In the years before kids, Eric and I used to go on hiking vacations together. There was one company that we particularly liked to travel with, or to be really honest, one favourite guy – John at Warthog (or more formally, Warthog Off-Grid Adventures). We did several hikes in the Pyrenees together with John, climbed Via Ferratas in the Dolomites, and even Kilimanjaro. (All done before the blog, so don’t go looking for any photos.)

Then kids came along. We did one hike when Ingrid was small, on Gran Canaria, with her in a sling. She grew, though, and could no longer be taken along on a hike almost like another piece of luggage. And then Adrian was born, and hiking receded even further from our lives.

For eight long years, hiking has been a distant dream. But now finally both kids are old enough join us on shorter hikes. We go geocaching now and again, after all, and that is hiking in everything but name. For this summer we have a week-long hike planned for the whole family in southern France.

But I couldn’t quite wait that long. When an email came from Warthog about a week-long skiing tour in the north of Sweden in April, I signed up in a jiffy. How hard can it be?

Quite hard, actually. I’m reasonably fit, but it’s been eight years since I did any serious hiking, with an actual pack to carry. And I haven’t done any cross-country skiing since I was a child. I knew of all of that, and I knew the rest of the group would be strong and fit. I expected this to be hard work. It was. It was just barely on the right side of the fuzzy line between “hard but fun” and “so hard it’s no fun anymore”.

The trip lasted eight days, with six days of skiing and two days of transportation etc. Our route: Abisko – Abiskojaure – Alesjaure – Vistas – Sälka – Kebnekajse – Nikkaluokta. It just so happens that the Swedish Tourist Association has this very same route described and mapped on their web site, because it is one of the most popular ones. Here’s their map of the route:

Sunday was day 0. No actual skiing was planned for this day, just making our way to Kiruna and getting the group together. However there were two guys in the group who had never skied before, and I joined them for a brief refresher course in the evening: on a pair of wonderful antique Swedish army skis, effectively two red wooden planks with bindings. It all felt a bit wobbly.

(No, I am not skiing on those all week. I’ll be renting a pair of proper skis.)