Ruth Aaqqii got into lightweight hiking to be able to carry her rifle and ammunition. Now she is on her way to finish Via Suecia. Unarmed, we want to point out.
Every hiker has his or her own story. But some hikers have very special stories.
Ruth Aaqqii moved from Germany to Norway when she was in her early 20’s. Then ended up in Ittoqqortoormiit, on the East Coast of Greenland, where she got married and have lived the past 15 years.
Last year her husband suddenly died and life got turned upside down. Not only did she lose the man she loved, she also lost her business partner, who she did tourist excursions with.
– This was during Covid so I felt sad and isolated and wanted to take a break and get away for a while, says Ruth Aaqqii.
She had read Wild six years earlier. The book is written by Cheryl Strayed at a point in her life when she thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s rapid death from cancer, her family disbanded and her marriage crumbled.
Cheryl Strayed made the decision to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America – from the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, and into Washington state – and to do it alone.
– After my husband’s death I read Wild again and could really relate to the immense feeling of grief and loss that Cheryl Strayed felt, but also the way a thru hike can serve almost like transformation of your life, says Ruth Aaqqii.
Another reason why she chose to do a longer hike was her growing interest in lightweight gear:
– I’ve been outdoor a lot; backcountry skiing, hunting, boating, traveling with dog sledges, but not hiking so much.
– I always have to bring my gun and ammunition if I leave the village. That means I always have to carry four kilos of extra gear when I backpack.
– So a few years ago I started watching videos about lightweight backpacking and then I learned about thru hiking. I got fascinated and thought maybe in the future I will try to go hiking for a month or so.
With her growing interest in long distance hiking and the sudden change in life it was more a matter of WHEN than IF Ruth Aaqqii would get on the trail.
– Because of Covid I didn’t consider the US. Sweden was easy to access, so I started to do research about hiking the full length of country. Then I found a video with someone who had done it, and just a few weeks later I heard about Via Suecia.
When we catch up with Ruth Aaqqii it’s day 99 of her thru hike since she started on the evening of July 21 at Treriksröset.
She’s having a rest day in Hjo in Västra Götaland. The days are getting shorter and the nights colder. She actually encountered a bit of snow on Bergslagsleden a week earlier.
– Right now it’s milder, but rainy, I’m so glad I’m having a rest inside, says Ruth Aaqqii.
– So far this hike have been really, really great experience. Maybe it was a bit more exciting up north, but I still enjoy to be out here and are looking forward to see Hallandsleden and Gislavedsleden.
When you read this post Ruth Aaqqii has a bit less than three weeks and 400 kilometers to go before she is in Smygehuk in the southern tip of Sweden.
– I still don’t know exactly what lind of life I want to create for myself in the future, she says.
– In mid-December I’m flying back home to Greenland, to get back to work and to spend time with family and my sled–dogs.
– What I do know, though, is that I want to continue to spend lots of time in nature. And I want to thru hike again.
TEXT: JONAS HÅLLÉN
PICTURES: RUTH AAQQII