Every portrait has a story
When Sarah Hewitt took part in the Fjällräven Classic Sweden for the first time in 2018, the experience made such an impact on her that her life changed forever. During last year’s hike in the Swedish mountains, Sarah packed a camera to take portraits of other hikers. The portraits were a way to give something back to the Fjällräven Classic community, which has meant so much to her.
Sarah Hewitt got to know Fjällräven and Sweden when she took part in the Classic Sweden for the first time in 2018. She walked the trail with a group of girls who all walked the leg between Nikkaloukta and Abisko for the first time.
“During that trip, I met my best friend and developed a deep love for Sweden. It was a special hike,” says Sarah.
At the time, she lived in a big city, and lived a pretty normal city life. However, Sarah did not feel completely at peace there, she explains. She wanted to make a change but did not really know how, or to what.
“After the Classic 2018 and 2019, I realized I wanted to live closer to nature and the mountains in my own country. I started looking up and taking part in different adventures and experiences in nature, surrounded by like-minded people. Finally, I now live in Kendal in the Lake District. From here, it’s only 20 min by car to the most beautiful scenery ever. I feel my entire life has changed since I hiked the Fjällräven Classic for the first time. I am calmer, happier, and more enthusiastic.”
Due to the pandemic, she has not been able to go on any of the Classics for a few years, and she was really looking forward to coming back in 2022. But she wanted an extra purpose during the hike. She’s been working as a photographer for a few years and decided to take photographs for a portrait series.
“Through the portraits, I wanted to give something back to the community taking part in the Classics. I also felt it would be a nice way for me to meet new people out on the trail, which it definitely was,” Sarah explains.
Being socially driven is a trait deeply rooted in Sarah’s soul. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives. Amongst other things, she works with organizations helping people dare to venture out into nature. It can be events for women cycling or a workshop in hiking and navigation with the LGBTQIA+ community.
“I love people, and spending time together outside is a real treat.”
Sarah met Jeroen during a hike last year. Jeroen is one of the administrators for the Facebook group Fjällräven Classic. Many of Sarah’s Classic friends are from the Netherlands, and they all know who Jeroen is. Sarah was happy to finally meet him in real life.
“He was struggling a bit. The weather the day before had not been great and I don’t think he had gotten enough sleep. He missed his son, who at the time was only 8 months old. I gave him a hug and told him to let nature give him a hug as well. I took a photograph of him for my series and then he went on his way.”
Hubi from Germany also got his picture taken by Sarah. He is an experienced hiker, and his backpack is marked by previous hikes.
“I met Hubi between the mountain cabins Singi and Sälka, and I gave him a hot cup of coffee. Offering people a cup of coffee is a good way to start a conversation! I was immediately intrigued by Hubi, since his pink hair popped against the green and gray landscape. I saw him several times during the hike, always with a huge smile on his face and always making me laugh,” Sarah says.
Sarah started hiking already as a child. Her stepfather was a passionate hiker and taught her to read maps during the family vacations in Yorkshire, England. But it wasn’t until she was an adult that she developed a true love for hiking. Her first multi-day hike was West Highland Way in Scotland – 145 km on her own in the rain. Despite sore feet, she loved the experience.
“There is something about the simplicity of just walking, eating, drinking, and setting up camp. It’s a break from normal life. I especially love hikes where there is no phone reception. Then, it’s just me and nature. I have realized how much stronger I become going on multi-day hikes, both physically and mentally,” Sarah concludes.