Breakfast was once again shared with the mosquitoes although, much to my surprise, I was starting to become a bit zen like about them and able to ignore them to a large extent.
We were already starting to get into a bit of a routine of setting off each morning at around 9:30 and I found that stirring at 7:30 gave me plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast and tidy up.
Within minutes of being back on the trail this morning, we came across the first proper river crossing of the trip. This was a fairly wide stretch of water but as it connected two lakes, the current in it was pretty gentle.
We reckoned that the triangular bits of wood in it were possibly the remains of a bridge, left there to help show the best way across. As a result of the dry weather they’d been having, it wasn’t very deep and I crossed wearing my boots and gaiters. This worked reasonably well, although my right foot did get wet. (I discovered when I got home and was going through all my kit, that there was a hole in the right gaiter….)
Although I had brought some lightweight Keen Clearwater sandals for river crossings, I realised very quickly that they wouldn’t work for me. Whilst perfectly comfortable wandering around, as soon as the ground became rough, slippery or rocky, the sandals did not hold my feet securely at all. Since most river bottoms were covered with a multitude of slippery, different sized rocks – that you often couldn’t see properly either – I decided that using my boots would be better for me. Also, after fracturing my left ankle several years ago, even the thought of knocking my ankle bone on a rock makes me feel a touch nauseous so the boots would protect that, too. Obviously getting my boots wet a lot wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t so bad either. I discovered that if I took the footbeds out and kept one pair of socks ‘specially for river crossings, it was perfectly liveable with.
Once on the other side of the water we were back in trees again for a while, as we passed Parek and started to climb, so we didn’t get to see any of the settlement as it was well hidden. As we gained height though, the trees soon gave way to shorter and shorter bushes and vegetation.
And for the next few miles, we gradually contoured ever higher, crossing numerous small streams, finding several pleasant spots for a break – the mountains getting ever closer.
Higher still, we crossed a stream in a gully which was still full of winter snow.
And not long after that we came to the Sahkokjahka. This was the dreaded “White water! White water! Very dangerous!” river. As expected though, there was a snow bridge over it. We could both see and hear the water flowing under it, with great chunks of snow breaking off at either end where the water both disappeared then reappeared.
Unlike the previous snow covered stream however, the snow here had a bit of a slope on it, getting steeper the nearer you got to the other side. We crossed together, kicking steps to get a purchase and keep our footing.
Unfortuanately, I didn’t get a photo of it this day, so here’s one from later in the week.
A bit further on and another river came into view. A wide, shallow affair, which was crossed with no trouble at all.
We still had plenty more height to gain before the day was out. The path was now hardly visible on the ground, but there was the occasional cairn to help keep you on track, as we picked our way ever upwards over rocky grasslands.
Topping out over the saddle of Sahkok, at 1200m, we had a fairly large snow bank to cross, but the snow was slightly soft and slushy so not too difficult to negotiate.
The views that greeted us as we gained the other side of the saddle, were out of this world.
By this point, we also found ourselves shadowing a line of fence posts which we assumed had something to do with the Sami and reindeer herding.
We were by now well into the afternoon. It was still unbelievably warm – despite the height we had gained – and when we came across an idyllic looking site to pitch the tents just a bit further on, we decide to go for it, figuring that the mosquitoes would be non- existent up here. Wrong!
The spot was worth it though.
At least at this height, the temperature did cool a little as the sun went down.
Lying in my tent after I’d eaten, dozing away, I suddenly heard an odd sort of snorting noise. This wasn’t the usual James snore and when almost immediately after that, James shouted to me to have a look out of the tent, I just knew what I was going to see.
What a wonderful end to a fantastic day.
James’ version of Part Three can be read here.