Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Day 13: Crossing the Arctic Circle!

August 28: It started to sprinkle about 2:00 in the morning which thrilled me to death. The weather forecast predicted rain, but that it wouldn't start for a couple of more hours then linger until a little after noon. I hoped the storm was blowing in faster than expected which meant it would pass by and finish sooner than expected. Preferably, while I was still tucked warm and snug in my sleeping bag under my tarp. =)

Checking out the rain situation from under my tarp. *nodding*

When the sun did rise, Karolina and I were in no hurry to get up since we were stranded on the shore of Lake Riebnus waiting until the 10:00 charter boat was ready to take us across. The rain finally let up by around 9:00, and we quickly broke down camp at about 9:30, just in time to miss the last of the rain and catch the 10:00 boat. It worked out well!

We shared the boat with two guys from the Czech Republic who had arrived at the shore late the night before, hiking in with headlamps.

The boat ride was fast and therefore the windchill was cold, and about 15 minutes later we arrived on the other side of the shore where we paid for our trip across.

Karolina and the two Czech guys on the boat across the lake.

Me (not looking especially happy with the cold!) and the boat driver.
 For the first few hours of our hike, our topo map led us to believe that the trail was flat--but the going was slow with all the roots, mud and water on the trail. It wasn't until we climbed out of the trees to a high plateau when the trail became a lot faster and easier--but a few sprinkles came out late in the day to nail us. What's with all the rain in Sweden?! Argh!

In the afternoon, we crossed the Arctic Circle. You'd have expected there to be a sign or something to mark such an important arbitrary line in the ground, but this was the line that marked the land of the midnight sun. Not that we'd get a midnight sun--unless you're here on the summer solstice, you'll miss it and it was well past then! The further into the arctic one traveled, the longer the midnight sun would last.... but we were still too late for it. We were just hoping to beat winter before it settled in because this was also the land of the noontime moon! Not that we planned to hang around on the trail until there was 24 hours of darkness, but daylight was diminishing at a remarkable rate--we were losing well over an hour of daylight every week.

We made our own line in the ground representing the Arctic Circle since there was nothing readily obvious actually on the ground.

Using our topo map, we tried to figure out exactly where the Arctic Circle crossed the trail then created our own line on a piece of scrap paper with our feet next to it for a photo op. About 100 yards further up the trail, we found a very homemade-looking sign hung on a tree supposedly marking the Arctic Circle. We never pulled out our phones to check our accuracy--the land all around the area looked more-or-less the same and if we were off by a hundred yards one way or another, it didn't really matter. But if our topo map was accurate, I think we did our photo op a little bit north of the Arctic Circle--in a location out in the open which had better light for taking photos. The homemade-looking sign we found was even further north, however, and I felt pretty confident that it wasn't in the correct location--maybe 200 yards too far to the north. But, of course, that's dependent on our topo map being highly accurate.

But still, we stopped to take photos with the sign that looked like someone carved into a piece of wood while sitting in camp around a campfire.

This "Arctic Circle" sign looks very homemade and unofficial--and we were pretty certain that it wasn't even located in the correct place!

The day was mostly depressing, dark and gloomy, so our excitement about entering the arctic gave us a moral boost.

Late in the day, we crossed a few broken bridges across creeks. We went around the broken bridges, but at one of them I slipped and fell into ankle-deep water. Splash! I got up, cussing at the rain, water and broken bridges. I wasn't hurt, but it made me frustrated and angry. Karolina wished she was fast enough to get a photo of my plight or, even better, a video of the fall but alas, there is no photo or video evidence of the fall.

My feet were soaked completely through, like dunking them into a bathtub, and the side of me that fell into the water was wet from my torso to my feet. My arms caught me from submerging my head and shoulders in the water.

It was late in the afternoon now, and I was wet, tired and cranky and just wanted to find a place to camp. We kept our eyes open for options, but everything was just so exposed to the elements which was less than ideal with all the rain and wind.

Finally, we settled on spot which had a small, nearby hill that served as a less-than-ideal windbreak and put up camp.

This was the broken bridge I was trying to get around when I slipped and fell into the ankle-deep water. Argh!

Both Karolina and I had purchased some of those freeze-dried meals while in town. They aren't my favorite because they're typically ridiculously expensive, but they're relatively fast and easy to cook and require no cleanup. Fast and easy sounded good to me this evening, though. I didn't want to cook my usual mac 'n' cheese or Hamburger Helper-style meals which take a lot longer and are a lot messier. Nope, for this meal, all we needed was boiling water.

And since that's all both of us needed, Karolina asked if I would boil enough for the both of us. I agreed to do so, and while I was working on boiling water--and during a short pause in the rain--she collected blueberries for the both of us. I'd sprinkle my share of them on my cereal in the morning.

She came back about 15 minutes later loaded down with an astonishing number of blueberries. How she could pick so many so quickly amazed me. We poured the boiling water into the dinner packages and waited several minutes for the meal to hydrate before eating them. And after we were done, we crumbled up the packaging and added it to our trash. Cleanup was done!

Then we wrote in our journals, read books and practiced a bit of Polish before getting in our sleeping bags and calling it a night.

Arriving at the other side of Lake Riebnes. When we arrived, two southbound hikers needed to cross the lake so they're now loading up into the boat for the trip back to the other side. The guy on the shore is one of the Czechs that traveled to this side with us.

Lots of broken bridges today!

This is a giant ant hill!

During a snack break, I threw out my tarp to help it dry from the rain the night before.
Karolina yawns, taking the rain in stride.

I'm just trying to stay warm. It's not only raining, it's a cold rain!
Reindeer. Of course... that's why it's raining. *sigh*

And another broken bridge....

This is an old Sami hut which we thought, hey! Maybe we can escape the rain in there? But it was cramped, cold and dark inside and decided that we'd be better off outside instead. The weather was bad, but it wasn't that bad! Not yet, at least....

And now some videos.... Here is the boat as it approached the end of our journey.

This is Karolina getting around the broken bridge.

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