When I reached Sälka, I checked in at the checkpoint and also said I was going to quit the trail. A nurse came and looked at my knee. She said ‘but you’re knee is strong!’. While that may have been the case (and proof that my physio paid off), the muscles running down from my hip weren’t as great. And I had already made my decision during the day, so my mind was made up.
I booked myself into one of the huts and got warm! The helicopter wasn’t going to come until the next day, so I had time to relax a bit. The weather was deteriorating quite rapidly. It was so cold! The wind had picked up considerably and it started raining! Combine these two and you have horizontal rain! At one point, I was wearing my hiking legging, rain pants, my long sleeve Icebreaker, a fleece, my down jacket, my Gore-Tex pro shell jacket, a warm beanie and gloves, and I was still freezing! Madness! And honestly, I couldn’t picture myself sleeping in a tent that night. I mean, rain and wind? How are you ever going to keep warm? I was also not looking forward to having my debut of packing a wet tent. Hut life was comfortable and warm, but at times a bit boring. I chatted a bit here and there, but there wasn’t a whole lot to do, obviously. It was mostly a lot of waiting.
The next day, Monday August 14, I heard that some tents had gone up in the air or were damaged otherwise. I also heard it even snowed further down the trail. Of course anything can happen in the mountains and you have to prepare for all conditions. Even some hardy Swedes had said the conditions on the trail were tough this year. It made me feel less bad for sure. And even though it’s a complete bummer that I didn’t finish again, I wasn’t devastated. I went on this adventure, tried it, enjoyed it, and decided when it was enough for me. No harm in that.
Monday meant a lot of waiting. The arrival time of the helicopter kept changing, due to weather conditions. Later that day, the helicopter finally came and picked seven of us up. And it wasn’t the first helicopter I’d seen, nor the last that would go out. The helicopter flight back to Nikkaluokta was quite windy at that! Once back in Nikkaluokta, we paid for the helicopter and then took a bus back to Kiruna. It was nice being with a bunch of people, all trying to get back. I stayed at the Scandic hotel for one night and oh man, did I have a glorious night’s sleep!
Originally, I wasn’t going to fly back until about a week later. Since I wasn’t on the trail anymore and didn’t have much to do in Kiruna, I tried to arrange an earlier flight. And that’s when you experience how tiny of a place Kiruna is. The earliest plane I could get out was two days before my original flight. Yeah, I wasn’t going to wait for that nor pay for the change in flights. So I booked a night train from Kiruna to Stockholm and a flight from Stockholm back to the Netherlands. Yeah, it cost me extra, but otherwise I’d have spent the money on a hotel room that I was now able to cancel without being charged. So no big loss there, it sort of balanced out(ish). And the train ride was actually quite fun! I had booked a female only, six-bed carriage. And we ended up with six outdoorsy, tough as girls. Sweet! Okay, maybe they were a bit more hardcore than I am, with some of them having hiked in Sarek N.P. and all, but still…I got out there and enjoyed my badass self! And I’m proud of myself! 🙂
So that concludes my recap of my Fjällräven Classic adventure 2017. I have some more photos of stunning views that I’ll post after this or at some later date. I hope you enjoyed reading along. 🙂