25th Anniversary Appeal Expedition: Day 74

25-anniversary-expedition-day074Hirvassvuopio to Kautokeino. 50km 10 1/2hrs.

When I arrived at the forest hut I was not alone. A forest service worker speaking pigeon English was there. He was sceptical about my plan and called my holiday “extreme”. I was keenly aware that I could be skiing into a dead end. If I couldn’t break a trail through this section I would have to go back to kilpisjarvi or south to find another way around. I’m still tired from yesterday and don’t feel ready for 12hrs of deep snow and a potential cold bivouac… but without going to look I just don’t know for sure. I’ve chosen a series of small lakes to follow east to the border. The moment I leave the trail I’m braced for effort. Ready to work hard, but the snow is not unreasonable. It holds my weight above the deeper layers, only breaking through occasionally to the devil sugar below. I’m making progress… and I’m quietly, cautiously surprised. I can soon see the border fence and within the hour I’ve left Finland. It’s not what I was expecting at all… my guard is still up but I know that snow conditions rarely change abruptly unless the terrain changes. I look ahead for the most open and flat areas. I am determined to avoid the darker willow thickets… Then I can feel, more than see, an old scooter track under my skis which makes the going much easier. It heads deeper into Norway. I take a leap of faith and follow it. It weaves along the water course I’d planned to follow anyway and then I see other tracks joining it from different sides. Before reaching the start of the official Norwegian scooter trail at Goahteluoppal I know I’ve made it. My mind is blank, not even relieved really, for there was no battle, no particular effort, except keeping control of my doubts. I sit on my rucksack beside one of the cabins and have something to eat. Well I guess sometimes that’s just how life goes. Now for those 37 more kms to Kautokeino…

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