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Wide Welkin and Speaking Stones, Part 1.5: Where the Sky is the Right Height

October 14, 2012

This is part of a series.  See the introduction for previous parts.

[Continued from August 7, 2012]

Have arrived in Abisko without a hitch.  I’ll write about Abisko later, but for now I’m bagging up my food and here’s what I’ve got for a week’s hiking:

One week's worth of camping food laid out on a table

700 g Gouda cheese [full fat.  I almost got reduced-fat, which would have been bad.]

~half a tube of nougat cookies (likely to be eaten before I leave)

~3/4 lb black bean flakes

~3/4 lb refried bean flakes

~3/4 lb falafel mix

~1 lb couscous

550 g rye crisps

210 g mashed potato powder

12 pkg assorted savory soups @ ~20 g each

19 bags peppermint tea @ 1.75 g each

330 g walnuts

400 g cashews

500 g 10-minute brown rice

250 g raisins

250 g assorted dried fruit

~.2 lb sundried tomatoes

125 ml sugar

575 g strawberry + quinoa muesli (smallest bag they had.  Should be interesting …)

78 g (3 pkgs) fruit soup

17 pkg hot cocoa @ 30 g each (possibly vastly excessive)

300 g dark chocolate

~100 g dried tortellini, left over from dinner

~2.5 fl. oz olive oil


So. Abisko.

The tourist station is a scattering of buildings near the shore of lake Torneträsk, surrounded on all sides by snowfielded fells.  Here, as always when I finally escape to the tundra, I get the feeling that things are just right – the mountains are the right color, the clouds are the right height, the air smells right, the wind is just strong enough.  It’s easier to breathe – I don’t get allergies up here.  I know “cozy” is not a word usually used to describe the arctic, but … this place is cozy.

The hostel had a bed for me, which I was glad of – I hadn’t made a reservation.  I joined the STF at the reception desk for the youth fee of 130 kr – certainly worth it, since the non-member surcharge is 50 kr per night.  I think they might have sold me a 1-month membership*, which I didn’t know existed, but it’s hard to tell because I’m mostly guessing at the Swedish on the card.  I’d rather have joined for the whole year, but oh well.

The hostel building is standard STF: bright, solid pine furniture, good lighting, very basic, very clean.  I’m sharing my room with two German women about my age (maybe a little older) and one possibly fifty-ish man of indeterminate nationality; he speaks good English with a British accent, but that doesn’t tell you a lot around here.  The hostel is about 3/4 full, unless more people have arrived.  About half of those are young people, and the other half is middle-er aged couples of families with young kids.  (But then, I only see people in the hostel building, not people who get more expensive private rooms.)  So far I’ve heard quite a lot of French, some German, some English, and some Japanese – plus two people trying to communicate in a Scandinavian-sounding language before switching to English, so maybe one was speaking Norwegian or Danish.

I packed up my backpack to confirm that everything does indeed fit, though it’s a squeeze and the tent has to go on the outside.  I haven’t dared weigh it yet, though there’s a hook scale hanging outside for exactly that purpose.

At the turiststation shop I picked up some alcohol for my stove, as well as matches, since you can’t bring matches on airplanes and I wouldn’t have wanted to anyway – Swedish matches are for some reason vastly superior to the crummy strike-anywhere matches that for some reason are the only ones available back home.

There are a lot of small, blond-haired children running around.  They look a lot like my older sister at their age, which is odd since we don’t have any Swedish in us since the Vikings.

Well.  They’re a lot tidier than my sister, who at that age never, ever brushed her hair.

When I was little and we came up to this area, there were a lot of lone wild boar types roaming around.  I don’t see them now.  And it’s funny I never noticed how many young people there were.  I guess this is my growing-older-ness speaking.

My left knee’s a bit achy.  I really hope it isn’t permanent.

The shop, I should add, is quite well-stocked indeed.  You could any replace any piece of equipment there – stove, raincoat, tent, boots, whatever.  It might not be exactly what you wanted, but it would do the job very well.  You would replenish a week’s provisions there fairly happily – they don’t have dried bean flakes, sadly, but they do have dried soups, fruit, oatmeal, muesli, mashed potatoes, pasta, spices, nuts, candy … they even have dried tortellini and couscous, which we used to have terrible problems finding in Sweden.

And then they have things I really can’t explain, like the 10-inch spork. (The type with a spoon on one end and a fork/knife on the other, not the kind with tines on the spoon.) What on earth are you supposed to do with a 10″ spork?

It is uncommonly easy to pour from the saucepans here without spilling.  I really don’t know why this is … but it’s never been so easy to pour from a pan and have the water go where I want it to.

Wait, actually, I have an idea.  The lip of the pan is bent over like the spout of a teapot, only all the way ’round.  Maybe that makes the difference? If so, that’s clever.

Less clever is Trangia, whose (excellent) 1-liter fuel bottles do not fit a full liter of fuel, due to the requirement of not filling it above a certain line, probably to allow space for thermal expansion.  Shouldn’t Trangia have made it 1 liter to the fill line, rather than all the way to the top, which will apparently cause it to explode or something?

If I keep writing at this rate every day, I’ll be out of journal in two weeks.  Fortunately, I also have walking to do.

Mountains and trees seen through window at Abisko

The view out my window at Abisko Turiststation

*They actually had sold me a full-year membership; single-month memberships don’t exist.  I was just confused because they gave me a temporary membership card which expired at the end of the month, by which time I was supposed to have my permanent card.

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