The mosquitoes were up and about early with us the next morning, as was the sun, promising another hot day.
We once more set off along the Kungsleden Trail but only for a few hundred metres. We were looking for a route off to the left to take us to the Sami settlement of Parek. Worried we might miss it, we kept our eyes peeled.
Was the whole route going to be this easy to follow?!
We turned off in the direction of Parek then, aiming initially for the lake of Stuor Dahta.
The terrain was fairly flat to start with, with duckboards helping you over the wettest areas. It was all rather dry though at the moment, as there obviously hadn’t been much rain for a while.
Tantalising glimpses of the lake in the distance appeared from time to time, before we plunged into a forested area.
The trail – although still obvious and easy to follow – became much more stony and tree rooty now, forcing us to think a bit more about careful foot placement. At least it wasn’t wet….
Although we expected the path to go close to the edge of the lake, it never really did and generally remained just of sight.
Just as we were approaching a side stream which emptied into the lake, we came across a guy sat having a break in the sun. He turned out to be German and we had a strange conversation with him, half in English, where none of us seemed to really understand each other. We did discover though, that he was out for about 14 days and had an absolutely enormous rucksack – well you would, wouldn’t you, with 14 days worth of food?
We moved on after a few minutes and stopped for our own lunch another half hour or so down the trail.
Of course the inevitable then happened, as the German guy came along a few minutes later while we were eating and stopped to chat again. After another few strange exchanges, he finally realised we were English – not Swedish as he had initially thought – and since his English was actually very good, the conversation suddenly became much easier.
At one point, he asked James about our planned route. James got the map out to show him.
“Ah,” he said, “you must be very careful with this river. White water, white water! Very dangerous! Be very careful!”
I felt my stomach start to churn and tried to shut my ears. James said afterwards that he could see my face change colour and was just wishing the guy would shut up and go on his way. Of course he did, eventually, and James kindly explained to me that in actual fact, this river apparently usually has a substantial snow bridge over it and he wasn’t expecting any problems at all.
I crossed my fingers.
Moving on through the forest, we were now starting to slowly climb up towards a huge, marshy plateau.
Rounding a bend a bit further on, I suddenly saw a reindeer on the trail in front of me.
It wasn’t the slightest bit bothered by our presence and we followed it for 100 metres or so before it suddenly bounded off into the undergrowth.
Another 30 minutes or so later and we crossed another little side stream to find the German guy again, on another break. We didn’t stop this time but exchanged greetings on the move. As we passed though, he just couldn’t resist shouting out to us.
“Don’t forget! White water, white water! Very dangerous! Be careful!”
My fingers were once again firmly crossed.
When we finally got out of the trees and onto the marshy plateau, the views took on a different focus.
The mountains were starting to appear.
The plateau went on for about three miles and we stopped for a mosquito infested break half-way across. It was also amazingly hot in the full sun of the afternoon.
We finally stopped for the day, just before the first bigger river crossing of the trip, at the far side of the marsh.
I found a tent-sized spot near the lake, while James pitched his a touch further away on top of a tiny hillock. I think he thought he was going to fool the mosquitoes by being higher than me and that I would get them all. His plan didn’t work.
Once pitched, James decided he wanted to go skinny dipping in the lake, so I averted my eyes and wandered off to a respectable distance until it was safe.
Still hot and ravaged by mosquitoes, I later found myself eating my dinner wandering around, trying to create a breeze, before retiring to my tent as soon as it was anywhere near cool enough to do so without melting.
But what a wonderful spot to fall asleep in.
James’ version of Part Two can be read here.