The Exchange V. But I thought Honolulu was in Haiwaii?

The common theme of these posts seems to be me struggling to get out of bed. The trend continues as I struggled to get out of bed when my alarm rang one Saturday morning. Dragging myself out of bed I hurriedly assembled my things and jumped on my bike, furiously peddling in the direction of the train station. Now my brakes were a bit dodgy but I hadn’t had time to fix them so it really was a miracle that I made it to the train station at all. I met Marion there and we promptly bought our tickets before jumping on the train.

As we sped north there was noticeably more snow. I tried to stay awake whilst Marion roasted me for being such a sloth. We got off the train after an hour in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. Luckily there were some signs pointing us in the right general direction of the day’s walk on the Uppland Trail. This was how we found ourselves on a curious island, which at different times had been used by the army engineers as a base for bridge building practice and as a salmon farm. Because of this it was populated with collections of uniform but colourful buildings which now form a museum.

At the other end of this collection of buildings we crossed over a bridge which led us to another “Uppland Trail” sign. Marion was confused by this, so as she mused over what we should do we went to investigate the bridge to the ‘scenic’ bridge to the right (that wasn’t really that scenic). Back at the sign Marion was even more confused, so we pulled out the map for a proper look. To me it was apparent that we needed to go right over the bridge, but Marion was sure we had to go left. After some debating I had to tell her to just trust me and we headed to the right. Thank god it turned out my judgement was correct, otherwise I would have been in big trouble! Marion was still confused but we pushed on, or at least tried to. Marion managed to slip over not once, but twice, much to my amusement.

This section of the trail wasn’t the most exciting, the lakeside was nice I guess but it was all fairly ordinary. Perhaps the most exciting activity during this section of the walk was counting the excessive number of benches that populated the track. This being said the sun was shining beautifully on us when we stopped for lunch, so that’s something. Marion had prepared pasta which she generously shared with me, whilst I had packed bananas, flat bread and peanut butter. It was tempting to lie there in the sun all day but we knew we had to push on if we were going to make it to the hut in the light.

Not long after our lunch stop we were skidding down icy roads, obviously heading towards some kind of settlement. It was an art form to remain upright on such a road. There was the odd farm building to remind us that people actually live out here. The scenery was very picturesque.

Around a bend in the coast we passed by a bird watchtower that stood guard over the lake. Further along we encountered with increasing frequency a number of jetties and boat houses. The sun stood pristinely over the scene from the far side of the lake. This was good for morale and the change of scenery an effective antidote for boredom. I couldn’t help but stop to photograph every feature of interest we happened to come across. Marion must have great patience as I took A LOT of photos… woops. We could see just along the coast stood the village of Marma, which one might suppose would be bustling in the Summer, but at present was rather sleepy.

There wasn’t much to look at in Marma except for a couple of information boards in Swedish, so we soldiered on. As we entered the forest on the far side of the village we were confronted by a rather scary doggo barking and running towards us. It was a relief when the owner came around the corner on a quadbike and called it back. This however did not put us altogether at ease as the owner was almost barking as much as the dogs and made a point to stop and coral all three of his dogs. Made me feel as if I might lose a finger if one escaped his command. That was not the case however and we escaped the incident with all our digits.

After a brief section of road walking and crossing a large highway we entered a snowier forest section of the trail. We trundled past old military warning signs that we could only hope were now redundant. The snow in some parts was about a foot deep which made for some rather tiring walking. Even worse was the presence of large swampy sections which the track ignored and cut straight through the middle of. As consolation at least we could enjoy one of those Scandinavian sunsets that drags on, and on, and on. There were signs of moose and other large animals on the forest floor, although we sadly saw none.

Now all obstacles that we had past thus far were nothing compared to what was to come. We emerged from the forest into a clear-cut patch of land, stretching for about a kilometre. The snow was icy enough to hold my weight, at least for 2 or so steps, before it would plunge you up to the knee. To make matters worse we both weren’t equipped with gaiters, making for some very chilly legs. By the time we traversed this treacherous section of the trail it was properly getting dark, especially under the canopy.

At one point I called a stop as none of our directions made sense given where we thought we were. I went to pull out my headtorch only to discover it had been turned on somehow in my bag and thus was running flat. Bugger. Somehow in the darkness I had an epiphany in regards to where we were on the map and we retraced our steps and once more set off on the right path. There were only a few more false leads after this but soon we stumbled upon a sign leading to the cabin. We both later admitted that in that final hour we had contemplated that we might not reach the cabin that night. It was a good thing we did, as we were making dinner snow began to fall quite heavily and this persisted through till the next day. We cooked our dinner over the fire in the centre of the cabin and illuminated the surroundings with a collection of candles. It was a rather cosy affair.

The next morning we watched the snow fall outside the window as we dug into our porridge. It was a rather lazy start on part and so we didn’t get out of the cabin until the late morning. No worries, we had no where to be. Despite Marion’s protest we trundled down to where the ‘lake’ was supposed to be, in the opposite direction to the track out. It became apparent on reaching a clearing in the trees that this in fact was the lake, simply frozen over and snow covered. A little disappointing but it made for nice photos.

The walk out was about a quarter of the distance compared to the day before and was a reasonably uneventful trudge through fresh powder. The exception to this was an incident that occurred as I lead from the front. In front of me I observed the footprints on the track disappear in a suspiciously clear patch. I hesitated, and as I did so the ice under me gave a sickening crack, plunging me shin deep in icy water. I gave out a yelp and clawed at the snow behind me to pull myself out. We reached the road just past midday and decided to try our luck hitch-hiking before the bus came. None of the Swede’s that past were keen to pick up a stinky tramper, can’t see why?

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Sam Harrison

Tramper with something to say about tramps (of the walking variety).