Once again, it was such a successful trip that I must share my experiences. You can’t bring to life the feelings and moments you are experiencing on a wilderness trip with a few sentences, but have a look at the enclosed pictures – they say more than a thousand words. I feel hiking is one of the best ways to start a holiday. All work- and private life-related stress and woes are removed from the mind as if by pressing a button at the exact moment the hike begins. For those interested, the landscapes of the hiking photos are roughly at the height of Kilpisjärvi, Finland and twenty kilometers westwards on the Norwegian side of the border, a stunning Norwegian mountain area. Kilpisjärvi (järvi = lake) is a village in the most north-western corner of Finland, bordering Sweden and Norway (1 300 km from Helsinki).
Once you’ve put on your hiking shoes and backpack at the starting point of the hiking trip and take the first step into the wilderness, which starts right out of the parking lot, the world changes as if by magic. All the stress and earthly woes remain in the parking lot, and the head is emptied of any disturbing thoughts. During the whole hike, no negative thoughts enter your mind, not a single one. The phone stays closed, and you don’t need to look at it every five minutes for messages or browse on social media. Well, there’s no mobile net here, so it wouldn’t even be possible. Gosh, how the nerves rest, I can tell you what.
You must always face some challenges when hiking. They come with the package, so to say. But everything that happens in the wilderness feels perfectly natural, no matter what it is. In fact, and as strange as this sounds, the more challenges, the better the hiking trip. And what are the challenges? A few examples.
The first thing that comes to mind is the physical strain that surprises me every year, even though I have been hiking into the wilderness for over 40 years now. No matter how good shape you feel you are in, when you have been walking up a steep mountainside with a backpack for 3 hours in difficult terrain (this is how this trip started), you realise you have already been sweating liters of sweat, your shoulders are aching, and your thighs are “screaming for help”. When you then, day after day, climb up and down 1-1.5 km high mountainsides, you can certainly feel this in your legs. Despite the strain, going up is the easiest part. Try walking down a steep slope for hours, and you will certainly pay attention to the existence of the “brake muscles” in your leg. Sometimes, you must look for a proper path to walk to avoid falling into some ravine by accident. But, if you’re careful and play it safe like we always do, there’s nothing to worry about.
Then the daily washing exercises. Every day you must wash properly – in an ice-cold mountain stream! It feels like walking right into a freezer, then throwing ice-cold water on yourself and closing the door. This is not at all as difficult as it sounds. Because you are more than motivated to quickly take off your clothes and then to even quicker run into the ice-cold stream due to the large gadfly flocks flying around you. This year there were a record number of them, and I can tell you the gadflies were big, and I mean big. I counted more than ten gadflies on just one small part of my shoe tip. However, they leave you alone when you are in the stream and throw cold water at yourself – you can stand in peace in the freezing stream for as long as you want. Wonderful! Then, after your washing, when you, with your blue skin and rattling teeth, walk to the shore, the gadflies leave you alone until your skin warms up again. I can’t help telling you how good a shot of whiskey tastes at this moment.
You must go to the toilet too when you’re on a hike. Unfortunately, there are no toilets on our hiking trails. You must play it by ear, improvise, so to say. I will spare the readers with weak nerves from the details. I will just say that “toilet activities” on steep mountainsides and surrounded by large gadfly flocks creates their own interesting hiking experiences and memories.
The food is ok, provided you like “dried hiking food” and cold water as a food drink. Warm coffee flavored with a small amount of whisky helps a little.
Then, when you, after a day of heavy exercise, finally go to sleep, this beats everything. Your muscles always stop aching by 3 a.m. at the latest. That’s good because by then, you’ve usually learned to balance on your slippery sleeping mat so you don’t slide off it all the time and can start sleeping. By 4 a.m. at the latest, the sun already comes out from behind the mountains and starts to warm the tent wonderfully. We had daytime temperatures of +25 degrees, so the nights were already warm enough without the sun. By 5 a.m., it’s over +30 degrees in the tent. At 7 a.m. the tent is like a sauna, you can’t possibly stay there anymore, and so you happily get up for morning coffee and to face the new challenges of the next day.
And this is how the hike continues day after day. Isn’t all this stressing, I can imagine someone thinking? No, absolutely not. You genuinely feel alive and enjoy every moment. Whatever is happening is entirely up to you! When you are on the top of the mountains with the scenery you can see in the enclosed pictures, you couldn’t feel better. As I’ve said before, it feels like you’re one with nature, and you can almost hear nature talking to you. You also understand that the world doesn’t revolve around you. It cannot become better than this.
When the hiking trip eventually ends, that feels good too – you get your first warm shower, first decent hot food, first doughnut coffee at the local Shell Cafe. However, I have fallen in love with Lapland forever, and we practically start planning next year’s hiking trip already in the car on the way home.