Day 3 – August 4th, 2019

Camp at Vistas

What a difference to yesterday’s hike… I woke up early after just over 10 hours of sleep and had a really relaxed morning in and around the tent. As I was nowhere near sure what I would feel like once I got going I was ok with a very short hike, just 10km or so, going a bit further, or actually reach Vistas and reward myself with a sauna. After all, I must say I think I earned that sauna, even if it feels rather luxurious to indulge in sauna already on day three of a tour 😉.
The day itself was just beautiful, changing between sunny and cloudy, with a nice breeze greeting me whenever I gained some elevation.  Starting again just around 9:30, I kept a pretty straight course, aiming just west of Vardu and trying as much as possible to avoid changes in elevation.

Almost immediately I could feel the difference in my body, it was like I had woken up to the task and remembered what it’s supposed to do. Amazing what just two nights of good sleep and the absence of stress can accomplish! Stopping for water just once I took my first 10 min break at the lake just west of Vardu to rest a little before the descent to the bridge over Gaskkasjohka. The downhill slope is not very steep yet pretty steady and I could definitely feel my quads and knees being challenged, yet no hesitation and no feelings of weakness. Having only had coffee in the morning I stopped for a midday snack once I had cleared the bridge and spent just over an hour relaxing in the nice weather. Staying just long enough to meet two other guys heading in my direction arriving when I left and staying for lunch. 

The climb up to Njunni was challenging conditioning-wise and I had to stop and catch my breath several times, almost resembling some interval training. Yet contrary to my expectations after seeing my performance yesterday, I could easily continue right away after reaching the top of the climb and just stopped for some water at one of the lakes. After passing the plateau, the trail once again leads downhill and the descent is partly rather steep. I took it slow and easy, very much aware that I’m not completely acclimated to the effort yet. A few ripe cloudberries became a welcome ‘excuse’ to offload the backpack for a few minutes and, upon reaching the bridge I stopped for a longer water break.

The last 5km from the bridge to the cabin is a really easy walk, yet still, I have to admit that I’d probably stopped early if it wasn’t for the sauna. And it was worth it, the sauna was formidable, I spent over an hour enjoying the heat and cleaning up myself and some clothes. In the cabin, I ran into Kristin, whom I previously met in Sälka during my 2017 Keto hiking experiment! So funny how we meet the same people in these mountains. After the sauna and some chat in the cabin I went to my tent and had dinner, now it’s running late and I’m rather tired so after a cup of tea it’s time for the sleeping bag!

Day 2 – August 3rd 2019

Camp East of Cievrrajavri

Didn’t get very far today, the second day of a tour is always hard and I had the added challenge of the last two weeks with lots of stress and sleep deprivation to deal with. Two nights during the last week was spent on different flights and I slept next to nothing, add to that way too little sleep overall and I just had to accept I’m way below my usual game! The backpack is heavy, yet not uncomfortable and I really like this one better than the old one when it comes to carrying a heavy load. That said, it’s still about two years ago I had a pack this heavy and it takes a few days getting used to it. Anyway, I slept really well, woke up early and managed to go back to sleep until 7:30. After a few cups of coffee, I packed all the gear and got on my way up the hill. As mentioned above it was heavy and I took short breaks more often than usual to catch my breath and get back into the game. At one point I even took a fall… nothing serious yet a good reminder to take it easy when carrying a heavy load. The hike through the valley is beautiful, soon after leaving the campsite, the trail disappears and it’s truly off the beaten path, only a few stone pillars to be seen at random distances from each other.

Orientation is super easy, though, just need to get the general direction right and, once You see the ‘Renvaktarstuga’ (Reindeer watchers cabin), just aim to the left side of that. It’s recommended to cross the river upstream (west) of the cabin as the banks get steeper downstream and the river is also harder to cross there.
This wasn’t an issue this year, water was generally scarce and I got rather dehydrated at times. The river crossing was a joke in comparison to what I had here in previous years.
Stopping for a short water break I suddenly spot this magnificent reindeer trotting across the snowfield all by himself without even noticing my presence.

After the crossing, it’s easy to find the trail that goes from Kebnekaise towards Vistasvagge, yet I stayed east of it to save myself some elevation, originally planning to camp at the foot of Vardu.

On the way, I found this spot and am really happy I stopped here. A few extra hours of rest in addition to some km less will help my legs recover and get ready for the rest of the tour!

Taking it a little easy at the start and let the body get used to the effort is key to having an enjoyable experience during the rest of the tour! 

Day 1 – August 2nd 2019

Camp 800m (0.5 mile) N/E Garmasbakti

Nice and short first day of hiking, I arrived In Nikkaluokta just after 4:30 PM, bought some gas for the camping stove and left more or less immediately.

Following the Kings Trail (Kungsleden) towards Kebnekaise resembles walking down a gravel road and I was grateful to pass over the first bridge after about 3km (2 miles) where a small trail takes off to the north.

Passing through the birch forest the trail climbs slowly up the hillside and soon reaches the tree line and opens up a view of a beautiful scenery! I just continued until I reached a good stream of fresh water, found a nice spot and made camp. First dinner outside in ages tasted amazing and I look forward to an early night!