Changes to Wigan dad's sub-zero expedition

An adventurous Wigan dad is keeping his spirits up during a gruelling Arctic marathon despite changes to his expedition.

Father of five Mike Stevenson, from Orrell, had hoped to complete an arduous journey across 281 miles (450km) of Swedish Lapland on foot, to raise money for Bolton Mountain Rescue

Originally, the plan was to complete the Kungsleden (The King’s Trail) from Hemavan in the south to Abisko in the north, passing through the Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve: one of the largest protected areas in Europe.

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However, adverse weather conditions meant that Mike got snowed in before being rescued and returning to Hemavan to take a different route of the trail, one which is familiar to him.

Mike Stevenson
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Mike, who worked with the Bolton Mountain Rescue team for several years, said: “I knew the trails were going to be snow-bound with my flight out there getting cancelled and three days of persistent heavy snowfall.

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“I was practically digging my way out of Hemavan. I only managed 12k on the first day and 8k on the second and it became quite clear with the supplies I had, I was going to have to rethink.

“I could’ve picked up supplies in a nearby town but that goes against my ethos wanting to be completely self-reliant and unsupported. The other idea was to change the plan and get as far I could north

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Mike's camp in the mountains

“As I was setting up camp on the second day, some scooters came passed and told me the trails were really bad heading up to Armanass which was another 60k away. At that rate it was going to take me another three or four days just to get there

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“I always take the words of locals as gospel, the first thing I did when I arrived was speak to them about what to expect and the avalanche dangers. After that I just knew I’d have to rethink. We looked at different options so I said to the guys ‘let’s look at the alternatives and see if we could arrange a pick up.’

“My family thought it was like an evacuation but I told them there were no issues.

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“They said it would be a few days due to the weather but I reassured them that I had plenty of supplies and was quite content.

“I was then taken back to Hemavan and spent a few nights in a hotel before heading up to Kiruna.

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“I’m spending a few days skiing in the mountains and will still end up in Abisko at the end.”

Mike will still be heading along the northern part of the Kungsleden which he has completed before.

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This still gives Mike the opportunity to see the Northern Lights.

He also hasn’t ruled out taking on the challenge again at a later date.

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Mike, who previously traversed Siberia’s Lake Baikal, solo and unsupported in world record time, can’t explain why he takes on extreme challenges. He added: “I was disappointed because it had been postponed previously but stuff like this happens. It’s always a possibility.

“It will happen at some point, I’ve made some good contacts that will help. I could come at the same time next year and the trail be completely fine.

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“The stuff you see is magical that a lot people see on the TV or in a book.

“I can’t really explain it. I suppose it’s like for people who enjoy going to places like Snowdonia or the Lake District, it’s a similar principle.

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“For me it’s becoming normal as I move in circles where a lot of people do this sort of thing.

“I understand that other people may see it as a wow factor.

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“One thing I’ve always said is that if you have to ask why I do what I do, you probably won’t understand. Maybe the snow makes it more whimsical and the skillset you need to survive is what shocks people the most.”

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