Days 13 to 17 – Perspective Changes & Near Death

I’m sat staring at mountain. The sun is warm. It beats down on the landscape yet the snow defies its presence as the tallest peaks cling on to their winter coats.Progress is slow, hampered by pain, as I head to Sommahytta. Two days have passed since I left Kautokeino and pushed through the day that ended upon a mountain.

Two days ago I left that hill top camp and journeyed north, something that vexes me a little. I reached my first port of call. A small cabin named Raisevanhytta. I stopped here. Drank coffee. Wrote some words. Words that I didn’t plan on writing and gave no forethought too. 

It seemed I was fighting against the land I was on. Folly!

No longer will I fight. What happens everyday happens. This was the decision I made as I wandered along the trail to Nedrefoss. Before I left I searched for anything useful…

Sea salt, zip lock bags! Camera is inserted into on bag and some holes are punched into it. The sale goes in a second along with the bag containing my camera. This should help remove the moisture inside the small black box of picture making. It was now time to leave.
The trail changed from sandy lakeside trails to mountain single tracks, occasionally opening out into a marshy mountain lake view. I felt light, all was well and my pace was of no concern.  

Then the trail became alpine. Meandering down hill, technical and rocky, through what felt like a fairy tail forest. A small river crossing lies ahead. I take the first step and stop, enjoying the feeling of the crisp cool water on my feet. I reach for my bottle so I can…

The crisp cool water envelopes me. I’ve fallen in yet another river, deep into the plunge pool formed by the fast moving water.  

I jump out and utter the same single swear word three times, I grab my phone, take t out of the case, turn it off and put in my pack.
A smile creeps across my face and no sooner than it reaches the far side, I unleash a laugh!

I laugh for a while, amused that I am now soaked!! My phone is likely to stop working and that makes two pieces of kit that are dead. All hope lies at Nedrefoss and the promise of a fire and some dried food like rice.

I arrive and there is a family already at the cabin. We exchanged brief words, Klaus is the most talkative, questioning me on where I’m headed, food, shelter and water. They sit done to a meal and I wander in search of something to help to dry my things. I return and they’ve finished their meal and are on their way to the sauna. Klaus gives me a ration pack. He insists I take it and refused the money I offer him. Thankful, I take it and prepare it. Then I find the mother load…

Pasta!! A big bag of dried pasta!!!
Camera and phone are in, the whole thing is then hung above the wood burning stove. If all goes well they should be fine in a day or so.

I eat half the meal, lie down on the bed and drift off.
I wake to a pain in my shin. My leg hurts, so I loosen the tendon as best I can, pack and leave, saying fair well to Klaus and his family. Before long I notice that the ache is now more severe. I begin to walk, but with each km that passes they leg feel heavier and more painful. I’m expecting a DNT cabin at the 30km mark. The river changes to a raging torrent to a wide and quite beast, snaking its way to sea. Water falls fill it from cliffs on either side and on occasion the trail becomes a boulder hopping exercise.  

30km arrives. I can’t find the hut. There are no sign posts and no one to ask so I continue along the trail. Climb steeply towards the sound of a waterfall and am rewarded with a view that I wish to revisit. A deep ravine filled by a powerful waterfall that drowned out all other sounds. This is where I will sleep tonight. A fire is made, water heated and a medley of pasta and cheese is eaten. It is time to sleep.
My sleep is restless. My leg hurt and the pain wakes me in the night, but the roar of falling water lulls me back to sleep. I wake early. The sun has reached above the peaks and shines bright. I know today will be painful. I also realise I have no way out from here. My way out is through the pain. Something stops me pressing the SOS button. The trail keeps climbing, and climbs for hours, until I need a break from the pain and so I stop and write these words while the sun warms my skin and the landscape feeds my heart.  
I will reach Sommahytta and if I find food there, I will rest. If not I will continue to the next hut until I am lucky enough to find food. I have 4 ration packs but at this pace I’m not sure they are enough to get me to Kilipisjârvi. 
I reached Sommahytta and although there was no food, I found some dried milk and rapeseed oil. I had two cup fulls of dry milk powder whilst getting the fire going. A hot cup of soup followed before heading to sleep. The leg was no better. It hurt to walk. The next day would be a slow and short day, but the cabin was warm and I wasn’t planning on staying up late.
Day 16 arrived and I wandered out fairly early. The first cabin was only 3.5km away. Sooner than I expected and after 2 river crossings I arrived. Two lads were already in there and looked like they’d just woken up. Brief words were exchanged, I drank a small amount of coffee and I massaged and flexed my leg. There was a roll of gaffatape handy…

I used it to tape my leg up, and then left the cabin after saying farewell. The size of my pack was an amusement and a wander to them both. My sandals got to the response ‘what ever floats your boat’ which was amusing.

The next 12km felt better. There had been moments in the first 3km where I’d wanted to stop. The pain so intense that my leg would lock up. As time passed the pain became worse and the final few meters to the next hut where agony.

Still, it’s not that painful if you are still taking steps!

This hut is on Finnish land and 9km from the highest peak in Finland, Halti at just over a 1000m. If my leg was better, I would be heading for its summit, but with regret I sat and looked at it in the near distance instead. I know where it is and that arriving here is easy enough from Kilipisjâvri so another place to visit in the future. I chatted with the people here, 3 who spoke good English commented on my pack size, the lack of food I carried and my footwear. Dooka, the most talkative of the bunch had three days left and enough food for 10 days! He off loaded some in my direction even though I insisted I had enough. Another fella asks if I could fix his water bottle top and in exchanged gave me a mix of dried watermelon, apple, banana and peanuts. This was the prebed snack.  

Right now it is day 17. The landscape I’ve woken too is incredible. I am amongst mountains, the sun is filling a blue sky and clouds hug the mountains. I will get myself close to Kilipisjâvri today, with the plan on arriving there on Saturday, buy provisions for the next 250km and move on. Until my leg improves, it will be slow progress but progress it will be.
‘The Knights that go Ni’ (Dooka, Jonnas and Ville) invited me along with them. We set off and although the pain was still there, it seems less of a burden. After a few km, we stopped and the 3 of them made breakfast next to an incredible waterfall. Nothing as big as the Norwegian one I stayed near, but amazing none the least.  

A quick breakfast and it was time to move on. Their pace is more leisurely, although the this is more a product of their ginormous packs. They planned to travel for 4 days and carried enough food for 8 or 9.

The trail is a good one and I’m left wishing I could run. We reach a river that is spanned by a simple and solid wooden bridge. The water is so clear and appears blue as it flows toward the sea. Their plan is to reach Kilipisjârvi tomorrow, grab a beer, then a sauna and end their adventure with a pizza. Dooka and Jonnas insist I go for a Finnish sauna. The saying here is that if what ails you is not cured by a sauna or tar, nothing will cure you!

The pain grows and as it does my leg begins to feel heavy and stiff. We break… I go through to agonising process of voodoo flossing my leg and freeing it up again. More km pass and we arrive at a lake and more huts. It is time for lunch cooked one a fire and a hours break. The next section to the final hut for today is 11km and the first few km are uphill.  
We head out and I test myself on the hill. I can push up as a good pace and not feel tired. I decide to run ahead and see if I can free up my leg again. The pain has reached its usual peak and if I don’t do something the next 11km will be soul destroying. I’m amazed at the difference in mentality the companionship of random strangers make. The pain seems to be treated differently and the next 11km seem to fly by as we stop for breaks, chat about nothing in particular and talk about the kit I carry.

One final hill and the hut appears at just the right time. The pain was reaching yet another peak and I head straight for he river. The ice cold water may not do anything for the injury but it’s numbing effect is hugely welcomed. I feel more positive about my progress. It will be far slower than I planned but I will continue moving towards Saracusa.  
The evening is pleasant. Some food, more conversation, watching Jonnas reach the peak of a 1000m+ peak near the hut and how everyone here revels in his achievement. A sense of quiet contentment fills the air and as though a silent alarm has been sounded, everyone head to sleep. Another day ends and one more lies ahead. I sleep as best as I can having drank a pint or so of coffee. The bed is comfortable and I have little packing to do in the morning.
I should explain calling the 3 kind fellas, the Knights that go Ni. The Finnish conversation tends to involve the word ‘ni’, a way of agreeing with what is being said, much like a gangster would say ‘true dat’ or ‘I get ya bled’. So if in Finland and involved in Finnish conversation, all you need to do to blend is is on occasion, when it seems like a sentence has ended, utter the word Ni. 


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