Hell Week! What is it? Well, we didn’t know either. Our amazing one year Adventure Academy program ended with this mysterious term about which our leaders didn’t want to disclose any details in advance. We just knew that it will be a tough challenge in the mountains examining what we’ve learnt during the whole year. The goal was to check if we are ready for our summer adventures.
The only information we received before was: pack your backpack for four days in the mountains and bring your own food for the same time. The last part of the order made me calm since I was afraid our food supply would be restricted. What a relief.
We gathered in Stockholm on Wednesday morning to leave to the mountains. It took around 5 minutes until our food was confiscated. I still thought it would be returned to us in the evening. How naive I was. Yes, our 60 hours without food has started.
The worst part of the starving for me was actually in the car. Since I had a very small breakfast I got hungry very early. It took around 12 hours until the stomach calmed down and my body started to use my supplied energy (I don’t know from where but obviously there is). Finally, I was not hungry anymore. I just had a weird empty feeling in my stomach but nothing annoying.
When we arrived to Funäsfjället we could enjoy a nice late sunset in these charming Swedish mountains. Our first task was to cross a river. It was interesting to try how to cross a deep river with your backpack. We were cold but we didn’t get any food of course to warm up. Cool that my classmate Kristian got the idea to cook salty water. It was surprising how it warmed us up!
Next morning we were woken up at 8 o’clock. Pretty decent sleep and no wonder we didn’t receive any breakfast. Instead we got a challenge: To climb as many 1000m high mountains as possible during 12 hours. It was a beautiful day, surprisingly warm for the beginning of June. Last year at this time there were still people skiing. This time we could spot only the last small traces of snow. Great time for some hiking but without food?
Twelve hours hiking with a 20kg backpack resulted in tired but surprisingly not that hungry Jarda. Instead, I got sunburnt. Yes, the Swedish sun can be tricky. I hope to learn from this mistake which I’ve done already twenty-eight times for next year. Good that we were about to start camping and resting. However, a herd of reindeers showed up so we had to leave further 4km away not to scare their newborns.
Before we arrived to our new camping spot it started to rain like hell. It looks like our leaders ordered Hell Week all inclusive- 36 hours without food, sunburnt, tired after the whole day hiking in the mountains and completely wet. I was glad that I didn’t underestimate my packing and brought enough extra clothes. Finally, around 22:30 our tent was set and we could go to sleep.
Not for long! At 2:30 we got an alarm with information we have to leave somewhere. Our leaders took the Hell Week seriously and cut us off four of five survival needs: Food, Warmth, Sleep and Information. Cool that we still had access to the last one- water. I don’t want to sound like a superhero but I was very surprised how well I was managing. The only big difference from normal Jarda and Jarda on Hell Week was that Hell Week Jarda became very quiet. I think my body set this surviving mode to save energy.
The day got intense of course but with great activities. Besides long walking distances, we got an opportunity to canoe in a valley and to try via ferrata. I really enjoyed that day even though we had to do everything with our backpacks. Again.
The day ended on a ferrata cliff above a deep valley with a beautiful viewpoint. The only thing which was missing for real happiness was a cold beer and food. Our leaders saw though that we might need some support to survive the rest of the Hell Week so we got two fish and a few pieces of vegetables. Not much but enough to make 14 hungry Hell Weekers happy at least for a short time. Our amazing classmate Eva was the only one not showing any remarks of exhaustion so she started to cook. I don’t know how she managed but her fish became definitely the most tasty fish in my life. It was not a big portion but simply a delicacy.
Next morning after a decent sleep I woke up relieved. That didn’t last long though. When we packed our backpacks again and when we started to descend the mountain to meet our leaders again I got a huge crisis. I think my body expected to get back to normal eating habits after the piece of fish so my body escaped the surviving mode. I think that was the reason of my huge exhaustion. When we met our leaders we were told to mountain bike the whole day. During the whole Hell Week I was most annoyed that we never knew what is going to happen. The lack of information was for me the biggest problem of all five needs for survival, worse than hunger or insomnia. This time the information didn’t bring relief though. I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t manage another day full of activities without new energy.
We started to walk towards the bike rental shop and I was already thinking how long it will take until I give up. But suddenly we turned to a different direction, to the home of our rector and there were her children welcoming us with the song from the Rocky movie and especially with a table full of continental breakfast. Completely unexpected. Yes, we managed it. The Hell Week was over. I never thought that a look at ham with bacon can cause happy tears. We made it!
My last words are many thanks to our leaders who organised for us this tough but very valuable and educating experience. I am glad I could test my limits in a controlled and safe environment. Would you dare to try your limits too? I recommended it for all adventurers.