Day 26 – August 27th, 2019

Camp at Alesjaure

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!

Day 25 – August 26th, 2019

Camp at Bieggaluoppal

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

Day 24 – August 25th, 2019

Mårma cabin 

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.

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!

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!