Gåsen to Sylarna.

Today was a repeat yesterday, in the best of ways. Beautiful and wild. (And just as windy as yesterday, and with clouds so low I was walking through them. I almost ended up skipping lunch because the wind was so strong, but then I finally found one large, lonely boulder in the otherwise open grassland and huddled in its lee.)

A new experience for me today was fording a river. I crossed one yesterday as well, but that one had enough rocks in it that I could get across with a few agile hops, keeping my feet dry. A group of runners came along just as I got to today’s river, and some of them managed to get across by jumping between rocks, with their light packs and long legs. But with my pack, the risk of losing my balance was too great, so I had to wade through a part of it. The water was shallow – up to mid-calf maybe – but ice cold of course. I’m glad I only had to take a few steps in it.

I wonder if the word vad, which means “calf” in Swedish, is related to vada which means “wade”.

I was also very grateful for my walking poles. I hesitated when packing them, but decided to bring them after all, and I’m glad I did. I didn’t use them much on Thursday, but on yesterday’s and today’s rocky, uneven paths they were great to have. Not that it was difficult to walk without them – but with them, I could walk without thinking so much about the actual walking.

Most hikers seem to use poles the same way as when skiing: the arms swing back and forth in the same rhythm as the legs, and the poles help propel you forward. At least on uneven ground, like here, I plant a pole once every two steps, roughly, but in fact I’m not even sure my arms and legs really move in sync. I use the poles less as extra motors and more like feelers or tentacles. They provide extra contact with the ground, so I have two or three points of contact almost all the time, which means I can be somewhat sloppy about where and how my feet land. They allow me to “flow” forward over the ground, if that makes sense.