Friday, 15 July 2011

11 hours well spent

With a total of 23 kilometres sitting in my legs after yesterday's run/walk on Kungsleden, I set off for a hike. We were a group of 7 that left the flat this morning. J had a plan to hike to a glacier, and I thought I'd go along and see how far these tired legs could take me. The others would turn back after a few kilometres, so I knew I could walk back with them if I was too tired to hike to the glacier.

My thigh muscles were a bit sore, which only was a problem on sharp inclines. Otherwise, I felt great. The weather was amazing. The company was great. Little angry lemmings screeched as we walked past. One of them ran over my hiking boot. A white male reindeer was spotted in the distance, crossing the river.

After a short coffee break, it was time for the others to turn back. I decided to push on. There were three of us that continued onwards and upwards, crossing rivers, climbing hills and walking across snow fields. 

The glacier was soon within our view. It looked small from a distance, but as we got nearer and nearer we started realising what a majestic landscape this was. We climbed higher, and suddenly the earth ended. Or it seemed that way, as we stood on a thousand metre high cliff and looked at the endless plains down below.

We ate lunch there on the cliff, trying to soak in as much of the beauty around us as possible. It was breathtaking. I rested against a rock and let my eyes wander across the mountains in the distance. I wasn't eager to leave, but we had unfinished business. The glacier was our first goal, but we had a second one if we felt up to it: a mountain top of 1644 metres, which could be reached by walking on a steep slope between two glaciers.

We weren't sure we'd be up to it. Large stones covered the entirety of the slope, treacherous beneath our feet. Any one of them could give way at any moment, causing us to fall several metres and quite possibly breaking a few bones and in the worst case dying. Still, we had to try. 

We stepped carefully on the stones, using our hiking sticks for balance. We didn't get very far before we decided to turn back. Climbing up was fully possible, but climbing down felt more and more difficult. On the way down, my left boot got caught on a stone in such a way, that it disturbed its balance and almost caused it to fall on my right foot. That would have meant the end of our hike and a ride on a helicopter to the nearest hospital.

We got to the bottom of this slope in one piece. The hike home would prove to be much easier than the hike to the glacier, as we picked a slightly different, easier route. The temperature had gone up and with it came the mosquitoes. Swarms of these blood sucking vampires attacked us as soon as we left the barren higher ground and reached the greener areas. As a result, we walked much faster. My legs felt better than ever, and I almost ran when the ground was even.

J's Garmin showed 23 kilometres when we got home. The hike took us 11 hours, breaks included. 11 hours well spent.

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