The Light

When I wake up, there's already a lot of activity, even though it's still quite early. The young ones are already on their way, heading in the opposite direction, while the camp host has already strapped on her skis and is gliding around the campsite. Elizabeth might be over seventy, but her behavior suggests she's closer to seventeen. She's keenly interested in everything around her—the dogs, basically everything. 'What a lovely morning! I just listened to Wagner (can't recall the piece), and it was so beautiful! The wind is coming from there now, but the forecast says it will soon shift from somewhere else. Can I take photos of the dogs?' As I continue to pack my stuff, it doesn't go fast because Elizabeth is right here, and we both have something to say—our conversations often don't link, leading to a free-floating discussion. Elizabeth is the one who reassures me that today's downhill isn't that crazy. When I mention its steepness, she says, 'But it's very short!' Well, that doesn't comfort me; I still plan to take a detour around the snowdrift trail, which adds at least five kilometers, but it looks safer without risking my neck. I don't know where I'll sleep tonight or how far I'll get; these thoughts race through my head while I pitch the tent. 'That's the best part - not knowing,' says Elizabeth again, and it's uplifting to hear that from someone who has lived through many years and yet cherishes every single moment. We probably said goodbye at least three times before I finally left Kaitumjaure. My attention is still scattered; I can't focus. Shortly after leaving the camp, in a small descent, I accidentally crashed into a sled with my skis. Immediately, attention and focus are back. The ski is slightly damaged; I can ski, but I need to be extra careful not to lose it completely.

The cold, along with the moisture and wind, has created a sharp layer of ice on the trail and around. I hesitate for a moment but stop to put booties on the dogs; they've never had problems with their paws, but, again, just because I lack experience, I don't want to make mistakes.

We continue, and for the first time during the trip, I start thinking about home. Not longingly and not specifically—about all sorts of shelters where I have lived, 'Lauziņas', as well as places where I might settle in the future. We quickly ascend a small slope, and then there's a descent. I'm following the planned route, watching out for shortcuts, as even the detour around leads back into the mountains. We're taking the safe option, which despite the rope under the sled, is still pretty extreme. In the downhill section, we enter a small forest that narrows the trail, leaving almost no room for moving sideways. At the bottom where I reach the lake after a few kilometers, I get to STF Teusajaure, where I stop to eat sandwiches for lunch and the last pieces of gifted chocolate. Here, I decide not to follow the Kungsleden trail to the next camp but to choose the detour around the mountain range on the frozen lakes. This way, another steep descent awaits me.

Along the lake, we go fast! At times, the dogs even pull me a bit. The icy trail creates very little friction, and the firm trail offers a completely different drive. Changes! We cover 10 km quickly along the lake until the path enters a forest through a river valley. It's incredibly beautiful here; the river is sometimes open, sometimes frozen, but you can't see far because the trail is winding, the snow drifts in places, and choosing the route requires caution. After a small climb, there's a descent, quite winding, unpredictable, but not too steep. I enjoy it like gliding down a rapid in a kayak, my task is just to steer in time.

We enter the second lake, where my inner voice finally shuts down and remains silent until sunset, when I pitch up the tent just before darkness falls.

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