Epilogue

“Eat, sleep, walk.”

Jonathan summarizing every day along Kungsleden.
The apartment the day after we came home.

When we came home, we couldn’t rest for long. Martin and Louise were moving into their apartment. It was sort of rushed since Martin would start his new job in a couple of days and moving and working at the same time felt like it would take too much energy to do either efficiently. Jonathan helped when he could but he had other responsibilties as well. Martin had promised Julia, who we had met sporadically on Kungsleden, that she could stay with him for a couple of days after completing the trail. He had forgotten that he would be moving and Jonathan, being the stand up guy that he is, offered his sofa as an alternative. He also had work and studies to get back to. After 1 week, we were back into our old/new routine, with both of us starting new jobs but returning to our dungeons and dragons group, gaming sessions and weekday work.

Morning traffic along Vasagatan, far away from the solitude of the Fjäll.
Reflections

Looking back at the adventure now, we have little wisdom to share, at least not any overt wisdom. We don’t feel like we changed in any significant ways as persons, rather we gained the experience of applying ourselves into a new situation, finding that we fit in quite nicely as hikers just being ourselves. There are however three, maybe four shifts of perspective that we think about.

The first is the “Just do it” mindset which we both have started applying liberally into our own lives, taking more responsibility for getting things done, conceding that it in many situations is just easier to do all the work instead of waiting for a group meeting or dragging it out over time. It has made us more productive and just better people in general. The blog is a concrete example of this.

The second is the “Do it 100%, there is no alternative”. The goal on Kungsleden was absolute and unyielding. We always had a specific distance left to go before reaching Abisko which could only change by us walking more. In normal life, goals are rarely so absolute and the deadline so firm. With inexact definitions of done, completing something 95% of the way instead of 100% is rarely noticed or consequential, like walking the last 50 meters of a 5k run. This is even more true in regards to adjusting the goal when circumstances change; “a group member became sick” or “the computer crashed” for example. There was no one to bargain with on Kungsleden when something went wrong, something we were quite unfamiliar with. This hasn’t been entirely easy to adopt into society and we are still slowly trying to find a way to maintain the good parts of this mindset without it causing friction.

The third sprung directly from the second, which was a very strong reminder that “your current self sets the scene for your future self”. Now, this isn’t some extraordinary finding, but it became very clear during our hike. Because we had a set timeframe with the plane home, a slow pace one day directly meant we would have to increase our pace for the following days. It formed a mindset of not procrastinating or finding excuses, fueling the “Just do it” attitude described above.

The fourth is to “Focus on your solveable problems”, which is a derivative of all the above mentioned shifts. Hiking for an extended period of time essentially brings you into a “simpler” life – eat, sleep, walk. You quickly come to accept the things that you can’t change and work on the things that you can solve. Having faced problems with very direct positive feedback, such as quickly pitching a tent when rain is coming, has built a focus on working on what you can solve (shelter) – while accepting what you can’t change (rain). We have found it to be a helpful mindset with one important caveat, it is often difficult to what problems are truly solvable in real life.

Ok, but what was the best part

Finally, we are often asked to say what was the “best” part of the trip. We both reject the premise of the question, since best is very dependant on once point of view. We are pleasers though, so we have made the following “top” lists:

Sights along Kungsleden:
  1. Skiefre
  2. Alesjaure Lake
  3. Syterskalet
Martin’s highlights:
  1. The grind of walking for 21 days and the shift in perspective it forced.
  2. Sharing the adventure with Jonathan, shared experiences are worth infinitely more, especially when doing it with someone who will be around your entire life.
  3. Completing the trail in the end feels very rewarding, enhanced by the stream of doubters saying it wasn’t possible.
Jonathan HIGHLIGHTS:
  1. I can only agree with Martin, shared experiences are the best experiences and the best part of the hike was sharing it with him, as well as all the interesting people we met along the way.
  2. I overall think there is high value to, every once in a while, mix things up and challenge/leave everyday routines (as nice as they may be). Three weeks of hiking might have been a hardcore way of living by that opinion, but it was a rewarding piece of escapism – bringing yourself out of the puzzle, seeing where you might slot in again, without having essentially changed the piece that you are. Sometimes, you really can’t see the forest for all the trees and need to get yourself up on top of a hill.
  3. To really make it explicit – the best parts of the hike weren’t any specific places or happenings, it was the intangible stuff. The lessons learned, the people met, the experience overall. But, to leave you with something more practical – it was great to just eat, and eat, and eat and not face any negative consequences. Seriously, I ate chocolate for days and it didn’t matter – amazing!