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Published: September 11th 2007
This is the elements we faced.
This wonderful trip can only be described with thousands of amazing words! Scandinavia was one of the most amazing areas i have ever experienced.
(This journal is long and i appreciate all who wants to read it...but no fear as its good for me to keep an account.)
It began with a £20 flight from london to copenhagen, in denmark on the 4th of july. A one-way, no return, and no date of return, the way i love it!
So scandinavia commenced amoungst the other 100,000 others at the mud-infested farmland, of the rock-music festival called, Roskilde. My fellow companions were Melissa and Helen at this crazy event. Crazy girls, for such a great time!
It was here, that I was awakened to another european experience, to see a mass of mud and mud pools from the downpour that continued. I was overwhelmed with a sense of devastation, looking across at 100,000 tents and a good proportion of these were either touched by mud or actually sodden with mud. For me, it was a scene I remember from driving through africa, seeing the poverty stricken camps. Eye-opening that we pay £140 to be in this for 5
describes it more than words
days. Yes thats me and I loved every moment of it. Not to say it wasn't challenging. All the memories were outstanding: the gumboot requirement, the bands: the Muse, Veronas (kiwi band), Arcade Fire, Basement Jaxx, Bjork, Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Catching up with Hilde, Bjorn and Hakon (from my African travels), dancing, drinking and rock music. I learnt at this amazing festival, its the culture of this event that makes it so unique. How thousands are brought together because of the love for rock music, but are just such down to earth, chilled out folk. Who are able to live in mud for a few days, either with a lot of alcohol or who, just such a great personality.
I loved that you would hang out cooking sausages with a couple of bottles of vodka and make friends with everyone, wearing wet weather pants, gumboots and mud stained tops!
One highlight that stands tall is the discovery of a rubbish bin. This bin was manipulated into acting as a standing post amongst the thousands. It opened us, thanks to Melissa's findings, to such a euphoric feeling, standing on this simple bin, we were above thousands and right there in front of these massive screens and main stage.
From Roskilde, it was the time to meet up with Helen's friend, Kirsty. Kirsty travelled for a week with us. From Copenhagen, we boarded a bus for Oslo and then onto Andalsnes, a small town on the west coast of Norway. It continued to be damp and overcast at the best of times but the sights made up for everything. It was our first glimpse of snow-capped peaks and greenery.
From Andalsnes, we ventured on to Valldal. Valldal is the tiniest village of 900 people squeezed amongst the most picturesque mountains and green hillsides, covered by beech trees and layered with moss. We were really fortunate, to be there visiting this beautiful village. We were there because Mum and Dad has these wonderful friends, called Arnie and Inger (who they met while working at the Ruakura Farming Research Station in New Zealand). They live on a strawberry farm and it was lucky for us, that it was harvesting time. Of course there was a session amongst the strawberry patches, when you should 'never let two morrison daughters alone in the patch!'
But these fruits were something i have never tasted anything of the like before...simpley mouth-watering. We also sampled the divine homemade strawberry jam as well as Ingers home-cooking. Its been a long time away from mum's cooking! On one of the days here in Valldal, we visited the Geiranger Fjord and ferried up this majestic beauty. It is yet another intense sight, amazing fjords. The colours, the heights - all something so undescribable! Arnie and Inger and their family also showed us these 100 year old huts in the mountains where the girls of the village would go in summer to attend to the cows. Everywhere around us up there, was fulled with stories and history.
From Valldal, it was on to Alesund, a journey towards the coast again. Alesund was a beautiful quaint town that was ruined by a fire but was rebuilt with Nonveau art (an art technique on all the buildings there). Its got a geogeous sea-side fishing feel to this town.
It was here that Kirsty left us, and it was the start of an agonising trip up to the top of sweden, on buses and trains. There was a day in between in Trondheim, a beautiful historical town where the vikings came to be found in scandinavia.
Reaching the settlement of Abisko, i was anxious! Here i was, this is what i had been dreaming of and planning about, for months and this was it! Abisko - the start of the Kungsleden, the 440km trail (the 25 day trail).... the trail that for us ended up being over 500km, 32 days and Swedens highest Peak, Kebnekaise and 31 nights in a tent, and 32 cold washes. An amazing challenge, and one that was accomplished with the help of such great friends (Helen and Melissa) and determination! And a little blue tent, that has seen better days. It is now splattered with mosquito blood, our blood and rips from the gail force winds that it endured.
The first week was one so challenging in so many ways as, there was three girls in a two-man tent. It was simply horrible weather, but this made the determination so much greater. Times were trialling. It was in this first week that we covered 86km and Swedens highest, Mt Kebnekaise, a 2114m killer that takes 12 hours, to do the return trip in one day, (and we started this one at 12 midday - yes!) This was due to sleep deprivation and it was the most beautiful day we had had all week. The whole midnight sunshine was wonderful with tramping, you could walk all night if you so desired! Never have i climbed a peak with it being snow-capped and flags standing proud at the sumit. The momentous moment reaching the top was filled with intense fear as the sides of this mountain were severe drops. The mist roared in and visibility was poor. But the sights prior to reaching the summit was breathtaking. And what was even more special was that we experienced this alone, up there!
Leaving Helen after week one of this trail was one of a saddened and prolonged moment as it had been amazing for the past month to travel with your sister, who was so much more, one of the greatest friends in my life who i had experienced so much with.
So on, Melissa and I strode, at times we were surrounded by severe and rugged snow-capped mountains, tarns and vast lakes which we drank and swum in. There was deer sightings, amazing glacial valleys, piercing ice-cold winds. Rain which lead to the use of numerous plastic bags - on our feet and on our bums when it came to sliding down the glaciers. Through out the entire trip - we had moments of glorious sun but i would say it was scarse. But when it came out, how i really appreciated what it gave me. It came out for long enough just to dry everything, give me a bit of hope and then came down the spits! This is no exaggeration, the weather became a general concern. Wet weather gear was a usual attire for us!
I felt like i had learnt so much from this trip; from rowing boats (as there were several large lake crossings and we refused to pay, to catch a small powered boat from the locals) to attempting map skills. Im still going to work on this one! Yoga was introduced to me. As well as intense river crossing experiences, these were freezing river crossings. Creativity was sought out with scarse food supplies. Lighting open fires with wet wood. And so much about one - person, me! And so much about friendship.
At night time, which was daylight, we camped therefore saving £36 each evening. There were 5 major cabins along the route, which were fitted with a sauna, a drying room, free-food tables (which melissa and i got to know very well). We could have stayed near some of the smaller cabins for £6 but of course we refused. Camping became our life for 32 days. It was intense but so wonderful, to be ok at living like this for such a long time. This life encompassed daily swims in bone cold rivers, lakes or dirty mashes, just whatever was around.
It was two minute noodles, or mashed potato for dinner. Crackers and sometimes bread (from the 5 main huts along the route) for lunch. Breakfast was always porridge, and the most special thing was that when i could, there were blue berries from the forrests. We learnt from the locals what was the poisonous foods, we'd also experimented with the mushrooms and again suss'ed out what was poisonous. We really got to know the land in this time. Along the way i had eaten enough carbohydrates to make myself sick numerous times. It was incredible to see the amount we had been eating and that our metabolism was just chewing it up immediately. Some days our longest walking was 27km and this terrain was tough, really tough. We didnt take many rest days as the weather really stuffed us around and if it wasn't the weather, it was the mosquitos, as i will now describe.
The mosquitos got so bad at time, in your mouth, nose and in your eyes. This was a good proportion of the trail, considering sweden has an exceptional amount of wetlands. There were times when i wanted to itch that we itched ourselves until we bled. The tent has been stained with their blood and our blood. Simple things, for example like making dinner or toileting became well thought out missions usually returning either with red bums or mosquito infested noodles. I learnt how to make open fires with all natural goodness and wet foliage which would keep them abay for a while. And the poor weather would sometimes act as a miracle when it came to these atrocious beasts.
I even got to experience a sighting of BEAR poo. It was filled with berries. Crazy stuff, and it appeared very fresh. I'd spoken with a local who told me what it was. I was ecstatic but relieved that i didn't have to come in contact. There were some nights when i was freezing in my sleeping bag, freaking out about these beasts. But i learnt a lot about these animals while i was up there. That there 'independent and quiet natured animals who enjoy their own company, i think its simply bad luck to ever have been hurt by one. They encourage loud singing when your walking through the laplands.' Crazy isn't it! It is if their startled they say, is when it won't be a good experience with this incredible animal.
A momentous moment, the finish. When i thought that we had had every element thrown at us for 32 days, we had finished. It was time for reality. We had met some interesting and amazing people along that trail, some being locals, and some being international visitors alike us. But i was blown away by scandinavian hospitality - when in times of need, sharing tea bags was one of the most beautiful acts of humanity that someone can do. It is simply amazing. When your so hungry, this cup of tea is beautiful!
So after over a month and half of travel with Melissa, and 32 days in a tent i had to saddly leave Melissa. Our friendship was tested and bloody hell openess was explored. I couldnt have wished for anything more, not a greater friend to have attemped such a major challenge. There were moments when i didn't think or i simply didn't want to go on - crying seemed like a good way to deal with it, but Melissa was always there, smacking my senses into function.
It was Stockholm where my trip ended, bound for Glasgow, in Scotland. And she was bound for Finland across the open sea.
Stockholm was again another mesmerising place, a city built on water. Thousands of islands making up this city. It has a gentle relaxed feel and again so much history crammed into the dot on the map. But it was a city that i was more intrigued to just wander around because the culture and pace was just what i had needed. A neat little blend for me ready for london.
To sum it up - It was simply a wonderful trip right from Day One! And to be back in london, its actually ok. I'm back in my same flat, but different room this time. Really missed my friends in london. And it's back to the same district nursing job....but i'm happy! But sad as my bike is so broken!
Love you all and thankyou for reading this if you have.
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