Hiking St.Olavsleden : Medstugan to Sul

The weather was much calmer this morning, thankfully. Today we wanted to cross the mountains and the border into Norway. We hitchhiked a short way in the morning as there was no way we could manage 39km in one day, with such large packs and a Achillies heel problem threatening  us. I’d also had a pretty awful nights sleep with the wind howling and hunting dogs barking early in the morning.

But, it was a beautiful day, perfect for crossing the mountains. We couldn’t have been luckier to reach this point with this window in the weather. Heavy rain is forecast for tomorrow and yesterday the winds were dangerous.

We travelled with a friendly young guy who was going to the exact place we wanted to pick up the trail, Skalstugan. In the car we saw a moose cross the road again, much smaller this time but still massive. I can see why driving is so dangerous here when they stumble across roads so close in front of cars! Seeing two in two days is such a lucky experience though.

We picked up the trail by Skalstugan and it wasn’t long before we were in beautiful birch forest, surrounded by blueberries growing on the ground. The morning was fresh but sunny, perfect for walking.

I spotted a mystical looking white reindeer and a small brown one through the trees, it took me so much by surprise I gasped really loudly and it ran away. So exciting to see Reindeer!

Suddenly we reached the border stone, much sooner than I thought we would. That was it, suddenly we were in Norway, having walked the whole width of northern Sweden (minus my foot rest days) it felt like an incredible achievement.

We continued through the trees and noticed the meadow to our left  open out under the mountain. More reindeer! We stood and watched them as they watched us, entranced. They froze at first but then slowly continued grazing.

We decided to stop for an early lunch due to a very unsatisfying breakfast of oats and water. We nestled among the blueberries to watch the reindeer. At one point, one passed only a few meters away from us, not noticing we were there. Almost needed to pinch myself it was such a special moment.

After a lunch of dry freezed food, (which tastes amazing when you are hungry but you wouldn’t want to eat under any other conditions  – though I’m pretty impressed with the quality and lack of bad ingredients) we sat for a while enjoying the sunshine. We heard voices and thought it was hunters but then passed a torrent of Norwegian school children, maybe a hundred or more. Suddenly things didn’t feel so intimidatingly remote.

They were heading the same way. It did spoil the peacefulness for us a little but at the same time it was so nice to see kids enjoying themselves in nature, waving cheery hello’s at us.

We continued on knowing we would probably see them again during the day.

After this point the mountains really opened up. You felt very high but the climb was gradual and hardly noticeable. It’s nice to be rewarded with these kinds of views with a minimum amount of uphill struggle!

It was stunning up here with many peaks visible in the distance. I ate a blueberry from a plant on the plateau and it was the best I have ever tasted.

We passed the school children having lunch, playing in the stream and making fires. We heard them before we saw them, the excitement had reached extreme heights on their day out of the classroom. If only outdoor education and recreation was encouraged more, it’s so important.

They soon caught up with us while we stopped to take photos and we walked and chatted with them for a bit before letting them go ahead and stopping to snooze in the sun by a lake. We had descended down now through the trees and was surrounded by forest again.

The forest was particularly beautiful here, I can’t stop looking at all of the rich foliage that grows here. The berries, mushrooms, mosses and ferns are abundant. There’s so much vitality and life around. The light dappling through the trees made it all the more magical.

Eventually the forest turned into course asphalt road, much to my dismay. I felt pretty strong all day but this stuff is just killing my feet.

We were passed by some guys on their bikes being pulled along by husky dogs. One stopped and spoke to us and we mentioned that we were dying to reach the supermarket in vuku (after the last one being a few days ago) so we could buy chocolate. He produced a half eaten huge bar out of his pocket for us which was so sweet!

Even sweeter, a little while later just before we were about to go into the woods again, a white van whizzed past us and it was the guys again, waving at us. They turned around and came to a halt. They had come to find us with two massive bars of chocolate to give us! Such a lovely welcome to Norway. If you happen to be reading this, thank you again! You really made our day 🙂

The trail got quite tricky at this point, with some steep and winding parts with boggy ground. We came across a blow down across the trail and had to crawl underneath the huge tree to continue along the path.

Afterwards we came to more ashphalt road (wahhh) and passed a lot of farmland.

Eventually we came Lillemoen Herberge, where we would be staying the night.

We met Roger and his gorgeous dog who was only to happy to receive all of our attention. Roger gave us some breakfast items along with a couple of beers and some pudding! Which were also enthusiastically received by us. We showered and retired to our little cabin for a reluctant dinner of freeze dried food made better with chocolate mousse and a log fire.

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