Day 8 – August 9th, 2019

Camp north of Bajimus Gorsajavri

God will provide rest days!

When I woke up early this morning, the outer tarp of my tent was soaking wet both on the in- and outside and it was obvious that I had been paid a visit by some really low clouds during the night. Cold air, almost no wind, and an elusive sun collaborated to let it take several hours to dry it out, and I enjoyed a lazy morning until everything was packed and ready to go around 11 am. Here already I made the decision to make this an easy day, resting for a much longer and more strenuous day tomorrow. The initial ascent to the ridge and the following descent into Kårsavagge went excellent, the trail is so much better marked than several years ago when I last hiked the stretch. I reached the cabin in Kårsavagge after just about two hours and without having to change shoes for the river crossing. I’ve never seen so little water in the stream here! Just before crossing I found a couple of nice mushrooms and made myself a snack frying them in ghee with some beef jerky which turned out really nice. Weather is pretty unpredictable, sitting outside with the host, Anders, enjoying a coffee in the sun, we suddenly are forced to move indoors by a sudden rain shower. Shortly after which the sun shines once more, and the forecast promises more of the same erratic weather over the next few days. Taking care of my stuff, reading a little and chatting with the cabin host and a fellow hiker made time run fast and it was already just after 4 pm when I left the cabin for the last short stretch.

I hadn’t really planned my campsite, just wanted to get closer to the end of the valley and a good starting point for tomorrow’s tour. As soon as I spotted this site from afar I know I found my place to spend the night and, upon arriving, I just dropped my gear and headed right down to the lake for a quick dip to clean up. For the first time during this entire tour I was seriously bugged by mosquitoes setting up camp and the device I bought in ZA proved absolutely worthless. 

So, I just had to get into the tent despite the really nice late afternoon, cook my dinner while staying inside and kill off the mosquitoes sneaking inside the tent. Now, a couple of hours after I got my camp ready, another rain shower keeps me pinned inside the tent and I just have to wait for it to pass before I can get out, brush my teeth and get ready for the night!

Day 7 – August 8th, 2019

Camp right outside Abisko National Park along the trail from Abiskojaure to Kårsavagge

As expected after the early evening yesterday, I woke up early and had all my gear packed by 8:30. After finding my way up to the ‘Kungsleden’ (King’s trail), I decided to utilize it for a few km as I thought not many people would be in the middle between to cabins that early.

I was right and only met three people, one of them Jenni, who is planning to do the entire trail all the way to Hemavan on a unicycle, hiking the parts that cannot be cycled.

You can find out more about her at – I was really impressed with the idea, didn’t know that mountain biking on a unicycle was even a thing! Shortly after meeting her I left ‘Kungsleden’ and headed west on the trail towards Rovvidievva.

This is an area where the Sami do a lot of work with the reindeers and the area is full of 4-wheel drives tracks, partly overlapping the trail, yet it’s still so much nicer than ‘Kungsleden’. The river that is crossed on a bridge right before the trail connects with the one leading from Unna Allakas to Abiskojaure is really impressive and I always take the time for a short break here!

Continuing towards Abiskojaure the trail leads through birch forests as we typically find in the lower elevation valleys of this area. Soft and easy on the feet, and very easy to find and follow.

I was in no hurry and reached the cabin at Abiskojaure after about five hours total. The first person I meet is the cabin host Bosse, whom I’ve seen several times throughout the years and interviewed twice for the cabin host series. Besides saying hi to him, my first priority was hanging my insoles and socks to dry, thankfully there was a nice breeze and it looked like the sun would come forth and so I hung it all outside.  After coffee and some snacks, I chatted with some other hikers, had a nice conversation with the cabin hosts, and generally had a good time. Finally, at 5:30 I got going again, the last part was not far, yet it meant a climb of almost 500m (1500ft) of elevation, and I really wanted to avoid the interval training style. So I went very slow and easy and, in the end, the ascent was pretty comfortable. Once outside the national park, I quickly found a nice spot with soft grass and made camp.

Now, after having had dinner, it’s already 9 pm and I look forward to a cup of tea, some reading and soon I’ll head for the sleeping bag. I can already feel the chill of the evening and it promises to be a cold night.

Day 6 – August 7th, 2019

Camp west of the crossing between Radujavri and Miesakjavri

Woke up just after 6 from the sound of raindrops on the tent, didn’t even bother to look outside, just turned around and slept for another 1.5h or so. I had a strange night, slept pretty well yet woke up more times than I can say. For no good reason at all…Anyway, the rain stopped after a few showers and just after 10:30 I had everything packed nice and dry and could start today’s hike. And, for the first time this tour, I could fit everything except the tent inside my backpack. So even if it’s still pretty heavy, there’s certainly changes happening!

The hike itself went really well and I completed the 15km (just under 10miles) in about four hours, way faster than I had anticipated. Quite a few years ago I hiked the same stretch from the other direction together with a friend. We left the trail to check if it was possible to cross the water west of, it turned out it was too dangerous. Yet we never got back onto the trail and literally had to fight our way through the bushes for hours. So, I learned my lesson back then and took care to stay on the trail. That said there are a few places along the way where it’s pretty easy to lose track of the trail. One spot is on the hill when approaching the lakes, another one right after a river crossing with several streams to cross.

Just make sure You get back on the trail before continuing, there are stone markers so just look until You find one. The alternative of moving forward through the bushes without a trail to follow is pure punishment, believe me! About halfway up the valley it was clear that I would be much faster than planned and I thought about going farther, yet then decided to make camp as planned right after the crossing north of Radujavri.

Mostly because I really like the spot and at the same time give my body some well-deserved rest. Though when passing the crossing I, for the first time ever, slipped seriously on a rock and got my left ankle caught between two rocks. Leaving me not only with quite a bruise on the inside of my ankle but also with some stuff getting wet.

Worst was water splashing into my boots that were hanging around my shoulders. Thankfully there’s been a strong wind blowing all day and most of the stuff, like socks and underwear, should be dry after a few hours. The boots and insole might take longer yet it will not be an issue. The whole incident, though, is a great reminder of how easily an accident can happen, regardless of how many times one has gone through the moves and how proficient one has become. Sometimes it’s just necessary to know what to do when things go wrong. So, I found a spot, hung my clothes to dry, put the boots in the wind, made camp and got myself into the sleeping bag to warm up. Some tea and later an early dinner helped me get back to par and I look forward to spending the night here once more. Hopefully, I’ll enjoy some undisturbed sleep tonight and be ready for the days ahead!

Day 5 – August 6th, 2019

Camp near the bridge over Vierrojohka

What a wonderful hiking day – finally I feel that my body is back in the game and I thoroughly enjoyed every part of the hike today. I’m not going to pretend it was all easy, yet, although part of the tour was physically really challenging, my body responded as I expect it to.  I woke up after almost 10h of sleep and felt amazing right away, cleaned up in the lake, had some coffee during my morning read and did a short meditation before breaking camp and pack everything up. 

Already upon waking, I made the decision to take the detour, utilize the snowfield and climb to the summit of Vassacohka before moving down to the pass from the north, and the view from 1725m (5200 ft) was totally worth the climb!

Just be advised that moving at these elevations requires one to carry water, in my case adding another 2-3 lbs to the already too heavy backpacks.  The tour was everything I expected it to be, strenuous, beautiful, rough and fun, with the added pleasure of going down into Mårma pass for once!
Heading down the pass on the northeast side was tough on quads and knees, as always, yet all went well and I continued along the trail to the cabin where I enjoyed a long break with coffee and some jerky, coconut oil, mac nuts, and dark chocolate.

I just love the ketogenic lifestyle that allows me to do a pretty remarkable and strenuous hike before breaking my fast – completely hooked on this way of fueling myself! I spent about an hour and 45 min at the cabin, after which I continued down the valley, following the trail until just before the ‘Renvaktarstuga’ when I climbed the slope up to the plateau to take a closer look at the structures. Nothing special, yet nice to have seen it close up after passing at a distance so many times. Once down by the bridge, I found a marvelous spot of soft grass where I pitched my tent and now, after finishing dinner and sitting here with a cup of chamomile tea and some chocolate, I feel very satisfied and grateful to hit the sleeping bag early and treat myself to another long nights sleep!

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