Leirvassbu to Spiterstulen, 15 km.

An easy day: short, and gently downhill pretty much all the way. But the blizzard stayed with us for another day and for the first half of the day, visibility was crap again. We skipped lunch break entirely and ate our sandwiches when we got to our destination for the day. Our only snack break was spent crouched up between a large rock and the drifts of snow that had accumulated around it.

Speaking of snacks, I’ve come one step closer to finding the ultimate winter trail snacks: Skotte bars. (Viennese) nougat with raisins and chopped nuts, covered in dark chocolate. They are less chewy and faster to eat than Raw Bite, which is otherwise my preferred trail snack, and unlike many other, more popular chocolate bars they contain no toffee that becomes inconveniently hard in cold weather.

Hot drinks are almost more important than snacks. Last year on the Kungsleden we stayed in self-service huts where we made our own drinks, just like we made our everything else. Here in the fancy schmancy Norwegian DNT huts, the staff make hot drinks for you. At exorbitant Norwegian prices (40 kr per thermos flask!) but on the other hand there’s a whole menu to choose from. Coffee? Tea? With milk or sugar? Or even hot blackcurrant cordial for those who, like me, prefer non-caffeinated drinks.

Lunch is packed sandwiches that you make yourself, from the materials in the breakfast buffet. Also at exorbitant Norwegian prices: 17 kr per slice of bread, which means 70 to 100 kr for a sandwich lunch where I’ve done almost all the work myself.

By now I’ve settled into this whole skiing thing. I have re-found my ski technique. I’ve figured out how to best organize my pack so that I can easily access everything I may want during the day’s skiing.

The muscles that were sore yesterday are getting used to being used hard. (I’d expected some soreness in my hamstrings and hips and glutes, but I was surprised to notice how tired my forearms were yesterday evening. I guess I’ve been gripping the poles too hard.) The small blister on one toe, due to tensing my foot when pushing off, is in retreat now that I’m taking care not to tense that foot any more.

It seems I am quite a bit stronger than last year. Thanks to my twice-weekly circuit training and regular day hikes, I guess. Most of the time I do not feel my pack at all – if it weren’t for all the straps, I’d forget it was there. When I checked it in for the flight, it weighed in at about 9 kg. Minus the clothes that I’m now wearing rather than carrying, plus a litre of drink, it should be just under 10 kg.

We arrived in early afternoon, which left us with hours of time to kill. The weather had improved, and one of the guys went out for some more skiing. I thought of joining him but hesitated and missed my moment. So instead I went for a brief photo walk with another guy. It was a pleasant mini-hike, but afterwards in the evening I had trouble falling asleep, because I hadn’t tired myself out enough during the day.