Day 11 – August 7th 2017

10:00 Staloluokta cabin
As I got to bed a little later than usual I slept till around 07:30, waking up rested and feeling great. Soon thereafter I heard the first helicopter fly in over my tent and realized that I could very well could have had my sleep disturbed by civilization even in this remote area.
Thinking about sleep I definitely need to take a look at my sleep hygiene back home, I always thought I was woken up by the light in the morning, sneaking in through melt black-out curtains, yet here it’s really light all night and I sleep like a log.
Maybe it’s the physical activity, and actually that might be a part of the matter, though I think I need to get of my devices earlier in the evening and start really unwind and relax quite a few hours before bed time.
Easy enough to check, screen curfew after 19:00 when I get back home.
The weather this morning is, again, just amazing. Mostly sunny, with some clouds passing over the blue sky and a slight breeze blowing just enough to keep mosquitoes down most of the time.
This normally not being a high season for mosquitoes has been thrown off by the late spring and summer and apparently they hatched less than two weeks ago. So what normally occurs in late June and early July is now coming at us. Still, as long as there’s a wind blowing everything is good and I’m becoming increasingly more distinguished at ignoring them even when they’re around in droves.
I’m having a slow and easy morning here, cooked breakfast with the bacon and cabbage I got yesterday and plan to leave rather soon. The plan is to cross through Sarek to Saltoluokta fjällstation, probably a 4-5 day tour totally off the beaten track.
Knee feels ok and up to the task, there are a few river crossings that might be a challenge and I have alternate plans to follow if I can’t get over at some point. Good thing is that I have a lot of time still and don’t need to hurry the slightest.
As social an animal as I normally am, I really look forward to these days in solitude before hitting the Kungsleden again in Saltoluokta.
20:20 Camp at Alajavvre
I lingered at the cabin until 12:15 when I finally left for the trail leading east. I don’t know if it’s the extra food this morning, the worn out socks and underwear I threw away yesterday night of the repacking of the backpack for better balance – for the first time the pack felt comfortable! Still heavy, yes, but comfortable!
To say I’m happy about this would be an understatement of biblical proportions!
The trail I chose to start by ascends from behind the ‘Kyrkokåta’ and leads up the hill. Though unmarked, its very easy to find and follow and soon leads through a birch forest you definitely don’t want to fight your way through outside of the trail.
There are a few forks, just make sure to stay left and you’re good!
I left the trail once out of the forest to gain some elevation and get more wind, the mosquitoes in the wood were rather obnoxious. The trade of was going slower and finding my own line until I was back on the trail again by the lakes way on the other side of the hill.
From there I stayed on it until it was time to leave it behind and turn east towards Alajavvre. The area held a lot of scrubs and low bushes and I found a reindeer track to follow through the thicket. If you ever go of trail here and find your own way, just make sure to follow these tracks as much as possible, they usually mark the easiest route – not always the shortest one, though.
Passing the lakes on the plain before ascending for the last part of today’s hike, I found a beautiful, sunny spot, with wind, where I had a decent break. This time I tried PF mixed in cold water, which worked great, and I didn’t feel any adverse effect in my belly like after the nuts yesterday. So, from now on I’ll add the nuts to my fat coffee in the morning and up the fat intake that way. Then I can stick to PF during the midday break and boast energy without getting slowed down.
Anyway, the valley leading up the Alajavvre was wonderfully green and lush, some tricky bushy areas further down, then opening up and really easy to walk. There was only one real river to cross and from the hillside I spotted a place where it was doable without changing and all went well, though the stones were quite slippery.
Remember, if you know you need to cross a stream and don’t known what it looks like farther down the trail, as soon as you spot a good crossing place, just go for it. You might not get over as easily later on!
At some point after my map was printed someone set up a reindeer fence in the valley and I had to follow it for some time before I found a part that was slightly folded and I could get through without causing damage.
Soon after I met a party of four coming down the valley and asking for tips on the fence and river. I must admit I was rather surprised to meet someone at all, it turned out they’re hiking from Aktse, through Rapa valley and now heading to Staloluokta.
After chatting a bit we parted and I continued on. Soon I reached the top of the valley and Alajavvre showed itself in the sunlight, beautiful, and with some Sarek mountains in the background.
I decided to continue on until I find a good spot and soon after I got this hill to camp on, a breeze keeping the mosquitoes away and I didn’t need the extra abside to cook. Just raised the tent and got settled in, temperatures have been falling quickly since the sun disappeared behind the mountains and I’m going to bed soon.
Tomorrow it’s time to enter Sarek!

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 10 – August 6th 2017

07:15 Camp at Pårka, between Låddejåckå and Arasluokta

Again I slept amazingly well, can’t say if it’s the ketogenic state helping with sleep also, yet I can definitely say that my sleep is better than I can recall from previous years up here.
Tonight again I got my ideal nine hours, dreaming a lot of good dreams, though I don’t remember the details I have a pleasant feeling lingering from the dreams.

 

Having the sound of the stream accompaning me through the night and morning is soothing and relaxing. I just love these sounds of nature, be it water flowing, wind blowing and even rain falling. There’s something genuinely connecting being out in nature listening to its sounds.

I really look forward to the hike today, I remember it as beautiful and rather soft with just one real uphill climb after Arasluokta. And I’m so glad getting to Staloluokta once again, going there was in my original plan as well, just now I come from another direction. I’m really curious how the place has developed since I saw it last, I still have to look up when that was, though it can’t be less than 12 years ago!

I’m very happy and impressed with how my body feels and works, though I eat very little during the day my energy is top notch, I feel strong and my mood is formidable. From a personal, subjective standpoint this little experiment is already a success.
Especially I can see an immense shift in my mental state and stability – earlier my mood was definitely more affected by the conditions. Now, I don’t know what part the ketogenic diet plays here and what is this effect of all the mental, emotional and spiritual development I’ve deliberately gone through over the last year – and I’ll probably never will.
What I can say is that when I went out of ketosis back home to prepare for the pre-hike blood tests, my emotional stability was affected and I didn’t really like that shift!

21:55 Camp near Staloluokta, view over Virihaure

What a beautiful day, the weather was just fantabulous most of the day with a short rain shower when I stopped to do my midday measuring of ketons. Just put my rain jacket on and waited 15 min, then everything dried up just about as fast as it got wet.
First part of the hike was mostly downhill to the bridge 4km north of Arasluokta, followed by a slow uphill stretch leveling out and then descending to Arasluokta about 8km from my starting point.

 

I continued past the cabin and crossed the bridge before taking a break to measure ketons and drink some water. As the rain started I decided to have a small snack as well, I wanted to wait for the shower to pass by anyway. Bad idea… The couple handfuls of nuts lay like a brick in my belly the whole ascent up the hill and really made it a lot harder than it actually is.
Excellent learning experience, though, not to eat anything without planning some time for it to digest. I got to try it with the PF and see if I tolerate that better as a quick snack, and if there’s a difference mixing it with hot or cold beverage.

Anyway, once the ascent was dealt with the trail was pretty much level and very comfortable to hike. I stopped for about half an hour at a small lake where the mosquitoes for some reason were almost nonexistent. And had a great Sit on one of the rocks in the sunshine, just one of these explicitly peaceful and serene moments in life. I’m so grateful I take the time to enjoy these opportunities nowadays, it has not always been that way!

Through the day I met a few people and pretty everyone warned me of the mosquitoes in Staloluokta, to the point that I played with the thought to camp up at the lakes.
Imagine my gratitude when I was met by a rather strong breeze while descending to the village and this wind staying almost the entire evening!
Shortly upon arrival I went up to visit the “kyrkokåta” – a small chapel build in the traditional Sami way of a hut. There had been one of the rare services earlier today and the pastor with his people was packing up to leave. As I met him once before many years ago I naturally introduced myself and chatted with him for a few minutes, then ending up helping out with the chores.
Apparently their was some cake left from after the service and as they learned I don’t eat wheat or sugar they left me some fresh cabbage, a pack of bacon (wow, what a breakfast tomorrow!!!) and a smoked and dried shoulder blade from a reindeer to cut the meat of for snacks. Frankly I felt like a kid on Christmas Day after basically eating the same food for 10 days and starting to think too much of eggs and bacon!
Amazing!!!

So, after a snack with fat coffee and reindeer meat I made camp and then it was time for the sauna. It was every bit as good as I remembered it, I did five rounds of sauna, each followed by a dip in the little lake next to it – and with an exquisite view!
I could easily have stayed for another round, yet my growling stomach insisted on dinner, and, experiencing so little hunger during the days here, I was almost grateful for the feeling of needing something to eat.
The cabbage was a nice add on to my usual menu of ground beef with veggies and fat!

The rest of the evening was comfortably spent lounging in the cabin, chatting with other guests and reading until I felt the definitive urge to retire to my tent.
I feel very pleasantly tired and relaxed, looking forward to another good nights sleep!

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

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