04-08-2002 (Sunday

Got up early and started marching at 6h00 to get over the bridge to the bus. Cost of the fare 221 Kr, we could also have paid in Euros, and Jim actually got his change in Euros.
What a beautiful ride. Casually the bus wound its way around fjord after fjord, with majestic and steep mountains on either side. And the country looks so clean, all the houses and gardens are so neat and tidy. It took about 3 hours to get to Kilpisjärvis in Finland. Border control was a non-event, the way we would like to see the whole world going. They just chased a dog through the bus which would possibly sniff out any undesirable aliens.
Having two coffees at the Kilpisjärvis Hotel at 1E each (sorry I haven't got the Euro symbol in my computer) and looking at all the tourist information we came up with a plan. We are going to walk towards the point where the three countries: Finland, Norway and Sweden meet. It is a fat hiking trail used by many hikers. There was a promise of a hikers hut (free of charge) that could be used. The path wound itself through lovely birch forests and later (600m +) through alpine low level flora.A plentyfull supply of Redcap mushrooms made sure we wouldn't go hungry.
And then there was a place where Finish soldiers fought some German soldiers. It was part of the aptly named 'forgotten war'; I didn't know anything about it. When Hitler invaded Russia the Finish joined in, but the war didn't go very well for them and in 1944 they made peace with the Russians, as part of that agreement they had to kick out the Germans from their country. That is why in April 45 there were some clashes up here near the border. It is not clear whether they actually managed to remove them.
Our initial plan of camping somewhere on the path was overruled and we pushed to complete the hike to the hut. That was about 13 km. We managed to find lodging in the hut. There already was one couple leaving two spare beds for us, and now the hut was full. The couple were two students from Helsinki, very pleasant and both fully conversant in English.

05-08-2002 (Monday)

Jim still needed a picture of the triple point. This time we climbed onto the concrete block to pose for the photographs. I tried the water by sticking my feet in and found the temperature somewhat cool for swimmers. It was otherwise a glorious day, sun shining, air somewhat warm.
We took a hike on the Swedish side, trying to circumnavigate the lake, but failed due to a 50m-water trap. On the way I collected some mushrooms for myself, some nice young redcaps. That was going to be lunch which we consumed in the hut. And on this hike we met some French people who at least grunted when we said 'good morning', one of them actually greeted us with a loud 'bon jour'. My day was made and my faith in humanity (French) restored.
Packing up we slowly made our way back up the mountain, stopping fairly often until we got to the top of the ridge and took up residence in one of the German wartime shelters. It has been kept in a reasonable state for and by hikers.
Looking around other places, which had been destroyed by the Finish army after the war, I found a couple of old tins marked 'DIN Packung 18'. Obviously some food supplies for the German army.
We covered the open backside of the bunker with the flysheet of the tent, that cut out the draft. I got to bed, not for Jim he still had to go up the mountain to look around. During the night we got disturbed a few times by passing hikers who obviously hadn't noticed the hiking stick placed across the door meaning 'do not disturb'.

06-08-2002 (Tuesday)

We got up the usual time and started walking down the hill. After a few blueberry stops and meeting a large group of British youngsters going on a 160 km mother of a hike we got to the road and back to the hotel. I had a sausage and chips for E7 and Jim a Hamburger and chips for E6, I must admit his looked better.
Kilpisjärvis is not really a town, its just various establishments along the road. The biggest hotel in the area and the supermarket were 4½ km down the road from here. We had been told that things are cheaper in Finland and thought it would be a good idea to stock up paying in Euros. So off we marched, down the road to the supermarket. It may be cheaper here, but not that much; I still spent a little fortune for a couple of items.
Opposite was the hotel from which the bus would take us back to Tromsø. We still had an hour and a half to wait. We used that time to sit in the foyer drinking E1.50 coffee which Jim declared to be substandard.
The return ride was as the incoming trip, fabulous. And again we paid 221 Krona. This time we had learned that the bus will stop anywhere to off load passengers and thus asked the driver to drop us at the church, that is before the bridge. From here it was only a short distance to walk to the campsite.
She was going to charge us 170 Kr a night each, on protest and showing the last receipt she relented and gave it to us for 120, mumbling something about a special discount we must have had. Yeh, it's probably a special discount for poor South Africans with weak currency.
Riding through the country I noticed a few things. No vegetable gardens at the houses, the most I saw were small potato fields. And it looks like agricultural activities are restricted to sheep and cows. There seems to be a total lack of churches, none of villages we passed through had one. It could mean that thy drive a long way to get to church or they don't go. And so far I not seen a single cat, neither in Svalbard or here. It doesn't seem to be a popular pet.

07-08-2002 (Wednesday)

We had this plan. Walk to the Botanical Garden and from there over the top to the airport. Two things went wrong. I tried to put a new SD card into my digital camera and nothing happened, it wouldn't read it. The card somehow got damaged. What was to be done? The best would be to down load from the good card onto a CD and re-use it. No such luck, I tried five shops in town, none of them had the reader required or the software to take from the camera. One shop assistant said something to the effect that this technology has not come above the Arctic Circle yet. Lesson: always take your USB cable and the software on a longer trip.
The other problem, the weather had turned miserable, not nice to walk in. But we still walked to the Botanical Garden. The garden itself was a disappointment, but mostly because it started raining harder. Jim's proposal to still walk over the top was flatly rejected. We took the bus to the airport and spent the remaining two hours peacefully out of the rain, reading second hand newspapers.

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