Smygehuk – Ytterhogdal 2004
My first Sweden walk started from Smygehuk, January 3th, 2004. I had a ridiculously heavy bagpack (32kg or 70.5pounds). I learned a lot on this walk about life on the road, about myself and I also met a lot of people at the same time doing so. I started to walk from Sweden’s southernmost point. The first couple of hours I spent at the beach walking towards Ystad, then I took a right turn, left the coastline and it suddenly started to feel real. Im actually doing this! I switched a lot from trails, gravel roads and bigger asphalt roads during the walk. I mostly used a compass and free maps found at tourist informations, petrol stations and similar places. Really simple ones but they did the job. When I reached Markaryd I decided to walk along the old national road (R1). I ended up in Jönköping and then switched back to the trails eventually taking me to Örebro where I had relatives living at the time. On the trail leaving Örebro I had to use snowshoes. I jumped on different trails, sometimes I had to walk on roads in between the trail network. I met families that invited me for dinner and to sleep on their couch. I slept in my tent mostly and always scouted the surrounding area before pitching my tent. Never really had any problems doing so. When I eventually walked over the bridge into Ytterhogdal I had a cold and I was done! I had been out for 3 months during winter season. It was my first long adventure and I was proud of myself making it this far through Sweden on foot. People often ask me why I chose to walk during the winter season. The answer is probably that I always did summer road trips with my family and I wondered if a 3 month walk with start in January could be fun.
Notes from my field journal
“Although the food is free it weighs a lot, maybe it’s better to shop when needed and be more free. Balance balance balance!” (sponsored)
“When I’m really tired, physically and mentally… it sometimes helps to sleep in a self-built shelter of wood or snow. The body gets even more tired but I break the pattern and create something new. I become like a child but think like an adult. I think…”
“I ran out of fuel today and thought of buying a new canister but there where none at the store. I ended up buying methylated spirit instead and built a burner of a cola-cola can. Adapt and overcome! Happy! Problem solved for now.”
“Out of curiosity I wonder if it is time to go home as I taste the difference in the melted snow that I use on a daily basic.”
Laundry and Showers – When I walked I tried to have a shower and wash my clothes once a week.
Training – You can do it in many different ways. Before this trip I focused on money and gear and when it was time I walked with no specific training. You can start slowly and get used to your daily activity along the way like I did or if you’re up for it and have time you should walk with your backpack for an hour or two and then add some weight to it. Spend a night out, walk a couple of hours on your free weekends and then when you’re close to your adventure focus on it, breath it, be it.
Why would you? – Be true to yourself and write all your questions down, talk to people and even if you’re not ready to answer them.. think about there questions. Write stuff down, think about your answers and form your adventure around the answers.
Money and gear – You will never have the amount of money you want and you will most probably carry to much gear from the beginning. Send things home if you don’t need them and spend your money wisely buying gear and other stuff along the way. I usually count it in days. A new sleeping bag equals to X days on the road. Still worth it?