Green Ribbon Expedition - Anna Blackwell
Ambassador Anna Blackwell is an adventurer, writer, speaker and photographer with a love of the outdoors and pushing her limits. This has led her to pursue numerous adventures, from kayaking across Europe to spending three months walking 1,000 miles across France and Spain alone. To keep up to date with her adventures, follow her on Instagram (@annablackwell).
The Green Ribbon Expedition
Stepping off the small boat, I heaved my overpacked rucksack onto my back. Ahead lay a short 3km hike to the Treriksröset, the cairn marking where Sweden, Finland and Norway meet in the Arctic. From there, a not-so-short hike of 1,000km.
This was the start point of my Green Ribbon expedition, a solo trek of 1,000km across Arctic and Northern Scandinavia following the mountains on the Swedish-Norwegian border. I’d spent the previous few months getting kit together, mapping a route and working out the logistics of posting ahead packages of food to collect along my route, and now it was go time.
Over the next eight and a half weeks I made my way south, wild camping almost every night and carrying everything I needed. My legs and body quickly adjusted to the 25-28kg I had on my back, while mentally I got used to going up to five days at a time without seeing a single other person.
As with any big solo adventure there were plenty of highs and lows. During the first week or so, I experienced more mosquitos than I had in the rest of my life – and that’s saying something as growing up I spent most of my summers in Sweden! Even worse, these mosquitos were so vicious and determined that they would bite through multiple layers of clothing and insect repellent.
Shortly after escaping from the worst of the mozzies, the weather changed and for what felt like eternity I was trekking through either torrential rain or thick cloud. These conditions proved to be one of the biggest challenges I faced, as staying motivated and positive can be difficult when you’re alone, tired and sodden, with no views or company to distract you. On top of that, my boots and socks were almost constantly wet as there were very limited opportunities to dry things out.
That said, it was undoubtedly worth it for all of the sensational, amazing moments: the views of mountains that stretched across the horizon and which I could gaze at from the comfort of my tent each morning, fresh cup of coffee in hand; the peace and serenity of being somewhere unspoilt by civilisation; the satisfaction of reaching the top of a long, steep climb and casting my eyes across a new panorama of mountains and forested valleys; and getting to the end of the day and feeling like I had really achieved something.
Reaching the end of my trek was devastating. I had grown so accustomed to trekking every day, wild camping, and living out of a rucksack, and I wasn’t ready to leave it all behind. Sadly I did have to, but I have memories from that adventure that will stay with me for a lifetime.