STORE SAMETTI SJELVATNET NATURE RESERVE
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin
So I woke up on one of the days and I was feeling pretty down and drowsy. My boss was trying to cheer me up and suggested I go on a hike with one of the dogs. I have gone on solo hikes before but something about this one freaked me out a little bit but I went.
I think the concept of venturing out into a unknown land in a country I was not familiar with really was what scared me.
I got dropped off just at the top of the lake in the Pasvik National park and set off with one of the dogs Björk on a hike for a few hours. I went without a map, without a compass, just following my own path and it was a bit daunting. To be venturing out into the unknown.
Crossing the lake I came across a tiny little bridge which was very clearly made years ago, it was sweet and it was placed directly in the middle of the two joining lakes and the view was stunning. Note to anyone travelling with dogs, this is a little difficult for them to get up and over and with the noise of the rushing water underneath freaks them out a little bit!
We continued into the woods, to try and see if there was any paths or routes to lead to a specific feature in the national park and our hopes were not met, the path just went around in a big circle and followed the lake back to where we started from. It was a lovely walk though, not having somewhere specific to go or get to was actually really refreshing. Often I find when I go out on a hike with my map I am more focused on reading that and making sure I am heading in the right direction whilst with this, I had nothing to look down at and could look around and actually absorb the beautiful environment near me.
I could not get over that these lakes and views were just down the road from us, I had not experienced such a sense of awe that I felt when I was walking. I often took times to just sit, and watch the world go by. It was peaceful, there was no noise, which is what I found a little bit weird, there was literally no noise anywhere, no wind in the leaves, the water was silent. The only noise I could hear was the sound of my own footsteps and it was then when I realised that it was silent was when I truly felt like I was ‘free’ in the wild. I had no map, no way of contact, no gps, no one near and I was truly just exploring the wilderness like we used to in the olden days. It gave me such a sense of peace and I felt like I could really feel at home here.
The trail was fine, very wet on the feet but it was a kind of flat path marked around the outsides of each lake. What I have found about the Pasvik valley and it’s national parks is that you should be prepared to get your feet wet! It is a quick walk depending on how much time you want to spend look at the lakes or whether you want to get to the end. I was following the trail when I looked at my watch and realised I had been walking 3 hours and needed to get back to be picked up! I still wanted to find out where the path went but knew I needed to turn back, it did not feel like I had been walking for 3 hours because I was so absorbed in the landscape.
Thus my journey had ended, yes it was a short and sweet hike but it truly made me appreciate taking in the surroundings, what it takes to truly feel at one with the nature rather then focusing on a finish point and getting there as fast as you can.
What I would recommend to anyone wanting to explore or go on a hike, is to go without a map, to go without gps, without a phone without access to the outside world and truly get absorbed in the surrounding environment.