Day three started out really nicely. The view from my tent wasn’t half bad. 🙂 It was chilly but the sun was out, and I was excited to continue hiking. I can’t even remember how early I woke up, but I remember starting to hike around 8.30-9 am. I knew this stretch of the trail was a bit ‘deceptive’: although there weren’t many steep climbs, like on day one and two, I knew that the meandering character of the trail made you think you were almost there while in fact you had more kilometers to cover.
During the day it got colder and I even had some rain, but nothing nearly as bad as on day two. The trail is old and needs maintenance. In some places, the wooden planks were all gone and rainfall had turned parts of the trail into a swamp. I was so very happy with my trekking poles! I used them not only for stability and balance during the actual hiking, I also used them for crossing streams and trudging through mud. Nifty little things, they are!
About half way, there were a few huts. Many use that spot to rest up and have something to eat, because the huts provide some shelter from the wind. I remember those little huts from last time. It’s not difficult to perceive these huts as the Sälka huts from far away, but they’re not so don’t be fooled! And while it was still windy, the weather had gotten considerably better, and even sunny!
The landscape was open, green, lush and bordered by snow dotted mountains. I really enjoyed this terrain. Even though my knee was hurting and painkillers were no longer useful, it felt magical to be one person trekking through this vast and immensely beautiful piece of Mother Earth.
And then I started thinking. Or actually, I’m always thinking, but I started to evaluate my experience on this adventurous trek. I needed a lot of painkillers at regular intervals to keep the pain at a reasonable level, and I wasn’t keen on wrecking my body. And I thought to myself: what am I doing? I came to the realisation that while I love hiking and being outdoors, this terrain was simply too difficult for me (the rockiness mostly!). Sleeping in a tent after a day of hiking in this tough environment, was perhaps too much as well. Last time I was devastated that I couldn’t finish, because so much was riding on it. This time, I hiked for me and nobody else. I didn’t finish, but I did get a lot out of the experience. Nature, challenging myself, and accepting myself and my abilities. I had nothing to prove and I didn’t put any unnecessary pressure on myself either. I made a conscious decision to try again, enjoyed my time on the trail, and then made the conscious decision to quit when reaching the Sälka checkpoint. No regrets, only memories.