Angeliqa Mejstedt lives in Västerås, Sweden, and is currently studying for a master's degree, but when she is free, it is hiking in nature that attracts her. For Angeliqa, outdoor life is not about any competition where you have to get the furthest or highest, but instead it is the joyful, simple and relaxed that is in focus. Angeliqa has walked countless hiking trails in Sweden, but also made exciting hikes in countries such as the USA, Malaysia and Spain.
In today's interview, Angeliqa Mejstedt shares her best tips on hiking trails, packing and how to easily get started hiking as a beginner. You can also read more at The hiking blog, where Angeliqa constantly offers tips and inspiration.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do when you are not hiking?
My name is Angeliqa Mejstedt, I have been running the Hiking Blog since 2013. When I'm not hiking or blogging, I like to read books (I'm a real book nerd and book hoarder, the specialised section at the City Library in Stockholm). Västerås is my favourite section - you can learn anything you don't already know 😉 ), practice karate or do yoga.
I work as an HR specialist in a personnel department - but have taken a leave of absence to study a master's degree in Strategic Communication and Journalism. I have a degree in human resources from Uppsala University and an MBA. I live in the centre of Västerås and long for the forest and mountains very often - in the family's croft on Ängsö I like to spend weekday evenings and weekends.
The blog becomes a kind of valve between everyday life in the city and the longing for the next outdoor activity and I am driven by the contrasts between city and nature, between nature and the changing seasons and the joy of community and the tranquillity found in nature.
What is the best thing about hiking?
For me, hiking has never been about the actual transport from A to B. I'm not someone who counts kilometres, metres of altitude or wants to get there as quickly as possible. What makes me love hiking is discovering the surroundings and experiencing the contrasts in nature.
The contrasts between city and nature, the contrasts between the seasons and the contrasts in weather changes. There is something meditative about being out for a long day, living close to nature, getting by with the simple act of sleeping in a tent, making a fire in the evening.
With the word Hikefulness, I want to try to put into words that feeling that inveterate outdoorsmen know very well but may find it difficult to describe to others. When the experience of nature becomes a pause for breath, something that occurs when we sit down in front of a campfire together after a long day of hiking, look out over a mirrored lake or sit on a sun-warmed rock, smell the moss and earth, hear the leaves of the trees rustling in the wind. Being at one with nature and the moment we are in right now - when there is no then or later - just here and now. Then we talk about Hikefulness.
One of my favourite quotes is "Nature does not hurry. Yet everything gets done." I like to think about that - how much we hurry and rush unnecessarily. Things need to take the time they need to take - no more, no less. It is not possible to shrink us humans as much or as long as we want by squeezing more and more things into a shorter time or by constantly multitasking.
Dare to disconnect - even if only for a moment. In nature, I find it easier to let go of everything that belongs to city life and the big city, and perhaps it is precisely this contrast that makes me love hiking and outdoor life. The community and the breathing space that exists there.
If you are not used to hiking, how do you get started? Are there any networks or joint tours?
Whatever your dreams or goals, I think it's easy to move too fast. You might envision a week-long mountain hike and then the dream of starting to hike feels unattainable. But start close to home, discover the beautiful coastal landscape, walk in the beech forests along one of the lowland trails that exist.
Start by camping in the garden before you go away for a while. Or hike from cabin to cabin instead of bringing a tent. This will give you a good taste of the mountains and the hike, but you'll be able to carry a lighter load - and if the weather happens to be bad, you'll know that you'll be both dry and warm in the evening.
Another great tip is to join other more experienced hikers - you may already have them in your network without realising it or you may find new hiking buddies. For those who don't want to hike on their own, there are many different organisations and associations that organise hiking tours all over Sweden, and some simple tricks worth trying to find new hiking buddies in your local area.
Angeliqa Mejstedt's tips for finding someone to hike with:
- Friluftsfrämjandet has hiking groups all over Sweden. Check with your local branch to see what hikes are planned for this summer.
- STF offers guided hikes around Sweden.
- Talk to friends and acquaintances, maybe an acquaintance of an acquaintance lacks hiking company?
- Put up a notice at the ICA with your contact details.
- Start a Facebook group for those who want to hike near you.
- Register for Fjällräven Classic or any of the other hiking events taking place and pre-hike with other participants.
I did something as simple as deciding on a time and place - Mondays at 19.00 and a place here at home in the centre of Västerås where I start every week on a 1.5-2 hour walking tour.
I created a group on Facebook and invited my friends - and so far I haven't walked alone on a single Monday but have been joined by old colleagues, training mates, family and friends, it has even given me the chance to meet new acquaintances which is very gratifying. This is a simple thing everyone can do - invite each other - invite to undemanding walking together.
Otherwise, I have started the Facebook group The Hiking Blog Community where I invite everyone to take each other on hikes. We have had several people meet through the group and hike together, but it is also a group to ask questions, share experiences and maybe just send a picture from the weekend's adventure to some like-minded people.
Can you give your best packing tips for the hiking trip, Angeliqa Mejstedt?
Haha, less is more must be my best tip - but I'm pretty bad at living by it myself, so I really want to encourage others not to bring the good-to-haves. For every extra kilo in the backpack, there is a lot of wear and tear on the body and unnecessary energy that could have been spent on enjoying the surroundings instead.
The most important investments you make as a hiker are your boots and rucksack - a comfortable fit, adapted to your body and the activity you will be doing can make all the difference to the success of your trip. Take the time to ask for help and, above all, try out the equipment. Think about which items can have multiple uses, e.g. a large scarf can become a scarf, a turban to protect you from the sun, a picnic blanket or a blanket.
Essential items that Angeliqa mejstedt always has in her pack:
- Storm-proof matches
- Map and compass
- Thermos with hot water
Angeliqa Mejstedt's top tips for hiking trails:
- Kungsleden: There is a total of 400 kilometres of hiking here. One tour that has (quite rightly) been voted the World's Most Beautiful Hike is between Nikkaloukta and Abisko, 110 kilometres, and those who wish to do so can make a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Dag Hammarkjöld. A real challenge is to climb Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest mountain.
- The High Coast: Here you hike in the World Heritage Site of the High Coast, along sandy beaches, up mountains with fantastic views of the archipelago and the sea. There is also primeval forest with 200-year-old trees, caves and fantastic hiking.
- Lake Grövelsjön: There is hiking for all levels from several days in roadless terrain or pleasant day trips from the mountain station where you can take a boat across Lake Grövelsjön and then hike back. From Grövelsjön you can quickly reach the Norwegian border when hiking. The Swedish side has snowy mountains that do not reach more than 1000 metres above sea level.
- Sarek: Challenging hiking for experienced hikers can be found in the high mountain area of Sarek located in western Jokkmokk. Sarek has no marked trails or mountain huts. For those who want to experience hiking in real wilderness.
- The Jämtland Triangle: An hour's drive from Åre, the Jämtland Triangle is a perfect beginner's hike where you can stay overnight at mountain stations and eat good food in the evening. The hike goes between the three mountain stations Storulvån, Sylarna and Blåhammaren. One of Sweden's most popular hiking areas.
What are the best hikes you have done outside Sweden?
I have hiked in the amazingly beautiful Alps in South Tyrol - the Dolomites. There were such amazing rock formations and to be able to hike above the clouds, with silhouettes of rock formations all around, eat good food and just have a good time it can hardly be described in words. Like walking in a postcard. Straight up for what in winter are ski slopes.
One year I did a road trip through the US and did day hikes in different national parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. GC was one of the places I was most excited about - it's so cool for me who loves mountains to hike in an upside down mountain. Followed the Bright Angel Trail down to the valley, unfortunately not all of it because it would have required an overnight stay and I couldn't get a permit for that time period.
Have also hiked in the rainforest in Malaysia, in Rompin National Park, kayaking along the river beds. Being surprised by thunderstorms and going on walks to look for the giant flower Raflesia. Another day, walking along fields of tea plants and overlooking the tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands.
But by far the best walk personally was to walk the El Camino de Santiago. I started in St Jean Pied de Port on the Italian side of the Pyrenees and walked to Santiago de Compostella - it took almost a month and from a hiking point of view there are more spectacular landscapes to be found.
But there were amazing contrasts between the chilly mountains, walking across the dry hot meseta and then coming to the different wine regions like Rioja and walking between large fields of vine leaves. And hiking for so long in a row does something amazingly good to the body.
The trail sees around 250,000 walkers a year - so I was initially shocked by the sheer number of people (I'd kind of thought I'd be discovering the trail myself), but I came to see the encounters and the life stories I got to follow as one of the greatest benefits of the trail.
Have you experienced a mishap or something that didn't turn out the way you intended during a hike?
No matter how much you plan and prepare, things don't always turn out the way you expect. That's part of the charm of hiking. The weather and conditions can change quickly.
One morning on the Caminon, I woke up and was absolutely sure that I would continue the day's hike to the left, but after a while I started to meet hikers going the other way (a typical bad sign on the Caminon because there is only one way to go) so it was good to turn around and go the other way. It is in such unexpected ways that the brain can sometimes play tricks.
When I first climbed Kebnekaise, I had underestimated how tough the hike would be and started an hour late in the morning. I had a long way to go when the sky started to turn pink and the landscape slowly darkened. This is one of the times I've been most scared on a hike, because I was tired after a long day of hiking and it was hard to find the trail markers even in the light.
But it all ended well and I found my way back to the main trail just in time for the last light and counted myself lucky to have packed a headlamp in the small daypack to find my way back to the tent in pitch darkness.
Finally, a question we ask everyone we interview: What is your dream destination?
I dream of Norway. My sister is half-Norwegian and we have often been to the area around Trøndelag and Röros. But I dream of hiking in Fjordnorge, there are areas where the hikes go along mountain ridges with views of glaciers, fjords, mountain peaks and waterfalls.
It is nature that is geographically close to Sweden but much more dramatic. I want to sit on one of the white sandy beaches surrounded by mountains in the Lofoten Islands and kayak at sunset in one of the fjords and then camp on a deserted island.
Thank you Angeliqa Mejstedt for sharing your experiences and thoughts!
Top picture: Angeliqa Mejstedt on a hiking tour, photo: Sara Lansgren.