Diary from C2C Sweden part 4
This is the fourth entry from Judy's trail diary detailing her Coast2Coast Sweden hike. Don't forget to catch up by reading Volume I, Volume II and Volume III first!
Day 6 C2C - 21.2 miles
We had breakfast at the hostel. So that you understand what ‘breakfast’ is in Sweden, it’s lots of cold meats (I can’t tell you more than that since I don’t eat any of it) and eggs. They say they are hard boiled, but to me they are not. The yoke is still very soft and mushy, and I can’t eat that. Oh, and they put caviar on their eggs. This is not the ‘normal’ caviar, it's a salty pinkish mush that comes in a tube (I did taste it). To me, it’s nasty. To the locals, you don’t eat eggs without it. There are also freshly sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, OJ, ‘porridge’ (oatmeal), and breads with jam etc. And, of course, coffee. The Swedes must drink more coffee per capita than any other country!
I headed out to hike about 8:15am (I know it’s really late to get started). Again, pounding pavement (about 10 miles) to get out of town. I did stop at a grocery store to stock up on snacks, and we were supposed to pass another grocery store that evening. This is a miserable day. The backs of my legs are sunburnt and it’s the hottest day here - about 80° and so far 90% of today's trail has no shade. Finally, after about 15km, we left the big roads and are semi back in the woods. We will get to another town this evening and will shop and have dinner, then another 4km to the lake where we are camping tonight.
The woods didn't last very long, after that it was back to pounding roads in blazing sun. Fransisca didn’t feel well, but we all made it to town. I did a bit of shopping since I won’t have my dinners, and had a Greek salad (the only vegetarian thing they had) at the pizzeria. A new guy - Axel - joined us. He will hike with the group for the next 2 days only. His parents were at the pizza place, so I suggested they drive Fransisca’s pack the 4km to the camp site. (This was a new concept to the group, slack packing. We Americans can teach the Europeans a lot about backpacking the easy way!). So, they took several of our packs! It was a fairly pleasant walk (on black top) to camp. The sun was low in the sky and the temps cooling off, but still at 10:30 pm the sky is twilight! We’re also at a pretty lake with no goose shit! (Oh, the last few lakes we were at, the grass was covered in it).
Day 7 C2C - 20+ miles
Well, of course, everything is sopping wet inside and outside the tent. With how hot it was yesterday and how cool it was over night, camped in a grassy field near a lake... condensation is in full effect. I try to find dryer campsites, but it’s not easy. The plan today is to cut the hike shorter since Fransiska is still not feeling well. Also, after how miserable it was yesterday, we’re planning on only doing 30 km rather than 36km. Alie and I headed out before everyone else was ready - we both had the route on GPS on our phones, so how hard can it be?
After about a 1km road walk. We got to a small town of Slatthog. The trail went around the back of the church to the creek where we proceeded to do about 1 km or more of nasty, nasty bushwhack. There was no trail, it was boggy and very difficult walking and creek crossing, but in the end Ali and I found a broken bridge to cross the creek and found our road. There was absolutely no trail here. There was recent ‘forest thinning’ where they cut the young trees and leave them in the middle of the woods. It was boggy, full of mosquitoes and just an all-around fun - but difficult - bit of finding our way. Now, just a few more km to a café and brunch. We were told the café opened at 10 am, and this is the first time this particular café will be open for the hikers.
We got to the café at 11:00am (when it opened, and the signs all along the road said it opened at 11:00 am) everyone else was already there. I was pissed off and angry about the bushwhack - they all took the road knowing to avoid the 'trail'! We had spoken to Jonas before we left camp, and I feel he should have told us to avoid the marsh and take a detour on the road. Turns out he also didn't tell the good folks at the cafe we were coming and they were a little bit put out because everyone else got there at 10:30 and it doesn’t open till 11:00. The owners were upset by all this hiker trash spreading out on their back deck waiting for them to open!
I was not there for this, but the story goes that Jonas was ugly about their bad customer service and he was gone from the café by the time Alie and I got there. Fransiska, who was still not feeling well had gotten a ride from the campsite to the café and was lying down on the deck resting. After a bit of food and rest, she perked up and was ready to walk some more. When Alie and I arrived, I did complain to her about the bog and that we should have been told to avoid it.
After the café, there was a few more km to a lake where everyone was taking a break and swimming. (Jonas likes to strip naked and swim at every chance. Fransiska will also skinny dip, me – the water is way too cold. I’ve dipped my feet once or twice, but that’s it. When Alie and I arrived to this lake, Fransiska had already gotten there and told Jonas about my complaining about the bog. I was instantly confronted by Jonas and was yelled at with “you should go with a guide”. I was totally taken aback by his attitude. We are given the GPS trackes, and encouraged to “hike your own hike’, but now I’m being yelled at to go with a guide not hike on my own?
The problem was that Jonas was the only guide at that time, Fransiska was a guide, but not feeling well, and Jorgan had left the group for a week. Jonas walks very fast, and if you can’t keep up with him, well, too bad, he’s not waiting around for you. Hmm, I see a problem here.
Everyone else was a bit shocked when he turned on me, yelling at me to go with a guide, and started to mumble about him – it turns out, that he didn’t even tell the people from the lake house last night that we were coming until we were at the pizza shop. They provided the fresh water and electricity to charge our electronics.
I’m hot and I hate road walks. The rest of the days' hike was more of the same. Road walks, mostly dirt and gravel, Goran, Alie, Fransiska, Henning and I headed on down the trail. We still didn’t know where we were going to camp, since none of us wanted to do a 36 km hike. We got to a lake with a private fishing camp, which Jonas had already decided we couldn’t stay at because it was private, and would be too expensive. When we got to the fishing camp, Alie and I felt all wrung out from the hike, and Goran, whom we have decided is Mafioso, knows someone who knows someone everywhere, or he has a cousin or brother in law who knows someone etc., sweet-talked our way into staying there. For a total cost of 250 SEK (about $25.00 total for 5 or 6 of us). We had wonderful trail magic in the form of a partial bottle of single malt scotch; it was enough that we each got a good swig of it!
Fransiska was hiking with Henning, who ihad a lot of trouble with blisters on his feet (this was his first backpacking trip). Being much slower than the rest of us, they were picked up by one of the women staying at the camp and given a ride the rest of the way. Judith and Susanne continued on to the campsite at mile marker 36 km to camp with Jonas. Jonas and Fransiska share a tent - he had the tarp, she just had the inner portion - so she elected to just cowboy camp. Fortunately, there was no rain predicted though I offered to share my tent if it began to rain. We had a very nice night at the fishing camp. Several people came to talk to us, a family in the camper closest to us had a Puli, but it wasn’t very friendly and I couldn’t pet him. I think I had my best night’s sleep so far.