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.
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 🙂
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.
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!
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!
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!
The rain had stopped in the early morning hours and was followed by a strong wind rattling the tent and disturbing my sleep a few times. Finally waking up for real just after 7 am, I went out and saw a wall of rain east of us and I was convinced it would hit our location within 30 min or so.
I told the others to pack up while everything was still dry and if there was time we would have coffee in a wind-protected spot afterward. Coffee and breakfast went by without rain and at 8:30 we started moving. Definitely one of my favorite occasions to be wrong, we didn’t have rain the entire day!
My plan was to bring the guys to Alesjaure and then continue up Unna Vistas vagge by myself yet we had to take it very slowly because of Bosse and his lack of energy and so the tour to Alesjaure ended up taking almost 7 hours.
The trail is wonderful to walk and easy to follow, we had to change shoes for river crossings a couple of times, the only slightly difficult one being Gobyjohka, the one where the thunderstorm caused a challenge last year. The whole route is pretty much at the same altitude and there are only minor changes in elevation which, together with the slow pace, had me wear my jacket for most of the day as the wind stayed strong and pretty much head-on.
Arriving at Alesjaure I fried up quite a load of mushrooms I picked throughout the hike and decided to also prepare my dinner as I hadn’t eaten anything during the tour. After food, coffee, and some conversation, I decided to spend the evening with my new friends, went out to pitch my tent and we all enjoyed the sauna. Unna Vistas vagge will have to wait for me until tomorrow!
I really slept in this morning after the late-night chat yesterday and didn’t get out of the sleeping bag until after 8 am. Same for Bosse, Kristofer, and Tommy, we all started the day at about the same time and got organized with coffee (for me) and breakfast for them. They decided to forgo the pass this tour and go back down the valley, joining me for the trip westwards and heading for Alesjaure tomorrow. I’m happy to have them tag along and really enjoy their company!
Just after 10 we left the shelter and started moving down the valley, I kept the pace slightly slower than my normal one when just motoring along by myself and made sure that we took short breaks for especially Bosse to grab a snack. All we’re doing really well, the trail was nice and dry considering the rain yesterday, and we stopped for lunch at the first stream after turning westward passed the bridge.
A beautiful place that was pretty much out of the wind, and I also took the opportunity to sit for a while! Continuing up the valley the trail leads slightly uphill for quite some time before reaching the highest point and descending slowly moving farther west.
We were looking to pass the lake Bieggaluoppal before stopping for the night, yet right when we reached the lake there was a change in the air, I felt a couple of raindrops on my face and called for making camp. Even while pitching my tent the rain started falling for real and I just about got everything set dry before hiding away inside for dinner. A couple of hours later there was a break and I moved over to Bosse and Kristofer and had a chat with them for a few hours.
Coming back to my own tent I walked through the fog of low hanging clouds promising a wet night here in this valley. Hopefully, this clears up during the night
I first woke up at 5 am from raindrops falling on the tent, remembered that I had laundry hanging on a line outside the cabin yet couldn’t really get myself to bother at the time. Knowing that I’d have to get the tent dry as well, I just went back to sleep and slept soundly for another 2.5h. Starting my day as usual with some coffee and reading, after some time I heard how the rain stopped and headed over to the cabin to hang my clothes inside. Once there I met Kattis, Anna, the next cabin host in Nallo on her way to start her duty, and Hans who was taking over for Kattis at Vistas. Soon we all sat down with a cup of coffee together and enjoyed a very nice conversation. Next time the rain took a break I went over to the campsite to break my camp, finding that for some inexplicable reason, my inner tent was soaked in a way it hadn’t been during the entire trip before. There was nothing else to do than hang everything inside the cabin to dry and accept a significant delay starting the hike today. Funny enough I still hadn’t decided where to go and the weather looked just as bad in every direction… Anyway, after more coffee, some snacks, and lots of chatting, I finally made the decision around 12:30 to go over Mårma once again and started packing my stuff. Finishing up, I found that by rearranging some stuff I could fit the tent as well into the backpack and ended up unpacking everything and redo the whole procedure. Absolutely awesome to have everything inside the backpack at last! Finally, I was ready and left the cabin, contrary to my habits, into the rain.
About halfway up the first ascent, the rain lightened up and I could remove my rain jacket to get rid of some of the generated body heat. The clouds lifted and arriving at Vassaloamiljavrit I had a full view of the lake.
Ascending Vassanjunnji the clouds lifted more and I could get quite a nice view of Vistasvagge towards Nikkaluokta. This first part of the climb is always strenuous, the hike from Vistas cabin to the top of Vassanjunnji covers about 670m of elevation.
Now loosing about 100m going down to Vassajavri, immediately followed by a 150m up, 40m down, and then another 300m climb up to the top of the pass. All in all climbing over 1100m!The rain was continuing pretty discrete yet got company by a rather strong wind from the west near the top of Vassanjunnji, staying with me for the rest of the tour. This wind added to the slippery wet rocks and some rain still falling made for an interesting afternoon and forced me to slow down my pace considerably. Finally, just before hitting the top of the pass, the sun broke through the clouds just briefly yet long enough to allow a nicer view of the valley and a nice rainbow far away!
The descent from the pass was really treacherous, slippery and slow, yet what a difference coming down compared to last time three weeks ago. My body has really adapted to the efforts and, of course, the lighter load played a huge role as well.
Reaching the shelter after just under five hours of hiking, I had definitely earned some rest and nourishment, starting with tea and almonds for a snack.
Suddenly three very wet and tired men arrive and enter the shelter, having hiked through Bessesvaggi, got lost and entangled in the infamous birch forest, and then continued up the valley to reach the shelter. The two younger guys, Tommy and Kristofer, were doing pretty well while Bosse, the father of Kristofer, was really exhausted.I had my dinner while they settled in and tried to assist as much as I could. Once they were set we had a very pleasant evening all together with lots of fun and laughter. Finally, and once again contrary o my habits, I go to sleep now at a late 10:30 pm.
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!