Day 4 – August 5th, 2019

Camp at Vassajavri

I woke up just after 7 feeling not really rested, had some weird dreams during the night and woke up quite a few times. If I had to rate myself it would be between 6 and 7 on a scale from 1-10, checking my Oura readings confirmed this feeling, giving me a readiness score of 68 out of 100. Even before checking the app, I made the decision to stop at Vassajavri and do the pass over to Mårma the following day. Turns out to be a great decision as it dawned on me that I forgot my key to the Norwegian cabins at home and needed to find a spot with coverage so I could call my flatmate for help. Knowing it would be a short hike I was in no hurry, and I had some condensation on the tent after a pretty warm and windless night to take care of. Just after 10:30 everything was dry and packed so I left with the intention of doing the climb slow and steady. So I did, and most of it without a shirt to let the wind help keep me cool.

The sun was shining and I have the tendency to get serious warm during longer ascents.  I spent about two hours reaching the top of the first ascent and from there I continued to the summit of the most eastern peak south of Vassaloamijavri to make the call. Leaving the pack behind I made it there and back in about an hour and, grabbing the gear, I aimed for the first stream along the trail where I stopped for a midday snack overlooking the lake and one of my favorite campsites in the area.

Weather was amazing and I spent about 1.5h enjoying the sunshine and a slight breeze! Getting back into the trail for the last climb of the day, I suddenly start running into a ton of people (ok, in this case, it means a total of 10) after seeing so few other hikers earlier days. It seems like the pass over Mårma is totally gaining popularity, something it absolutely deserves and hopefully leads to some renovations of the cabin that has been neglected for ages.  Stopping and chatting with the people, answering a couple of questions of the type everyone asks when they meet someone coming from the direction they’re heading made the afternoon a lot longer, and more social than expected.  On the higher part of the uphill slope, there was connection once more and I heard back from Matz, unfortunately, the key wasn’t to be found where I thought it should be and so I just have to change my plans. Not a big deal as Norway will most probably be there next year still! It was already 18:00 (6 PM) when I had my camp set up and started dinner.

Now after a good meal, I hear some raindrops falling on the tent. Nothing serious, just enough to make me appreciate the coziness of my tent and the cup of peppermint tea just so much more! Looking forward to an early evening and hopefully some good and restful sleep, getting me ready for some action tomorrow!

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!

Tour of 2018 – Day 30, August 25th 2018

Heavy rain woke me up to another ridiculously early morning, yet subsided while I had my first cup of coffee and I went out to wipe the tent clean off from ice cold rainwater for the 18th time in the last three weeks, at that moment making the decision to call it a tour.


A couple of coffees later I packed my reasonably dry stuff and headed towards Abisko. I chose to climb the mountainside and aim for the bridge at the trail to Kårsavagge, instead of taking the easier route down to Abiskojaure and follow the Kings trail. And I’m exceptionally happy with the decision, the view of Abisko with the lake in the background is immensely beautiful and the route turned out to be pretty easy.

Once I climbed the ridge, everything that follows is basically downhill and I made the stretch to the Tourist Station quite a bit faster than I’d expected.

Arriving at the station I hung my tent and the other wet stuff in the drying room, got myself a ticket for the afternoon train to Stockholm and took my time in the sauna, cleaning myself up and getting thoroughly warm before heading for the buffet lunch at the restaurant.
Don’t think they made a lot of profit on my food that day!

Sitting inside after a nice meal, feeling warm and comfortable, I felt pretty happy with my decision to aboard the tour a week early. Due to the cold, and the snow it brought on higher altitudes, continuing would have meant motoring along in the valleys, moving through to the end of each days tour without any real breaks, and seeking refuge from the cold wind inside the tent at the end of the day.
Not really what I had planned, and I know for sure that I’ll be back next year for another tour, hopefully nicer weather (or less of the cold wind and rain), and, definitely with a lighter backpack.

Thank You for joining me on this tour and stay tuned for some shorter hikes during the time until Lapland 2019. Should You want to join in on a tour ’live’, please don’t hesitate to contact me through the site, ok?

Peace be the Journey // Claes

Tour of 2018 – Day 29, August 24th 2018

Campsite on the pass west of Abiskojaure, overlooking Abisko and Torneträsk

Woke up early to a beautiful morning and, for the first time in quite a while I had a coffee outside in the sunshine. Wind was cold and picked up a little, nudging me to move inside for the rest of the morning.

The first part of the hike led through beautiful Hoiganvaggi, it’s been a few years since I visited the valley and it was a fond reunion, I really enjoy the place.
The trail is pretty easy to follow, grows faint a few times yet always easy to find again. And, as with most places around here, it doesn’t really matter – just stay south of the river and move along the bottom of the valley and You’re good!

About halfway through the valley, between a couple of lakes, the trail leads over a beautiful, lush meadow and stretches over on the north side of the valley, super easy to find the way, just be aware.

Once on the north side I soon passed the reindeer watchers cabin and soon after that, I decided to make my way up the mountainside, instead of continuing the trail along the lake and do a steeper climb later. The view from the hillside is breathtaking and the climb was rather moderate, though still raise the heart rate considerably.

Once upon the plateau, I chose to stay high and approached the pass, where I planned to spend the night, crossing the mountainside on a very steep tangent. Not an easy hike by any means and, to be frank, nothing I really recommend. It would probably have been faster (and definitely safer) to descent to the lake and climb back up towards the pass on the other side.

Anyway, the weather turned back to normal during the day and just after reaching the intended campsite and putting the tent up, I felt the first raindrops while fetching water in the small lake down below.
The evening served strong wind and quite a lot of rain, the cold really got to me and I observed myself downing more than that days share of snacks after dinner.

Finding coverage there on the pass I check the weather forecast and it is far from pretty, promising about the same weather for the next week or so. I kinda start getting used to the thought of going down to Abisko in the morning.

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Tour of 2018 – Day 28, August 23rd 2018

Camp at Stuor Kärpel
Woke up already 5:30 and managed to go back to sleep until 7:00, had a few short and rather mellow rain showers during the night and early morning. After my first coffee the rain had stopped and I wiped off the tent.
Just after 8am I began packing up my stuff inside when drops started hitting the tent again and soon there was heavy rain going on outside. Nothing else to do than pack what I could to be ready as soon the shower was over, and then lean back and wait.
Roughly 40min later the rain had passed and after wiping down the tent again I managed to pack up reasonably dry!
I hiked the 3km to Unna Allakas, getting there just minutes after the next shower started and I stayed there for a good 2.5h. Eating fried mushrooms, nuts and jerky for breakfast and chatting with a nice couple, Eva and Joakim, who had a rest day in the cabin.
Side note: The last few days I’ve been ridiculously hungry, I think it’s the cold and especially the wind that takes a lot of energy. Anyway I’ve burned through a weeks worth of snacks in just two days, need to change things up a little so tomorrow I’ll have coffee only in the morning and then just go slower and see if that turns up the utilization of body fat more.
Turns out that by taking this long break I actually avoided most of the rain today, only got hit by a few short and light showers during the rest of the day.
I just love the stretch from Unna Allakas towards Katterjokk, and especially the part from the water crossing at Valfojåkkå to Stuor Kärpel. It’s so amazingly wild, remote and desolate, rocky and beautiful!
The trail separates from the one leading to Abiskojaure and climbs up the slope towards Shangeli, continues past the old mining area to the security cabin at Valfojåkkå. Soon after passing the cabin there’s a water crossing that needs a change of shoes.
Important to pass the winter trail crossing and continue around the first small lake to get to the safe spot. It’s a little tricky to get down the cliff and over to the first big rock in the stream, just take it easy – after getting into the water, the rest is easy.
Immediately after the crossing, the trail leads uphill into a wonderful landscape of rock and water.
So much wild beauty and fun hiking experiences here, as long as You like hiking on rocks and are comfortable with it.
If not, this is another area to stay away from, there are so many other places to get Your feet wet and learn the skills of rock hiking!
The rocks and cliffs continue until about 1km before reaching the cabin, last part of the trail is a pretty nice path and easy to walk.
Side note: Stuor Kärpel is another security cabin and overnight stay is only allowed in case of emergency. There are a few pretty nice campsites near the cabin and camping there provides a great opportunity for dinner and/or breakfast out of the wind and rain.
Please only make a fire if really needed, someone might need the firewood in a real emergency situation!
I’ve always used the same campsite here, this time I’m trying out a new location, closer to the lake and with a nicer view.

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Tour of 2018 – Day 27, August 22nd 2018

Camp at the eastern shore of Cunojaure
What a joy to wake up without the sound of rain on the tent, it had been a few showers during the night, the last in the early morning hours, and none of them even close to the ones yesterday.
I woke up already at 5:30, getting into the cabin 30min later to make a fire in the stove and then broke down my tent to hang it inside to dry. Turns out it would have dried just as well outside in the wind, yet why take a chance when having access to a cabin, right?!

The wind had turned during the night, not longer coming from the west and bringing the weather from the Atlantic Ocean. Normally here that means an improvement in the weather conditions, and today was no exception!
After a few cups of coffee and tea with my neighbor, everything was dry and I packed all my gear to be ready to leave.
8:45 I said goodbye and left Gautelishytta until next time, and now, after finally trying out the sauna they built here a few years ago, that will probably be next year already!
The weather was so much more pleasant, no rain and a pretty mellow breeze, that also was quite a bit warmer than previously. Shortly after I left I had to stop and take of my jacket, later changing quite often between wearing it or not, depending on wind and the intensity of the hike. I’m happy to say that I must have hiked about half the day wearing only my t-shirt.
The trail northwards from Gautelishytta is wild and beautiful, quite easy to walk in the beginning, then, getting closer to the pass, very rocky and desolated. Frankly, if You don’t like jumping on rocks, this is the wrong tour for You. Unless You’re considerably good at moving on rocky ground, You could spend hours in frustration hiking this stretch.
That said, the marking of the trail is enormously better than I remember, someone has really put in some effort making the trail clearer and more visible. There are stone pillars at very close distances from each other throughout the entire pass!
Once on the other side of the pass there are two river crossings, both could be done without changing shoes this time. Always look for a wide spot in the river, remember that some stones can be stepped on under water with perfectly maintained safety, and, once again, get high shafted hiking boots!
I arrived at Caihnavagge in clear sunny weather and decided to take a break and have some tea and snacks as I still had some ground to cover.
Getting out of the wind really amplified the warmth from the sun and the place was really pleasant. Besides, I finally got a decent shot at charging my phone again as the sun was out so bright.
A good hour later i started the second part, as different in character from the morning stretch as night from day. Being so much lower in elevation the trail was mostly soft, leading over grass or low scrubs, mixed up with wetter areas. Shortly before the bridge over Caihnajohka there is a short distance that is rocky, muddy and bushy at the same time. Just take it easy and slow down and all is good!
The bridge is as reassuring as any of the Norwegian ones, I totally recommend to let one person pass completely before the next stepping onto the bridge!
The trail continues over the flat valley floor of Gallanbuolda, again mostly scrubs and grasses, some wetlands and bushy areas. And one real river where You might to have to change shoes, this time I got over there dry once again. It took some skills, experience and, once more, high shafts on the boots, to get it done, though!
Finally there’s another bridge to get to the north side of Cunojaure where the cabin is located and the trail continues around the lake and into Sweden and towards Unna Allakas.
About halfway between the Cunojaure cabin and Unna Allakas You find the beautiful beach where I chose to camp tonight. The weather was finally good enough to get back into solitude. As much as I love the comfort and warmth of the cabins, I missed being by myself in my tent!
Turns out that the Norwegian weather forecast workshop right, I just managed to get everything set inside the tent when I heard the first drops on the outer tarp. So far nothing alarming and very mellow compared to previous days and weeks. I’m kinda curious what tomorrow brings!

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Tour of 2018 – Day 26, August 21st 2018

Camp at Gautelishytta

Another day I woke up early and snuck into the cabin at 7 am when I had heard that the only other guest also was up already.
Picking a break between the rain showers to wipe my tent and bring it inside to dry ensured that I could pack everything the way I want it this morning.

Having an extra cup of coffee, talking to the cabin host, Leif, and taking my time packing my stuff, left me with a departure time at 10 am and I headed northbound on the trail back towards Norway.


Depending on the circumstances my plan was to either do a short day and stay at Gautelis or push on to Caihnavagge. There’s virtually no real good campsite in between these cabins.

The wind was rather mellow for the first hour or so, then it quickly picked up and reached the same strength as yesterday, just considerably colder and accompanied by ice cold rain showers chasing each other until midday. Suddenly the sun started to fight its way through the clouds and the rain stopped for a couple of hours.

The trail is easy to follow and mostly easy to hike, just a few stretches with the rocky ground to consider. This season the streams hold so much less water than normal, allowing rivers, that normally need a change of shoes, to be crossed by just walking over them. On the other hand, the ground was still very wet from all the rain, again making a point for high boot shafts!

The wind continued to be a challenge the entire hike, and to be frank with You, these conditions with cold wind and rain are not just unpleasant. They’re potentially dangerous as it, for one, is very easy to underestimate the cooling effect of the wind (it’s definitely possible to get both frostbites and hypothermia at temperatures well above the freezing point), secondly, the conditions invite to rush, and make poor decisions to get to the goal sooner. Just be aware!

During my descent to Gautelishytta, I got hit by another rain shower, and that, in combination with the sauna at the cabin, made me decide to save the 12km to Caihnavagge for tomorrow instead.

I’m still well on schedule and the next stretch is just not as easy and so I’d rather do that one after a good night’s sleep.
I’ll just hike all the way to either Cunojaure or Unna Allakas tomorrow instead of hitting the pass between here and the next spot this afternoon. Safety first!

 

Side note: The weather starts getting at me, and some of the plans I have for the rest of the tour are just not safe to do under these conditions. So I made the decision to consider breaking the tour early, depending on the weather forecast for next week that I can access on Friday.
Hoping for a positive weather change so I can safely do what I came here for!

 

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Table Mountain, The Ledge – January 21st 2019

Arrived back in Cape Town yesterday, checked into the Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Foreshore for my two remaining nights in ZA, got settled and cleaned up before meeting a couple of friends for dinner.
We went to a really nice Thai place, unfortunately not really up to par on the portion sizes and we had to get some starters after the main course to be satisfied.
I met Eva and went for a short hike with her in 2017, yet it’s the first time her boyfriend Mike and I meet in person, good conversation and lots of fun, they’re both wonderful people and very including. Being a guide in the area, Mike points me to a route up the eastern side of table mountain and later they send me photos from one of the rare guide books describing this route.
I decided to try it out, knowing that I might have to turn around if it gets too sketchy, and being totally ok with that. Starting from the hotel it takes some walking to get to the trailhead up towards Devils Peak where I started up the mountain.

Hiking up to the saddle following the main trail is easy and comfortable, my main concern being to find the right fork where to turn off from the train before it’s a descent down on the other side of the saddle.


Turns out it’s not that hard to find (and, yes, I mindfully chose not to point it out as the route is frankly not suited for most people) and soon I’m heading along the smaller trail up towards the table. First, it’s just a faint and rather steep trail up the mountainside, yet after passing over the ledge that gave the route its name, it starts to involve some vertical climbs and becomes increasingly harder to navigate.

On a few occasions, I have to double back and find the trail again after hitting a dead end. More and more climbing, at one point coming through a crack in the rock almost resembling a tunnel, I contemplated turning around a few times yet always finding a good hold for hands and feet and being able to carry on.
Finally I found myself standing on a narrow ledge with a sharp drop off to the left about 100m or more (300ft) and looking at the uppermost part of a steep ravine with nowhere else to go but up, I have to admit the only thing that got me to continue was the simple fact that climbing back down seemed even more sketchy than climbing up the ravine.

Obviously, I made it, though slowly and consciously, and always keeping three limbs on the rock, cautious not to slip on the wet and muddy spots and staying away from the grass and bushes barely finding grip with their roots in the superficial soil.

As usual, after completing a route like this, the feeling coming out at the top is indescribable, that last stretch really got some adrenaline pumping and I enjoyed the aftermath of the rush while making my way across the table towards the station on the western side.
A friendly woman at the coffee bar kindly refilled my water bag and soon I made my way down the mountain, once again following the India Venster route, that admittedly felt very timid and easy compared to the adventures coming up. Please see previous posts in referens to that route, ok?

Arriving back at the hotel I had been out moving for just over seven hours and had definitely earned my dinner, and this being my last night I went for a fantabulous Prime Rib to close off an intensely fun day filled with adventures in nature!

Thanks for checking out the post, please leave a comment below and let me know what You think, ok?

Peace be the Journey // Claes