Day 6 – July 29th, 2020

Camp at Nissonvaggijohka 

And another interesting hiking day comes to an end. I slept really well, probably a lot better than I would have in the cabin with four others, and woke up just before 7 am. The rain had stopped and I went out and wiped the tent first thing, hoping that everything would dry out completely after I had to make camp in light rain and bring the wet stuff inside last night. While having my first cup of coffee the sun broke through the clouds, yet 15min later there was another shower. And once again I wiped the tent down 3 or 4 times before I could get my gear packed.

Leaving just after 12:30, I was on the trail for just 20min or so before meeting three young guys, Ludvig, Alex, and Sven, who were camping farther down the valley, and had a nice chat with them for a few minutes.

Continuing down the trail, I soon got to a river crossing where I had to change to get over, and while drying my feet on the other side, the rain started again.

A quick look told me it would be a bad one, unfortunately, it turned out even worse than that, and heavy rain followed me most of the remainder of the valley. I was wet down to my underwear with nothing else to do than continue and hope that the wind and my body heat would dry me up. Good thing it was a warm day! Besides the rain, another shower soon followed, the hike down was as smooth and easy as always.

So relaxing to be on a trail again and not have to focus on every move! Once I reached the second bridge, the rain had stopped once more and I had a short water break, enjoying the majestic water masses flooding the rain heavy river before the mosquitoes forced me to get moving again. 

The trail through Bessesvaggi, muddy on a good day, was a joke – obviously, not many people use it so it’s overgrown with bushes, the ground and rocks slippery and completely unreliable, and in many parts, the trail served as drainage for rainwater. The view, though, was just as breathtaking as usual!

Basically resembling hiking in a stream! I slipped quite a few times, and took a couple of falls, hitting my left knee pretty hard on a sharp rock on one occasion. Though the pain was manageable, I had the feeling something really gone wrong and once my camp was set, I checked it out… Diagnosis would be ‘traumatic prepatellar bursitis’, which basically means that the bursa between the kneecap and the skin has become inflamed by an injury.

Nothing dangerous, yet the knee is slightly swollen and hurts when I walk, and especially when putting pressure on the area. For that reason I think I will just go down to Abisko and take a train back home, hiking with an injury doesn’t make sense, and more importantly, could affect other people in a not so good way. Considering this is the first time in 30 years of hiking I actually hurt myself, I think a should at least just be smart about it.

Day 5 – July 28th, 2020

Camp at Vierrojohka, about 1km down valley from Mårma cabin

What a strange day… I woke up in the clouds and the rain showers chased each other all through the day.

I wiped off the tent four or five times before I finally managed to take it down reasonably dry and get going at 3:45 pm. 

Looking at the weather I should probably just have stayed put or descended to Vistas, yet sometimes I’m just a little stubborn. So I headed for Mårma pass, and initially, the weather seems to get better, clouds rose and I actually had some visibility during the first ascent.

Now, that said, I had to admit that I was far from recovered and still felt the efforts of the last few days. In short, the climb was way harder than I expected it to be, yet I forwent the opportunity of making camp at Vassajavri, as the weather improved some more and I really wanted to get to the other side of the pass. On my way up to the river crossing some clouds drove in and just before I reached the streams, it started raining again.

As I approached the start of the last ascent, the rain was pretty hard and driven by a cold wind. It was uncomfortable, and I pondered going back to the nearest possible campsite, getting on with the pass tomorrow. Yet again my stubbornness kicked in and I moved on… It was rough, and I felt everything but strong during the climb, frankly I had to stop and catch my breath more often than I care to admit, and I just motored on knowing that every step took me closer to the top of the pass, even as I barely could see the next stone marker in the clouds.

Descending on the other side turned out to be even harder, the clouds were thickening and I had real difficulty finding the markers for the trail. Thankfully, I’ve hiked here enough to have a general idea of the stretch, and that experience saved me from getting into any real trouble. Finally reaching the valley, it was delightful to hike a halfway decent trail again, and I started looking forward to having my well-deserved dinner inside the cabin and get out of the wind.

Once there it turned out that a party of four had made themselves comfortable inside and obviously didn’t want to share the space. I asked politely if they really intended to turn a hiker away in this weather, yet when they started blaming COVID 19 and contamination risk out here in the middle of nowhere, I had it. I told them, they were behaving way too hostile and unfriendly for me to want to deal with them and continued down the valley, knowing that the next good campsite would be a while. Luckily, or rather looking intently for a spot, I found a decent site way closer than I remembered and got my camp set reasonably dry. The rain hit hard again during dinner and continues as I write this. We’ll see what happens during the night and morning!

Day 4 – July 27th, 2020

Camp at Vassaloamijavri

Pretty much slept through the entire night and woke up just before 6:45, feeling well-rested and pretty recovered from yesterday. The morning was super sweet, the sun was shining, light clouds blew across the sky by a mild wind. I enjoyed myself thoroughly in the stillness and serenity of the place and the moment, and was in no hurry to leave! Finally, after about three hours or so, I had my stuff packed and ready, leaving Unna Reitas behind once again.

My first stop was to be Nallo, and the hike down there was smooth and easy. Lots of snowfields mid-valley and wonderful weather.

Had to change for the river crossing when reaching the main trail between Nallo and Sälka, yet it was uncomplicated and due to the weather only pleasant!

Arriving in Nallo after about three hours, I stopped for some snacks and found some 100% cocoa powder in the leftovers department. Mixed with some of my cream powder and hot water, it served as a nice variation to my usual coffee or tea! The next stretch down to Vistas was so much more wet and muddy than usual, and the crossing almost had me change shoes, though I did make it across without getting wet!

Vistas is one of my favorite cabins, and I played with the thought to just raise the tent nearby and spend the night, yet I was really looking forward to camp at Vassaloamijavri again. And so, I just had a coffee with cabin host Tove, whom I met at the same cabin in 2017, and then move on.

The stretch up the mountainside is strenuous, and closing in on 25km this day didn’t make it any easier. I took my time, still had everything set up and ready before 7 pm, the cold wind and staggering amount of flying insects keeping me from taking a bath in the lake as I originally planned. It just has to be warmer than slightly above 10C for me to go swimming in a lake considerably colder than that!

Day 3 – July 26th, 2020

Camp at Unna Reitas cabin

Got my favorite camping spot here, actually, no one else is around, and the cabin is filled with construction material. No loss on my side, with the weather clearing up during the day and the sun shining warmly in the late afternoon, dinner outside was a no brainer!

This morning everything looked a little different, the weather was still very moody and I got away rather late. A group of four turned up at Kaskavagge last night and we had some coffee and conversation together in the morning.

They planned to head for Tarfala and just before 11, I left the company heading up Kaskasavagge. One look at the overflowing waterfall north of the river made me cross the bridge and hike the southern side westwards.

Caught a few drops yet no real rain and I took it really easy, not having a definitive plan for where to stop, and knowing that my body is still adjusting. After crossing several small streams, I reached the one larger river crossing on the stretch. It was a sketchy one… The stream originates from the lake up the valley and the glacier at Kaskasatjåkka adds to its flow. After the heavy rain for the last several days, the stream was rapid even at the wider parts, and I had to look around a little to find a possible site to cross. Frankly, I should probably have scouted the crossing without my pack first to make sure it was safe, the blueish/green color made it clear that the major part of the water came from the glacier. And it was ice cold, so I took my chance after picking a line where to cross. It went well, yet it was probably the toughest and most dangerous river crossing I ever performed up here.

Reaching the other side I could barely feel my feet, I had some fresh scratches I didn’t know when they happened, and it took some time before I was feeling ok again. Walking with numb feet in this area is a danger in and of itself so I just had to move on in a very focused manner until my feet warmed up and I regained full control of them. Continuing westward through the valley, I saw several really nice spots, stopped at the lake for some tea and snacks, and here the sun really came out and it got reasonably warm.

Now I started playing with the thought of reaching Unna Reitas, the clouds opened up and the weather was becoming even better. From the lake onwards I found a lot of awesome snowfields to use and got on pretty nicely.

Finally, the climb up the pass was naturally physically demanding and I could feel how my body still needs to get used to the effort, yet with the beautiful weather, it was a real pleasure.
At the start of the climb I observed how one of the snowfields had partly caved in, reminding me how important it is to actually make reasonably sure the ground i stable before passing. Anyone who thinks that any snowfield is good for passing, please think again, ok?

At the highest point, I could even see both peaks of Kebnekaise,  the southern one admittedly slightly obscured by clouds.

The final stretch down to the cabin was easy and pleasant, the snow still soft enough to allow for controlled descent, and more snowfields than usual even on a lower elevation.

Arriving at Unna Reitas cabin, I saw a lot of construction material both inside and outside the cabin, apparently, someone finally decided to do some dire needed repairs and replacements here!

After dinner in the sun, tea inside my tent, and, to my surprise, having a small rain shower hitting the tent, I’m very happy with the day and look forward to an early sleep. Still not 100% recovered from the head cold I caught the week before, I guess!

Day 2 – July 25th, 2020

Camp at Kaskavagge

What a rough second day, I was stoked when I finally could get inside the safety cabin and dry out. I woke up early and took my time in the tent, looking out at about 7, the weather was ok and I wiped of the rainwater from the tent before making coffee and having a small breakfast.

Leaving just before 8:30, I was on the move for about 20min before I had to change into rain gear. From then on it was pretty much wet all the rest of the hike, and I’m so grateful I had the wind from behind.

Day two is always one of the most tiring days physically as the body is entirely unused to the effort. Today added the mental exhaustion from walking on wet on slippery rocks inside the clouds, at times only 20m (60ft) visibility. My original plan to reach Tarfala was obviously off – even with a company that tour would have been pretty sketchy, going the route by myself would have been outright irresponsible.

So I decided to go to the safety cabin Kaskavagge, and then decide further. I had to be meticulous about the orientation and stay a little higher on the hillside to avoid wetlands towards the center of the valley.

The weather was rather nasty and there wasn’t really anywhere to get out of the wind so when I reached Kaskavagge, first priority was to get dry, then have some food. Hours later I knew that I had gotten myself colder then I thought – it took several hours before I felt really warm again.

At the time I already had dinner as well and made the decision to stay and spend the night camping at the cabin.

Day 1 – July 24th, 2020

Camp north of Garmasbakti

Just a short hike today, SAS rescheduled my flight a few times due to the COVID-19 situation, and I ended up starting my tour in Nikkaluokta at about 5 pm for logistical reasons.

So almost the same start as last year, only I went a little farther up this time, making camp right next to the small lakes.

Really a beautiful spot and so far the weather is way better than the forecast, fingers crossed that it continues!
Aiming for an early night, I hope to wake up with a dry tent and head for Tarfala, should the weather be really wet I probably take another route as the climb down to Tarfala is just a little bit too unpleasant to do in lousy weather. Steep, slippery, and with lots of loose gravel it represents an unnecessary risk and I made up my mind to enjoy this tour to the fullest! Time will tell 🙂

Day 30 – August 31st, 2019

Camp southwest of Darfaloalgi

Once more it started raining during the night and when I woke this morning just before 6 am, I found myself in another cloud.

As soon as the rain got lighter, I went down to the station to enjoy my morning coffee and read inside. The weather was improving during the late morning and after wiping the rain off my tent a couple of times I finally could break my camp decently dry just before they started serving lunch at the restaurant. Pork roast with broccoli, cabbage, pepper sauce, and salad – needless to say that I spent quite some time devouring the fresh food! Afterward, I needed some time to digest all I’d eaten and had quite a few cups of coffee in the meantime.

I never planned to go far today, I just wanted to put a few km between me and the station and enjoy my last night out on the mountain. Just a couple of miles down the trail I found a nice place uphill from Kungsleden and right by a little stream. Perfectly quiet and serene, the only sound is from the stream and very soothing. 

Cooking dinner I found that the gas burner of my stove seems to be malfunctioning in some way I can’t fix here and now. So finally there’s a payoff for carrying a spare burner! Now I’m up for a nice cup of tea it two, and then it’s time for the sleeping bag.

Day 29 – August 30th, 2019

Camp at Kebnekaise station

Well, the rain came in hard during the night and was still falling when I woke up at 6 am, needless to say, I just turned around and went back to sleep. Next time I awakened at just after 8, it had stopped and I started my day with wiping rainwater off the tent for it to dry in the wind. Another brief shower had me repeat the procedure half an hour later, this time the weather was kind and I packed up everything more or less dry! The sky looked a lot friendlier and I started the hike wearing my normal hiking trousers, and never had to change into rain gear the whole day. Starting on the slight downhill slope towards Sälka and soon turning south on Kungsleden I moved rather rapidly on the well-traveled trail.

The view of the valley is always beautiful yet the erosion on the trail gets to me and for some time I was playing with the thought of taking a detour through Goubirvagge and over the pass down to Tarfala. Still a bit sore after the long stretch from Alesjaure to Nallo, I decided to be smart and do the easiest route. Still covering 26km, I really can’t pretend that it wasn’t strenuous enough, even if I could move pretty fast. The stretch is mostly rather flat with no major changes in elevation and the heavy rain during the night had added some water to the area, showing off some impressive waterfalls along the way.

Arriving at Keb station after just under 6 hours of hiking, I was lucky enough to get my favorite campsite high up on a small hill. Great views up and down the valley and a nice breeze helping to fight off condensation inside the tent. After a hot shower and a visit to the common room of the station, I returned to the tent and look forward to rest and lunch tomorrow!

Day 28 – August 29th, 2019

Camp above Sälka 

Wow, I definitely paid for eating that gorgeous chocolate cake yesterday night, the gluten caused an upset stomach and all the sugar got my heart rate up to around 80 and kept it there until after midnight really impairing my sleep during the first hours of the night.  When I finally woke up at 8:30, the weather wasn’t even close to what I had hoped for, and I quickly abandoned any plans of taking the summit of Nallu this morning. Also, my legs and feet were still weary wafted yesterday and I looked forward to a slow morning and a short, relaxed hike up to Unna Reitas. Anna came by my tent to say good morning on her way out for a day tour, at the same time pointing out that clouds were drifting up the valley from Vistas. Having everything dry I didn’t want to take a chance but packed up and moved into the cabin for another coffee and some reading. After some time Nial joined me and we had a nice conversation until I was ready to leave around noon. Right then we got company of two guys I already met in Alesjaure, Staffan, and Micke, stopping for lunch on their way to Sälka, and we had a brief catch up before I moved on at 12:30.

The hike up to Unna Reitas was just as relaxed as I planned, I was in no hurry, it’s just a short stretch, the trail up to the river crossing is so pleasant and I could cross without changing into my crocks. Entering Unna Reitas vagge and continuing up the valley, I was surprised and impressed by the stone markers. I’ve never seen the route this well-marked, someone really made an effort to make this valley easier accessible for anyone!

On the way, I saw a bunch of reindeers pretty close up which is always a nice experience. Coming over the last ridge before seeing the shelter, a cold and strong headwind hit me and I was grateful to soon be in the shelter! Soon enough I spotted the pass I wanted to climb tomorrow and saw that the snowfield had been melting away more than I could have imagined. A closer look confirmed that there was no way to get up there in a satisfactory safe way and I knew I needed to make a change of plans. Basically there were two choices: Unna Reitas vagge down to Vistasvagge and then back the same way I entered the mountains four weeks ago, or Back down to Stour Reaiddavaggi, going down to Sälka and follow Kungsleden towards Kebnekaise station and then Nikkaluokta. I decided to pick the second option, for the sole reason that I have not been much in that area this year. Also, it’s enough offseason for Kungsleden to be less crowded and it’s actually a beautiful piece of the mountains! So, after a break with tea and snacks inside the shelter, I started heading back, cutting the corner into Stour Reaiddavaggi a little and going diagonally downhill towards the trail.

Once on the trail, it was smooth and easy hiking, soon I met Staffan and Micke again at a river crossing and we followed along for a little while until I spotted a nice place to spend the night and decided to respect the incoming clouds and make camp. It turns out the rain wasn’t as imminent as I thought, still I’m very happy with my campsite overlooking the valley and Sälka cabin!

Day 27 – August 28th, 2019

Camp at Nallo

I had a good night at Alesjaure and woke up with a dry tent once more so I packed my stuff before heading to the kitchen for coffee and meeting Bosse, Kristofer, and Tommy. 

The weather looked very promising and I was rested after the two last days and pretty eager to get going. Shortly after 9 we wished each other a good tour and parted, them heading towards Abisko and me going south on Kungsleden for a few km to get into Unna Vistas vagge.  This time of the year the trail isn’t nearly as busy as just a week or so ago and I had a relaxed walk on Kungsleden before heading towards Unna Vistas. Once at the valley there’s quite a climb to get into it, beautifully opening up the view north and south and totally worth the effort.

There’s no real trail but a few random stone markers if one cares to look for them. It’s easy enough to just pick a route rather close to the stream, and start climbing. 

Soon the ground levels out and the valley opens up before me, there’s a trail rather close to the lakes and I prefer to move higher up and pick my own track. The ground for the most part is soft and pleasant to walk! Soon reaching the highest point inside the valley and heading downhill to another beautiful lake after an easy river crossing.

At the far end of this lake, there are beautiful spots to camp before descending to the next, lower one. The trail continues to follow the southern shore and the ground gets stonier, very soon the trail leads over a large and rather steep rock field.

If the thought of spending an hour or more on rocks doesn’t feel exciting, or at least bearable, one should probably consider another route. This part of the tour is pretty hardcore! Soon after passing the lake, there’s another descent nearing where Unna Vistas vagge merges with Vistasvagge. This last part before exiting Unna Vistas the trail leads across soft grass and is very pleasant to walk. Crossing the stream coming from the eastern Bossos glacier is potentially challenging yet easier a little farther upstream. Normally it can be done without changing shoes!

Upon entering Vistasvagge I decide to leave the trail that descends down the mountainside into the valley and instead stay high up on the side, keeping my elevation. Probably this decision cost me both time and energy compared to following the trail, yet it was challenging and provided some fun adventure. I stopped for lunch with a wonderful view right next to a charming waterfall that I completely missed during previous hikes when following the trail.

The only real issue was crossing the stream from the Siehtagas glacier where I took a calculated risk I don’t recommend copying. Everything went well and I continued towards Stour Reaiddavaggi still staying at elevation. Shortly before turning eastward towards Nallo I found a bunch of ripe cloudberries and enjoy a couple of handfuls on the go.

Once inside Stour Reaiddavaggi, I start moving down the hillside towards the trail from Vistas to Nallo diagonally while heading up the valley. By then my feet, ankles, and knees were pretty fed up with scrambling along the steep mountainside, and hitting the trail was a real relief.

Originally I had planned to camp somewhere along the trail yet the nice weather made me continue all the way to Nallo cabin just to have the easy option of taking the summit of Nallu in the morning provided the weather stays this good. Turned out to be a great decision in any case as Anna, the cabin host I met in Vistas when she was in her way to start her duty, had a bunch of fresh Souvas (thinly cut smoked reindeer meat) and invited both me and another camper for dinner and a glass of red wine. Fresh meat and a glass of red was an unsuspected and pleasant surprise after a long tour.

And for dessert, she had baked a chocolate cake that I couldn’t resist despite the sugar and the gluten. With the meal came a lot of pleasant conversation and laughter, all in all, a perfect evening!