Yesterday’s Meetup.com Sthlm Outdoor hike was on the Sörmlandsleden, the major hiking route that runs south of Stockholm for about 1000km. We just did stages 4 and 3. Which made 22km of walking. We even managed 300m of ascent. Runkeeper says I burned 2100 calories and I can feel it today.
The terrain was different to what we had on the previous hikes. It was rougher, and far more uneven with hillocks the sometimes rose to 70m! On those occasions when we were going up steep ground I could feel totally different muscles working in my legs. And today while I feel tired there isn’t the satisfying soreness that comes from having done 1500m of climbing.
The weather was different too – overcast, about +4 to 0°C with occasional fine snow or rain. The warmer weather meant the ground could occasionally be mucky. For stretches, particularly along roads, there was a lot of compacted re-frozen snow which was like sheet ice. Apart from a few minor foot slips it didn’t bother me too much – I was asked whether being from Ireland was why I was why I was so sure footed on the ice. Years of experience has taught me the trick is to take small steps, and keep your feet as flat as possible (no toes or heels). With practice you can end up walking almost as fast as on “normal” ground.
During the week I had offered my help to the hike leaders, so I ended up as the back marker. It is a fiddly job, especially for someone like me who prefers to set their own pace out at the front. Instead you keep the pace of the slowest person. Making sure those that are struggling, or have stopped to go to the toilet in the trees don’t get left behind or lost. But it’s an important job and someone (with decent skills, experience, and fitness) has to do it.
We had the usual mixed group – about 1/3 Swedes and the rest expats – some very experienced walkers, and others who struggled with the pace and conditions. Maybe it’s me getting old, but I think hikes are no place for headphones. At least that person kept their spoiling of the outdoor experience to themselves. One person took a very loud phone call for several minutes. When they finished they kept working on their phone. They looked up to see me standing politely a few metres away waiting calmly.
“Am I the last? Sorry I didn’t realise.”
“Yes, because you were looking at your fucking phone” was what I thought but did not say.
One person chose to finish half way and get a bus home. One hardy individual letf us to stay the night in the shelter where we had lunch. If I had a decent winter rated sleeping bag I might consider it. But I’d like to arrive to my sleeping place at 5pm when it’s getting dark and not lunch time!
It wasn’t as much fun as the 2 previous walks I had been on. But not by much. Assuming I am in the country again next weekend I will be out for the next walk, a more sedate Sörmlandsleden stage 5, (15 km).