nice waterfalls too, just a bit smaller ;)


Way too soon, I leave my beloved pine forest and enter birch forest. Also nice but not the same. Then it happens. I cross a swamp. Exiting? Well not exactly the crossing but what I found in there: ripe cloud berries! Still not exciting? Well, since I hitched to Nordkapp, each and everyone was telling me to try cloud berries - the wildest berries on earth. During the last couple of days I walked past so many of them, but all of them still red, meaning not ripe yet. But not today! They are scattered all over the place and evereating Sandro doesn't hesitate. I fill my stomach with these delicious berries, well needed energy for the further climb. 

It's so stinking hot that I have to remove my rain jacket. A ton of insect repellent keeps the mozzies at a good distance. Even if only for a few minutes. 

Above the tree line, the vistas are spectacular. Together with the mostly nice hiking trails and the water cooler fainted sky with some cumulus clouds it makes for some exquisite hiking. 

Only my body isn't up to speed today. Everything is aching. From my feet to my neck. The latter, which is hurting badly at times. Maybe from constantly looking down yesterday hiking on these overgrown trails. 

During the breaks I am doing some exercises that help a bit. While my mind's plan was to go to Somashytte, my body has other plans and screams stop a few kilometers short of the hüt. No need to force anything especially since I'm not in a hurry. Overall, my progress is way better than initially thought. So much better in fact that I still have food brought from Switzerland... 


With my tent pitched on a ridge with great views all around I'm all excited for tomorrow. Finland calling! 


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Day 10: Down The Gorge

Aitevarri to 1km short of Sieimahytta

Distance: 40km


I'm a bit excited when I start hiking. A change in landscape at least! But until I am there, it's again across the now we'll known mix of swamps and birch forest. A bit rockier though. A few hours into the hike, the trail descends into Reisa gorge. Initially on a good track, which gets rougher the closer I get to the bottom. I was planning on doing the detour via Imofossen waterfall. The trail disappeared into the nowhere and I stand in front of a abyss. Not feeling like having an adventure today, I admire the waterfall from a save distance and return back to the main track, which is now leading through pine forest. The scenery looking astonishingly similar to the one in the Engadin.

I did not know what to expect of the gorge. Would it be touristy? How are the trails? Well, a few minutes after arriving down there, three hikers without much gear cross my path on a technically challenging part of the trail. No backpack, no nothing. So far away from everything. Strange.

A few meters further down three fishermen set up camp. When they see me passing by, they invite me for coffee. Sweet! I kind of get stuck there talking to these guys. It's also where I learn that there are boats taking tourists up the river. Explains the other hikers without much gear.

Eventually, I continue through pine forest, which unfortunately soon gives way to birch forest shortly after crossing a scary wobbly bridge. The views of mighty waterfalls along the way are impressive. 



The track gets increasingly overgrown. In fact, it's a Te Araroa flashback when I plow my way through dense fern, only centimeters from the eroded river bank. Still, below the fern or grass, the hiking track is in great shape, making progress not as bad as I initially feared. Something, I'm really glad about as it takes me a long while until I finally find a good campspot, nicely overlooking the river.


Disappointment of the day: my Luna sandals. I'm trying out there new sandal and after just 400km, a strap gets ripped out while crossing a screw field. I was taken completely off guard. Could have ended ugly. After a temporary fix I continue. Unfortunately, I don't come far as another strap brakes loose.

Something I expect from a sandal bought for 5 dollars at the night marked in Luang Prabang but not from a 100 dollar hiking sandal.


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Day 9: Back Into The Wild

Kautekeino to Aitevarri

Distance: 40km


Well rested and fed, Nils gives me a ride back into town, from where I head out into the wild again.

I feel a bit, hmmm how should I say, melancholic. I don't know if it's the right word or if it even exists in English. Anyway, again, leaving the comfort of a home, leaving great people shortly after meeting them, makes me feel a wee bit sad. As much I would love to enjoy some more time there, I have to move on. I just have to, like something is pushing or pulling me. I wouldn't feel comfortable staying. 


For me it lies in the nature of a thru-hike. All the things that happen to me while on the trail and even though they never last for long and might not sound spectacular to you, cause intense emotions. And maybe that is the reason why I want to be on the trail so badly.


Anyway, back to topic. I don't want to bother you with my feelings to much. Probably don't make much sense to you ;) 


Instead of following the trail, which meanders northwest through swamps, I decide to follow a backroad. 33 kilometers - unlike the typical thru-hiker I actually like road walking every now and then. Cruising along with some good music, letting the landscape sink in, without too much concentrating on my steps.

Today this saves my nerves as well as I really don't feel like plowing through swamps again. 

The walk along the quiet road is unspectacular, the views getting better the higher (altitude wise;) I get. 26 kilometers non-stop before I take a first break. My legs are feeling full of energy. 

At one point it is time to leave the road and head west along ATV tracks (if you are intending to do same, make sure you walk left of the fenced area. Otherwise, you will have the same pleasure as me to climb over a 3 meter fence...).


The ATV tracks are surprisingly smooth and easy to walk on and soon after a river crossing I walk up a hill. Beautifully windy and being already half past six I don't think twice and pitch my tent, especially since my feet start feeling the long roadwalk. Thanks to the wind blowing away the insects, I can enjoy the lovely view just by myself. 

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Day 8: One To Remember

Mierojavri to Kautokeino

Distance: 15km


A 'nero day' - near zero day. After covering a lot of ground the last week, my body feels exhausted. Luckily it's only a short hike into Kautokeino, where I will overnight for resupply and charging batteries - which I drained by writing 7 days worth of blog. But being stuck in my tent for hours (thank you mosquitoes) made me decide to start a blog.


Not much to write about the track today. Mostly along dirt and tar sealed roads. I decide to follow a side road east of the highway, whereas the official track would take me west of it along some ATV track and past the airport.

Once in town, way before lunchtime, I stock up on food for 8 days and call a number, which Rea, the hiker I met told me. She loved the homestay and highly recommend to call the number once I hit town.

Luckily they have a bed available - something I really need after spending 10 nights in the tent, half of them terrorized by mosquitoes. 

Only task left before getting picked up by the hosts - getting a mosquito net for my head. Easy, right? No! After checking out every store in the widespread town, covering another 5km, I have to realize, every single mosquitoes hat I town is sold out. Nada! Nothing! Luckily I meet a lovely employee at a supermarket, who immediately calls her hubby to bring some nets. And in fact, a few minutes later he arrives. What an amazing service. While no hat, having a net is worth a lot as I should be able to piece together something. 


Now today's highlight: my stay at Nils and his wife's wonderful place. They go out of their way to make my stay as great as it can get. Waffles, a delicious dinner, great talks and interesting information about the Sami culture will make this stay stick in my memory for a long time. 

Especially, because they assisted me greatly in my do-it-yourself-mosquitoes-face-net. I can't wait to try it out tomorrow. Pictures will follow - promised. 


Now I am looking forward to a good night's sleep in my comfy looking bed to fully recharge myself for tomorrow. 


Should anyone of you readers planning on hiking E1 and looking for a place to stay, hit me up and I am more than happy to forward their contact. 


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