Polar Stroll - Day 12/13

I’ve been alone for two days now. Martins has successfully returned to Latvia and is preparing for getting back on track with his everyday life, but I continue laying my tracks in the Nordic snow.

Yesterday the morning came with a sensation of stress - Martins was the first one out of the tent and already bustling and hustling. He had a train to catch this evening and he didn’t intend to miss it. And there was a good reason for this tension too, because we woke up in the forest approx. 40km from the train station and with no means of calling a cab. After the firs 500m of the day Martins realized that sticking with me would almost surely mean missing the train, because the fresh snow kept sticking to the bottom of our skis and sledge holding us back. So Martins took his 60l backpack, gave me a hug and off he went, leaving me alone in the snow. After 7km through the forest and 18km alongside a small road Martins reached the highway, where he managed to hitch-hike a ride to Rovaniemi. He caught the train.

I pushed on through the forest grumbling about the fresh snow slowing me down, until a few snowmobiles came along and made my life easier by leaving a firm trail for me to follow. When I got out of the forest I had two choices - I could continue to follow the snowmobile trail and risk 3 days of total solitude or I could follow the road taking a little detour. As I stood alone on the crossroads I decided to take the extra milage and the chance of meeting someone on my way, because even after 7km alone I had realized that solitude is not fun at all. I already missed Martins and not only because I had no one to talk to, but also because I had no one to be silent with. That evening I made the camp alone, built the tent alone, made the fire alone and cooked the dinner alone - a lot of stuff to do alone.

This morning I reached my personal best sledge dragging speed. On an icy stretch of the road I managed to ski 7.5 kilometers in approx. 1.5h. Ok, I guess it doesn’t sound much, but but for me it felt almost like running. So I “ran” to the first gas-station in sight. There I spent more than a hour chatting with locals and having a feast consisting of yogurt, apple, family size pack of chips and orange soda. Oh, the small pleasures of civilization! None of the locals offered me a place to stay, so after lunch I took my “piglet” by its bridle and continue to ski alongside the Rovaniemi highway. It was good for a while, but at some point a snowplow passed by destroying the snowy side-lane I used and leaving me with a huge snow-drift on the side of the highway. I crawled up and continue my way on the other side of this snow wall.

After 20km I have made my camp in the woods near the highway. I’m already packed in for the night, but I can’t fall asleep because of the rain dripping on my sleeping-bag - the warm weather facilitates condensation on the inner layer of the tent. Who could have known that you should bring an umbrella to the North?

Karlis (66° 36.00N, 026° 04.37E)

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