In previous articles you have got acquainted with former White/Green Ribbon participants and everyone seems to have different stories and unique experiences from their tours. One man who possesses a truckload of experience from longer hikes is Peter Bergström who walked the Green Ribbon in 2021. When Peter arrived at Treriksröset (where many others usually celebrate their finish), he decided to walk the same way back, a hike of almost 260O km!? Peter is also the record holder with most (five) completed Green Ribbons.
First of all, tell us about you?
-I am simply a lucky retiree! I have a healthy body and have the opportunity to retire early (at 62). I was also “lucky” to be laid off from my job, which meant that I got 2 years’ salary as a “plaster on the wounds”. This has meant that I have had the time and the financial opportunity to walk a lot. I have two grown-up children, and my son has also been on PCT.
You have a record in the VG Ribbon, tell me about it? Was it decided beforehand that you would turn around and go back?
It wasn’t 100% decided from the beginning, but I planned for it. For example, the depot package (my only one, which was sent to Abisko) was prepared with new shoes, new Rocky socks, warmer clothes, etc. But somewhere along the way north, the idea matured and in the end, it felt obvious that would turn around and go back. As a true yoyo, I chose to go almost the same way back (which was part of the challenge).
You walk alone for a very long time, how Is that?
I enjoy walking alone, especially In Sweden where it is relatively easy to hike. I can decide my own habits. When I’m going to get up, take a break or if I want to hike crazy far one day. The longest trail I walked was 72 km in one day. But I appreciate meetings with other hikers, cabin hosts and people I simply meet on the tour. I’ll take the time to stay and hang out. I simply don’t feel stressed (as many people think). Meeting people is almost the greatest benefit of a hike. For example, heading south, there was strong wind for 3 days up at Helags. Then I went to Lina Hallebratt instead and had a great time there.
Do you have any more exciting tours going on?
-The Appalchian Trail is exciting. I hope to start this trail in February 2022. Of course I’m going to go all the way!
Your best tips to future VG-ribboneers?
-Trying hard to get the base weight down pays off. The hike will be more pleasant and easier. The load on the body is less. You don’t have to “chase grams.” If you can get the base weight down to 7-8 kg, you have come a long way. You don’t have to buy expensive “stuff”. It is enough that you simply do not include so much. Clothes are something that many people bring too much of.
-Looking at comfort temperature can fool you a lot. If you walk far, are wet and tired (and the sleeping bag may be damp!) that combo temperature is often completely inadequate. Autumn and spring are the perfect time to test outdoors how much you freeze. It is enough to sleep on the balcony or in the garden. Have a thermometer with you so you know how cold it is. The chosen sleeping solution should work so you sleep well at minus 5. Which sleeping solution you choose is extremely individual.
-Problems with feet are a painful and common cause to break. In 2021, it was a clear trend that more people chose to hike with trailrunners, something I really recommend. A lot of energy should be put into finding suitable shoes (in the right size). Many appreciate Altra’s shoes, the Altra Lone peak 5 seems to have significantly better durability than other Lone peak. Then you have to go, the more and longer, the better. Sometimes so far that it’s over one’s “comfort distance.” After 20-25 km, things can happen to your feet that you never experience during shorter training rounds. During the Green Ribbon hike, you should be extremely careful and take care of the smallest blow, immediately (even if it is only 1 km left to the tent site / accommodation). And wet feet! Nothing to be afraid of. Rocky goretex socks solve that problem. Highly recommended!
-Many people are afraid that food will not be enough. And bring way too much. I shopped in regular supermarkets afterwards and didn’t have to donate (or send food home). If you choose to send depot boxes, do not send all the food. Only things that are expensive and hard to buy along the way, like freeze-dried. Drying yourself and packing depot boxes is time consuming, so start on time. Or shopping along the way, works great. You can buy exactly what you want, right now. Super tip: Billy’s Pan pizza (eaten cold as a sandwich).
-Any things in your equipment that you are extra satisfied with or equipment that you will replace or supplement with for the next tour?
-I am extremely pleased with my equipment. But it has taken time and many miles of hiking to choose the one that suits me.
The only miss I made was not to send warmer mittens up in the pit box to Abisko. It was a heat wave when I got up and warm goa mittens weren’t really what I was thinking about…
My DCF backpack from Superior Wildernes designs was great, needed neither rain cover nor liner, everything was dry no matter how much it rained. And the total volume of about 43 L was quite sufficient.
The tent, Plexamide from Zpack I was very pleased with (apart from the zipper opening).
Going forward will get a poncho (probably in DCF). To use in heavy, prolonged rain. Whatever you choose for rainwear, they don’t stay dry.
If you want to follow Peter, check out the Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/mywalkabout.se/
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