Last month, I attempted to hike the Fjällräven Classic in Swedish Lapland again. My first try was in 2013, and leaving the trail then left me devastated and defeated. Too much was riding on the trek then and what was meant as a positive experience, a boost of life, ended up weighing me down. Since then, I had pushed the whole trekking to the back of my mind.
Big changes started happening in my life when I found a new job in September of 2015. The job was great, I learnt so much, so that was already a very positive change. January 2016 I started going to the gym. I need a low threshold when it comes to the gym. So being able to go to the gym at work at a very decent price, won me over and I started moving! I started feeling fitter and I started feeling good about working out. Not only to see and feel my fitness improve, but also to clear my mind during a busy day. Now I try going to the gym three times a week and it feels gooood! This January I started a new job at the same organisation and it is ah-ma-zing! I love it and have never had a more awesome job than this. I’m a mentally strong person, but since getting this job certain things started to click and I’m feeling mentally strong and balanced.
Being happier and fitter than I’ve ever been before, the thought of attempting to hike the Fjällräven Classic again slowly crept up in my grey matter. I admitted to myself that I had some unfinished business up north. What if I could do it this time? So I bit the bullet and signed up for this year’s adventure! I had plenty of time to prepare physically and mentally. I even had physiotherapy to strengthen my knee, since I’m prone to knee injury (one of the reasons I quit last time). Eight months of preparation and I was ready!
So Friday August 11th the adventure started and by 9 am I was on my way to the first checkpoint! I was excited and my spirits were up. I took my time making my way along the trail. I took breaks when my body asked for it. As they say there’s no rush in the mountains and that was my mantra throughout. Nature was stunning, I met some really nice people and enjoyed being outside all day. I made sure to experience each day to the fullest and to make this a positive and rewarding trek. And it was.
There was sunshine, there was rain and sadly there was knee pain. I knew my knee was my weak spot. Sadly, all the physiotherapy I’d had and all the painkillers I took during the hike were not enough. The terrain was simply too tough for me. I decided to leave the trail at the third checkpoint Sälka (47 km out of 110 km), the same checkpoint I quit last time. The helicopter was scheduled for Monday August 14th so that Sunday night I stayed at one of the huts, all nice and toasty. I had a great evening, chatting with the other folks in the hut, and it was pure bliss to sleep in a normal bed again.
The weather had gotten really bad. It was so cold. Going outside, I had all my layers on (long sleeve Icebreaker, fleece, down jacket, Goretex pro-shell jacket, hat and gloves) and was still freezing! Not to mention the constant rain! The wind was so crazy it rained almost horizontally! Visibility was poor. I heard a few tents went up in the air and there was even snow further along the trail. This confirmed for me that I made the right decision to leave the trail. I’m just not that hard core! And seasoned hikers telling me conditions were tough this year, surely made me feel less bad about my decision.
Contrary to last time, I am not devastated this time. I am so incredibly proud of how far I came and for doing this on my own. It was an adventure I embraced and I feel so good for it. I realised it’s okay to say ‘hey, this is not for me’. I’ll still be hiking, I’ll still be going out to enjoy beautiful nature. I’ll hike less rough trails and won’t be camping. There are heaps of options left to explore! It also made me realise how happy and content I am with my life right now. My life is far from perfect -what is ‘perfect’ even?- but I have a lot to be grateful for.
So I may not have finished the Fjällräven Classic, but I’m okay with it. I had a great time way up north. I challenged myself and I drew the line where I felt I needed to. I have closure and have been enriched with an amazing experience. Can’t fault that, eh?!
I’ll be sharing photos and travel stories from the trail, so stay tuned for that!