Day 21/30 of the 2017 Keto Hiker experiment

20:15 Camp in center of Kaskasavagge

Sitting in my tent looking through the valley towards Kungsleden in the far distance and enjoying the reflection of the beautiful evening sky in the perfectly still water of the lake in front of me. For the first night in quite a while I don’t need to hide in my sleeping bag to stand the cold or camp by a cabin to get dried up.
And that’s not the way this day started out…

I woke up rather early around half past six to the sound of… (drumroll!) raindrops falling on my tent again. The rain that started during my hike yesterday hadn’t really stopped – rather just taken very short breaks during the night. I even had a light rain falling when I put up the tent last night.

During one of the breaks I grabbed most of my stuff, except sleeping bag, mattress and, of course, the tent, and relocated into the kitchen of the closest cabin to make some coffee and start the day.
Naturally I met the same people as yesterday and had a very sociable morning and was able to help quite a few people with tips and ideas for the continuation of their tours.

Twice I was out wiping of the tent before finally it stopped raining for about half an hour and got my stuff packed reasonably dry.
In the meantime I got an interview with one of the hosts, which we had to do inside due to the weather. It was after half past eleven before I finally got away from Sälka and onto the trail towards Nallo.
Using the trail kept me roughly away from the wet bushes and scrubs, thereby helping to avoid soaking the boots within the first few km.After about 7km I left the trail and started working my way up the mountain side and turn into the western part of Unna Reiddasvagge. The ground was almost inconceivably drenched were there were no rocks and the rocks themselves were wet and slippery. Approaching the opening of the valley I suddenly found myself at about the same elevation as the clouds and really thought it’s have to hike in fog for the rest of that part.

Thankfully the clouds lifted and I had a wet and cold hike with good visibility up to the Unna Räitas cabin. This is one of the few cabins without a host and frankly it is pretty worn down and would definitely need some love and construction work. Now it’s more like an emergency shelter, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to sleep there except for a real emergency.

Location is just fantabulous, though, with a view of the Reaidda glacier, a beautiful meltwater lake and several summits at around 1900m.
Here I had my midday break with some tea and snacks, and while I was inside getting my stuff prepared out of the cold wind the miracle happened.

Within less than an hour the clouds opened up and revealed blue sky and sunshine, I dare to admit that I had to really look around to believe the change that had happened. This I had been wishing and praying for for days now and finally we got a nice and clear afternoon sky again.
Knowing that I’d be doing the pass crossing, I still had a thorough break before departing from the cabin and approaching the climb.

Not only was the snow field large enough to allow the crossing, most of the ascent could be done on snow, which is so much easier on joints and ligaments then hiking rocks, and I reached the summit of the pass after just an hour. The view was marvelous and well worth the climb, unfortunately pictures can’t show how steep it really is. I really had to kick my boots into the snow wall to be able to climb it without slipping and sliding back downhill.

Naturally the decent into Kaskasavagge was less physically demanding, yet it’s quite taxing mentally to keep focus on where to step next. There was some snow fields on the way down as well, yet mostly rocks, which thankfully had dried completely since the rain stopped. And what a different experience it is to walk on dry rocks compared to having them wet and slippery.

Already on the decent I spotted a possible camp site and even if I checked a few others I ended up in the place. Right in the middle of the valley and close to a stream it makes a perfect spot for me and a good starting point for tomorrow’s hike.
Now I just hope and pray that this preferable weather change will stick for a while. I’d love the weather to be like this for the remainder of my tour!

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Peace // Claes

Let me tell You a story!

On July 31th 2015 my wife at the time, Maria, and I left Riksgränsen (a small tourist station along the road from Kiruna to Narvik) for a 4 week hike. Early on we decided to bring provisions for the entire trip with us from the start which, needless to say, was challenging.

As stated earlier I’m rather fat adapted and enhanced that by cutting out all sugars and most starches a good week before we started the trip. Maria, on the other hand, was mainly eating a vegetarian diet based on fruits and veggies with some nuts, seeds and the occasional cheese.

I thought she was planning too little food and during the last week before departure I persuaded her to dehydrate some beetroot and sweet potatoes, just to have some denser carbohydrates available.

Starting out we were both carrying way to heavy loads and the first few days were slow and tedious though we managed to motor along pretty well for the first two weeks. Then came the point when we ran out of beetroot and sweet potatoes and initially this could be managed by stocking up on milk chocolate every time we passed by a cabin selling provisions.

As You probably already know the nutritional value of chocolate doesn’t even come close that of good starchy tubers and You might already have guessed how this ended… Right, the simple sugars and fast carbs in the chocolate couldn’t sustain the energy output for long, I managed to get my hands on some butter and could give Maria my remaining coconut oil and still it didn’t suffice.

A few days into week four her energy levels were plummeting just 90 min after we started in the morning and besides physical hunger and lack of energy it affected her emotionally as well. In the end we cut the tour short a couple of nights and went down to Abisko early.

I, on the other hand, had a totally different experience – I usually eat beef jerky with butter/coconut oil and some nuts for breakfast and when the energy from that meal has been used, my body just continues burning fat from the storages of my body and I didn’t even notice the difference and frankly never got any dips or hunger pangs.

In 2016 I was out there for 16 days and actually had one third of the beef jerky and about the same of the coconut left over at the end of the hike. Out of the 16 days I only had three meals on three days, two days I ate once and the rest I had two meals. Always eating when hungry and never experiencing a dip in energy!

So, these experiences inspired me to go full keto this year and see what that feels like – stay tuned!