Day 12: 32 km (minus the 12km or so we did last night)
I slept well last night even though my tent was set up on a little bit of a slant. As usual, I woke at 3:30 to birds singing but went back to sleep till 5:30. I had told the other women that I really like to get going in the early morning and that I would make coffee for all of them if they would get up. They loved the idea, and I woke them all at 5:30 with coffee. I have been doctoring Susanne’s blisters, which are in really bad shape. I now have her taping them while she hikes and keeping it open to air overnight to dry out and it’s starting to slowly look better. I also pulled a tick off of her leg last night. Ticks are very prevalent here; I’ve pulled a few off myself. We were ready to head out by 6:15am, and it was a lovely cool morning.
We passed several beautiful old houses:
We were short on water but luckily found someone at home (awake and outdoors!) so we could yogi some water. They turned out to be a couple and their small daughters that were staying at their ‘country’ home for the long holiday weekend. They had brought bottled water because they didn’t think the water from the well was safe to drink, but still gave us 2 liters.
The hike then took us through a nature preserve where we started to see groves of beech trees. It started to look more like home with deciduous trees and sunlight filtering through the leaves, leaving us in a green tunnel. The shade is cool, the understory is open, and the ground is covered with crunchy old leaves. I’m quite happy and content! Since this is a nature preserve there is no logging here. The margins of the road are still covered in Lilly of the Valley, and lupine which is finally starting to bloom in shades of pink and purple. We passed a house where two guys were setting up a table and chairs outdoors for a late brunch, and yogied more water from them. They just let us wander into the house and help ourselves!
Eventually, the road took us to our lunch spot in Sandvik. This is more or less just an outcropping along the lake with a church from 1744.
There are large grassy expanses, and several small cabins that can be rented along with a large hall for weddings, parties, etc. There is also a camping area nearby. We sat at the picnic tables and took a long break, eating an early lunch and relaxing. There were loons on the lake serenading us with their sad, soulful cry.
After our rest stop at Sandvik, we walked the 1.7 Km to the beach, and took another break while Judith went swimming. I bravely kicked off my shoes and walked into the lake about calf deep. (I don’t like cold water). The beach was sandy, and the water was covered in yellow pollen. Other sunbathers were also lounging on the beach. We continued on our trek through beautiful forest trails along the lake to another beach where we came upon a couple sunbathing – nude! The older gentleman was quite embarrassed and apologetic to us ladies.
Eventually, we found our way to the town of Fegan and the hostel, but before the hostel was of course, ice cream! Chocolate and raspberry swirl. I don’t know if it’s just the hiking that makes it so good, or if the ice cream here is just really good!
Alie, Gudrun and I are sharing a room at the hostel. The hostel overlooks the lake and is quite large. Judith and Susanne are sharing a room, and I went to doctor her toes again. Susanne, walking around barefoot, managed to stub her bad toe on a chair and was in a lot of pain. I gave her my Crocs to wear so she could protect her foot.
Goran and Jorgen are back with us now, Goran had to take two days off to play his trombone at a church service, he came back with his wife who will hike the last two days with us. Jorgan, back from the sick bed and work on his new book finished, will hike the rest of the way as well. Dinner was a lovely affair in the hostel with plenty to eat. Wine was flowing and Jorgen gave a short presentation on some of his more remote solitary hikes/paddles he's done in the Brooks Range Mountains of Alaska and Canada.
Day 13. 35 Km (21.75 miles) Only 25km hiked.
The four of us “Runaway Girls" hiked only to Ulared. About 25km of old rails to trails track, which was so flat, straight and boring. Ulared has the dubious fame for having the biggest shopping store in Sweden. Think Walmart on a large dose of steroids. All the traffic on the way to town was for the shopping. We stopped at an old wooden bridge crossing a creek to wait for Susanne’s father to pick us up, the four of us will spend the night at his house. Showers, laundry, a good meal and hospitality. Tomorrow he will slack pack us the 15 miles to the end. I have a second blister forming where the first one was. I’ll have to cut it and drain it tonight. Fifteen miles tomorrow as a slack pack should be easy!
Susanne’s dad, Judith, Alie and me.
Day 14: 15 Miles
An easy and relaxed 15 mile walk to Varberg. Susanne’s father dropped us off at 8:30-ish am and we made it to the meeting point about 2:45pm. The hike was on the rails to trail the entire way, through a lot of farmland, hay fields, rye, rape, etc. The scenery was very open with little shade. Our hike took us past the world heritage radio tower at Grimeton. The landscape was more open, with some small hills, lots of horses and small villages.
Along the Rails to Trails, there were many informational posters in English as well as Swedish and German. There was a section of the trail that went through an area that had to have been blasted for the rail road, high rocky walls covered in plant life, going around a long gentle curve, you could just about feel the train rushing down the tracks with its horn blowing. A short stop at a hardware store along the way for more ice cream and coffee, and we continued on.
Oliver and Henning were the last to arrive at the meeting spot, and we then walked as a group to the ocean (the North Sea). Walking through the town of Varberg, the trees had all been trimmed in a conical shape - quite weird if you ask me! - they reminded me of some chocolate lollipops I had as a kid. That, or I was in the Wizard of Oz and monkeys were going to come flying out of the trees at any minute.
We easily got to the North Sea and the water was crystal clear, cold but not freezing, with a nice sandy beach. Photos were taken, feet were dipped, and then off to the hostel which is the prison area inside the old fort next to the beach.
The water here is very salty, unlike the brackish water on the eastern coast. The beach is right next to the Vargerg castle/fort, an old military installation with the ramparts armed with cannons. The fortress and surrounding area has a colorful history and at times has belonged to Norway or Denmark. The hostel, located inside the fortress was the old prison barracks. There is a restaurant next door to the hostel where we had a celebratory dinner. After dinner, we said goodbye to Judith and Susanne who had a late train to catch back to their hometown. The rest of us then climbed up on the ramparts to watch the sunset (it disappeared below the ocean at 9:50 pm).
And so, I walked Coast 2 Cost across Sweden. Although some of the infrastucture of the hike may need updating (we didn't have updated GPS and lodging info), and road walks are a drag, it was very interesting. I met a lot of wonderful people and Judith and Susanne may even come to North Carolina to hike with me next year (I’ll show them what a REAL backpacking trip is like)! Alie and Gudrun may come as well.