Friday, October 12, 2018

Day 5: Helicopter rescue on the trail!

August 20: Karolina and I woke up to another overcast, dreary day. The winds continued to howl, pushing us off the trail as we wandered like drunks along the trail. We passed quite a number of people on our way to the Aigert Hut--far more than we had been seeing and wondered where all of the people suddenly came from. It was Monday today--maybe they arrived in Ammarnäs during the weekend (Saturday, specifically), hiked to the first hut southbound (Aigert) on Sunday, and now were passing us as a massive group on Monday morning?


At the hut, we took a short snack break on the downwind side of the hut allowing the hut to break the wind and rest in a relatively calm area. The caretaker of the hut found us over there eating and wandered over to say hi and, upon learning that we were hiking northbound, asked if we had seen anyone.

"Uhh... yeah... Lots of people," we answered. "Did you have someone in particular in mind?"

And he did--the injured woman we had passed the previous afternoon. Apparently, she hobbled along the trail to the next shelter, not arriving until 11:00 at night and had been helicoptered out this morning and taken to a hospital. Which was all news to us! This caretaker knew more about the woman's situation than we did! But we knew who he was talking about since we had passed her maybe a half hour after she injured herself.

Karolina and I were surprised for a couple of reasons, though. First, if she had been injured so badly that she needed to be rescued by a helicopter, why didn't she stop at the next emergency shelter? We saw her approaching it not more than an hour or so after we passed her. It had a radio that--assuming it worked--she could have used to call for help. But even if it didn't work, she could have rested there until another hiker passed by who could have called for help further up the trail.


This was the caretaker of the Aigert Hut--whose name I never wrote down and have now forgotten. Sorry about that!

But at the very least, we would have expected she'd have stopped at the emergency shelter and rested overnight and see how she felt in the morning before deciding to continue on or call for help. There seemed absolutely no reason to exasperate her injuries by pushing on past the emergency shelter. I could understand if she didn't want to set up camp on the side of the trail if she didn't have the equipment for it--with the huts along the route, it's entirely possible to hike the trail with no more than a day's worth of food, no heavy tent, or stove, or other camping gear. For all we knew, she didn't have the gear to camp away from a hut or shelter, so that was understandable. But we couldn't figure out why she would have kept going past the emergency shelter if her injuries were so serious. That just seemed stupid.

But we were glad to learn that the woman was off the trail and in good hands.

The hut's caretaker also told us that it was late in the season for cloudberries that that we'd see some along the trail just past the hut and that we should try them if we hadn't already. He gave us a description of the edible berry and we found the area where they were still growing not far up the trail. It wasn't a berry I'd ever heard of before.

It's a cloudberry!

They tasted like.... I don't know. Berries! =) There weren't a lot to pick, but in the local grocery stores, you'll sometimes find cloudberry jam and stuff. Apparently, it's difficult to grow requiring just the right type of soil with the right amount of acidity so it's not harvested in large quantities, but you'll find some cloudberry products in Sweden if you ever want to try something local.

After leaving the hut, the trail passed over a small ridge then descended toward a plateau at which point the strong winds finally died off. I'm not sure if the weather finally decided to take a break or our location on the other side of the ridge blocked the strong winds that had been buffeting us before, but the clouds also started clearing and it turned into a pretty wonderful afternoon.

The trail soon descended rapidly towards the small town of Ammarnäs--our first resupply point along the trail. We checked into a hotel/hostel and walked a bit around town checking out the grocery store and getting our bearings.

We ate dinner at the restaurant at the hotel. Karolina ordered the arctic char--which she found somewhat disappointing complaining that it had too many potatoes and not enough fish. And that's a problem.... why? Ha! =) I ordered a hamburger with fries which was excellent.

One of our top priorities was to wash our laundry because our clothes were absolutely disgusting and filthy from the trail, but doing laundry turned out to be something of a fiasco. We couldn't figure out how to open the lid of the washing machine and had to go to the front desk for help, and even after he described how to operate it, we still couldn't figure out the blasted machine and had to go back for help again. This time he went down to the laundry and showed us exactly how to open it--pulling a lever at the button of the machine while popping the top at the same time. I'd never seen anything like it before.

After what seemed like a suitable period of time, we checked up on the laundry again and the machine had stopped, so we popped it open and started pulling out clothes--but they were absolutely drenched. Of course, washers are supposed to get clothes wet, but these were beyond wet. Large rivers of water cascaded off the clothes. It was like the spin cycle hadn't completed--and maybe it hadn't. The machine had seemed finished washing our clothes, but maybe it wasn't?

We decided to put the clothes back in the washer and start it over again, but by this point, we'd created a disturbingly large pool of water on the floor after pulling out our wet clothes. I tried to find a towel or something I could use to soak it up but couldn't find anything and eventually left it to dry. I felt a little bad about that. They really shouldn't let us touch the washing machine here!

We left and came back another hour or two later--giving the washing machine plenty of time to do its thing, and this time when we popped it open and took out our clothes, they were wet--but just a light dampness and suitable for a dryer. Not that we dried our clothes in a dryer--we let them drip dry in our room instead. It's the European way to dry clothes.

For the rest of the night, Karolina enjoyed the sauna while I got online an caught up with email and checked up on my websites. Life was good!




I fill up my water bottle--and almost fall into the creek while doing it!

We've already come 70 kilometers! And just 8 more to our resupply point!
That's Ammarnäs on the shore on our side of the lake--and our first resupply point for the trail!
There weren't a lot of cloudberries to pick, but Karolina went a little crazy picking blueberries which were everywhere!
A video of Karolina's crazy blueberry picking!




Karolina was impressed with both the size of the mushrooms on the trail and the sheer numbers of them. I thought they were pretty normal, but then... I live in the Pacific Northwest. =)

Entering the small village of Ammarnäs
The Ammarnäs tourist office
I brush some dirt off my shoes. I think these brushes are meant more for getting snow off ones shoes in the winter time, but they work for dirt too!
Dinner! I got the hamburger. Karolina got the arctic char.




















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