Man down

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Yesterday was a truly calamitous day. It rained steadily from mid-morning as we descended through increasingly marshy terrain, then just 20 metres from the road at Gransjö, Gustav slipped and fell on a slimy plank of rotten duckboarding. And he broke his arm.

Things could have been worse, I suppose. When he’s not lugging a 100-litre pack up mountains, Gustav works as a nurse, so he knew more or less exactly what he’d done the instant he fell, and what to do about it. And we were by the first small road we’d encountered in a couple of days, so there was no need to call out mountain rescue. Still, these were small rays of light in an otherwise murky afternoon.

He put a brave face on it of course, once he’d finished swearing and trying not to pass out, but it was a rotten piece of luck for a fellow who’d walked 680km over the course of a month on the trail, and who should have been striding on towards Treriksröset rather than lying on the Tarmac wrapped in a foil blanket, bleakly contemplating the little lime-green caterpillar climbing up his knackered forearm.

It took about four hours for a taxi to arrive to take Gustav to hospital, during which time we sat in the pouring rain, trying to keep warm and cheerful, and drinking endless cups of hot chocolate. I offered to go with him, but he wouldn’t hear of it, so when the car arrived we shook hands warmly and promised to meet for a shot of bäska droppar sometime. Then the taxi left and I packed up the blanket and stove and set off north again in the rain, thoroughly depressed.

Gustav’s forearm is now in a cast (thankfully he didn’t need any surgery), and he’s on his way home, the adventure on ice, for now. For my part, I’m pushing on towards the next resupply at Hemavan. The sky has cleared but I’m missing my friend’s excellent company and infectious high spirits.

And needless to say, I’m watching my step.

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