Day 23 – August 24th 2019

Camp at Vistas

Once more the rain stopped in the early morning hours and when I woke up a little later than usual, I started my day with wiping the tent to get it dry in the wind. After my morning routine, I said good morning to Patrik and David, and it turns out they brought a small Italian coffee maker and treated me to some real coffee! Yummy!!!

Around 9:30 we all get going, they towards the first pass, and I head down the valley.  My route is first pretty steep and rocky, yet soon the ground gets flatter and easier to walk as I get down into the valley.

Closer to the river there are soft grasslands that are really pleasant for the feet after all the rocks on the day before! The first river crossing was easy, I just picked a wide spot of the river and got over dry!

Still no real trail on the other side either, just stay on the flat grassland close to the river and all is good, after some time there are a few stone markers yet not really consistent in any way. At one point there’s a stream coming down from the left that usually cannot be crossed safely without change of shoes. I took the occasion to make a break in the sun and have some snacks and tea while my feet dried in the soft wind. Continuing down the valley there is sometimes a trail yet mostly not, and sporadic markers can be found along the route. As long as You keep the river on Your right-hand side and move down the valley it really doesn’t matter much if You have a trail or not.  Just be aware that farther down to the mouth of the valley, the trail is drawn wrongly on most maps.

The real trail is far higher on the mountainside than shown and trying to follow the map brings one in real trouble fighting the bushes and trees in the birch forest below! Higher up on the hillside, it’s easy-going and there are quite a few stone markers to follow. Now, the river crossing after exiting into Vistasvagge is also marked wrongly on most maps. There’s a crossing farther upstream that is clearly marked with stone pillars with an easily detectable trail leading towards it. Today only two of the streams were carrying water, yet both were pretty fast-flowing, one just below knee-deep the other slightly deeper. Once on the other side, there’s not really a trail but several tracks leading east through the light birch forest. It’s a really easy walk and soon gets one to the trail leading from Kaskavagge to the bridge over Vistasjohka. Following that trail down to the bridge and then the trail on the other side northwest to Vistas cabin is really mentally relaxing after finding one’s own track for a few days! On the way from the bridge to the cabin, I find a bunch of the birch mushrooms, more than enough for myself and I can share with the cabin host and some other guests! After making camp and having dinner I went back to the cabin and visited the sauna, so good to get really warm, clean up, and wash some clothes again!

Day 22 – August 23rd 2019

Camp at Unna Reitas

What a marvelous hiking day!

The rain had stopped sometime during the early morning hours and when I woke up I wiped my tent to let it dry in the wind while I went through my morning routine! Around 9 am I was ready to start the tour, by then Anders had already passed by my tent and said good morning on his way uphill for his day trip.

Once I rounded the lake the first ascent starts right away and carries all the way up to the top of the first pass. It’s strenuous enough yet never really steep or difficult and there’s a real trail to follow more or less the whole way up.

Once at the top, passing Gaskkasjavri on the south side, there’s a stretch of rocks slowing down the pace, then the hike gets less technical again. On the pass, there is a memory plaque for the crew of a helicopter that crashed many years ago around here.

Descending to Guobirjavrrit is comparatively easy, just remember to take it slow as some rocks might slide a little, and the river crossing east of the lake is normally effortless. This is also an awesome spot for a water break as the next ascent is pretty much completely dry!

For the climb up the next pass leading into Kaskasavagge, there is no trail and only a few random stone markers. Pretty much this part of the tour boils down to take and aim at the top of the pass and start climbing. This is the steepest part of the day and the whole ascent is generally very stony with lots of rocks, most of them stable and some that start moving when stepped upon. Slow and steady is the best advice for this part, it takes time to get to the top of the pass, and the view, both looking back down at Goubirjavvrit and forward into Kaskasavagge is absolutely worth the effort!

The descent into Kaskasavagge is less steep and there are often snowfields that can soften the track.

Coming down into the valley I first met two Finnish guys and then a Swedish couple, all heading for Tarfala – pretty crowded for this stretch of the mountains. In the middle of the valley, a couple of streams are found and this is a good place to stop for a cup of tea and some snacks. I was lucky and had my break in the midday sunshine! Here in Kaskasavagge are a few decent campsites to be found, no soft grass, but pretty even and flat. This is the time to decide if the last pass should be done the same day or saved for tomorrow. It’s a pretty strenuous climb so be honest with Yourself and Your company! On this tour, I was lucky enough to identify a snowfield that I could use for the majority of the climb.

So much softer for the feet to walk on snow, and also easier to pick a direct route up the slope. Still, there’s a downside in going straighter uphill – and that’s the greater physical effort that needs to be put forth. I had to make brief stops to catch my breath every once in a while during that ascent, providing the opportunity to enjoy the magnificent view!

On the northern side of the pass, there’s a huge snowfield covering most of the downhill slope. Today it was a little treacherous as parts were frozen and other stretches pretty mushy, so I had to take it really easy on the descent. Once at the bottom of the snowfield only a short hike over loose rocks remains before reaching the ‘cabin’ of Unna Reitas.

It’s more of a shelter and in pretty bad shape, I find it useful to get out of the cold wind for cooking and dinner and be able to sit up straight.

Sleeping is better in a tent, and there are a few spots that are useable, yet pretty much consistent of gravel and a little tricky to use. I arrived already just after 15:00 (3 pm), really early compared to my plan, and decided to stay for the night anyway. A few hours later two guys arrived to do the same tour the other way around the next day. Turns out one of them, Patrik works as a guide at Keb station, and his friend, David, is doing his first mountain hike ever. What an amazing experience to do these three passes right away on his first hike! We had a very pleasant conversation in the cabin, lots of laughter and good stories and it was later than usual before I hit the tent tonight!

Day 21 – August 22nd, 2020

Camp at Darfaljavri

Apparently more eager than even I imagined myself to get to that breakfast, I woke up already just before 5:30 and had everything packed and ready to go before the buffet opened at 6 am. I’m not going to bore You with details about the breakfast, let’s just say that it was as epic as ever and I ate a lot… Several cups of coffee later, I left the station at 1 pm for a very relaxed hike up to Tarfala.

The forecasts were all very clear – no risk of rain until late afternoon, and I made it almost 2km before the first shower forced me to change into rain trousers. Weather is obviously not an exact science in this area 😉! The trail between Kebnekaise station and Tarfala cabin is well used and virtually impossible to get lost on.

Worth noticing that part of the trail got washed away a few years ago and, because of the heavy use, there was almost immediately a detour created, involving two bridges and a stretch of trail on the other side of the river.  I turned on autopilot and let my mind wander freely during the hike, enjoying the soft uphill slope and keeping a pace that didn’t get me sweating. Stopping briefly outside the cabin I met, among others, an elderly man named Anders who wanted to chat more later so I promised to come by the cabin after pitching my tent further up the valley. I just about had my camp ready before the next rain arrived and spend some time in the tent cooking and having dinner before walking back to the cabin for a cup of tea and the promised chat. Inside the cabin, I met some more really nice people and enjoyed a pleasant hour before returning to my camp.

Looking forward to a good night’s sleep after my early rice this morning and an adventurous day tomorrow!

Day 20 – August 21st, 2020

Camp at Kebnekaise Station 

Woke up just before 6:30 as usual and enjoyed another slow and pleasant morning before everyone else camping around the shelter got going. Got slightly delayed by misjudging an incoming rain shower and having to wipe the tent dry once more, still I was on my way by 9:30 heading south on Kungsleden as I wanted to follow the trail up Singivagge this time to see what it looks like these days.

Soon I crossed the bridge over Singijåkka and immediately on the other side, followed the trail towards Singivagge. The trail is very clear and easy to find, follow and walk, first leading over soft ground and very pleasant for the feet, farther up the valley it gets increasingly rocky yet is still very well marked. Ascending past the ‘stonewall’ and seeing the meadows of Singivagge is always almost overwhelming, even knowing what it looks like, the beauty of this valley hits the eyes every time! 

I just love camping on the soft grasslands of this place! Today I didn’t linger but immediately headed north along the western shore of the stream, looking for a good spot to cross. The stream was swollen from the rain and I had to be a little patient before I finally got over on the other side without getting my feet wet.  The trail is continuously very easy to follow, people have really made an effort putting markers at regular intervals, some of them being real pieces of work. The ground gets increasingly stonier while the trail climbs up the valley and I was happy to be able to utilize a long stretch of snow to give my feet something softer for a little while.

Closing in on the last climb up to ‘Kaffedalen’ (Coffee Valley – the name points to this being the last point for a coffee break before going to the summit of Kebnekaise) the ground gets almost flat and there is an almost completely frozen lake among the snowfields. Following the markers for ‘Durlings led’ (Durling’s trail) I start climbing the north side of the valley while continuing the general move eastward. About halfway up the end of the valley, there’s a nice little stream with a beautiful small waterfall where I decide to stop for some tea and a snack. Just about five minutes after I got my tea ready, an ice-cold rain shower hits the mountainside and I packed up my stuff after a way too short break and continue the home. Soon I reached Kaffedalen, looked at the sky, and had to accept that the summit would be completely covered by clouds, and so I decided to turn southbound on the trail towards Kebnekaise station and skip the summit this year.

During the first stretch up Vierranvarri, I meet two guys, Thomas and Martin, and we hike all the way down to the station together. Turns out they went the 600km (about 400 miles) from Luleå to Nikkaluokta on bicycles before starting the hike to Kebnekaise. Pretty cool idea in my book! The trail downhill is partly very steep and sometimes really slippery due to lots of gravel and loose stones, it takes quite a bit of concentration at times. Farther down there have been people from Nepal building stairs into the mountainside and also a beautiful bridge out of stone over one of the streams.

Finally, the trail evens out far down in the valley and the last few km are really relaxed and pleasant to walk.  Shortly before reaching the station I find an acceptable spot for my tent and make camp before heading for a longed-for shower!