My First Hike in the Mountains

I grew up in the south of Stockholm in Sweden. As a kid I spent my summers on a sailing boat in the archipelago and once every winter our family went up to the mountains for a week of crosscountry skiing. As I grew older I got more and more interested in being out in nature.

A year in the army as an Arctic Ranger exposed me to a way of life in close connection with nature. During that year we were out staying in basic shelters and tents and I got a crash course in how to travel, live and stay safe in nature in summer and especially in winter when temperatures dropped below -30° Celsius.

When the training ended and normal life began again I was left feeling empty. I felt a strong desire to get out in nature again and I dreamed about new adventures. So I planned my first trip to the mountains.

Unna Reáiddavággi. A revisit in 2009 resulted in this photograph. Three days of rain, wind and low clouds before this view opened up.

I remember the first time I hiked up into this alpine valley north of Kebnekaise on a beautiful summers day. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. After a few days of hiking in the forest seeing the mountains from a distance I was now surrounded by them. Rugged peaks, glaciers, pristine lakes and waterfalls.

The landscape up here was covered with rocks and very little vegetation in contrast to the lush valley I had been walking in the days before. It took my breath away and somehow I knew right there and then that I was hooked for life. This was around 15 years ago and since then I have made many visits to this valley. It’s a special place to me because it’s where my journey as a photographer began.

Happy as one can be on a mountain in the Kebnekaise area. This is one of few pictures I have of myself from my first adventures in the mountains. Note to self; I have to get better at documenting what I do.

With me on that trip I had my first camera that I got as a gift from my parents. It was one of the early digital compact cameras. Nothing compared to the cameras we have today but I was so happy about it. I did my best trying to capture what I saw, but honestly I didn’t know what I was doing. Looking at the images when I got back home I was so dissapointed. They didn’t say anything about what I felt and experienced on that first hike in the mountains. That left me thinking about what I did wrong. Why did I fail?

So I made a decision that would come to change my life. I decided that I wanted to learn landscape photography. I wanted to learn how to make photographs that conveyed a feeling of the mountains rather than just documenting them. Little did I know then about the adventures to come.

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