Day 13 – August 9th 2017

09:20 Camp 1km East Alggajåhkå in Alggavagge

It’s been raining and quite windy all night and I rested/slept/stayed in my sleeping bag more or less twelve hours – I feel amazingly rested and recovered!
Now, for the last half hour or so there has been no more rain and I made tea and have some jerky and coconut oil for breakfast. Actually feeling hungry in the morning for once.
My plan for the day was to move on up the valley and turn east through Guohpervagge, yet for now it’s totally dependent on how the weather develops. Not having had a real rest day so far I’m actually ok with staying here, should the rain start pouring again. It’s just one of the things we can’t control, yet we can chose if we want to start a days hike in a rain storm or wait it out. I’m very grateful that I am in no hurry at all!!!

For now I’m happy having my tea and breakfast, when done with that I’ll just start get my stuff sorted and then see what it looks like outside. I’m rather positive that I’ll get back on the trail today as well!

19:40 Camp 300m east of Tjågnårisjågåsj on the mountain side above the trail

It turned out there was no more rain today – after finishing breakfast I wiped off the tent and the wind did the rest. Just before 11:30 I moved on with everything packed dry, just amazing how well things work out!

The actual trail runs rather far down the bottom of Alggavagge and that area was way to wet for my leather boots due to all the melting snow and the rain. I’m sure it’s wonderful and easy to follow at another time, yet today I was back at my reindeer tracks and the first part of today was through wet bushes again. Not my favorite, yet what a great metaphor for having to go through some trials and tribulations to get to the boon!
In this case, the wonderful soft and smooth mountain grass under my feet!
The higher part of Alggavagge is beautiful with huge plains o green grass and an abundance of camp sites, you could basically put a tent down almost anywhere up there.
This changes rapidly when starting to descend on the northern side, much rougher ground, more stones, yet still very pleasant to hike.
Crossing Guoperjåhkå was the real thing, murky water from the glaciers so I knew it would be cold.

 

It was impossible to see the depth so I chose a part with less strong current and left my pants off in case – turned out the water was never more than knee deep and the whole thing turned out to be just fun.
After walking a couple of hundred meters to get warm I stopped for coffee and a snack. At the same time renewing the tapes on my feet, they had become wet too many times to still stick.
Sitting there I saw two people with blue covers on their backpacks start up the hillside and turn the direction I was heading.
Turns out I catch up on them, two Swedish guys named Carl and Fredrik, a few km’s onward and we hike together to the next river crossing. Passing the emergency cabin at the bridge over Mihkajåhkå we stopped and looked inside – definitely a place to remember if ever in need for shelter in this area!
Also passed a German party of six people on the trail, I’m really quite surprised how many people move around here. I thought everyone was doing Sarek through Rapa valley and Rouhtesvagge.

Anyway, after the first river crossing over Mahtujågåsj, I continued by myself again and, once again, went for the reindeer tracks as the trail pushed through the wetlands lower down on the mountain side. Also I had my first close encounter with a reindeer herd on this trip, really nice to see them close up again. Especially the ones born this year are so adorable!!!
Little later I get to the next river to cross, Tjågnårisjågåsj, and find a nice snow bridge over the stream. Now, let me get one thing straight here, I don’t normally use snow bridges for crossing rivers and I certainly don not endorsed doing so! It’s potentially very dangerous as one can never know exactly how strong or thick the snow is or when or why it might break.
My decision today was built on two facts, first that an entire herd of reindeer had come this way before me and their tracks were all over the snow (and they probably didn’t cross one by one…) and secondly that I could see from both sides that the snow was over 1m thick and I had no reason to believe it would be thinner towards the middle.

That said, every situation like this has to be analyzed separately and one better be very sure, or else go downstream and wade!

This time all went well and I’m off to another night with amazing view and great, fresh air!

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 12 – August 8th 2017

07:20 Camp at Alajavvre
Almost like a clockwork I now sleep for six full sleep cycles per night and wake up rested after around nine hours. It’s just amazing and I really hope to get used enough to this rythm that I can keep it up once home again.
This morning I woke up to the first beams of sunshine reaching my tent and start spreading some warmth on a rather chilly morning.
The night was pretty cold and I have a lot of condensation on the tent, one thing I haven’t really solved yet with this tent is how to get sufficient ventilation to minimize water condensing on the inside of the tarp. Thankfully it dries out pretty swiftly with sun, wind and some help from me wiping of the bigger drops.
It’s such a nice morning here and I feel like I have all the time in the world – I’ll just get my day started and the slowly motor on in the direction of Sarek.
Probably because of the cold night there are very few mosquitoes out this morning and I’m frankly not that keen on going down oven a hundred meters in elevation as there might have been warmer down there. My original plan is to hike Alggavagge to Gouhpervagge yet if there are to many mosquitoes I might go for higher ground.

However it’s been just amazing to enjoy my first cup of PF coffee outside and having the warm coziness of the tent dragging me back in, instead of the buzzing insects driving me!

And, talking about PF coffee, I’m upping my intake in the morning a little and just had a second cup. I’ve noticed my Ketonix readings going down the last few days and, thought I can say I’m definitely in nutritional ketosis from how I feel mentally, emotionally and physically, I’d like to test if more fat early in the day affect the measurements.
I can say, from the fitting of my clothes, that I used up some body fat and it might just make adding a little more nutritional fats necessary to start accessing more of my stores.
We’ll get a hint of that during the day, more on this tonight!
18:40 Camp 1km East Alggajåhkå in Alggavagge

Again I feel super lucky – I stopped early for the night, it was just after 17:00 when I found this beautiful spot with a view in all directions! Made camp, had dinner and just made a cup of tea when suddenly the rain started pouring down again after quite q few hours stop with blue skies and even some sun. And, looking out, I can see that this is going to go on for some time!

So, not only did I find another perfect camp site, I did it just in time to have everything ready when the downpour started, enjoying the warmth and comfort of a dry tent while listening to the falling rain – isn’t life just wonderful?!

This morning I got going at quarter past nine and followed the shore of Alajavvre for quite some time. Soft, friendly ground, so easy to walk on, and an abundance of campsites everywhere along the valley with pretty small streams merrily flowing down the hillside. Just a breathtakingly beautiful place!
Towards the eastern end of the lake the landscape turned wilder and rougher with more stones and rocks, yet still very easy to walk. At one point I ran into a marked trail that I didn’t bother to follow, preferring to find my own way as I didn’t known that this trail would help.
After turning northward to get around Nuortap Rissavarre I kept rather high on the mountain side to avoid the wetlands around the lakes and soon enough I could round the northern edge of this mountain.
The bridge over Miellädno was easy enough to spot from above, the tricky part was to get there without getting into wetlands or to much bush, turned out there were enough reindeer tracks to help out.
The bridge itself was nothing for the faint hearted, it’s in pretty bad shape and has a sign saying “This bridge is part ad a construction site, stepping onto or around it is prohibited”. Good thing that no one was around to enforce this rule…

Anyway, crossing the river any other way was out of the question, even of I a little later spotted a broader area about a km south of the bridge where wading might have been possible. I did have to change shoes to cross Gainejjågåsj and the water temperature was clearly below what I call pleasant.

Without even changing back into my boots I climbed the hill up to Alkavare Chapel and took a break outside. Until the first rain came, that is, then I went in for a little while. When the first shower had passed I changed into rain gear and continued my hike, soon after the next downpour came. At first I thought about turning back, yet I thought it would be just another shower, and there were some people showing up at the boat landing place at the lake and heading for the chapel. Funny enough I preferred the rain over strangers this time…
And I was right, the shower stopped after just 15-20 minutes and soon after I was fairly dry again. Except the bottom of my rain trousers, though, the trail went through scrubs and low bushes and they were wet from the rain, so shoes and trousers continued getting their share of that water.
The bushes and thicket continued for almost 7km and the trail was easily lost several times, yet always found again soon after. The original trail is drawn very close to the lake and there it’s rather easy to find and follow. Later, along Alggajåhkå, it leads through wetlands and with the conditions here right now I had to find another way, my boots can’t take that much water in a day without serious leaking. So, I was back on the reindeer tracks again…
If you haven’t tried hiking through these areas it’s really hard to explain how much energy it takes. Not only physical, through going back and forth and pressing on against the vegetation. It’s also mentally taxing as one needs to stay concentrated on finding the track and, at the same time, watch the steps.
I’m always very relieved once I’m through an area with this kind of vegetation and I sincerely do not look forward to them.
Anyway, all in all it has been another amazing day up here and I had a lot of time to contemplate life in general and some things specifically. It’s just amazing how simple life can be when we’re close to nature and far from the (so called) civilized world. When I’m fed, warm and dry I really don’t have much need for anything else out here. So how come I ‘need’ all that stuff back home to consider myself happy? I don’t know for sure, yet my best guess is habits. And habits can be changed by will!

 

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 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