Hike Sweden, Day 3: surviving a sole-crushing storm

Day 3: Alesjaurestugorna to Salka

In terms of memories, seeing the wolverine on the hillside next the trail in the morning of day three was always going to be hard to beat, especially if you were the reindeer he was stalking.

I’d seen enough clips of the “honey badger don’t care” on YouTube to recognize the wolverine’s tell-tale fast-paced short-legged trot, with bushy tail extending straight out, to confuse it with anything else.

The other options of what the animal might be were:

  • an arctic fox (nearly hunted to extinction)
  • a lynx (a shy night-prowler)
  • a pet dog (but not wearing any cute booties, so NOT POSSIBLE!)

The afternoon was less thrilling. Grassland ascended into rocky moonscape past the Tjaktja hut (which we skipped), which started to kill our feet. We didn’t then realise that this would be the terrain for most of the next 1.5 days.

We passed the pass and headed into a plunging valley, with a wide river snaking through, and steep mountains on either side. It was just the type of setting the directors of Jurrassic Park would unleash an T-Rex to cause a stampede of more boring dinosaurs.

Just as we were well and truly stuck in the open with nowhere to hide, the storm that had grumbled and thundered all day, broke open.

Hail the size of frozen peas was not welcome, even if the memory of frozen vegetables was. We ducked behind the largest rock we could find, our backpacks taking the biggest hits on our behalf.

Hailstorm aftermath near Salka hut
After rain and hail, comes shine

After 20 minutes, we were drenched, but unharmed. But the storm had taken its toll in other ways. My boot sole now hung half off, flapping against the stones with every footfall.

Once we’d arrived in Salka and everything was out to dry, we headed to the sauna. Everyone was duly impressed with my wolverine story. However, I immediately cast doubt on my own veracity when I suddenly observed what I took to be a reindeer through the window, just over the brook.

“Look! A reindeer!” I suddenly said. Everyone stopped talking and looked.

“Where? Those are rocks.”

“There. Oh yes. I thought I saw it move, but actually it might just be rocks. Anyway, so this wolverine I saw in the distance today…”

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