Cabin Host Series – Teusajaure 2017

Every cabin that is served by the Swedish Tourist Organization (STF) is hosted by one or more mountain cabin hosts working as volunteers to make you visit both safer and more pleasurable.
The series introduces you to some of these “heroes of the mountains”!
Meet Elias in Teusajaure:

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Day 9 – August 5th 2017

09:15 Camp at bridge over Tsiekkimjågåsj
Obviously I needed some rest – first woke up at 05:15 and basically just turned around to snooze for a few minutes… Next things I know it’s three hours later. I knew that I didn’t get enough sleep the night before yet this was still an unexpected treat to be able to relax and go back to sleep this deep. I’m so grateful that I left the old need to follow a plan and perform behind and am able to listen to the body and it’s needs.
I have just over 40km to Staloluokta and get there in two days easily regardless if I leave here an hour earlier or later.
Mosquitoes are slightly less aggressive this morning than last night, still I had my PF coffee in the tent and not outside. Weather is really nice, warm and with a very slight breeze that I actually would love to be a tad stronger to keep the mosquitoes at bay and help dry out the moisture from the tent.
I have no idea how far I go today, just motor on as I feel like. The trail is so friendly that I can let my mind wonder of and I’m still refining the workshop I started planning the other day. Stopping now and then for a few minutes to write something down also gives me natural short breaks during the hike.
It’s good to have no hurry, and no expectations – just letting the day unfold and go with the flow.
I’m grateful that my knee is feeling better and expect this soft and nice trail, and the natural stride I can keep due to that, to help it heal out even more!
Feeling energetic and strong, the load has become a lot easier to carry and the weight is less disturbing.
I still have to adjust the straps every few minutes as they are loosening up for every step. Hopefully this will lessen as the weight goes down, I just have to get used to it and contact Arcteryx for help when back home again. I guess they’ll simply have to replace all the straps and buckles as they become worn out by use!
19:35 Camp at Pårka, between Låddejåckå and Arasluokta
While taking down my tent a young German couple, Fina and Tom, passed by and asked if I had any mosquito repellent. Thankfully I hadn’t looked in the top of the backpack before I packed the medical stuff and had some extra. We then hiked together on and off until arriving Låddejåkkå where they decided to camp on the other side of the bridge. Especially Fina was pretty tired, not at all being used to mountain hikes.
Mosquito situation was gruesome, yet not as bad as the night before, and soon we reached higher ground and caught some wind. The weather was changing rapidly and we got a few showers and one longer downpour mixed up with enough sunshine to give the iPhone battery some charge.
The trail was beautiful and soft, just a little more challenging as it goes more uphill than the part between Änonjalmme and Gisuris.
Along the tour I remembered having an extra buckle for the hip strap and stopped to change that. What a difference not to have to close it tightly back up all the time because it opens itself…
At the same stop I also had a small snack despite not being very hungry, which is a great sign of nutritional ketosis, by the way. Still I feel I should eat something every now and then besides dinner, and I really want this backpack to get lighter.
Being first down to Låddejåkkå I made some tea for all of us and had a few Mac nuts while waiting for the other two.
This has been a little like a walk down memory lane for me, back when I started hiking in Lappland 1990, southern Padjelanta was where I first began and soon I worked myself north to this region. It must be close to 25 years ago I first hiked this trail and at some point during the day today I remembered a camp site that used to be a favorite back then, located between Låddejåkkå and Arasluokta.
I decided to see if I could find it, and this, together with the ridiculous mosquito plague in the valley, made me continue up the hill after crossing the bridge at Låddejåkkå.
Now, I got to the area, yet didn’t take the time to look for the exact spot as I saw rain clouds coming up from behind. I quickly found a really nice spot next to a stream, cleaned myself up in an icy little waterfall and got camp set up. About 15min after I got into the tent the next rain shower hit the tarp, so good to be dry and warm with dinner in my belly.
Still early evening and I think I’ll just sneak into my sleeping bag early and call it a day.
I did around 21km today and quite some of them uphill. Tomorrow there are around 20km left to Staloluokta where I want to spend the night and revisit the sauna. I remember that sauna as one of the absolute best I’ve ever enjoyed and want to see if that’s still true.
Walking the trail today reminded me of returning to places a last saw as a kid, after all my later experiences the mountains here don’t seem as high any more, and the ascents are less steep and shorter than I remember them.
I’m incredibly grateful that the original plan didn’t work out and that I get to experience this part of Padjelanta again instead!

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Cabin Host Series – Vakkotavare 2017

Every cabin that is served by the Swedish Tourist Organization (STF) is hosted by one or more mountain cabin hosts working as volunteers to make you visit both safer and more pleasurable.
The series introduces you to some of these “heroes of the mountains”!
Meet Anders and Birgitta in Vakkotavare:

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Boots & Shoes

Probably the most important choice for a successful and pleasant hike is which shoes to wear. As much as taste and personal preference plays in there are a few things to consider.
We will here discuss different types of shoes and when to use which.
  1. Shoes v/s Boots – naturally boots are the best choice in wet and muddy conditions, when we face an abundance of shallow streams we need to cross and in rocky terrain where the extra support for feet and ancles is needed. Other than that we can roll by the rule of thumb that “the lighter the shoe, the faster the hike”. It just seems to be so much easier to move in light shoes than heavy boots!
  2. Leather v/s membranes – here we find ourselves completely in the realm of personal preference, some people swear on GoreTex while other swear at it. Basically the membrane shoe takes less work to keep you dry initially yet doesn’t even come close to the durability of a well maintained leather boot. The membrane tends to get clogged after some time leaving us with a shoe that doesn’t breath at all any more. On the other hand the repeated wear and tear of folding at the same spot every step we take tends to make it break and now the shoe has a leak. Plain leather shoes need more work greasing and waxing to keep them water resistant, on the other hand they can last for years to come if they’re properly taken care of. I’ve tried both and finally went back to plain leather after 8 years of membrane trouble. So, if you’re willing to put some work into your footwear and carry a small can of wax and/or grease I’d clearly recommend to ditch the membranes, they’re just not worth the downsides.
  3. Stability – as mentioned above the nature of the activity demand different sturdiness of boots. The soft shoes used for easy conditions left aside there are four different categories of hiking boots – A,B,C and D, A being most lightweight and soft, D very stable and used more or less exclusively with crampons and other special equipment. To cover most hiking areas I’d recommend a pair in the B/C category, enabling the use of crampons while still smooth enough for comfortable hiking under easier conditions and serving as winter boots in moderate climates.
Now, if you’ve been following me for some time you probably know about my love fore minimalistic barefoot shoes and, frankly, I’m using these as often as I can in my everyday life and on hikes. Just recently I found a pair of VivoBarefoot boots and tried them on for a weekend hike. They totally exceeded my expectations and I can not recommend them enough for easier trails and moderate packs.
For a full review of the shoe, click here!
Well, that’s about it – remember there’s no shoe that fits everyone and make sure that you really try your new ones out thoroughly. Being out in the wild and finding out that you have a bad fit and end up with blisters is a bad idea!
Good luck, have fun and love the experience!!!

Day 8 – August 4th 2017

07:30 STF Fjällstation Ritsem

Woke up early enough to make the 07:45 boat and still decided against it. No wind tonight led to a lot of moisture in the tent and I want to let it air out decently. At the same time it’s good to have extra time to reorganize the gear, I need to get some food out from the bottom of the pack. It feels encouraging to observe my consumption, though the backpack is still too heavy for my taste.

Grateful how the body adjusts to the load and handles it better day by day.

 I feel a little taxed by the long hike yesterday, especially the more monotonous 10km on the gravel road. Also I actually woke up hungry for the first time in a while, guess I used up more energy than I noticed yesterday.
Found some egg powder in the left-over-box here in the kitchen and I’m making an omelette with that and some cream powder from my pack.
Hopefully I can get everything except the tent and the Crocs to fit into the backpack now, which makes it easier to distribute the load and carry it more comfortable.
Looking to take the boat to Änonjalme and start walking the Padjelanta trail southbound. No real plan where to stop for camp, just want to get out of the birch forest and away from the higher concentration of mosquitoes!
20:45 Camp at bridge over Tsiekkimjågåsj
I spent a nice and slow morning at the fjällstation, got everything dried out and packed and chatted with several nice people. Partly the Norwegians that I shared trail with for some days now, and partly a party of five I first met last night and who just came out from a two week tour through Sarek. Especially one guy, who’s been in Sarek a lot, gave me some very useful tips for my tour through there. Still not sure I’m doing that, though, it all depends on the knee. Which today worked really well, by the way!

Just before 11:00 i left for the boat and got on board early. At the dock was a family of three with a dog who were visiting relatives in Änonjalmme and had a lot of luggage and boxes. I helped them get their stuff on board and we had a nice chat for the duration of the boat trip. After helping them get their stuff on shore in Änonjalmme, I started my hike at 12:15 aiming for Gisuris to start with.
The 15km hike went fast and easy with moderate intensity, I’d almost forgotten how much I love the soft and friendly trails of the Padjelanta national park. Only stopping for a 20min water break, at which I also got some writing done, I arrived at 16:00 and spent almost 30min chatting to the cabin host. He was about to bring his family back down to Änonjalmme for them to go home and still took thag time to meet with a stranger. I really appreciate this attitude up here!
As I experienced some technical issues getting the Ketonix connected with my iPhone I spent some time restarting both devices and didn’t have my PF coffee until almost an hour after I stopped.
I ended up spending a full two hours there and left filled with renewed energy.
Already back at Gisuris the mosquitoes were rather active and on the hike from there it got worse and worse as the sun started to go down and the wind disappeared. Once I found the camp site I immediately started getting the tent set up and connected the extra abside at once. Without it I would not have been able to cook for having all of those insects in my face… I really look forward moving to higher ground again tomorrow, hopefully there are a few less of them there!
On the other hand the heat just reached the area very recently and the mosquitoes hatched after that so actually this is their high season this year. Nothing to do but accept the fact and be grateful that they don’t bother me mentally as they used to do years ago. I seem to just ignore them most of the time nowadays and the good news are that their stings don’t really itch on me neither.

Anyway, it’s already past 21:00 and I didn’t get as much sleep as I’d liked last night so I aim for a swift close up of the evening. Just need to prepare tomorrow’s dinner and get myself ready for the sleeping bag!

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Backpacks

Alright, let me put one thing straight here: Size matters!!!
At least when it comes to backpacks. Chose a small one and you’ll have all sorts of equipment strapped to the pack and get caught up in branches etc, chose a big one and you be prone to pack a bunch of stuff you don’t really need and have to carry that stuff around. The obvious solution is to have several different bags for hiking trips of different lengths though a minute personal discipline when packing does the trick just as well.
Most important question to ask when choosing what to bring on a trip: do I really need this item badly enough to carry it around?
Remember that everything you pack you also need to carry, the general recommendation is to never carry more than 30% of your body weight an actually I’d like to reduce that down to 25% if you want a more pleasant hiking experience. For a solo hiker this can prove a real challenge, especially if you want to stay out in the wild for two weeks or more, so plan wisely and, once you decided to make hiking an important part of your life, get good light weight gear. In this case you really benefit from going for high quality!
In my experience a 70l pack is sufficient even for several weeks long hikes, I usually manage to keep all my necessary gear inside the pack and the limited size still prevents me from bringing too many unnecessary items. Most people just pack to much stuff ‘I’m case they need it’ and that just makes the hike harder. Believe me, everything takes longer and you will probably not have hours to read books anyway. So why carry them on your back?
I provide a list of equipment you need for safe and resenable comfortable hiking and I recommend you get the best (and lightest) products your budget allows in each category. Then comes the food you need depending on duration, nature and intensity of the planned hike (always pack a few portions extra, it’s a lot better to bring back some than to run out…) and now you can add whatever you like to bring as long as it leaves you within you weight limit.
Sorry for being repetitive, just remember no one is going to carry your stuff for you (if you’re not extremely lucky)
This is not the place to get into the smaller pack, like the ones you use for day hikes or to carry your stuff to the beach, simply because you’ll never hit a weight issue with these loads.
So let’s focus on backpacks for hiking anything from a long weekend (4-5 days) to several weeks, and now it becomes crusially important to be comfortable with your pack. Basically it’s going to be closer to you than your significant other during your time in the wilderness so better make sure you develop a great relationship!
Now, one question I get all the time is which backpack is the best, and, unfortunately, my answer is always the same… It depends…
Everyone of us is different and has different needs so let me walk you through some basics and then we’ll get into how you can find a pack that’s right for you.
Slightly simplified there are two basic types of backpacks (the third, frameless type just doesn’t do the trick when the load exceeds about 12kg (26lbs) and that’s enough said about them):
  1. Exterior frame – the go-to backpack for carrying really heavy loads, yet rather large and inflexible and just not necessary for most of us (frankly I’ve not used one in 25 years)
  2. Internal frame – a much softer pack that is easier to handle and does a great job up to 25-30kg (55-65lbs) depending on the model
For alround purposes I’d aim for a 65-75l pack with an internal frame, the smaller one if you’ll seldom or never go out for more than a week at a time!
Depending in when and where you are planning to predominantly use the pack determines if you need a waterproof one (considerably more pricy) or if a separate rain cover will do. Also there are great varieties in fabric quality, as a rule of thumb one can say that the sturdier the material, the heavier the bag. Only you can determine how tough your gear has to be to fit your needs!
The most important thing is to get one that fits your back comfortably enough to be carried for hours every day for a number of consecutive days and there’s no way to know that just from looking or trying it on in the store.
Most serious suppliers will let you try it out for some time and bring it back (careful here, it needs to be in impeckeble condition) if you don’t like it, and this goes for many online stores as well. Now, obviously you cannot take it for a hike to test it out for real, that would render it used… Yet loading it with 15, 18 or even 20kg (33, 40 or 44lbs) and carry it around inside for a weekend while going about your days would give you a pretty good feel for the equipment and how it fits your frame.
Frankly, if they don’t let you try it after purchase but tell you to decide in the store, I’d recommend you take your money somewhere else!
I hope this article is helpful to you in choosing your equipment, please leave a comment and let me know, ok?

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Peace // Claes

Day 7 – August 3rd 2017

07:50 Hukejaure cabin

Woke up before 07:00 which gives me just short of nine hours sleep again, I really feel rested waking up here in the mountains. Even if I don’t sleep through entirely but wake up several times during the night, this seems to fit my personal rhythm rather well!

Yesterday I noticed my left knee being slightly swollen and thick, this improved during the night yet still I’m grateful for a few rather easy hiking days in front of me.
I have no idea what happened yesterday to cause the swelling, at some point I must have twisted or over bent it.
Anyway, so far this is nothing that keeps me from hiking and hopefully it remains that way and gets better day by day. I just have to watch my steps a little better!

Today is a 20km moderate hike down to Sitasjaure cabin and from there I can hopefully catch a ride to Ritsem. Really would appreciate not having to walk a gravel road for another 20km…
We’ll see!

20:00 STF Fjällstation Ritsem

After a small breakfast and packing up everything dry again (had to hang the tent inside for a short while) I started today’s hike at 10:15.
First part is still Norwegishly wild and rocky with two new bridges at the first larger river crossing. It would have been doable without them, yet it’s so nice to use a bridge for a change!
After a short uphill slope of a few km the scenery opens up to a beautiful high plateau stretching for quite a while. Really easy to hike the soft trail and with no changes in elevation for quite some km that part is also rather fast.
Around halfway towards Sitasjaure there’s another short uphill climb followed by a downhill slope and then another huge plateau. Here the Sami have a village and they are doing some work with the reindeer herds this time of the year so the tracks from their 4×4’s and cross motorcycles are present everywhere.
They have been considerate, though, leaving the hiking trail widely intact. Part of the trails overlap, though, and I’m quite happy they aren’t out driving today!
At one water crossing I actually use the 4×4 trail as the stream is easier to get through dry there than at the hiking trail where it’s narrow and much deeper.

Arriving at Sitasjaure cabin after just over five hours (I stopped briefly to eat some Mac nuts about 2/3 into the hike, else I only stopped to drink some water) the host tells me he doesn’t know about any transport to Ritsem and so i start walking. In two hours not a car passed by in my direction, then I stopped for a short water break and three cars drive by just after each other. Two of the just pass without even slowing down, the third on graciously stopped and the man gives me a lift to my destination.
Unfortunately I missed the boat transport I was aiming for and got to spend the night here in Ritsem.
Upside of that is a warm shower and all the devices I need for keeping track of ketons are fully charged again.
Talking about ketosis I just need to mention that I hiked 30km total in just over 7 hours on a breakfast consisting of coffee, 30g FhatFibre, 4 Brazil nuts, a little jerky and 2 spoons of ghee. Followed by a snack of 50g Mac nuts.

Fully energized all the time, never feeling hungry or fatigued – I find this super cool!
Yet needless to say I enjoyed my well deserved dinner once I was out of the shower!

Looking back at a rather tough and super rewarding hiking day full of beautiful scenery once again I expect to sleep well tonight!

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Day 6 – August 2nd 2017

06:00 Camp just south of the bridge northwest corner of Vuolip Coarvejavri

Early rice after a good night’s sleep, woke up about 30 min ago and just lay there for a while to see if I’d go back to sleep, yet it seems 7.5h was what my body needed this time.
Being in no hurry this still gives me a head start towards Hukejaure and maybe it’s good to get there early and have the entire afternoon to rest, take care of equipment and spend quite some time it the sauna.

I have to admit the cold water in the creaks and lakes up here doesn’t invite to wash oneself more than absolutely necessary and I’m looking forward to feel clean again!

No rain tonight, just some moisture on the outside of the tent to wipe off before packing. The air is rather chilly and there’s no wind yet, very pleasant weather for hiking.
I’ll just have my fat coffee in the morning and then get packed up and leave!

21:15 Camp at Hukejaure cabin

Fantastic relaxed and pleasant day today, I started hiking just before 8:00 and did the approx 13km moderate trail in 3.5h without basically breaking a sweat.
Really nice hiking weather, no rain, sun fought itself through the clouds a few minutes at a time and perfectly comfortable temperature.
Just before crossing the border to Sweden (from Norway) I saw a majestic appearance in form of a female Sea Eagle flying by just some 50m in front of me. I knew they were around here and this was the first time I spotted one. Really a special feeling to see one at so close range in the wild!

Funny how I always notice being back on Swedish trails, they are so ridiculously well marked that my concentration level drops dramatically. And I can let my thoughts rest on things not even closely connected with the hike, today I created the outline for a workshop I’m doing later this year!

Just before I reached the cabin I met some people who came up the way I’m heading and got news from the trail. Always so useful to get updates on river crossings, train status, etc.
Arriving at Hukejaure I met the cabin host, Bosse and his wife Mari, raised my tent, had a fat coffee with some nuts and, after that break, started chopping wood, fetch water, taking care of equipment. And once everything was done – spent quite some time in the small sauna, getting decently cleaned up for the first time in almost a week! Wonderful feeling to be clean again!

Sun came out in the early evening and I got my iPhone charged back up to 100% again, I’m really impressed with this solar charger I got for the trip!

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in the cabin, having an early dinner, chatting with other guests and just enjoying the warmth. Now back in the tent for the night and I long to be back on the trail tomorrow, the stay here has been perfect and all my stuff is dry and good to go – time to get out in solitude again!
As much as I love the opportunity to dry out my stuff, get cleaned up and socialize with people – after one evening I want back into nature and I so much appreciate to retire to the privacy of my tent!

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes