Saturday, July 17, 2010

12th August

After waking up at various points through the night due to rain and daylight but having very restriced movement, it was nice to finally get up at 6:30am. There was a mad rush in the booth to pack away even thought we had an out and a half before we had to head out to. It probably seemed more hectic as we were all trying to say out of the proper-full-hog-drenched-kinda-rain, which we were not used to. We left at ten to eight to head to the ferry/bus terminal were everybody embraced the lavatories. The bus was on time and bright yellow(as described by the YLs)and Tasha and I cranked up the faff by dragging our rucksacks onto the bus only to drag them off again to put them in the hold...

Back on the bus there was an attempt to do our journals but the fact it was only just nine o' clock caught up with us and we got some shut eye. Along the way Tim sprung another surprise on us, in that each group of five were to be doing different things. Javri(meaning Lake in Sami) were going to be doing a (approx.) 45km walk and navigation work and Bjorn (meaning Bear) were doing a gentler 30km trek and learning about edible plants. All of us wanted to be in Bjorn obviously so to stop our bickering we flipped a coin and my five ended up in the lake group. Tasha's eyes lit up when she realised she would be doing a 45km trek with her super dodgy knees.

We found city life really weird as we drove through Alta as we hadn't seen so many cars and people in a long time, baring in mind that Alta only has a population of about 17,000. We screeched into the airport and were given ration packs before being shuttled into the mini bus. As we piled in and found a seat they warned us that one of the windows is leaking and I looked up to find it was the one above my head.

We attempted to drift off to sleep but it wasn't easy as Helen's driving, or Norway's infrastructure, was not top notch. After an hour or so of driving in the rain we arrived to Tim and Steve and some more rain. They had been sitting outside this derelict hut for six hours now and were eager to get started on the trek. They told us that there was a hut that we could shelter in about an hour of or so away so before we had time to catch our breath we gathered our walking poles and hit the road.

When they said "hut" we expected no more than four wooden pallets tied together but instead we seemed to arrive at a whole estate with guard husky dogs. The Norwegian government must be investing a lot of money into their trekking routes. The young leaders explained that these were like the huts Rob visited in Sweden in that anyone can just go in and help themselves to food as long as they leave some money. When we entered the hut we were met by a small Sami woman who couldn't speak much English. She waffled on and Steve seemed to get the impression she was saying we could stay, but obviously not as after she scuttled off a man, with a knowledge of English stormed in and said "Excuse me, what are you doing?" It appeared we misunderstood and this was actually a guest house which had just been cleaned by the small Sami woman... He thought we actually understood Sami and just decided to make ourselves at home anyway and then he played the guilt card saying it would have to be cleaned all over again. I was well scared and we all rushed out as soon as possible leaving the floor soaking wet and muddy... Steve went to find out where we should have gone and it seemed the man had had time to reconcile with Steve as he said we might as well stay there as long as we clean up and much as we could before we left. Something tells me money might have been involved there.

The rest of the trek was accompanied by jokes about what had just happened as well as learning about edible plants, ie cloudberries which are AMAZING but you are not allowed to take them out of the area as they are so important to the Sami, you can eat as many as you like though. Eventually we found ourselves a campsite but it was very exposed and it was very boggy(lots of cloudberries though) especially at the water point. I also managed to get the tent inner wet during the trek but thankfully the dry wind sorted that out quickly. Steve then sat us down for a bedtime story about Askaladin who is a character in Norwegian folklore, and the various attempts to make it around the world in a day.

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