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It was an early morning, the second day of Fjällräven Polar 2017. Still a bit sleeping I stumbled past the breakfast buffet and onwards to the bus with my big backpack stuffed with gear on my back. The trip from Sigtuna to Tromsø was about to start. Within a couple of hours I would catch a glimpse of the city that enchanted me a year and a half ago.
Avalanche danger in Signaldalen
From Stockholm we flew to Oslo, where we transfered on a flight to Tromsø. Unfortunately the second day was not as smooth as this day (I’m super terrified of flying), so I decided to take my medication. Once we arrived in Tromsø, there was a big touring bus from Lyngsfjord Adventure waiting for us. The organisation from Camp Tamok where we had the most wonderful adventures a little more than a year ago. I couldn’t wait to go back to the camp and hug the people that were responsible for the amazing times we had there.
But Scandinavia wouldn’t be Scandinavia if nature didn’t go her own way. Because of heavy rain and snow in the past couple of days, there was some serious avalanche danger in the valley. Therefor they closed the road that was supposed to lead us to Camp Tamok. Sadly we had to go to a different place to stay the night. The home from a hunting association; Storfjord Skyttelag clubhouse. That was a real bummer, because I’ve been looking forward to visiting Camp Tamok for a long time. But safety first!
Life lessons from Johan Skullman
Once we arrived in the clubhouse, we had to get to work right away. Survival expert Johan was waiting for us in the pouring rain to show us how to survive out in the wild. First up: shelter. He taught us how to put up our tents properly. One of the most important things, because it’s the only way to protect yourself from the icy winds. If you don’t put up your tent the right way, you might end up in serious danger as it might blow away or fall apart whilst you’re sleeping.
Second: light, warmth and food. Our Primus burners. With his pocket knife and a fire stick he lit his burner faster than I could watch. He made it look so easy! Which it turned out not to be. But luckily we had some time to practice.
Fjällräven Polar just got real
So there we went. Because practice makes perfect and you’ll thank yourself when you have to put up your tent in a snow storm. It was FREEZING cold out in the rain, but it was a lot of fun to try out our gear for the first time. We got our tent up pretty fast. It wasn’t flawless, but it was good enough!
Then we went on to try out our burners. That was NOT as easy as it looks! Twist, turn, lock, unlock, turn, open, close, pump, don’t pump.. And after you got the fuel part covered, you have to try to light it with a knife and a fire stick! You need some serious skills to do that in one go, but eventually I did it! It could make the difference between life and death in some situations, so I was happy we got some time to practice.
Reindeer stew and tears of panic
After all the hard work the volunteers of the association made us dinner. It was al lovely, super hot reindeer stew with pieces of bread and coffee for dessert. I couldn’t care less about the food, but I had to eat. My stomach was killing me! And then I panicked. “What if I’m gonna walk around with this stomach ache all week? What if I can’t finish this trip because of it? What if I have to go to the bathroom when I’m out in the snow? I don’t want to sleep in the same room with 27 people that I don’t know! This is waaaay out of my comfort zone!”
Combined with a lack of sleep, all the excitement and emotions from the last couple of days, I got overwhelmed and started crying. And every time somebody asked me if I was alright, I cried harder. I wasn’t alright. I wanted to go home. There was one thing on my mind and that was: “I am not ready for this!” Luckily my Polar family is the best family ever and a lot of them wrapped an arm around me, gave me a warm hug, handed me a cup of tea and helped me prepare my sleeping spot.
After a phone call and 20 times “BABE, YOU WORKED SO HARD FOR THIS!” from my boyfriend, I was convinced that I actually can do this and fell asleep. Even though there were 27 other adventurers snoring in the same room!