The apple tree has been dropping apples. I thought that meant it was time to pick them all, but when we tried doing that, most of the fruit still on the tree turned out to be not at all ripe yet – all greenish and stuck hard to the branch.

We did pick the ripe ones on the ground though, and they were plenty. The pile in the photo is just a small part of today’s harvest. Some were a bit bruised, but since the ground is soft and padded with grass (what a great excuse to not mow the lawn there!) we also found many that were unblemished and in perfect shape.

Ingrid and I went shopping for scout gear and for clothes. Somehow she has managed to lose her waterproofs and outgrow all sorts of things. How nice it is to be adult and not have to buy clothes or shoes only because you outgrew the (perfectly functional and not even worn-out) previous ones.

I amused myself with my camera and the fitting room mirrors while Ingrid was trying on clothes.

Ingrid is programming a game in Scratch. It doesn’t always behave the way she wants. How well I recognize the feeling that I see on her face.

The pack still stands in the corner, still packed. Waiting for better times.

I am attempting to reboot some of my habits and practices.

I’m back from a very, very relaxing four-day hike. Four days of solitude, simplicity, exercise and nature did wonders to my well-being. But as soon as I was approaching civilization, I could feel my stress levels going up again.

Schedules. Deadlines. Obligations.

Crowds. Noise.

The mountains weren’t always silent – the wind could be quite loud – but they were quiet in a way that most modern life never is. I could hear myself think. Or not think. Then I got on the train back, and around me there were all these people. Talking all the time. Couldn’t they just all shut up, I found myself thinking. I hadn’t realized until that moment just how much good four days of silence had done me.

Unfortunately I cannot see how I could make my life much quieter than it is. People at work need to be able to talk to me, after all, and so does my family. One thing I can do is be more disciplined about regularly getting silent time. I need to schedule solo hikes at least once a month or so. My need of being out in nature has been clear to me for some while, but I hadn’t quite understood how much difference being alone makes. Family hikes are fun in their own way, but they don’t recharge my batteries the same way at all.

I also need to do something about the stress I feel from a boxed-in, deadline-driven, context-switching rush to keep up with my daily obligations – while trying to find time to get everything else done in the gaps between them. The kids need shoes and clothes and scout equipment, and they deserve birthday parties and gifts, and we have a kitchen that has been half-finished for seven years now, and my cardigans have holes at the elbows but I have no time to look for new ones, and my umbrella is broken, and I haven’t had a haircut since June, and there’s just no end.

Today I had an hour alone at home and I used it to get all those musts down on paper. The immense length of the list is more tangible now, but at least I know it is no longer than it is. I can let go of trying to remember them all and focus on doing something about them.

With musts filling so much of my waking hours, there are only little bits and pieces left for wants. There are wants – such as reading for example, and blogging – that I can mostly satisfy in half an hour here and half an hour there. But the bigger wants, such as those solo hikes, or intentionally practicing photography, just cannot be squeezed into such small spaces. I need to figure out a way to block out time for them, regardless of the effect that will have on that list of musts.

I am also rebooting my daily posting here. I never caught up after the breaks in posting during summer, and I am almost three weeks behind. Instead of constantly struggling to catch up and never getting there, I am starting over today. There, I’m all caught up! And maybe I’ll manage to fill in the gap later.

Lunndörren to Vålådalen, 12 km. Today was a short day because I had a bus to catch in the afternoon.

Heading north, mostly through forest and across small bogs. Steadily downhill all the day, which made for an easy walk. Quite soon I left winter behind me and was back in an autumn forest. Pleasant but quite unexciting after the past few days’ dramatic experiences.

Near the end of my hike, where the trail crosses Vålå river, I got to try an experimental ropeway. Normal bridges are expensive to build and risk getting damaged or swept away by ice and high waters. A ropeway hangs higher up and is therefore less likely to be caught in a flood.

It worked well enough but dragging me and my pack and the “basket” across was hard work and took about ten times longer than walking across. Given a choice between this and a normal bridge, I’d rather walk, but if the choice is between this and wading then I’ll take the ropeway.

Ropeway on the left, bridge on the right:

Day trip from Lunndörren to Pyramiderna / Issjön / Grönvallen, 18 km.

The snow caught up with me here today.

I wasn’t planning to be here and didn’t really have a plan for the day. I need to be back at Vålådalen by the end of tomorrow, and there are no huts within reach of a day’s hike of here and Vålådalen. So I did a day trip. The hut host had some day trip proposals and I picked one that did not involve going higher up.

Issjödalen was supposed to be this beautiful valley, the highlight of this route. I saw nearly nothing of it since I had the wind in my face and was keeping my head down and just plodding along. Quite definitely the least enjoyable part of today, and of this entire hike. I was glad when it was over. This is my only photo from this section of the hike and the only way to get it was to turn around and face backwards, away from the wind.

As long as I wasn’t in a wind tunnel, the hiking was good. It was still windy, of course – the photos look quiet but reality was anything but. My clothes were flapping and the wind was whining around my hood all the time.

Today was not at all what I had in mind, but definitely memorable. There is something about hiking in challenging weather conditions that appeals to me in a way I cannot really explain.

The day felt almost unreal. Emptiness and snow all around me; the paths all hidden by snow and no people or even footprints to be seen. I could almost pretend that I was alone in the world.

The world consisted of three colours: white, gray, and the gold of birch leaves.

Vålåstugorna to Lunndörren, 16 km.

This is what I woke up to this morning. Snow everywhere. And although you can’t see it in the photo, there is more snow coming, and it is accompanied by a fierce wind. Knud is apparently staying here a bit longer.

The hut host came in with the weather report: continuing storm winds from the west and more snow all day. My planned route would take me straight west, heading straight into the teeth of that wind, plodding through deepening snow. At best this would be a very unpleasant hike; at worst it could be deadly since I have no winter safety gear with me.

Nope. I’m not going to fight this weather. If the wind is from the west, then I’ll head east, and my plans can go… wherever abandoned plans go. Not only will I have the wind at my back this way, I’ll also be heading down rather than up and get some shelter from the forest.

Whenever I got out of the forest, though, the full force of the wind hit me again. But I had it at my back so it mostly didn’t bother me, as long as I kept moving. (Glad I packed my warm gloves and buff and fleece hat.) It snowed much of the time but I was just below the snow line and heading even further down as time passed, so the path remained clear and easy to walk.

Stopping wasn’t pleasant. My lunch break was brief and took place I came across the one and only rock along this day’s route that was large enough for me to crouch behind. I wasn’t the first one to crouch there; the moss on the ground on the eastern side of the rock had been worn down by many hikers.

This side of the park is criss-crossed by rivers. The bigger ones have bridges. The smaller one I first thought I’d have to wade across, but then I found an almost-bridge of fallen trees so I crossed with dry feet after all.

I arrived at the hut at Lunndörren with plenty of daylight to spare. The hut was beautifully situated on the shore of a little lake. Once I’d gotten warm and had a meal, and spotted a break in the snow, I took a photo walk around the lake.

Day 1 of a four-day circular hike in Jämtland. I’m starting out from Vålådalen like last year, heading to Vålåstugorna and then to Gåsen, Stensdalen and finally back to Vålådalen. Half of my route overlaps with last year’s, but then instead of heading further west after Gåsen I’ll turn back north and stick to the quieter eastern part of the national park, away from the “Jämtland triangle”.

The weather forecast for today promised storm-strength winds from the west, from Knud the Norwegian storm. At Vålådalen there were no signs of the storm; cloudy and just a bit windier than most days, maybe.

The autumn colours are really at their peak this time. Just two weeks later than last year, and what a difference it makes!

When the trail left the forest and got up onto the plateau, Knud was waiting for me. The wind was so hard that I was nearly blown off my feet at times. Mostly I could see the worst gusts coming and braced in time, but at one point I turned towards the east to take a photo and the wind hit me from behind with no warning and actually blew me off balance. For my next photo I hooked my arm around a signpost to stay upright.

There’s no real shelter to be found up on that plateau. My breaks were brief, huddled in the lee of some little hump of grass. Guess I won’t be taking any macro photos this year.

But in the photos it all looks quiet and peaceful.

I left a spot for this day when I was badly behind with my photos and giving up on catching up… and now that I am actually catching up, I find that I have no photo from this day.

Today I packed for a four-day hike in Jämtland. I hiked there last year at around the same time of the year. This year I hadn’t planned for a hike. But then I heard a friend talking about their hike plans and the desire to get out there struck me hard, and so I quickly found a free weekend in my calendar and booked train tickets.

Because of my lack of advance planning, there will be no home-made dried veggies this year. But apart from train tickets and food, preparing for a hike doesn’t require much more than a few return trips to the basement.