10 September, 2017
I was making my way up through the wood, wary of the multitude of tree roots, not wishing to have yet another ankle sprain, when I saw the girl. She was standing on a rock overlooking the path and had a map in her hand. She was young, dressed in a skirt and sweater in autumnal colours, and with her auburn hair, she almost blended with the surroundings.
‘ Are you also looking for the Hittaut’, I asked.
‘Yes, and I can’t find it. I have been everywhere here, but with no luck. I hope that you can find it for me’.
I spent some time searching where I thought it would be, but with no success.
‘It should be in a line from these buildings’, I said, showing her my map, ‘but the problem is that from here one cannot see the buildings for the trees. If you stay here, I will go down the edge of the woods and work my way back up’.
I very much regretted not having brought my compass with me.
I set off through the undergrowth until I could have a clear view of the buildings, realigned and returned up the hill, trying to maintain a straight line, until I ended up not far from where the girl was patiently waiting. We thoroughly checked the area, but there was no sign of the marker. She decided that she had had enough and headed off to her next target. Left alone in the wood, I thought that it would be a good opportunity for a pit-stop. While standing there behind a tree, thinking great thoughts, I spotted the marker, not far from where we were looking. Twice I shouted to the girl, but she had gone too far to hear me.
Hittaut is a form of orienteering. Hittaut = hitta ut, which roughly means ‘find outdoors’ in Swedish. It involves some 130 numbered and coded stakes, spread over the circumference of Uppsala and the surrounded forests. They are colour coded – green = simple, blue = relatively simple, red = not so easy, and black = difficult. The web site is easy to use and at the end of the day, one can record the stakes that one has found. There are nearly 1900 people participating in Uppsala and there are 20 communes across Sweden involved in the activity. I have participated, to some degree, every year now since it started. It is a great way to get to know the city, particularly those parts where one would never normally go.
Most people that participate, do so on bicycles, for the distance from north to south and east to west, make walking something of a challenge. The girl that I met today, told me that she normally cycled, but preferred to do the parts in the woods and forests on foot.
Too bad she was not able to record Hittaut 32P.