Kungsleden Day 3: Tjaka

Friday, September 5th started off great because I wasnt laying at the bottom of my tent when I woke up! I can check off “tenting on an incline” off my bucket list. Trust me, its one of those things you dont need to do more than once. Or at all, if I am being completely honest.
After the way the hike to Alesjaure went the day before, I was eager to get on the trail to Tjalka. The weather seemed to have eased up significantly but it was still pretty dreary.
The 15k was once again not very physically challenging in either technical difficulty or incline. I once again fell into my musical rhythm but tried to break up my set so I could do more to appreciate my surroundings. I was glad I did, for I was rewarded with gorgeous views of the valley and my first reindeer sighting! I had missed them the day before so was very happy to have finally seen some. I also noticed a multitude of mouse-like creatures that populated the areas under the wooden boards erected for trekkers ease of passage. Never more than a flash of orange and gray, I would later find out these were lemmings.
I arrived at the Tjalka hut in a very cheerful state. I had spent the entire four hours of the hike alone on the trail and hadn’t let the weather get me down like I had yesterday. Situated on a ridge overlooking a very impressive waterfall (which you had to cross on a suspension bridge one at a time) the hut was far and away in the most beautiful setting of the three so far.
When I entered the hut, I was followed almost immediately by an elderly woman who turned out to be the hut host. She had been waiting for me it felt like. Before I could even set my pack down and shed my waterproofs she was asking me about where I wanted to stay and where my money was. Bitch, back off. At one point I actually physical contact with her as I was taking off my jacket. She was that overbearing. I was practically pushed into the drying room where I was shown exactly where I could put my things and for how long. Feeling quite invaded, I politely tried to explain I would like a few minutes to relax and dry off. During this conversation I realized I was facing the first significant language barrier of my entire trip. Doing my best to not be that tourist from the States who gets shitty when people don’t have complete, perfect knowledge of English when they themselves dont know a lick of a second language, I explained to her that I was tenting but would be happy to pay the fee to use the hut facilities. I asked if I could make lunch before digging my wallet out, to which she replied I could. She then asked me if I was ready to pay every three minutes while I cooked and ate. Oy.
Her next trick would be to kick me out of the hut. While making lunch I had joined into a conversation with a solo German hiker and a group of four from the UK. After I was done eating I sat inside like I had at the previous huts enjoying their company and conversation until the hut host walked right up to me and said, “You have to go.”
Excuse me?
She then went on to show me that in the fine details of the tenter fee it was stated that tenters are allowed two hours inside the hut while they cook. And my two hours were up. It was obvious she was trying to clear room for two large groups that were coming but even when I told her I would leave when they got there/take my dry room clothes down/not cook when they were cooking she still said I had to get out. I was completelt dumbfounded by this woman’s strict, literal enforcement of rules when the typical person in that environment is so easy going and friendly. I fought the urge to throw her and her rule book into the waterfall the entire way out of the hut. When I left, the only people left in the hut were the four people I was sitting with.
In reality the situation the host kicked me out into was far from rough, but it was the way she did it and how unnecessary it was that had me irritated. I headed back to the tent where I read for a few hours (something I hadnt done in a long time). It was very nice.
I headed back to the hut to cook dinner when I felt the host would have either forgotten my face or turned into a fossil. I put a hat on just in case though. I rejoined the same group as before and we had a good many laughs at the hosts sake. I know she was just an old lonely woman doing her job the way it was supposed to be done, but fuck thats a boring existence following (and enforcing) every rule you cross paths with.
I was thoroughly happy to have an even, grassy campsite that evening. All I had to do was make sure the wolverine that lived in the cliffside didnt decide to enjoy it with me. No joke, they had pictures and an article about it in the hut. Think “honey badger dont give a fuck” and that is what was living literally 100 meters away from me. Somewhere. Sleep tight, Benny Boy.

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