When Agata Mleczko first heard about the King’s Trail, she knew she had to walk it. It turned out be a life-changing experience.

When I heard about the King’s Trail for the first time I knew that one day I will walk it. The description and photos found on the Internet not only caught my attention but instantly waked up my imagination. A four hundred kilometers walking path seemed a perfect place for a holiday retreat. I easily pictured myself in this vast wilderness, walking along the pathway and enjoying the wonderful weather. There was only one ‘but’. My general physical condition at that time was far from a top shape and thus the picture perfect got immediately spoiled by a fatigue, sweaty face and pain in my back. In order to walk the trail I should start training, I thought. And it almost destroyed these fabulous pictures, just like so many other ideas I dreamed about and had no courage to pursue further. This time it was different.

The Decision

The idea of a beautiful and unspoiled landscape of Swedish Lapland did not leave me, though. On the contrary, I could not get rid of the captivating pictures of the Lappish wildlife out of my head. ‘Enough is enough!’ I thought. I was fed up with the feeling of failure and so many broken promises of ‘starting tomorrow’. I thought that this land of wilderness is worth a visit but to do so I should take a serious care for myself. And I started running. The very same evening I bought the plane ticket and there was no going back. I had about twelve weeks to carry out my plan before I went to Swedish Lapland.

The Running Routine

At first it was only 3 kilometers a day but I was gradually extending the distance. I started feeling wonderful. The effects of the regular physical exercises along the pictures of a perfect Lappish landscape kept me going. I had a few bumpy mornings when I had no intention of a long run but the ultimatum of a close journey to Lapland encouraged me to stick to my routine. After a few weeks I felt excited not only with the distance I was able to cover but most of all with the thought of the near travel beyond the Arctic Circle.

The Journey

The day finally came. It was the middle of the Italian summer and the temperature went into the extremes. I prepared my backpack, all necessary equipment, comfy shoes, waterproof jacket and my camera. I flew from Venice to Stockholm and continued the journey by a night train to Kiruna. I remember waiting on the platform and watching other passengers. To my surprise, there were trekkers heading north to walk the King’s Trail too. In a train compartment, I met a retired couple with light backpacks who showed me their map and shared their stories from the trail. I felt superb. The Swedish countryside seen from the train window was a wonderful green introduction to my long awaited holiday.

The group of the passengers from the train took the bus from Kiruna to Nikkaluokta. Later that morning I finally saw her: Swedish Lapland in its glory. Standing there, at the beginning of the path and breathing deeply I felt that eventually my dream came true. The weather was not bad and I started my long walk. I covered a seventeen kilometers’ distance in no time and I fully enjoyed the view of the highest peaks surrounding the mountain hut Kebnekaise Fjällstation. The fatigue of the journey and the first-day walk was bearable and I felt grateful for the previous weeks of hard work. I felt asleep with a thought in my head that I finally found the harmony that I was looking for.

The King’s Trail

Next ten days, I immersed myself in the wilderness and simplicity. Getting the water directly from the stream, chopping the wood, drying my clothes, eating outdoor, and doing all these activities with no rush was a return to the roots. The harmony filled my mind and heart. Walking the trail was magnificent! I was waking up with a sunrise and didn’t feel tired. I was enjoying the breathtaking views in the morning and early afternoon. The bottom of the valley was full of vivid autumn colours and the peaks around were covered white with the first snow. The evenings spent in friendly wooden huts full of joyful people were a nice conclusion of every day. Gradually, when I was covering the distance of the trail, the words in my head were filling up with the new meaning. The silence around was like nowhere else. The landscape was vast and pure beyond my imagination, and the relaxation after the sauna was like I have never experienced before. I was overwhelmed with how little I needed to feel happy.

The Marathon

All good things come to an end. On my way back home I made a decision to keep going back to Swedish Lapland as often as possible. The trip to this land with dramatic landscape was a reward for my patience and resistance. After my first visit, I had enough motivation to continue my training. The running routine turned into a full-scale preparations to a half marathon, and after completing it I also run a full marathon twice. Ever since my first visit in Lapland six years ago I run a healthy lifestyle and I keep my running routine.

I think that we all need these powerful turning points in our lives. This experience helped me to construct a healthy routine, and to find a harmony in what I do. I found Swedish Lapland to be my turning point. The powerful experience of the pure nature, the simplicity of the life on the road and the outdoor exercises changed me. I feel privileged that I could visit Swedish Lapland and that, through the beauty of the nature, I found peace within myself.

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