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Helags

A quick update from Helags mountain station, where I am just finishing an unexpected lunch of waffles with hot coffee. Proof, if any were needed, that trekking isn’t all toil and hardship.

It’s my seventh day today, and I’m a little over 130km along the trail north, high in the mountains. Progress has been a bit tricky at times, with big drifts of rotten snow across the path, and large amounts of meltwater which have turned hillsides into filthy marshes and made stream crossings difficult. After a sunny start in the woods and wetlands of Rogen, there were a couple of days of rain, and today there have been high winds and even snow in the air on the way over the ridges.

Nevertheless, there always seems to be a way through, at least for the time being, and progress has been decent enough. Lots of warnings about the road ahead, but we’ll cross those bridges when we come to them (or perhaps not, if they’ve been washed away).

I started walking round the same time as two Swedish fellows attempting the same trek, and our paths have kept crossing now and then. Yesterday, one of them, Martin, decided to call it a day in the face of such poor conditions (he’s not the only ‘Green Bandit’ to have done so, and some are saying it’s the worst summer in living memory), but his friend Gustav fancied carrying on, so we’re keeping company for the moment. He’s a fine, optimistic sort, and it’s quite nice to have someone to talk to, and to mull over route decisions and suchlike.

From here, I’d planned to head north east, but a big bridge is out further along the way, so instead we’ll loop north west, before a long road walk that ought to bring us into the town of Are, my first re-supply stop, on Sunday. Fingers crossed as ever, of course.

Otherwise body and gear are holding up well (with the exception of my fancy carbon fibre walking pole, which found its limits in the rocky terrain through Rogen), and amazingly some days ago, while walking with Martin and Gustav, we had a (rather too) close encounter with two musk-ox, hulking relics of the ice age that are among the rarest animals in Sweden. What are the chances?

I’ll post again in Åre.

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