The weather forecast said today was supposed to be full of a constant rain. To my pleasant surprise, I woke up without the pitter patter of raindrops hitting my tent. This gave me the impetus to break down camp and hit the trail.
One of the really great things about long distance hikes (I hesitate to call this a long hike after having walked 2600+ miles last summer) is that there’s very little planning once you get to the trailhead. All you have to do is walk at a reasonable enough pace to make it to the next resupply point before you starve.
Whether it’s raining or sunny, you still have to trudge through roughly the same distance. And when you’re totally at the mercy of the elements, especially in a harsh environment like in the Arctic wilderness, every minute the weather’s not miserable feels so wonderful.
I started my day with a gentle incline along a muddy trail, the result of last night’s fairly strong rain showers. The trail climbed slowly through the valley into the clouds, which partially obscured the mountain pass I was heading towards.
The cold and periodic light drizzle meant I didn’t want to stop for a break, so I kept on trudging and plopping through the mud until I got to a reindeer fence. I haven’t seen any reindeer yet, but the indigenous Sami people who live here herd them and I’ve heard they’re everywhere further south. There’s a little ladder to climb over the fence, and I take shelter behind a rock on the other side. After eating a bit of my half pound chocolate bar, I get cold. Packing my things up again, I’m off.
The trail gently descends, with a lake in the distance to my left. I eventually approach the lake, finding a little three walled shelter. I duck into it and lay out all my stuff. The Swedish man who was there first is very welcoming, and we talk about his trips to the United States, how Sweden has changed over his lifetime, etc.
A much younger Swedish couple enters. It’s really cool that I’ve mainly been meeting and interacting with Swedish people (99% from Stockholm) out here. It’s so different from Iceland, where it seemed like most people had never left their hometown. The couple is not really interested in talking about anything other than how cold and tired they are, and how they just want to take the boat to the hut rather than walk the 4km. The older Swedish man leaves, and I shortly follow his lead and hike the 4km to the next hut.
I don’t stop because the rain has started, and instead keep walking to stay warm. I walk and walk and walk, periodically checking the GPS app on my phone to see how far I’ve gone.
After crossing a bridge I lay down my pack and sprawl out on my sleeping pad, letting my feet air out. I’ve stepped in numerous puddles and my shoes and socks are fairly wet, which isn’t that huge of an issue. It’s uncomfortable and bothers me way more than it in all reason should, though the socks can take some time to dry. But the synthetic wool of my Vermont Darn Tuff socks keep me warm even when wet, so it’s really not a big deal. The former AT hikers on the PCT swore by these, and I have to admit they’re my favorite sock company now.
My dreams of resting and drying out my things are ruined by the drops of water falling on me, and I hurriedly pack everything back up again. I don’t make it far before checking my position to find that I’ve gone 17 miles already, which at 6pm with a late start I’m more than fine with.
If I go any farther I’ll have to camp at a higher elevation, which I’m loathe to do because of the cold in the morning. In less than two hours of walking time I’ll be at a mountain pass, the highest point on the trail at around 1100 meters. I don’t have the willpower to go over the pass, so I decide to call it a day here.
The campsites along this trail are superb, and it takes me all of three minutes to find one adjacent to a stream.