The idea of participating in the Fjällräven Classic, a 110km trek through Swedish Lappland, stems from an article in an outdoor magazine quite some years ago. Then why participate in 2013, you might ask. The memory of the trek was triggered somewhere autumn 2012, after arriving back home from a cycle tour in Iceland, and at that time there still were some places left available (it has a limit on the number of participants). Just to be sure what to expect, I asked a twitter contact, who’d hiked the trek a year earlier, whether it should be any good. He responded with the answer that I would definitely like the trek. Thus, based on his answer I bit the bullet and purchased a ticket.
Fast forward 10 months; relaxing on a lawn, basking in the sun in Nikkaluokta in Swedish Lappland, the startpoint for the Fjällräven Classic. Boots strapped tightly around my wool socks, applying just a bit of sunscreen in this midday warmth, and finishing a chapter of Alex Hibbert’s book just before someone from the organisation is announcing through a PA system that hikers should get ready to start. Surely I did rack up enough miles in my new boots in the past few months. Oh boy, what was I wrong about that after two days of hiking.
Waking up early in the morning without an alarm clock, and the rushing sound of a river nearby does beat the ‘regular’ life. Taking in the scenery around me, little tents scattered all over the valley floor, and the Swedish mountains rising further in the distance. No other thoughts than the few remaining days ahead and keeping walking in this beautiful scenery entered my mind. Last night I had seen fires burning at the places where I now saw tents and was wondering where they’d gotten wood from this barren environment.
Strapping my boots again tight over my feet didn’t feel so good as the first days; the distance already covered had taken its toll on my soles and heels. Should I have trained more, or is this not something you can prepare for other than by doing multi-day treks? I have come to learn that you should rest regularly, and just take in the scenery around you while enjoying a cookie. Actually this isn’t very different from what I do during bicycle tours, so why didn’t I think of it earlier?! Both heels were again wrapped in sports tape in an attempt to keep the blisters at bay, however today that was just not helping at all. At the end of the day blisters had formed on both heels, and had burst open in my shoes, leaving me with painful feet on the last day.
Finishing the Fjällräven Classic is an exhiliration, as other hikers cheer you on for the last few meters while enjoying a beer themselves. A band was playing in the tents, and hikers partying on their already tired legs .. loved the scene. Still found a spot for my own tent far away from the party area, as there simply was not enough room around the Abikso mountain hut. Quite a contrast from the days earlier, where you could pitch your tent almost anywhere.
Should you have the chance to participate in the Fjällräven Classic, then I’d highly recommend it, although don’t expect that you’ll be hiking in solitude during the trek. It is intended as a social gathering after all.