Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Day 16: The Kvikkjokk Resupply

August 31: Karolina and I woke up to a beautiful, clear morning! The weather forecast called for beautiful clear weather all day as well--which actually disappointed us a bit because we didn't plan to do any hiking at all. Our destination for the way was the small town of Kvikkjokk, but it was just on the other side of the lake and a simple boat ride away. We didn't even have to hike there! It seemed so unfair that the one day it doesn't rain, we didn't have any hiking to do. And--the trend continued. We wouldn't see any reindeer. The "No reindeer = no rain" equation was still holding!

But we still had to wait until 10:30 in the morning before the charter boat would pick us up so we were in no rush to wake up. We did use the cell phone in the shelter to call the boat operators so they knew we were over here and wanting a ride across.

I use the cellphone in the shelter to call for a boat!

We heard the buzzing of motor before we saw the boat round a corner and head toward the dock just as a couple from the Czech Republic arrived--also wanting a ride across the lake. They arrived in the nick of time!

The boat pulled up to the dock and a few southbound hikers got off, then the four of us got on. Our boat driver was a friendly man who, upon learning that Karolina was Polish said that today had "ładna pagoda" (nice weather). He knew Polish?! Well, only a few words and phrases, apparently learned from a guy who used to work at the hut in the town one summer.

He took us around to admire a cascading waterfall flowing into the lake near Kvikkjokk before pulling in and dropping us off. Since he knew the Polish words for "nice weather," I figured that he probably knew the Polish word for "thank you" and wished him "dziękuję" for fun--which he totally understood. (Fun fact: most people who learn a language.... they're far more likely to learn how to say "thank you" before learning how to say "nice weather!")

Our chariot has arrived!
Karolina and I walked up to the hut and inquired about rooms and beds but they were sold out for the night and we were forced to camp outside. Which wasn't so bad--the weather was nice, after all--but we still paid a small fee to use the hut's resources to wash our clothes, use the drying room, get online (with a strictly limited and regulated bandwidth) and access to the hostel's kitchen.

And--we picked up our first mail drop! It had arrived safe and sound. We headed down to the area for camping and selected a space, and set up camp. I didn't feel comfortable leaving most of my gear unattended under my tarp so Karolina let me store stuff in her tent while we were in the hostel taking showers, eating and using the Internet. A few items I left on the groundsheet of my tarp, mostly to hold it down so a gust of wind wouldn't blow it around. This included my nasty shoes (who would even consider stealing those?) and the unopened maildrop.

Back at the hut, we went to the restaurant and ordered a burger with fries for lunch. It was really mediocre at best, but it was wonderful to eat something that hadn't been dehydrated or carried on our backs for countless miles.

Then we took showers and did our laundry. The location didn't have washing machines, but rather gave us a plastic bucket to fill with water and wash laundry by hand in that, which we took over a shower and did it there. It had hot water and we could get the floor all wet and it didn't matter, but it seemed odd to wash laundry in a shower stall and I wasn't entirely sure if that's where we were supposed to do it or if they would have preferred us doing it somewhere else.

Sunrise over the boat dock while we were waiting for the boat.

Karolina weighed her pack upon her arrival to see how much she was carrying--about 18 kg (40 pounds). My pack was 21 kg (46 pounds).
But it all worked out fine. Then we took our wet clothes to the drying room to hang out to dry.

Back at the campsite, we discovered that a thief had raided our camp! The box with our food drop had been chewed open and cardboard shreds littered my groundsheet. Damn squirrels were evil! The only casualty in the box was a bag of my cereal. I'm not sure if the squirrel got enough to eat and decided to call it a day or if it took a bite of my cereal and thought, "This stuff is crap! I'm going to look for nuts fallen from trees instead."

I cleaned up the mess, then we put the mail drop in Karolina's tent and went for a walk along the scenic river running along the edge of town. I didn't feel comfortable leaving the food unattended in her tent, but it seemed better than leaving it out like we did before and there wasn't anywhere else we had to put it. In hindsight, I should have left it with the hostel and picked it up later in the day. In the hut, it would have been safe from those raiders.

Near sunset, we headed back to the hut's kitchen and cooked dinner. I ate Ramon noodles, and I don't remember what Karolina cooked (nor did I write it in my journal). While eating dinner, Karolina pointed out a couple behind me saying that they were speaking in Polish to each other. They were Polish! She seemed shy about introducing herself, though, and they started talking to another guy sharing the table with them so we kept to ourselves.

After dinner, Karolina headed back to the campsite, but I headed into the lobby of the hut to get online and charge our devices. (Karolina left me her iPhone to charge.) Which is how I spent the rest of the evening--catching up online. At least until I ran out of my allotted bandwidth and then I headed back to camp for the night.

On the way, I passed the Polish couple who were also heading to their own campsite and I wished them a "dobry wieczór" (good evening). I think I took them by surprise--they couldn't have known that I would have known any Polish at all, and I'm sure I spoke with enough of an accent that they knew Polish wasn't my native language, but Polish is a strange language to use upon meeting a total stranger--at least if you're not in Poland! They wished me a "dobry wieczór" as well and we continued on to our respective camps.

By now, it was quite late and cold, but Karolina was still awake reading a book about the Kungsleden I had on my Kindle. I had read the book before I started the trail, but she shared some insights about how our hike compared to the hike the authors. I crawled into my sleeping bag while Karolina shared her insights and, after finishing, we both quickly fell asleep. Officially, we had completed about three kilometers of the trail--the boat ride across the lake--but only a few minutes of actual hiking to walk from the shelter to the boat dock (or "boat place" as the English signs liked to call it) and from the boat landing to the hut in Kvikkjokk. And the weather was gorgeous all day--which annoyed us. Why? Why was it that every time we had an entire day of beautiful, clear weather we were always stuck in town resupplying?! Argh!

The Czech girl (whose name I never got) and the boat driver. (You can also see Karolina's forearm, the purple splotch on the right.)

Video of the boat ride

Cascading waterfall running along the edge of Kvikkjokk. You can also see the hut (barely) through the trees near the right.

This mushroom looks so fake to me, but it's real!

Lunch! A real meal! That we didn't carry on our backs!
While we were eating lunch, squirrels were eating their own lunch at our expense!
Our campsite for the night

I'm writing in my journal while Karolina is eating a quick after-lunch snack at the restaurant.

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