Phew – what a day! We’ve made it to the first check point at the foot of Sweden’s highest mountain, Kebnekaise. And it’s been a great first day. Apart from the odd quick-moving rain shower, it’s been sunny and surprisingly warm. And so far, we’re all relatively free from blisters and chafing. Still smiling too.
The first thing we’ve noticed is the atmosphere. Everyone is so positive – despite heavy backpacks. There’s this sense of quiet camaraderie. We’re all in this together. But everyone goes at their own pace. There’s no rush. People stop along the way and snack when their stomachs start to rumble; take off a layer when they’re warm or add one when it starts to rain. And stop to take a picture when the nature squeezes hardest on their heart strings.
And, wow – what fantastic scenery. It’s breathtaking. Forests spread across the valley to rocky mountains that jut out from the lanscape. Waterfalls tumble over their edges and feed streams that vary from trickling little brooks to gushing rapid rivers.
Over the course of the day, we’ve had some time to speak to a few of the other ‘Classic-ers’ that also started with us in group 1.
Joonsam, from South Korea, was cooling his feet in Lake Ladtjojaure when we were tucking into some food. This is his first Classic and he was busy taking photos of the view. As he asked me to take a quick snap of him with his phone I asked him what he thought of the event so far. Despite it being not even 11am at the time he said he was excited and really looking forward to the days ahead. “My bag is heavy, around 20kgs, but I’ve been training for this event for a while back home. So now I’m really glad to be here.”
Then we met Melanie and Henrik, their two daughters Elsa and Harriet, and their fantastic dog Angus – who proved to be the centre of attention and the subject of numerous photos from other trekkers (and I kind of fell in love with him). This was Melanie and Henrik’s fourth Classic and Elsa and Harriet’s third. When I asked them why they were back for more, Melanie informed me it was down to the girls. “They’ve been begging us all year to come back again. They just love it so much. So we didn’t have much of a choice!”
Amanda and Joel met Line Marie and Stefan from Denmark. Last year they walked The Höga Kusten Hike (High Coast Hike) and loved it so much they decided to join us for Classic this year. And Stefan wants more. Later this year, he plans to apply to Fjällräven Polar, that takes place in the same beautiful nature of northern Sweden, but when it’s covered with snow and participants travel with a team of run-loving huskies.
Then they Marie and Lena, both from Sweden. “Two years ago, I was happily walking into the campsite at Nikkaloukta when I saw a whole load of people all walking together. I Googled it and it turned out to be Fjällräven Classic. And then here we are. Two years later, doing it together.”
Finally, we met Fjällräven Classic’s youngest participant: Gabriel. He is just 17 months old – what a way to start life! But this isn’t the first time for his parents, Maria and Pierre. They walked Classic a couple of years ago with their first son, Malcom, and loved the experience so much they decide to turn this into a family tradition and bring little, and very happy, Gabriel along with them. You can read more about their experience on their blog (in Swedish): reldinadventures.wordpress.com