Monday, October 22, 2018

Day 9: Close Encounters with the Moose Kind

August 24: The night turned out to be beautiful and the unexpectedly nice weather lingered into the morning. Rain never materialized, but I was still glad I had put up my tarp because it was quite wet from condensation.

The sunrise--which still began at a ridiculously early hour--was absolutely gorgeous and both Karolina and I took regular photos of it starting as early as 4:00 in the morning. Karolina also had a camera that could take time lapse videos so we tried setting that up at the edge of the lake, but it was a new camera and neither of us really understood how to work it and our efforts went to waste. We wound up with a 10-second video that was the sunrise.... in slow motion! We could have taken a video of a photograph and it would have looked just as interesting.

Just before sunrise--about 4:30 in the morning was beautiful!
As the morning wore on and the sun started to rise, dark-looking clouds made their appearance. Karolina was still hurting from the long 30 kilometer day we had yesterday, but she still beat me out of camp by about five minutes.

I figured it would probably take the better part of a half hour to catch up with her--she usually hikes at a pretty good clip and can sometimes be difficult to catch up with if she gets much of a head start, although my stopping to take photos every few minutes does slow me down.

So I was a little surprised when I caught up with her about five minutes later. Or rather, I caught up with her pack, which was on the side of the trail--alone and abandoned. Probably went off trail to pee or something. I approached slowly, not wanting to "surprise" her in an embarrassing situation when she called out to me from behind some trees.

"Ryan!" I heard, with a little urgency in her voice. "Can I borrow some toilet paper?"

It turned out her situation was a little more dire than a simple pee, but I carried the only roll of toilet paper. Most of the time, we'd just use the toilets at the huts which typically have toilet paper available. Apparently, Karolina had a sudden urge to go and just couldn't hold it anymore and started pooping--without any toilet paper nearby! She hoped that I wouldn't be far behind.

She was mostly hidden behind some bushes and trees and I wasn't sure what to do with the toilet paper. Throw it to her? But the ground was wet from condensation and wet toilet paper is almost worse than no toilet paper. But the brush hiding her was pretty thick so I wandered over, mostly looking at my feet and stuck out my hand with the toilet paper over the brush before scurrying off again to leave her in peace.

Afterwards, we laughed about the incident. "So what would you have done if I lingered in camp for another half hour or an hour?" I asked. "Stand outside with your butt sticking out, hoping a small animal would run by that you could wipe yourself on?" Normally, in the forest, I'd have suggested using leaves, but at this particular location, there wasn't much in the way of leaves. The largest leaves were on the brush and maybe the size of a fingernail. Hardly the stuff to wipe with!

Another half hour up the trail, I noticed an absolutely gigantic hoof print on the trail and pointed it out to Karolina. "That's totally a moose print!" I exclaimed. "Keep your eyes open! There's a moose nearby. That print looks fresh!"

And maybe five minutes later.... we saw them. Two hikers, hiking southbound in the opposite direction and they asked us, "Did you see the moose?!"

"Moose? Where?!" Karolina exclaimed. Karolina had never seen a moose before--not even in a zoo--and was anxious to see one.

"At the edge of this clearing! Just seconds ago! We were sure you saw them! A mama moose with two kids!"

There was an official moose sighting, and we missed it by seconds?! Argh!

Karolina wanted to hang around in the clearing hoping the moose would return, but I was less optimistic. The hikers last saw the moose running away and I figured it was unlikely they would return to a location where they knew people had been recently. I figured our best chance of seeing the moose was to keep moving and hope our paths intersected again somewhere up the trail, and after a few minutes of standing around with no moose poking their head back into the meadow, we continued on.

And never did see the moose. It was frustrating to have such a close encounter but not see the darn things. And it was a family of moose! With kids! Argh!

By now, the skies were completely overcast and the clouds looked mean, but the rain hadn't started. Not yet, at least.

We took a break at another emergency shelter, Badasjakka. I went to the outhouse nearby to do my business--much more comfortable than in the wild, although being an unmanned shelter, I had to use my own toilet paper. The only complication was that the outhouse was completely enclosed with no windows or gaps to allow in light so I had to leave the door cracked open a bit to see anything. I hoped no other hikers would arrive that wanted to use it and surprise me!

But it all went well and there were no surprises. Walking back to the shelter, though, I saw Karolina right next to the window of the hut and figured I could try scaring her by popping out by the window. I sneaked around the building, then jumped out by the window. Boo! Hahaha!

Except... she wasn't there. I'd seen her there not 5 seconds earlier. Where the heck had she gone? I peered through the window looking for her and saw her hidden next to the door of the entrance, clearly about to pounce and try to scare me when I walked in. Huh.

I wasn't sure what to do now. I wasn't quick enough to scare her, but she any hope she had of scaring me was over now that I knew she was hiding behind the door planning to scare me. Maybe I could open the door and scare her if I was quick enough? Maybe.... I didn't know what to do. That didn't seem like it would work. She was clearly expecting me to walk in that door at any second.

I stood there by the window for maybe 10 seconds, trying to think what I should do, and I could see Karolina growing increasingly uncomfortable behind the door. I knew what was happening. She saw me come out of the outhouse and knew I'd be re-entering the shelter, and it was maybe a 10-second walk if I walked slowly, and she was starting to wonder what happened to me. Why hadn't I walked in the door yet?

She started looking around and finally noticed my head peeking through the window. I waved by wiggling my fingers at her, kind of taunting her. A kind of, "Yeah, I know you're trying to scare me, but it's not going to work," wave. =)

With both of having failed spectacularly at scaring each other, I finally walked around to the front of the shelter and went back in for the rest of our snack break.

I tried to scare Karolina through that window on the left, and she tried to scare me by jumping out at me when I entered the door. We both failed--spectacularly! =)

A few minutes after leaving the shelter, it started sprinkling. Karolina put on her red cape immediately, but I held off on putting on my poncho hoping it was just a short, light sprinkle then would stop. About 10 minutes later, though, the light sprinkle became a heavy sprinkle and I finally stopped to put a poncho over my pack. Stupid rain....

An hour or two later, we arrived at a hostel in Bayerholmen, or maybe that was the name of the hostel? I wasn't entirely clear on that point. The heavy sprinkle was now starting to turn into heavy rain and we ducked underneath the front porch hoping to wait out the rain and take another break.

It was a rather substantial break this time, well over an hour! But the unrelenting rain continued and nowhere in the sky did it look like that was going to change anytime soon. Maybe later this afternoon it would improve, but in the foreseeable future... definitely not.

Wet from hiking in rain and cold from not moving, we grew increasingly uncomfortable under the front porch and decided to continue on. Another hour or two ahead was the small "holiday village" (as my guidebook called it) of Adolfstrom. A lot of towns in Sweden end with "strom" so I imagined it meant something like "town." As if it was the Sweden version of "Adolf Town."

Which, of course, there's only one Adolf we really are familiar with--Hitler! So I commented to Karolina that every time I saw the name "Adolfstorm," I kept thinking it was like calling it "Hitler Town." Why would a community call themselves Hilter Town? Karolina said she thought the same thing!

It seemed unlikely that the town was named for Adolf Hitler. Perhaps there was a Swedish king or other historical figure who was named Adolf (before Hitler gave the name such a negative connotation) that, because we aren't Swedish, we weren't familiar with. So Karolina and I started joking that we were hiking to "Hilter Town." Who would want to live in Hitler Town? Why would our guidebook call Hitler Town a "holiday village"?

Although I had no doubt that the town was not named for Hilter, I had to imagine that the people who lived there would recognize the negative connotation the name gives most people. Why didn't they want to change it at some point in the years after WWII?

The heavy rain continued and we walked into Adolfstrom completely soaked. Our original goal for the day was a campsite another few miles up the trail, but it was already getting late in the day and we were absolutely miserable from the weather and decided to look into how much lodging in the town would cost. I was happy to pay $50/person for a dry bed indoors.

Walking into town, we passed a small shop but it had already closed at 5:00. Further into town, we inquired about the price of a small cabin for rent and was told it would be 500 krona (or about $50). That's it?! That was a lot cheaper than either of us had expected so we were happy to take it.

Even better, it was a private cabin with a small kitchen too! It was positively luxurious! The "cheap" cabin wasn't available so this was a bigger one with four beds. If we had a couple of other hikers to share the room with, it could have cost as little as $13/person. Showers cost a little extra (at least if you wanted the hot water turned on), and the kitchen had no running water so we had to carry water in from a spigot outside. Bathrooms and showers were in a nearby building, and there was no Internet access. I asked if there was somewhere else in town I could get online but was told that no, nowhere in town had public wi-fi available.

So we checked into our little cabin. There was a TV in the room, which got about 3 channels, and we turned it to the one with children's programming on it which was absolutely absurd to watch. Especially since it was in Swedish and I couldn't understand a word of it. =)

Ultimately, we didn't cover all that much distance today--a mere 17 kilometers. We were slightly behind where we wanted to be, but indoors and out of the miserable rain was much better than camping in this horrid weather!

Life was good!

At one point, Karolina slipped and fell from the mud and rain. Rather than helping her up, I told her to not move so I could get a photo! This is exactly the position I found her after she had slipped. *nodding* Once I got the photo, then I helped her up. =)
Bayerholmen hostel
We took a good, long break out of the rain under its front porch! Which was quite cozy!

Karolina is not happy about the rain!

Our cabin for the night! (See Karolina making faces in the left window?)
Inside of the cabin. That big, silver bucket on the counter is for carrying water from the spigot outside to the cabin.


Anonymous said...

Now that's a stunning sunrise photo.

Michael said...

In that picture of Karolina, I do not believe she is mad at the weather. It looks like she is trying to suppress a grin.