Day 1: Abisko to Abiskojaure
The slim research I’d done on Kungsleden involved reading a few blogs (shout out to Aaron Teoh), and watching a film on Netflix. “The Ritual” is definitive proof that ‘Made by Netflix’ is the new ‘Straight to DVD’ when it comes to movie quality.
In this D-grade shocker, a group of friends undertake part of the trail to commemorate a dead friend, only to be slain or sacrificed one by one by an evil deity brought forth by a village of idiot worshippers.
This movie was still in my mind about 1 hour into the trek, when I stumbled across the strewn remains or a reindeer, incomplete but with skull impaled through the eye socket on the branch of a shrub. With a forelock here, another over there, and the head on a stick, this poor animal would no longer be pulling any sleighs come Christmas.
“Probably a wolverine,” suggested the hut warden at Abiskojaurestugorna that night when I asked her what might cause such a violent death.
She might have said wolverine, but I definitely heard werewolf. But then I reasoned there is not much fun for them in the land of the midnight sun.
A wolverine, by contrast, is related to weasels, badgers and honey badgers, and is one tough beast. They have a roaming territory up to 600km, so you’d be lucky to see one in the flesh.
They are capable of bringing down reindeer, sniffing blood in infinitesimal small quantities, and inspiring 4 million terrible X-men movies.
The motion of the lotion
Just as Kungsleden is a procession from hut to hut, hiking in Lapland is a procession of smearing different lotions into your skin and dehydrating them out.
Sunscreen in the morning to protect against the harshest parts of the 20-hours of sun, mosquito repellent in the afternoon, and hand sanitiser whenever needed, then sit in the sauna in the evening to sweat it all out. Rinse off in the lake, then repeat.
The sauna in the first night’s camp we shared with a portly young Swede who looked like a cosplay version of Tormund Giantsbane from Game Of Thrones (GoT), except fully naked. As such, I’ve dubbed him Tormund from GOT-henburg.
The second thing that popped into my head upon meeting Tormund, was thus the joke theme song of Game of Thrones on Southpark ‘Weiner, weiner weiner, weiner weiner, weiner weiner…, and so on.
As for the first thing to pop into my head, his naked bum, as he bent down to stack another birch log into the fire.
He had hiked the entire 440 kms from Hemavan in 23 days, and had the blisters to prove it.
“There are very few people I could put up with for 23 days hiking,” he confessed. “Not even my girlfriend. Judging by his sorry state by the end, she should probably thank him.
It was the end of the first day, and so far two things they say about Kungsleden were ringing true: it has to be seen to be believed, and some things once seen, can never be unseen.