Oct 26th – Trail

I’m not sure if I get cold or I just get to the point where I’ve had enough sleep.  Either way, I wake.  Check the time…

No, that bit was a lie.  I open my eyes and if I can’t see anything then it’s night time and I then battle for more sleep, which arrives eventually.  In fact just in time for me to have to wake up and pack things away.  Not really sure why I bother with this part of the routine?  Actually I do, I have no head torch and packing things away, when you can’t see, is actually more difficult than you would think.

Today, I reached up.  Felt the small dimple, pressed gently and then got really excited!  One of the little light things that Kerstin had bought me was blue!  Not any blue.  That ultraviolet blue that mesmerises and threatens to rob you of valuable time like the Internet does.  I turn it off quick and go back into a doze.  It’s warmer in the sleeping bag.  Especially with my entire body encapsulated in side, like an astronaut in deep freeze, ready for a….

Ok so this is how I get myself to sleep sometimes.  It worked once when I was around 9yrs old and it still seems to work.

Long trip into the unknown regions of space.  I have around 45km to cover and since I’ve seen Ritsem Mats twice already, I’m gonna head over to his house for he evening.  GPS coordinates plotted on the map, a straight line drawn between Nora and his for easy navigation on the phone screen.  Time to go get breakfast.  Another lie, since I ate breakfast already.  A delightful mix of soft rye bread, ICA basics Cognac salami and a drink of water.  The trail is damp, but I’m not sure what else it would be after 2 days of rain.  I step back along the trail and then stop.  A mist shrouds the land and someone has coloured everything in pastel shades.  The view is almost contrived in its perfection.  Two horses on a frosty field, just visible through the mist, with a slight parting in the clouds above, revealing the rising sun and coating the underbelly of the clouds in a golden hue.

A quick apology for the overly descriptive descriptions.  My blog is out of storage space, which means no pictures and the views today where stunning.  Truly stunning.

There is a faint promise of a sunny day, if only in part, and with flashing blue ahead and flashing red behind (I attached the lights to my pack for safety) I head out into the mist.  As expected, the feet are a bit nippy, but I’m greatful they aren’t frozen like the grass verge to my left.  Nora arrives.  This is a bit of physics I adore.  When we move, we stay in the same spot, causing the space around us to move instead.  I grab an apple of the tree, saving it the disappointment of having ripened to perfection only to fall to the ground and rot.  I wanted to get a larger much brighter coloured apple, but it was too high for me to reach and being in that kind of mind frame, I grabbed 3 smaller ones instead.  One even came with a frozen drink of water attached to it.

There’s no point in heading into the centre so I ignore the sign that says ‘CENTRUM’ and head to the garage.  I’m hoping for a swanky seating area, a plug socket and a coffee machine.  I got the coffee machine but all else was missing.  Off to the loo I go.  This is an essential part of travel.  Get toilet paper for another day, even if you don’t need the loo.  I now have enough loo paper to create an emergency shelter should the temperature drop or use natures facilities and have something that doesn’t have several pine needle surprises to wipe my back side with.  Coffee purchased.  Fruit juice purchased.  Off to ICA Nora for some calories to carry my the remaining 42km. I wander in, grab 100g of a skinny version of adventure sausage after making a pretence at deciding which flavour to have (I have no idea what flavour it’s meant to be other than it tastes good and is mostly fat) I head over to the fridge containing the cream. I look around and then I see it.  The best news all week…

Buy two packs of vanilla cream and save 2sek!

Right… I’ve been meaning to mention something a bit odd about Swedish pricing but kept forgetting.  Things are prices as everywhere else.  What do I mean? Well, 9.90sek or 18.95sek.  The thing is, no matter what combination of goods I buy, throwing in curve balls by purposefully grabbing that extra one item, my shopping is alway in whole SEKs!  Now if they are just rounding things up, then why not just do that on the price ticket?  If you are Swedish and read this, please… Explain 🙂

The excitement of saving on the best running fuel ever, other than adventure sausage, was overwhelming.  I actually caught myself talking out loud about this amazing offer!  The fact that it was effectively 20p I saved doesn’t register.  I pay and sit, doing absolutely nothing for over an hour.  New sandals adjusted and time for the off again.  Googlemaps says 41km, 8hours and some minutes.  Challenge is on and I run in completely the wrong direction and have to do a crafty scramble to get into the right road. It doesn’t take long for the road to become that delightful mix of road and trail I’m budding ‘troad’ and the map shows a section where I get to meander in a lake!!  Before long I notice a big white sign.  I pick out the words testing area but think nothing of it.  On trees, spaced out about 5m, there are signs.  ‘STOP’  ‘NO PICTURES’ they all read (rough translation based on the pictures as apposed to Swedish words).  I’m intrigued.  First, what could they be testing in woods?  Second, why can’t I take pictures?

Camera out and I’m taking pics and I even shoot a bit of film.  I run along, being blown away by the troad I’m on.  I pass gate after gate, all displaying a sign that says no entry, but all up and out of the way.  I pass a red VW van.  I pass a red VW van.  I pass a red VW van.  Three vans.  All exactly the same and being driven by men dressed as carbon copies of each other.  I carry on and a guy in an Audi passes me.  I think nothing of it all.  Maybe they are the workers at the testing grounds going home, but I’m wrong.  The barrier ahead I down.  An obvious sign that says don’t come in in the middle of it.

‘Are you joking??  Why didn’t the people that just drove passed me tell me?  I am not going back 20km just to go another way.’

Once my verbal outburst was acknowledged by the trees (no one else there I hear me!) I march forward.  

Bang bang bang bang.  DaDaDaDaDaDaDaDaDaDaDa.

Gun fire and not just the odd one or two shots!  A full on barrage of bullets being fired not too far away from me.  I spot a new sign.  It simply warms people to stay off the road and not to go into the woods either side because of molar art operations with live ammo!

Shit!  Thanks for that warning earlier!!

I run.  I have no choice really.  Run and hopefully the sound of gun fire will end up far away and no one will come near you.  

The gun fire got louder and there was far more of it, but before long I reach the barrier at the other end and leave the area.  Ahead is a trail and I follow it instead of the troad.  Not much difference if you saw either but it was the thought of being off a troad and on a trail that appealed.  Not long and I’m on the trail, running like I’m only 3km from a race finish line and using up the calories in the two packs of vanilla cream is necked twenty minutes earlier.  The trail is incredible to run after so long on the road.  I’m adding distance on my route by following it but I don’t care.  I’m too busy avoiding rocks, roots and staying upright on the useful but cartlidge slick big boards.  I have very little battery power left and I don’t want to miss the section Mats’ house is on.  

A sign appears ahead.  How useful!  A map of the trail and a scale.  I’m around 5km away, the sun is just about set and being so well prepared I have no head torch.  My feet are now working overtime.  Feeling the ground under my sandals and giving me enough info to avoid trips and slips.  I’m getting closer but it’s now almost pitch black.

‘Shit!  It’s hunting season?!’

I reach for the soft dimple and press it.  Blue light shines forth…  No it doesn’t.  The little white plastic section glows blue and I feel safe from well aimed bullets meant for elks.  Eventually I pop on to a troad again, turn right and head up hill.  This is around where Mats lives and..

I hear a voice and look up.  There’s someone ahead and it’s Mats.  Mats dog appears out of the dark, running excitedly around, and we head inside.  An old house that need a a few bits doing to it, but such an amazing place to have a house, regardless of whether there is running water or not. Mats is kind enough to make a meal of burgers and bacon, along with food that isn’t brown, and we eat, chat, laugh and talk about adventure.  He plans to adventure next year.  An adventure without a plan.  Sounds a great idea to me.

I’m two days ahead now so I’ll have half a day’s rest tomorrow.  Then maybe rest later on in Sweden, although the time left here is getting shorter by the day.  A great way to leave though, reminded of the loneliness of the road, the coldness of the north and the warm and kind nature of the Swedish people. 
If you enjoy reading this blog, why not support it with what amounts of the cost of a coffee? £2 here and there will eventually add up and help return the pictures to the words

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