Kungsleden Day 2: Alesjaure

Thursday, September 4th was not one of the best days for this guy.
The morning started off well enough. I had slept well and despite some overnight showers I was dry and happy.
I got on the trail quickly as it was one of the longest days of the trail at 22k. Plus, the forecast wasn’t the best and I wanted to get the trek in before things got nasty. I spent about 20 minutes going in a circle around the campsite because I first followed the snowmobile/cross country skiing route (impassable at this point in time) and then second guessed if I was headed the right way. Turns out I was, but I guess my nerves about this being my longest hike were getting to me a bit.
Once I pointed my boots the right way down the trail, I was off. My naturally quick walk paired up with being a solo hiker and I was moving at a very quick pace.
I fell into my rhythm and, once there, I zoned out quick. The sound of my boots hitting the ground formed a 4/4 time through which I experienced the world. My boots carried the bass line and my walking sticks joined in on every second beat as the percussion but instead of a drum kit they played off the rocks, wood, moss, and mud. Listening to this music, my thoughts soon filled in the for the vocals.
For those of you who haven’t picked up on it, I have been dealing with some significant internal struggle about what to do with my life and how to get from the person I am today to the person I want to be. Alone on the trail, I faced this struggle head on. Looking back, I missed out on a lot of the landscape at some points along the Kungsleden due to this. Moving alone to the rythym of my body, I zoned out to look for some of the answers I have been looking for. And whats crazy is that those inner debates are some of the best brain storming sessions I have ever had in my life. This shit works, people!
And then nature got jealous it didnt have a part in my music.
Without warning, the tolerable drizzling turned into full blown showers which was transformed into mic static against the hood of my jacket interupting my thought vocals. Then the bass and percussion was drowned out by the big brass gusts of wind shouting to the sky that they were there no longer content to play background noise but wanted a solo.
The hike soon turned into ‘get to the hut as fast as possible’ because, despite myself, I absolutely loathed being out there in the wind and rain. Before you pass judgment and say I didnt fully embrace the amazing opportunity I was in, go stand behind a jet engine with a garden hose on the other end for three hours. If you enjoy it, I will gladly accept whatever critique you wish to give. But you won’t.
The hike was still incredible. I followed the same river as the first day into a mountain valley. The birch forest was replaced by fields of moss and lichen. Boulders dotted the landscape and at several points actually made up the ground I was walking along! Looking back I can appreciate (kinda) the weather as impressive demonstrations of nature and I was happy to see that the Kungsleden has much more vibrant wildlife than Iceland. At one point I scared up a flock of birds that I didn’t even know were there until they took off. Hows that for a miscued brass note in the middle of a song?
When I finally arrived in Alesjaure five hours and 45 minutes later, I was soaked through (the ironic thing about water proof clothing is that you get soaked from sweat instead of rain when you wear it) and wanted nothing more than to enjoy another beer special. I was disappointed to find that their fire sale of beer had been so successful they no longer had any beer at all. Although I did find a copy of Josephus’ Bellum Judeicum in the book exchange that the host graciously let me take despite being unable to contribute a book back (hadn’t finished my current book at that moment and had other plans for it once I was done).
The campsite selection was pretty dismal, as the true campsite was very exposed to the rain and especially wind, so I decided to brave a more inclined location in order for more protection from the elements. I maintain it was the best decision I could’ve made, although it would limit the positions I could sleep in without rolling to the bottom of my tent. Adventure, huh?
The sauna was once again used to great length that evening. The trip to the river was a slippery wooden staircase that proved to be quite treacherous, but also provided some good laughs if you weren’t the one trying to navigate it. Already the relations between myself and the groups I was sharing the trail with were moving from strangers to friends. After the rough weather all day, it was a definite high note to laugh and let the steam of the sauna pull the stress out of my body.
Sleep came quickly due to the long day despite not being able to lay on my right side for fear of rolling down the hill into the lake.

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One thought on “Kungsleden Day 2: Alesjaure

  1. Ben! You sound like you’re having quite the collection of adventures. Your writing is wonderful. I particularly enjoyed this post with your rhythm and music metaphors. Just wanted to let you know the Boston kids are thinking of you. Keep making memories! Morg

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