Monday, October 15, 2018

Day 6: Shipping Pains

August 21: Night passed over Ammarnäs without anything noteworthy happening. I'd periodically look out the window when I woke up and once again, it never seemed to get really dark, but I couldn't tell if that was because of our location so far north or due to the small amount of light pollution the town put out.

We slept in late--with plans so only do a half-day of hiking, we had time to relax. The morning was clear and gorgeous, and I was a little disappointed that we didn't have a full day of hiking with such great weather to our backs. Why?! Almost every day the weather has been less than stellar, and almost immediately upon reaching town yesterday, it clears up beautiful! Why does nature hate me?!

Karolina and I both took one last shower before checking out of the hotel/hostel and walking down to the grocery store where we planned to resupply.

Actually, the first thing we tried was to hit up the tourist office for suggestions about where to find lodging in Jakkvik which we figured would take us five days to reach, but they literally put out their closed sign just as we walked up. So we left to get groceries and hoped they'd be open again before we left town.

Packing up our packages! Little did I know when this photo was taken the problems that lay ahead....

Karolina stood outside the grocery store watching our gear while I went in first to buy 5 days worth of food. While being checked out, I asked about shipping--there were long portions of the Kungsleden that didn't have any grocery stores and the small shops in the hut, we had read, had rather expensive food since the food usually had to be transported there by helicopters or (in the winter) snowmobiles and our guidebook suggested that shipping food--especially the kind of stuff not found in the huts--could be competitive. But I wasn't sure how to ship stuff ahead (our guidebook was lacking such details!) The guy checking me out assured me that it wouldn't be a problem--he'd be glad to help.

Awesome. But first, I'd pack the food that I planned to carry for the next 5 days which was my first concern.

I exited the store, then Karolina took her turn shopping while I stood outside watching our gear and packing my newly acquired supplies.

When Karolina returned, I re-entered the store and soon bought another 10 days worth of food. I planned to send 5 days of food to two separate locations along the trail. The guy working at the store grabbed three boxes for us from the back of the store--old shipping boxes that they no longer needed.

I wanted to send three packages in total, but only two of them would include food. The last box would include my duffel bag which I used to check my gear when I fly and some extra Ziplocks, bags, clothes and toiletries to fill up the empty spaces. Stuff that I wouldn't need until I reached the end of the trail and needed them to fly home.

Karolina and I filled the two food boxes, but the boxes weren't quite big enough and we both had to take out a few days worth of food. About 7 days of our 10 days worth of food could fit. The other 3 days we decided just to carry. Which meant that I now carried 8 days of food on the trail. Ugh!

With the three boxes packed up and ready to go, I re-entered the grocery store to ship them.

The packages are ready for shipping!

At first a woman took me into the back--the area were customers usually aren't meant to go given me a behind-the-scenes view of the supermarket--into a small office where she got onto a computer and started searching for the specific addresses where the boxes needed to be mailed. But she had trouble finding the information online (the websites were all in Swedish so I was of absolutely zero help!) and eventually the man who first helped me took over the job and the woman went back to handle the registers again.

As he poked around, looking through one website after another trying to find the addresses, I learned that his name was Patrick. After what seemed like a half hour, he had come up empty. Well, not completely empty--he found some phone numbers of the places where I wanted the packages sent so he tried calling them, but the first ones he tried didn't answer their phones at all, and then he was on hold for what seemed like an eternity.

I was starting to get worried that we wouldn't be able to send these packages at all. Why is it so difficult?!

Patrick got a message on her personal phone that his kid needed to be picked up from school or something so he had to run off and do that, but it would only take about 10 or 15 minutes and he'd be right back.

I went outside to give Karolina an update--and ate a couple of snacks from my pack because it was lunch time and I was getting hungry. Karolina said that she was getting very bored sitting outside, not that I could blame her. She'd been sitting there for over an hour while I was inside trying to send these stupid packages.

Karolina took this photo through the window of the grocery store, and the woman next to me was the one who first started helping me before handing me off to Patrick after 15 minutes or so. (Sorry, it appears that Karolina took no photos of Patrick, but she wants everyone to know he was a very good-looking man.)
To be productive and give her something to do, I suggested that Karolina wander over to the tourist office again and see if she could locate lodging for us ahead in Jakkvik while I watched our gear until Patrick returned. Karolina returned maybe 10 minutes later saying that the "closed" sign on the tourist office was no longer there, but that the door was locked. That didn't make any sense, but I didn't want to leave in case Patrick returned.

We chatted for another half hour and I was beginning to wonder what happened to Patrick when he poked his head out the front door and called me back saying that he had been back for some time and had managed to get through to two of the three phone numbers to confirm the address where the packages needed to be sent. Yes! Finally!

He tried calling the last number but was once again had trouble getting through for the better part of a half hour. I was impressed with the patience of Patrick. He'd been helping me for close to two hours now and didn't seem at all bothered by the inconvenience. I felt a little bad for the trouble I caused. I thought it would be an easy thing to look up the addresses and mail the packages off within a few minutes. I certainly didn't expect this to take hours!

But finally he got through to the last phone number and after a brief conversation in Swedish of which I could understand absolutely nothing, he hung up the phone and told me the good news--he had verified the correct address to mail the package! Yeah! =)

He filled out the necessary forms online, printed the labels, put them on the boxes and gave me the receipts which I then took up to the register to pay for. We were done! It took over two hours to mail those packages, and we'd probably been at the grocery store for closer to three hours in total.

When I exited the store for the last time--free!--Karolina was chatting with another hiker who had arrived in town but was headed in the opposite direction on the trail. She told him that we were shipping food up ahead on the trail.

"You don't really need to do that," he said. "The huts have little stores with food already available."

Yeah, but they were (allegedly) expensive and had limited options. And we were only sending two boxes of food ahead along the longer stretches between grocery stores like Kvikkjokk.

"Oh, well that's a good place to send one," the hiker replied. "The selection there is very limited."

Glad we had his approval, but the boxes were already in the mail. Or rather, the bus. The bus service would actually be carrying our packages to their final destinations because the post office either wouldn't deliver to them or is more expensive or something. I didn't really understand that, but the bus, Patrick assured me, was the way to ship. At least to these particular destinations. (Our guidebook also suggested the bus as well.)

The hiker left and Karolina and I headed back to the tourist office to find out about lodging in Jakkvik, where I figured out why Karolina had trouble getting into the building--it was an emergency exit and she hadn't been at the front door at all! Oops. =)

We got a good laugh out of that, then entered the tourist office where a friendly woman told us about the hostel in Jakkvik which had room for 80 beds and said at this time of year, there should be plenty of space available. Really? Eighty beds?! Holy cow! She dialed the number on her phone and handed it over to me, and I made a reservation for the two of us for five days out.

Mission accomplished! At this point, I was ready to hit the trail. It was well into the afternoon by now and due to the shipping fiasco, we were hours behind schedule! But Karolina really wanted to see Potato Hill before we left town.

I kind of wanted to see it too but I was ready to write it off, anxious to finally leave town, but off we headed to the edge of town where Potato Hill was located.

Potato Hill is a small, natural hill that looks oddly out-of-place and, upon seeing it, I assumed it must have been made-man. It's not, but it looks man-made. And on the sunny southern slopes, the townspeople use it to grow potatoes. It's a funny little place, with a funny little name, and we followed a small road that climbed the back of the hill to the top with wonderful views.

I stopped to eat some snacks at the top--it was a nice place for a break with benches and even grills! Although I didn't cook anything on the grill, I made use of the benches.

We walked by an old, wooden church and some old, historical cabins and finally got out of town.... at 4:00 in the afternoon. I never imagined we'd be leaving town so late in the afternoon! We were so far behind schedule it wasn't even funny.

We followed the road out of town where it intersected with the Kungsleden and were finally back on track again. At least we thought we were on the right track, but after a few junctions without any signs pointing which direction was the Kungsleden, our confidence was falling. Did we somehow miss a turn? I kept a particularly close eye on our topo maps, comparing the ground we were hiking with the slopes and details on the map and--as far as I could tell--we were going in the right direction. But it bugged me that none of the junctions we were approaching had the Kungsleden listed. Why not?

We only hiked a few hours before setting up camp near another emergency shelter. It was the first day it didn't rain on us at all! (And, coincidence...? It was also the first day that we saw absolutely no reindeer!) The weather, in fact, had been quite nice all day. Sunny and warm. A little windy when we got above tree line, but overall, a beautiful day for hiking.

But I was still grumbling over the fact that we wasted so much of the day in the grocery store trying to mail those packages. It seemed so unfair that our first day of good weather, we didn't start hiking until 4:00 in the afternoon!

There's a postscript to this post.... Like I mentioned before, Karolina got very bored waiting outside of the grocery store for me and later, after we finished the trail and I flew home, going through my photos, I found some... unexpected photos of Karolina on my camera. She had taken a few silly selfies to entertain herself, for me to discover about a month later! Very funny, Karolina....

This was the silly selfie I found on my camera--about a month after Karolina took it!
Potato Hill--where all the locals grow potatoes on the sun-facing side of the hill.
The view from the top of Potato Hill was quite nice!
It's also a nice place to take a snack break because I was starving at this point! We missed lunch!
What a beautiful, wooden church!
Karolina checks out one of the historic cabins.
And finally back on the trail again!
This ski lift was one of the landmarks on my topo map that had me convinced we were still heading in the correct direction--even though the last few trail intersections had nothing pointing to the Kungsleden.
This wind shelter was another important landmark that confirmed we were still heading in the right direction.

1 comment:

GG said...

If I move my head up and down while wearing graduated lens glasses, it makes Karolina's selfie look like she's puffing her cheeks in and out.