Day 19th – August 20th, 2019

Camp near Kuoperjåkks emergency cabin

Wow, it was great to get out on the trail again! I woke up in the Kåta at my now usual time around 6:30 after another very restful night. I moved down to the cabin and got ready for the day, just to have a rain shower hit the cabin just about when I was going to start my hike. Another hour inside and another cup of coffee took care of that inconvenience and just after quarter past ten, I was on my way!

I choose Cuchavagge over Neastkevagge because the latter has a tendency to be pretty wet and swampy on any day and after the last few days with rain, I expected it to be just miserable. The trail was as nice as ever, easy to walk and as there are no real changes in elevation, this was a perfect soft start after the rest days in the cabin. After a little more than an hour I got hit by a rain shower containing quite a bit of hail and for a short time, I needed to put on my jacket. Staying true to my habit, I crossed the waterway upstream of the marked crossing, and as usual, did so without having to change.

Though there’s no real trail along the north shore of the waterway, the ground is soft and grassy, and it’s a wonderful stretch to hike! Cuchavagge presents, for the most part, amazingly soft ground that is very pleasant for the feet and joints. Some stretches are a little stony and on a couple of occasions, while going through the grasslands after passing the mid-valley point, the trail grows pretty faint.

Just keep at elevation and soon You’ll see one of the occasional stone markers again. It’s pretty much impossible to get lost when following a valley, the trail just makes the hike slightly easier than it already is anyway. After crossing the bridge where Cuchavagge merges into Tjäktjavagge, there are a few beautiful campsites just south of the trail and next to the river.

This was where I originally had planned to stop, yet it just seemed to early in the afternoon and moving on a few more km would give me so many more options for tomorrow. Continuing the trail until it merges with the ‘Kungsleden’ and then turning south on the king’s trail, I once more get reminded both of the beauty of this valley (which probably is the very understandable reason for leading the trail through here), and the very sad development of the trail itself becoming a wound through the landscape that would take generations to heal even if it’s use would be discontinued today.

Anyway, I aimed for the shelter at Kouperjåkka where I first met my good friend Helge back in 2006 to have dinner and check out what the weather was up to. During dinner, I had to move inside as the rain front hit the place rather hard and soon I had the company of a few gals working at Keb station going for a few days mountain run. Soon they continued towards Sälka and before I even finished my coffee another group turned up looking for a place to cook. Both them and I pitched our tents close to the shelter and all went back inside. Turned out that five out of the seven were physiotherapists, and soon we were engaged in collegial chatting and playing card games. All in all, I had a very pleasant evening, went to bed clearly later than usual and, for the very first time during this tour, actually experienced some trouble falling asleep…

Day 17&18 – August 18th & 19th 2019

Camp at Hukejaure 

Woke up early on August 18th, knowing that I only had about 4km to go to reach Hukejaure cabin, I looked forward to a few cups of coffee in the tent before slowly making my way. Coming out of the tent at a quarter to seven I looked to the east and saw a sky dark as Mordor… Immediately I decided for coffee at the cabin instead, got everything packed nice and dry, and arrived at Hukejaure shortly after 8:15 without having been hit by rain yet.

It didn’t take long, though, and it was pouring down. One heavy shower chasing another, and that’s how the day went down. In a break between showers, I went out and made camp in my usual place, the rest of the day went reading, chopping wood, cleaning up (unfortunately STF has forbidden heating up the sauna, so now it’s just a washroom) and socializing with the few other hikers there. It was good to have an easy day and I tried to get some extra snacks to compensate for the day before!

I got to bed pretty early and as always slept amazingly well on that hill behind the cabin. We had some rain during the night, yet nothing serious.

Still, I broke my camp right upon waking and hung the tent to dry inside, which turned out to be a good move. The sky that had looked rather friendly in the early morning and, ironically enough, I said to Freddy, the cabin host, that the weather was so much more promising than the last few days, soon grew darker and shortly it started raining heavily. The rain continued more or less constantly until 18:30, and by then I’d already accepted that I wouldn’t go anywhere that day.  It’s a good thing that I never plan for rest days during these longer tours, as there’s always natural opportunities coming up! Anyways, I decided to make a cool thing out of the situation and try a night in the Kåta that belongs to Hukejaure cabin.

All these tours up here in Lapland and I never before slept inside one of these traditional structures! The day itself was ridiculously slow as the weather was seriously gruesome, lots of reading, quite some meditation, bringing the Kåta into shape for an overnight stay, and not much else. Still, it went by pretty fast and I can tell that my body was pretty happy about the extra rest! And, there are definitely worse places to spend a day pinned down by bad weather than one of my top three cabins in the area!

Day 16 – August 17th, 2019

Camp on Huvki 

After waking up a few times in the early morning hours I finally woke for real just before 7 am and gratefully saw the sun shining on my tent. The rain stopped already sometimes before midnight and I had enjoyed a pretty undisturbed night here at Gautelis.

Bringing everything except the tent with me I relocated into the cabin and enjoyed a few cups of coffee, some breakfast and the stillness of early morning hours while going through my morning routine. My neighbor Annelie didn’t show up until about 10 which gave me ample space for myself. After breaking camp and packing everything I finished the book I was reading and left it at the cabin picking up another one. Finally, just before noon, I left the cabin and headed off towards Hukejaure, not really planning to go all the way today.

I felt I needed another night out on the mountain before visiting another cabin, even one of my absolute favorites among them. The trail is beautiful and easy to hike, so soft and pleasant after all the rocks yesterday. Still, I could feel the effort of the day before came with a cost and I had less spring in my steps than usual. A few times I left my pack near the trail and went off for some recon for later tours, as I was in no hurry at all.  The only time there might be some confusion around the trail is shortly before it crosses back over the border to Sweden and many maps still show the old stretch.

Just ignore the map and aim for the huge border marker on the cliff and, once there, follow the stone markers and orange paint from there on! The bridge about halfway between the border and Hukejaure has been destroyed and replaced by a simpler one that’s only for summer use. I had expected to find a campsite right nearby the bridge yet there was nothing suitable and I continued on my way, keeping an eye yet accepting that I might reach the cabin today anyways.

Finally, I found this place with soft, dry ground right next to a cute little pond on the mountain Huvki. Just minutes after I got set inside the tent I got hit by the first rain shower and have had a couple more so far.

Now it’s clear yet still very windy and I look forward to some reading and an early night. Hiking for hours into the strong wind, even if the trail is easy, is actually pretty tiring!

Day 15 – August 16th, 2019

Camp at Gautelis Hytta

What an awesome hiking day! I woke up early just before 6 am and immediately celebrated my decision to sleep indoors, the clouds were very low and I know I would have had a soaked tent again if I’d camped outside.

The weather was slowly improving and when I left the cabin just before 9, the clouds had lifted and it looked like it’d be a nice day. The first part of the day was very relaxed, the trail is easy to find and easy to follow, and leads through the wide valley without any real changes in elevation.

The only challenges were the wet bushes and the stream that I normally always get through with dry feet, yet today it was swollen from the rain and I had to change.

Shortly after the river crossing I stopped once more and changes into rain trousers against the wet vegetation. My hiking pants got strapped to the backpack to dry in the wind. After crossing the bridge towards Cainavagge the trail grows faint until reaching the main trail around the mountain.

Just make sure to climb the hillside until You find the main trail as fighting the vegetation without having help from the trail is unnecessary punishment on any given day. There’s a rather short stretch that is muddy, rocky and leads through tight vegetation, then the trail reaches elevation high enough to get out of the bushes and the view is totally worth the bushwhacking. From now on it’s a beautiful hike along the mountainside all the way to Cainavagge hytta.

Today I had a pretty hard headwind all that stretch and it was good to have a midday snack inside. Thankfully the Cainavagge cabin was open and occupied by a young girl from France, hiking the Nordkalotten trail northbound by herself. She’d spent two nights in the cabin to dry out her stuff and was about ready to leave towards Cunojaure and Unna Allakas. So, in exchange for her hospitality, I was able to give her some information on the trail ahead of her. After a good hour break, I continued on the trail towards Gautelis and met a few people right away who were heading for the cabin. The first river crossing was easy and I was then positively surprised that the trail had been corrected.

On most maps, it still shows a crossing of the river somewhat in the middle of the two Cainajavrrit lakes. Now the trail leads on the west side of the river all the way up to the upper lake where the crossing is so much easier. Just follow the stone markers and You be good, ok? By now the ground has already become very rocky and this is the theme for the next couple of hours.

The pass is almost exclusively rocks of different shapes and sizes, most are rigid but be aware that some could move under the feet. Personally I think the stretch is a lot of fun, still, I have to admit that it’s mentally demanding and pretty tiring to keep the concentration tuned up for the time it takes to get back onto solid ground way passed the pass. The wind kept blowing and got stronger after lunch and so really became a challenge, not only mentally but actually affecting the balance and precision when walking on the rocks.

Anyway, all went well, the Norwegians have done a great job marking the trail through the pass and the view is as usual stunning and well worth the climb! From now on the trail leads through a beautiful wild landscape that is so different from what You mostly find in these mountains.

By then I had made the decision to head for the Gautelis cabin and treat myself to a sauna, provided someone was there to let me in. A few km before reaching the cabin I could see the rain showers coming in over the lake and sped up a little to try to make it to the cabin before the rain.

I almost made it yet with about 1km left I got hit by heavy rain and had to get the rain gear out. Reaching the cabin I found the doors unlocked, someone was down at the lake fishing and I immediately started a fire in the sauna before getting sorted inside the cabin. Later I could set up camp between showers and after spending a few hours in the cabin listening to the rain outside and chatting with Annelie, who stayed inside the cabin, I got into my tent reasonably dry and it got time to call it a day!  The guys I met in Cunojaure said the forecast promised better weather over the next week or so, I hope to see proof of that in the morning!

Day 14 – August 15th, 2019

Cunojavrihytta

Wow, when I woke up first this morning just before 6 am and looked out at the cloud that was embracing me, suddenly the beads of water hanging on to the mosquito net of my inner tent made sense.

I have to admit I turned around, closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep in the irrational hope that the weather was just a bad dream and I would wake up soon… In reality, I lingered in the tent for another almost 3.5h waiting for the clouds to lift and then I felt I had to make a decision.

As any other way from here but back to Unna Allakas would take me higher into the clouds on unknown ground, the alternatives I had was either sit tight until the weather clears up at some point, or go back down to Unna Allakas cabin to get my stuff dry! I choose option two, and at just under 1000m of elevation I finally had the clouds above my head and not all around me anymore. The river was swollen from the rain yet I could repeat the trick from the day before, mainly by choosing the widest point for crossing and trusting my high shafted boots.

The rest of the descent was all easy, and I picked up quite a load of mushrooms on the way to have a nice lunch as some solace for having to go back.

And being able to share with the cabin host Thomas, who ironically enough had planned to open a can of mushrooms for his dinner! Within minutes of entering the cabin I had a fire going in the stove and my stuff was hanging to dry, I know how fast you can dry equipment when there is enough dry air and not too much stuff hanging there, and so I aimed to be all done before someone else showed up with wet gear, and leave the space for them to take over. As it turns out I spent a few hours by myself in the cabin, having a couple of pleasant chats with Thomas, and not until I started chopping some wood before leaving, the first people showed up! I had made the decision to continue along the trail through Norway southward towards Hukejaure as the weather situation has made my initial route too unsafe, and planned to camp at the bridge about 1km beyond Cunojaure hytta.

The clouds had lifted and the sky looked pretty promising with a small risk of a rain shower or two. Arriving at the cabin a first met a couple of Norwegian guys working on a new gear shed for the cabin and used the opportunity to go inside the new cabin and top up the battery of my phone. Turns out the guys occupying the cabin were just about to leave, had left some hot water on the stove and I sat down with a cup of tea. 

A little later I met a German guy who stayed in the other cabin on the compound and, in a gut feeling, I made the decision to stay in the small cabin the Norwegians just left. Staying in these cabins is so inexpensive it just doesn’t make sense to pitch a tent outside and sleeping in a bed for once won’t hurt!

Day 13 – August 14th, 2019

Camp at Bajip Gorzzijavri

Trapped in my tent for the last three and a half hours with one violent rain shower chasing the other outside, giving me just enough time to stretch my legs in between. Hopefully, there’s another break soon so I can get out and brush my teeth before taking an early night here. I woke up early after just 7h of sleep, whether due to the relaxed day yesterday or for no good reason at all, I don’t know. Staying true to my decision to spend a minimum of 24h in the same place, I enjoyed a lazy morning reading, conversing with other hikers and the cabin host. Finally, after all the other guests had left the site, I sat down inside the cabin for my meditation and have to admit it was a lot more comfortable than sitting in my tent. Just when I was ready to leave at noon, the danish guy I met on day 4 showed up and we chatted for another half hour or so.

My plan was to do the short hike up to this lake and let the weather tomorrow determine where to go from here. Legs felt really good and recovered and I moved faster with less effort than during the last couple of days. The hike took me up the first part of the trail towards Alesjaure and right after reaching the first ridge I turned right and followed the valley towards the southwest. Right before the little lake, in the end, I crossed over and started the ascent just next to the waterfall.

The climb was demanding yet not very hard and soon I reached the top of the climb and started following the northern shore of Vuokpi Gozzijavri.

A short stretch south of this lake the river separates into several streams and that’s where I decided to cross. I managed to get across without having to change shoes and get wet, though it took every ounce of creativity, balance, and skill, and probably it would have been faster to just change into the crocks.

Very soon after the crossing, I felt a few raindrops, turn around to look behind me and saw a wall of rain coming up the valley in my direction. Quick change of clothes and the hike continued up the valley until I reached my planned destination here. At this elevation, good campsites are pretty rare and I also felt a little pressed for time as the rain slowed down and stopped shortly after I reached the lake. I spotted a site from afar, moved slightly faster to check it out, and it turned out well enough. While I was pitching the tent the rain started falling again and it was impossible to keep everything dry inside.

In these situations, it’s more important to get the tent set properly, not always an easy task with the stony ground up here, and get everything inside. Any drops of water finding its way inside the tent can be dried with a cloth or towel, a little water inside is a lot better than getting soaked outside! Anyway, now almost four hours later, the rain is as strong as ever and the time just sitting here has got me ready for an early night.  Can’t do anything about the weather and, at least I’m dry, decently warm and well-fed – not too much else to ask for out here!

Day 12 – August 13th, 2019

Camp at Unna Allakas cabin

What a wonderful and relaxing rest day!

I woke up early after just over 9 hours of sleep and felt rested and ready to start the day. Once more I had to put in the effort of wiping the tent with the wettex cloth as some low clouds had embraced it during the night. Funny enough it seems that my normal morning routine here leaves just enough time for the tent to dry in the wind after I wiped it! Leaving the campsite at 8:30 I looked forward to an easy and pretty short hike down to the cabin.

And the contrast to the day before could not have been greater, how easy and relaxing to follow a well-marked and used trail again. I didn’t feel any need to stop except for drinking water once and arrived at Unna Allakas after not even two hours of hiking.

A rest day here in the mountains means also taking care of equipment and I started out washing some clothes, greasing my boots, making a mushroom omelet for lunch, make my camp, etc.  A group of three Germans I have already met twice before in the mountains previously (Tanja, Marcus, and Uli from Frankfurt) was already at the cabin and we had some great conversations. Uli and I also did some work together chopping wood for the cabin and the sauna. Still, there was enough time to relax, finish the book I’ve been reading and have a sizable dinner (I decided to try to overeat some today to compensate for the last few days) before it was time for the sauna. It feels really great to be thoroughly clean again, I even washed my hair for real and took the time to shave.

Clearly later than usual, it’s now time to hit the sleeping bag and get some rest for tomorrow. I’m in no hurry to leave here, just the opposite, I plan to stay until midday or so to give myself a full 24h minimum in this place! The sky looks pretty nice and I expect the weather to stay as good as it has been for the next upcoming days!

Day 11 – August 12th, 2019

Camp overlooking Valfojavrit

What a fun hiking day! I woke up early, again with a dry tent – guess I might have figured something out here.

Had a very lazy morning, weather was great, I felt relaxed and recovered, had an extra cup of coffee and said goodbye to my neighbors around 10. Had I stayed on the trail I would have been in Unna Allakas no more than 6 hours later, waiting for the sauna to warm up. Yet the nice weather and my energy levels invited to some exploring, and shortly after leaving the hut I turned southeast past a row of small lakes higher up on the mountainside.

Among the lakes, I stopped for some time as the sun came out behind the clouds and I really needed to charge my phone for photos, etc. This far north the morning sun isn’t strong enough anymore to do the trick with an iPhone. That turned out to be my only longer stop today and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the sun and read! Continuing I passed Stour Gearbil on its west side and turned east just south of it, aiming right at Jorba Gearbil.

During the ascent, I passed many small lakes, many of which were still semi-frozen, and quite a few places I’d like to camp someday. I was tempted to climb the summit of Stour Gearbil, yet decided against it due to the lack of water at the elevation I was at.

The descent to the lakes below was partly rather sketchy and at one point I needed to turn around and backtrack as proceeding would not have been safe. That’s also why I’m a little vague with the description here if You want to try this area, You need to have the experience to make the right decision yourself on the spot.

Otherwise, I highly recommend staying on the trail, I can assure You that it’s a beautiful hike as well! Finally down by the lakes I stayed on the west side and moved south, passing between Stour Doaresoalvi and Unna Doarsoalvi until I had to change shoes to cross Valfojåkka downstream from Valfojavrit.

Had the water been higher I would have to move upstream and cross at the lakes, under these conditions everything went smoothly. Soon after the crossing, even before I reach the trail I was aiming to get back on, I found a really soft and nice spot to camp. Feeling a little tired, especially mentally from concentrating on every move, I decided to stop. The distance left to Unna Allakas for tomorrow is a joke anyway and I’d rather have an early dinner than push myself when I know I’ll have a slow day tomorrow in any case.

It’s now 5:30 pm and despite having done quite some physical work, I’m still not really hungry. Dinner is going to be my first meal for today and I’m pretty stoked about the level of ketosis I must be in. Perfect energy, mental clarity, motoring along for hours with just water and some salt. It’s just very comfortable! Still, I believe I should start having some snacks during the day, regardless if I’m hungry or not. There’s just no way I can continue to hike like this on so little food!

Day 10 – August 11th, 2019

Camp at Stour Kärpel

Woke up with a dry (!!!) tent after a very windy night, didn’t sleep very well, though, got disturbed by the wind several times during the night and the Oura ring indicated an extremely low amount of deep sleep. Anyway, I felt well enough and decided to ignore the recommendation to take it extra easy and continued as planned.

Without having to dry the tent I got started a little earlier and was on my way at 9.45, heading down the trail towards Vassijaure. Once more I left the trail and stayed on elevation to work myself around the mountain into the next valley, though today was not nearly as smooth as yesterday. No real tracks, quite a bit of wetland and just about an hour into the hike it started raining and I stopped to change into rain trousers.

The rain never got really bad, just stuck with me until my lunch break at Vassivagge emergency cabin, and I have to admit it was a bliss to get inside and out of the rain and wind for a little while. Maybe the hardest part here is to avoid rushing when the goal is in sight, it’s so important to stay calm and make sure where to put the feet for every step.

My shortcut around the mountain probably cost me way more time and energy than if I’d just followed the trail all the way down and then the next one to the cabin, yet it was a lot more fun finding my way around and I’d totally do it again! No hazards of any kind, just more tedious than hiking on a trail, and more mentally challenging to find the best route and keep the feet in the right places. All in all, it took me just over three hours to get to the security cabin at Vassivagge and I was impressed how well maintained it was. I spent a little over 1.5h there, had some snacks (more than usual), lots of tea and then finished off with a coffee and some chocolate.

The rain stopped while I was inside and after my break, I headed up the mountainside just left of the waterfall coming down from Lairevaggi, and once at the top, I followed that valley all the way until I came down to the trail leading from Katterjokk to Unna Allakas.

The hike through the valley was beautiful and I saw several campsites that looked really inviting, gotta come back here again! Once on the trail, I only had a couple of km to Stour Kärpel and the clouds were looking ridiculously dark where I was going.  I totally kicked up a gear and moved faster, not wanting to get caught by the rain so close to ‘home’, arrived dry, got my camp set up with just a few drops falling and then had dinner inside, away from the strong wind I headed into most of the day!

Later I got company in the shape of a very nice couple with a dog, also planning to camp here at the emergency cabin. We had a really pleasant evening chatting about hiking and more and time just disappeared, leaving me pretty much ready for the sleeping bag!

Day 9 – August 10th, 2019

Camp at Rissajavri

The rain that started yesterday evening continued through about half the night and I woke up several times until about 2 am when I finally got a longer period of sleep.  When I finally woke up for real it was already well after 7 am and the sun was warming the tent, actually, I think it was the difference in temperature that woke me.

The outer tarp of my tent was, once again, soaking wet both in- and outside, one from the rain and the inside from condensation. I really need to figure out how to ventilate this tent properly or I can’t use it under these conditions any more…
Anyway, things got sorted, I did my morning routine and at 10 I left the campsite and started today’s hike! The first stretch through the valley followed a beautiful and soft trail, crossing meadows and leading through some bushes. After crossing the last stream before entering up into the pass, the trail was very faint and I just moved up the hillside in the right general direction.

Soon enough there were stone markers to be found again and during the rest of the climb it was easy to find the way, yet, naturally, physically pretty hard as steep ascents with heavy packs always are. I took a short break just before climbing the last pass and checked out the upmost area of the valley. Turns out there’s enough room for several tents and I probably include this spot into the group hike for next year as the place is really beautiful with several waterfalls pouring down from above.

Once over the top of the final pass, the hike turns so much easier and I even found several great snowfields that I could use to rest my feet from walking on rocks all the time.

Still, the first part of the day, from my campsite in Kårsavagge to Låktatjåkka, took just over four hours, though only measuring about 9km (5.5miles) on the map.  Two hours break and several cups of filter coffee with whipped cream (oh yeah!!!), some nice conversations with the staff and fellow hikers and charging my phone and power pack, and I was ready to continue the tour.

Descending down from the cabin along the trail towards the parking lot was a real walk in the park compared to the first part of the day. The trail is very well used and leads constantly downhill without ever really being steep.

Shortly after the bridge, where the summer and winter trails cross, I left the trail and headed west to find a shortcut into the next valley. This was a complete success as I almost immediately found a really clear reindeer path that led me perfectly along the elevation line and let me descend onto the trail leading to Rissajavri.

About three hours after leaving Låktatjåkka, I started looking for a place to camp, ending up on a great spot I’ve used several times previously. Now, after a pretty sizable dinner, I start feeling ready to call it a day!