Friday, October 19, 2018

Day 8: Another day, same reindeer

August 23: I woke up in the morning and headed outside for a quick pee, noting that the thermometer read 4.5°C--or about 40°F. Not super cold, but I certainly didn't go out without my jacket either! And, I was happy to note, the rain that fell for most of the night finally stopped. At least for now. The clouds still looked angry and the weather forecast did call for sprinkles throughout the day.

Rainbow in the morning!

For breakfast, I had my usual cereal in the morning but this time decorated it with blueberries on top that Karolina had picked the day before. It was a nice addition! =)

Fortified with cereal and blueberries, we hit the trail at around 8:00. The outside temperature had already warmed to 7.1°C--or about 45°F when we got on the trail.

We were now badly behind our initial schedule to reach our next resupply point by stopping so early in the day yesterday so we planned to make up for it today by pushing for a long 30 kilometer dash to a location near the next emergency shelter. If the weather was super bad by the time we arrived, we had every intention of sleeping in it. It was nice to have a plan B that could get us out of bad weather.

The topo map made the trek look relatively easy with one long, shallow climb to the top of a plateau early in the day, then more-or-less flat for several hours before a quick descent off the plateau where the trail would level out again. So... mostly pretty flat all day!

Patches of sun would come out through the day, but mostly we hiked under dark, menacing clouds that dropped some ever so light sprinkles. Karolina put on her cape to keep her and her gear dry--just in case the rain got worse--but I left my poncho and umbrella in my backpack hoping the rain wouldn't become worse.

Except for the first few kilometers of the day, we were primarily in a treeless region which was prime reindeer habitat and we saw countless reindeer throughout the day. They became such a regular presence, I didn't even try to get photos of most of them. I already had a lot of good reindeer photos at this point and couldn't imagine what I'd need with more of them!

Late in the afternoon, after about 20 kilometers, Karolina's aches and pains started slowing her down and she needed additional rest breaks. I tried to perk her up, "You can do it! You're doing great!" but I think I mostly just annoyed her. =)

Also late in the day, as we were traveling over a boardwalk, we saw a small animal scurrying around, trying to hide itself under the boardwalk. It was a small, gopher-like creature and we wondered--is it a lemming? We knew lemmings were (allegedly) common in this part of Sweden but we hadn't seen any so far. It had spots and was lighter than I imagined a lemming looked like, but when I tried thinking what a lemming should look like, I realized that I didn't really know. They were just small, creatures with a green set of hair and a blue shirt that I tried to save from extinction in the Lemmings game decades ago. I was pretty sure they didn't really look like that in real life, though.

I tried to get photos, but it annoyingly stayed deep in the shade under the boardwalks before dashing quickly behind a rock and into a crevice where we could no longer see it. We felt certain it must have been a lemming because what else would it be? (Later, when we got online, we looked up photos of what real lemmings looked like and it was definitely a lemming!)

As we bore down on our goal by the emergency shelter, we started looking for places to camp but the best locations were already taken by other hikers and we pushed on, eventually hiking about a kilometer past the shelter--or at least the turn-off for the shelter. We decided not to walk the 1/2-kilometer off trail to see the actual shelter.

We found a nice, open campsite next to Stårbmieavrre Lake. The location was gorgeous, right up by the lake with big views but I was a little worried about its exposed location. The weather forecast predicted rain during the night and combined with wind, that could be a huge problem in such an exposed location.

Karolina was hurting pretty badly at this point, so I told her to take a break and I'd scout ahead 5 or 10 minutes up the trail to see if there were any more protected campsites nearby. I dropped my pack and pushed ahead, scouting for something that was more protected than the campsite we found but after close to 10 minutes, I gave up and turned around. We'd make the best of the campsite we got. At least it was a beautiful location!

I set up my tarp low and secured it the best I could with rocks and wood helping to anchor down the stakes holding up the tarp. I hoped it would be sufficient. The weather forecast hadn't mentioned strong winds, but these plateaus and treeless areas have generally been windy and wind seemed to be the norm, so I prepared for it anyhow.

This is the only photo with a tube of cheese that are so prevalent in Sweden! This was a common snack for me, and one of my favorites, squeezing cheese out of tube onto a flour tortilla. Most people (including Karolina) would put the cheese on "bread"--I use the term loosely here because that's what people called it, but it was more like a hard cracker which I didn't care for. Tortillas, I thought, tasted better and didn't make as much of a mess.

Found a reindeer antler!
And I bet these guys know who the litterbug is, but they aren't talking!

The trail is marked with red markers (see the rock on the left in the background), but this was an unusual one! =)

I'm setting up my tarp. The location is beautiful, but I worried about how exposed it was knowing that rain was in the forecast.

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