Joe and I have decided that it would be fun, both for ourselves and our readers, if we publish our separate accounts of the same trip on the same day, without having had access to the writings of our trip companion. So if you want to read a good story and see some nice photos (btw all photos are by Joe or Jo), go to Joe's blog at Thunder in the Night.
By Jörgen Johansson
|My tent after the windy night|
Warm and well fed we tackled the remaining part of the steep hillside above our shelf for the night. It was certainly still no picnic, but a scouting excursion showed not only that the top was near, it also showed a way to the top that promised a minimum of excavating and relaying of pulks.
Now, minimum is not the same as none, but at least we knew how to tackle this hillside. Relaying pulks and skis from point to point worked well, even if it certainly was physically demanding. The worst part was were we literally had to hack our way forward/upward with our Snowclaws.
|Working our way up the last stretch of the hillside|
After a couple of hours of waddling in deep snow, now with my boot covers frozen flat and unbending like plywood resting in my pack, my wet socks and boots, without the protections of same boot covers, had taken their toll on my toes. It was time for foot warming and lunch break.
|Lunch- and foot-cooking in the tent|
As we worked our way up the slope among the last birches Joe commented that this certainly was hard work, but at least we were on SKIS. Compared to before lunch we practically flew, and pretty soon we were leaving the last brave birchtrees behind and were up on the real tundra.
It certainly was flat and the hardblown and windpacked snow was easy skiing and we even saw some blue skies for a while, since the snowfall had stopped. However, the hard wind at our backs had increased and pretty soon started whipping up snow all around us. Visibility was soon pretty limited, but we took a compass bearing leading us in the general direction of Kautokeino (that is south...) and moved along at a good clip.
|On skis, on the tundra and the wind at your back. What more could a person ask?|
Now the wind had increased to the point where the rulks where whipped by the wind and overturned on the rock hard snow with increasing frequency. We slung them on our backs, one of the great advantages with the rulk system, and kept going with them in more comfort that way, almost sailing with the wind at our backs.
|First tundra camp|
Before turning in for the night, which we usually did around 8 pm, I took some cross bearings from positions we had passed and some waypoints that I had picked from the online map back home. It turned out more difficult than it sounds, since I some waypoints on another sheet of 50 K map than the one it seemed we were on. Finally I got a position showing approximately, within a kilometer or two, where we where. We were indeed back on the map and with these good news on our minds we shut our eyes for the day.
The days lesson: Avoid cold feet. Avoid not knowing where you are.