2055 people completed Classic in 2016. Every one of them has a story to tell. Here are a couple of them.
It’s a family affair
If you think your kids would get tired; your teenagers would bicker and you as parents would end up carrying all the gear. If, basically, you think doing Classic as a family is out of the question, Roelof Doevendans from the Netherlands will make you think again.
He and his family first walked Classic in 2014 when his youngest son Ezra was just six years old. It was then they met Andree Klodé and his wife Tanja. Andree was instantly impressed with the fact the Doevendans, all six of them, were walking and enjoying Classic as a family. So, they swapped phone numbers and two years later they did Classic together as one big gang, four adults and six kids.
“It’s a great experience,” says Roelof. “Of course it’s a challenge as well, for all of us. Sometimes you have to motivate them, help them push their limits. For David, it’s even more of a challenge as he has Autism. We have to teach them to handle discomfort and change their mindset. So it’s obviously more demanding than when you hike without them, but to see them grow… that is so precious. They learn things for life; things that can’t be taught at school or even in everyday life.”
Andree adds, “Oscar and Annelies only complained once a day: when we got up at 6am. But as soon as we hit the trail they enjoyed themselves, as well as the good company of their hiking mates (the Doevendans kids) and were soon on the lookout for reindeer antlers again.”
The group walked all day, getting up at 6am and setting camp at around 8pm. The pace was slow and steady with games played along the way. Yes there were moments of boredom and yes there were aching feet, little moans and personal struggles to overcome, but learning to deal with the good and the bad at such a young age is truly rewarding.
“They will remember this experience for the rest of their lives and can draw on it to overcome trouble,” says Roelof.
The best part for Roelof was having a campfire when they set up camp 8km before Alesjaure, “It’s my favourite spot along the trek,”says Roelof. But for the kids, well, it had to be the pancakes at Kieron of course.
Love is in the air
There are a lot of emotions circling the Classic trail. We’re not sure whether it’s the closeness to nature or the sheer exertion we all put our bodies through – probably both – but emotions are heightened and feelings flow freely. That could be why Dutch physiotherapist Harmen Roza decided to propose to his girlfriend Geeke van Vijk at the top of the Tjäkta Pass.
“This was my second Classic and Geeke’s first. In fact, it was her first experience of this kind of multi-day hiking. The Tjäkta pass was kind of the toughest part of the four-and-a-half-day hike. Plus there was a lot of rain, which made the whole hike more intense. The stones were slippery and the mud was practically all over the trail. So proposing on top of the Tjäkta pass, after such a tough climb, was really special in my eyes.”
The ‘yes’ moment was given a little VIP treatment by a friend of Harmen’s. Who had a sneaky surprise in store for the couple. “A friend I met on my first Classic knew about my plans and was on hand to take pictures,” says Harmen. But he wasn’t just good with a camera. He also had a bottle of champagne in his backpack.
“It was a total surprise! So we drank some champagne together after the big question. Thanks Coenraad and Sabine.”