Vue sur Rapadalen dans la montée vers le Skierffe - Sarek

SAREK

9days

trekking

170km

walked

2500m

D+

1

day without rainning

It’s been fifteen months now since we returned from our Lapland adventure along the Kungsleden. Fifteen months that the Far North is calling us again. So, of course, the GR738 has allowed me to escape a week in the mountains but I need my annual migration to the Nordic countries, this time we will take the direction of the Sarek National Park in Sweden for nine days to trek in a wild and raw Nature.

Sarek and Route


Vast almost 2000km², the Sarek is a Swedish national park located a few hours drive south of Kiruna and not far from the Norwegian border. Often considered the last wilderness in Europe, Sarek is a concentrate of wild nature. Here there is no road, no marked path (and even almost no “real” path), just 2 bridges, no refuge as such, at most some cabins as spartan as rare and weather conditions may be hard. Your only neighbors at (tens of) kilometers will be the reindeer that the Sames let graze here all summer long.

A true paradise for the walker who wants to be in the middle of nothing for several days.

On the other hand, the Sarek has a price: no path, no road, etc. implies that you have to navigate even in an often harsh environment. You have the choice between marshes, dense birch forests or large empty expanses in altitude and for the weather: rain (a lot), wind, snow and a little sun sometimes…

Sarek is a difficult environment. The terrain and the weather can be very hard and changing. Even in summer, very short indeed, you can have winter conditions at altitude. Be prepared! The Sarek are aimed at experienced walkers who know a minimum of the middle of the Scandinavian Arctic and who are equipped accordingly. Here you will be alone and the help will not always be able to intervene quickly, besides that you will have no telephone network, nor quick escape.

Warning: the following tutorial is part of a specific context of this month of September 2018. Do not assume conditions in advance (especially with regard to crossings rivers) and do not take the characteristics that we have encountered as an absolute truth. Prepare your hike well and always keep a margin of safety.

Our route allowed us to travel a good piece of Sarek and to pass by the Rapadalen and Skierffe, THE point of view not to be missed in the park. About 170km long, it took us 9 days of walking to achieve it at a rate of 20km / days. It was not a health walk but it is achievable. You will find below are details (the GPX is downloadable):

Download

Joining Sarek


Who says isolated region says not easy to access. In addition, we leave in September which corresponds to the end of the season here, some services are already at a standstill.

First step: going to the North. We chose Kiruna once again as a base camp. You can also start from Gällivare which is accessible by train (but no longer by plane). Kiruna has the advantage of having an airport and some good hotels. It is the “city” of northern Sweden. To enter Sarek there are several “classic” points: Ritsem, Kvikkjokk and Saltoluokta. Since the lake crossings and the bus to Ritsem seemed complex because the services were finished for the season, we chose Kvikkjokk as an entry point and Saltoluokta as the exit.

Getting to Kvikkjokk by public transport from Kiruna, requires taking a train to Gällivare and then several buses and a taxi, in other words, it’s long and we did not have many days in front of us. So we chose a solution not “sexy” and rather expensive: the taxi. It is still 4h30 drive and around 5000SEK, three it’s better but good …

So we arrived on site on a Sunday, we bought gas for the stove on Monday morning and we took the taxi at 12h to arrive around 16h (driving sport driver …).

For the return of Saltoluoka it is “simply” taking two buses to Kiruna or one to Gällivare.

Here are some useful links to prepare transfers:

Also links to the main “resorts” in the area and information on lake crossings:

Warning: you will certainly have to cross lakes by boat, although some are rowing there are motor boat crossings. You will sometimes have no choice. By cons it is very expensive! Here is a non-exhaustive list valid for 2018:

  • Kvikkjokk-Padjalenta : 250SEK each
  • Sitojaure : 400SEK each (Twice a day or on demand)
  • Saltoluokta to the bus : 200SEK each
  • Ritsem : ??

No bank card for the first two but euros seem accepted. In the end, plan cash!

Day one - Departure and Padjelanta


We are September 10, 2018 in Kvikkjokk around 16:30, the weather is nice, the sun begins to be low in the sky and we are waiting at the water’s edge the arrival of the water taxi that should lead us to the beginning of the Padjelanta. We are all three, with Quentin and Matthieu, eager to immerse ourselves for 9 days and 170km in the Sarek. We had only a hurry after last year and the Kungsleden: come back and make even more wild, here we are!

Our “pilot” arrives with a few passengers coming back from Padjelanta. We see with him some details and we embark for 10min of boat. Although early September, autumn has already established its camp here. The birches are dressed in their yellow-red hues, it’s beautiful. The sunlight is soothing. We slide on the water quietly, what a nice way to start a trek.

The jetty is sketchy but there is a small cabin next door for hikers who missed the last boat. We take the time to discuss with the pilot about the route, the passages of lakes, … First a little gruff, it will prove quite nice and will give us good advice.

Now we are alone, the bags are loaded on our backs that bear the weight of the 10 days of food but we are going the light heart on a very good way, marked and easy. This is also a good thing because we will spend two days along it, the time to warm our leg before attacking the heart of the subject.

We will do 7km tonight. Nothing really difficult. The landscapes are pleasant but not particularly impressive because one evolves mainly in dense forest. There are some comfortable bivouac areas along the way. So we settle down at nightfall, not far from the river.

The time to get on camp and eat and the rain begins to fall in fine drops which precipitates our movement back into the sleeping bag warm and soft.

End of the first day which will have been especially a day of transfer. We really attack the march tomorrow with at least 18km to go. In the meantime: good night!

Day 2 - Futher along the Padjelanta


It has rained all night and the environment is particularly humid this morning. We will bend the camp under the drizzle of what hasten our departure.

Today we continue along the Padjelanta. So we are progressing easily even if the rain has made some passages slippery (including the famous boardwalks crossing the marshes). After some time we start to leave the forest at times, allowing us to admire the extension of the valley for kilometers downstream and upstream. We have, for the moment, only met one person at the Nunjes cabin and that will be all for the day …

We are fit and happy to be here. Even if the weather is not good, the weather is not unpleasant. The sun plays with the dense clouds and creates beautiful contrast on the orange birches.

There is not much to say about this particular day. The landscapes remind us a lot of those of the Kungsleden for now but can be at more impressive dimensions.

In the evening (around 16h – the sun setting at 19:30, we shifted the day: get up 6h bed 21h), we will put the camp a little before Såmmarlappstugan, where the path comes very close to the river. It is a nice spot for the bivouac with a beautiful view of the surrounding hills. Unfortunately we will have the right to a succession of small showers all the evening. We still managed to light a fire despite the wet wood but it will not heat very hard.

We do not stay late tonight. The sun setting early and rain not helping but especially we are tired of these first 20km. You have to give the body time to get used to it, it will be better in a day or two.

For now we fall asleep, rocked by the plop plop rain on the tent. It’s nice to feel a little further from civilization tonight but I can not wait to be really isolated, just a few days of patience.

Day 3 - End of Tarradalen and end of path


A second rainy night. We are bending a wet camp again but at least it has stopped raining for now.

We will arrive quickly at Såmmarlappstugan where we will cross the caretaker doing the cleaning before closing. He expected to leave this afternoon. The time to chat and admire the morning mist on the river and we take the road on the Padjelanta which rises slightly here.

The vegetation is becoming more and more sparse as the day progresses, this allows us to enjoy the view of the entire valley.

We will arrive in view of the cabins of Darreluoppal in the early afternoon. We will meet three people in this area who will be the last for 48h.

Another hour of walking and we are at the cabins.

We will arrive at the cabins in the middle of the afternoon. Then the big question is whether we continue a little way or if we stop here for the night and enjoy the comfort of the winter cabin …

After deliberation, we choose to push further. It will always be won … So we go back on the road again a few hundred meters. Indeed it is here that we come out to walk in the pampas freely. So we choose to cross the river (we will stay west of it for later), climb a little on the heights and finally out of the way.

It is amazing how this little step aside, the one that leads you off trail, is loaded with a strong symbolism in my opinion. By this small step one finds a kind of total freedom, one can walk where one wants, as one wants, having for only constraint the ground. However, we also leave a reassuring line that leads from a point A to a point B without asking too much question. Inwardly, therefore, we must accept all this freedom. For my part I will have to wait a few hours off trail to just find a nice feeling of walking in freedom.

In any case, what reassures me is the field. I was afraid that it is complicated on this section but for now it is grass with some bushes and rockeries. Nothing really bad.

We will not be long in crossing our first reindeer in this ground which is ideal for them. They usually move in a small group of about ten individuals, but one can cross larger herds.

After twenty kilometers we will set up the camp right next to the river Vassjajåhkå to the right of Lake Vassjajavrtja. A very nice location with a beautiful view and relatively sheltered from the wind.

The bivouac quickly installed, we take advantage of the fact that it is still early to go about our business: photo, rest or hunt wild berries that abound in the area.

It will not be long before we have successive visits of small groups of reindeer to the other side of the river. They still keep their distance but it’s a nice show while we eat our lyophi well protected from the wind. In the evening, temperatures fall quickly and it is difficult to stay outdoors for a long time after eating.

Thus ends the third day of walking. For the moment everything is fine if it is a few small sores and a little tired but nothing abnormal.

It’s the first night I feel like I’m far from civilization and still, in the end, there are the cabins that are a short walk away … In any case, the morale is good the physicist is following and I can not wait to get a little further into Lapland.

Day 4 - Off tracks and Lake Crossing


Here we are, today we really enter the  Sarek whose limit is represented by the small river next to which we camp.

The night was cool but good. We are starting to get a good run on camp storage and we are quickly back on track for our 20km daily.

We continue towards Alggajavrre Lake. The off-trail progression is much easier than I expected and that’s good! Even the few streams to cross are low enough not to bother us too much. We are moving relatively quickly in this beautiful valley. We pass small passes in small passes, revealing each time a new perspective. Here, more trees obviously but the grassy steppe as far as the eye can see. I love this kind of landscape. It feels very small and you breathe.

We will quickly pass the barrier reindeer that serves the Sami to gather their animals. We will cross it at the river but there must be “doors” to cross it elsewhere I guess. The meal break will be done a little further, in front of the Renvaktarstuga.

The Renvaktarstuga are private cabins that belong to the Sames, so you can not use them as a refuge for the evening. On the maps you will find further indications “Låst” or “Forfallen” next to some huts; it means “locked” and “ruined” respectively.

A little after the meal break, we will come across our first crossing a little complex of river. Indeed we find here the confluence of two arms which form a rather important stream in the end. It is therefore necessary to cross a little after the Renvaktarstuga and stay to the west of all the rivers (left bank). We will arrive after some research time to cross (almost) dry by jumping from rocks to rocks. Once again I think we are lucky because the level of lessons is low in this season, it must go very differently in the spring and the crossing must be much more difficult!

We will quickly see Alggajàvrre which marks our entry point into Sarek and a little above Alkavare Kapell, a small chapel, a remnant of a period of mining exploration in the area.

To cross the lake there are two possibilities: row or pass by a bridge. You will find to the north-west end and under the Kapell, boats to cross the river.

The system of the three boats: it is a system that you will find in Sweden and Norway. To cross the train you have two possibilities. Either there are two boats on your side and you take one to cross, or there is only one boat on your side and you will have to cross, come back to drop a second boat which is on the other side and cross a new time. In summary with three boats, we make sure that there is always at least one on each side and it is the responsibility of the user to ensure it. It is therefore necessary to play the game even if it can take time (we will come back to the crossing of Sitojaure) and ensure that there is always a boat at least on each side.

No luck for us, there is only one boat on our side. But hey, the crossing must be 300m, we should get by.

We load our stuff, the guys and the last (me) pushes the boat to finish putting it in the water but the problem: it blocks! It can not be taken off. The water level is so low that near the bank there is not enough for the boat to float …

It will be nice to unload, no means to properly float the boat …. Good … Since we know that there is a bridge a little higher we do not take the head: we unload the boat and we go back to the bridge. I think it could have been put in the water by emptying bags and all, removing the shoes and pushing in the water but except a certain laziness to do all that, we did not know the depth either on the rest of the course, the bridge seemed a good alternative. Suffice it to say that 2018 was a particularly hot year for Sweden, even in the Arctic, which must partly explain the low level of the lake.

So here we are on the way to the “Bro” which is about 2km higher (to locate the area from far it is in the set of small hillocks that can be seen quickly by leaving the area of ​​the boat). So we reach it quickly and we quickly realize that it pulls a little face this bridge …

In addition to its rusty side and the few hanging ends, we have the right to a beautiful sign with a raised hand that seems to indicate a ban to pass … Not having too much choice we start anyway, one by a. It creaks and it squeaks but it goes. Honestly, we were not reassured at all at the crossing and I advise you to be very careful if you go there … (Back in France and after translation, we will realize that the sign means that the bridge is repair and do not borrow it …).

Here we are on the other side … Half turn then and it is left towards the Kapell that we will reach relatively quickly if it is the crossing of the river Gajnajjågåsj which will take us a little time because we have a search for a dry passage.

The detour by the bridge has consumed time and we have made less progress than expected. So we want to continue at least to the east end of the lake.

We are now progressing in a kind of miniature forest composed of bushes, height height or shoulders, particularly dense which makes navigation and progression particularly difficult. So we move slowly while making our way. It makes sense to have a path in the corner but you can not find it and try it up or down, there is nothing to do and frankly it annoys me! In addition to Quentin begins to have a suspicious knee pain, we will have to be vigilant.

We will finally arrive at the end of the lake and a not too bad place for the bivouac after 23km of walking … a good day.

The setting up of the bivouac is accompanied by a “nice” small fine rain that will not let go of the evening … So for me a moment a little gloomy in the gray and the cold. It’s a shame, the corner must be beautiful under the sun.

Once again we will not be slow to join our down especially since we are very tired tonight but well be happy, we are concretely in the Sarek tonight and we will begin to explore it tomorrow!

Day 5 - Alggavàgge and magic hut


Cold and rainy night! The alarm clock is not so easy … but the landscape compensates: indeed a light layer of snow sprinkled the head of the surrounding mountains is beautiful. The morning atmosphere is very serene but the clouds will soon come back to their appearance bringing the rain …

We go back on the road looking for the famous path that must pass in the area. So honestly, except for some traces of passages that are due to humans but also to reindeer, we will not find a good path for a moment. No, we will have the right to these horrible bushes which are, moreover, soaked this morning! So we are all wet pants and it goes into the socks by capillarity. So I quickly wet feet and to be honest, they will not dry before the end of the stay … It progresses very slowly and galley, it’s a dirty start to the day! To top it off, Quentin’s knee pain is sharp and very similar to tendonitis. This is worrying for the future because we are at least 40-50km from an exit point … So it will be necessary for the knee to hold!

After this horrible area, we finally arrive in a clear space that allows us to walk a little faster even if we sometimes progress in the marsh that ends to moisten us. On the other hand, the view is superb and the mountains keep their snow cap.

We will take the lunch break (at 11h …) on a small prominence and with a magnificent view of the valley towards the west with a large herd of reindeer below. Magnificent.

We begin the descent on the west side of the valley. In the distance the snow-capped peaks and glaciers of Mihkatjåhkkå and Māhtujåhkkå.

The descent is easy and beautiful. Do not cross the Ahkavegge, on the contrary at this level stay on the left of the valley (north side). You will see in the distance a Renvaktarstuga, that the semblance of path crosses on the left. We will cross here a beautiful herd of reindeer curious enough to come to about thirty meters.

The confluence of two valleys offers a magnificent landscape. It’s superb, that’s what we came for.

We arrive after this beautiful meeting to a potentially delicate passage: the crossing of the Guohperjåhkå. Do this “under” the reflaktarstuga, there are cairns that indicate the passage. Once again, our crossing was made easier by the low level of the river but in spring it must be another pair of sleeves!

The continuation of the progression will be relatively boring especially that it drizzles! There is not really a well marked path, at most reindeer tracks … Try to stay on the heights it will be easier to move forward. In any case after a while, we finally see the little hut next to the bridge that allows to cross the gorge of Skàrjà. I’m happy we did not get very far, we improve in navigation. I can not wait for it to arrive because Quentin has a lot of pain in his knee, he has to rest it.

The descent to the hut will be fast. This one is stupid but there is the essential: a table, two benches and a space of “storage”. By cons not enough to sleep properly, so we put the tents outside because we stop here for today. The sun makes its appearance again after a little while. The corner is really beautiful because it is at the confluence of several valleys. At 360 °, summits, valleys and the raw beauty of the country Samis.

As I said we will stay here for the night. The place is beautiful, it is nice and then it will be good to be a little sheltered to eat and do the evening.

This little hut, Mikkastuga, is a real moment of relaxation and happiness in the trek, a breath of fresh air that allows us to find a semblance of comfort. So we will spend the end of the afternoon to warm up quietly in the sun or tidy up a little, clean, … We will have the visit of a Finn who walks for 2 weeks in the Sarek, to make summits, a colorful character but who knew the “job”!

The hours go by, the light changes continuously, I want to redo the same photo every 15min. That these great spaces are beautiful!

In the evening we will have a king feast: sausage, cheese, pistachios, the famous four-cheese freeze-dried fondue that has become a tradition of hiking, soup, chocolate mousse lyophi, caramelized almonds … What to redo the calorie stock for the next day !

We are well, it is cold but there is no wind which makes things bearable. We spend a little time playing cards before joining our apartments outside after some final night shots. This evening is the best I spent trekking and this bivouac (luxury) is one of the most beautiful of these holidays. That will have done us a good crazy in this middle of course.

I fall asleep happy, unaware of the horrible day that awaits us tomorrow …

Day 6 - Horror


Morning rise and cold to change … At least it does not rain … for now. We fold the camp and we leave.

Here there is a path not too badly drawn, we lose it from time to time but we end up finding it in general. Quentin’s knee pulls a little but we took some gear to lighten his bag, it seems to stabilize the pain at least …

You will see this portion of the path is not complicated. There are three streams to cross, no problem for us but be careful in the spring. Only the Tjåggnårisjåhkå asks us to spend some time looking for a dry passage. The track forks after the river. You have to aim for the little prominence in the distance called Bielavàràsj (on my right side of the board).

It is from this point that the rain returns. At first light, it becomes stronger as and when. For now it’s okay if the atmosphere is less pleasant. In any case the view is beautiful and the valley impressive. One last rainy photo before the beginning of the horror.

The rest of the way takes us to the technical part of the day. The path passes under the big cliff of Bieltjåhkkå. We meet a duo father / daughter who warns that it slides hard and indeed already it is smooth rock and rain does not help! To top it off, the water-soaked vegetation soaks our pants and the rain always falls harder. So we move in this passage by moving slowly because it really slips.

After 45 minutes, we start to get wet. We finally reach the plateau of Lake Sàvvajavrre and there we go to a whole new level. Already we are almost 1000m, the mercury has fallen well, but we have a strong headwind (about 50km / h) and we are in the clouds. So take rain, wind and a temperature around 0 ° C and you have the great combo. Quickly we find ourselves wet to the underpants (literally), the goretex gives up the game and we are immediately wet at the torso. Basically we are fully soaked!

Then starts a long moment of struggle, we lose our temperature extremely fast, so we start to walk like crazy. Heads down in the wind, we advance as quickly as possible to warm from the inside. We do not talk anymore or just some jokes from time to time to warm up the atmosphere.

We will talk about it together next but I can tell you that at that moment we all felt extremely vulnerable in the middle. Already we are 60km from any civilization, the telephone network does not pass obviously and even if necessary the relief could not intervene by this weather. So we are all alone, walking like ghosts to escape this plateau that is literally sucking all traces of heat in our bodies.

Further, before attacking the descent, we will make the ghostly meeting of a group of reindeer posed waiting for the end of the storm. The descent sounds like the exit door of this hell of fog.

The few tens of meters of elevations remount slightly the thermometer but we are soaked and we stay cold. We continue to move forward. We will arrive quickly in a forest of sodden birches that will continue to wet us.

After long kilometers, we finally find a spot where to land. The camp is hastily mounted and we jump into our respective tents. Matthieu and I are in underwear because all our clothes are soaked. Directly under the cover of survival time to resume a few degrees. Quickly we dress with dry clothes (thankfully the backpacks have not (or little) taken the water) and we take refuge in our down.

It will take us 3 hours to return to a suitable temperature! The rain fell continuously for 7 hours. The “evening” around 17h it finally stops and it’s happy because we have to eat something hot to recover. So we go out “cook” in underpants because the pants are soaked. The clouds have finally risen and reveal a beautiful scenery. We spend a good time with our lyophi and the view. It’s crazy the speed with which we go from one emotion to another on a hike: we alternate between saying “but why are I fucking here? Why am I doing this?” at times of grace offered by a view, a hot little thing to eat or just a good joke. It is also that finally that one comes to look here, the simple things which have a real beneficent impact on you.

We will go to bed early, rain resuming in the early evening. Fortunately our sleeping bags are not wet.

This day will have been very rich in teaching, first and even if we know it is the speed at which a difficult situation can happen, it is also the fact that the water will always cross but it is especially the harshness of the climate here. This day changed our perception of this trek. We went from wild “walk” to engaged hike. Tonight we especially want to get out of here. Our arrival in Rapadalen will have been very sporting.

In terms of feedback, I think we have prepared too much in “French Mountains” mode. Sweden requires a particular approach especially in terms of moisture management. Afterwards, we will have to review some points. But let’s be reassured too, we overcame that and the Swedish father / daughter duo we met today will say to Saltoluokta (where we find them) that they had a lot of problems too and it was hard so good, if even experienced local galley, it’s ok!

In the meantime I fall asleep, exhausted, warm and listening to the rain outside. I hope it will stop by tomorrow morning.

Day 7 - Rapadalen


It rained again tonight but at least this morning it stopped … By cons everything is obviously wet from yesterday. I must admit that this morning I have no desire to get up and put on clothes full of water (pants, socks, …).

But hey … you have to go. We fold the camp and we start. It was not too bad recovery from the day before but Quentin still has bad left knee and the right one starts to make his too … it’s not good sign and we have 60km to go …

The beginning of the path is still and always in the dense and wet forest, we will not dry today … By road I hear a vague trace of track that seems to have been recently trod by a human given the few footprints that we find here and there. It is far from the beautiful Padjelanta and its 4-star layout. Here no boardwalk in the swamps, you have to go straight and up to mid-calves sometimes. And marsh level we are served today. Anyway to summarize we have the choice between the forest of wet birches, swamps and a bush dense to the height of man who whips your face … A real treat.

In spite of everything one progresses and the few passages close to the water reveal every time a splendid landscape with, in the background, the Gådoktjåhkkå all sprinkled with fresh snow.

The further we go, the less the trace is visible. It often disappears in rivers and marshes.

Early afternoon, Nammàsj (pronounced Nammatche) is in sight, it’s our destination. We are trying to set up camp near the landing stage that normally leads to Akste but is no longer operational at this time.

We will reach our destination around 16h. We have a nice bivouac area and above all an incredible view of Rapadalen.

The camp installed, we s’atèle our classic tasks: drying business (we even have the chance to have the sun!), Photo, foot care … Moreover, when it comes to feet, mine start to get a little tired of being so wet that I have some open sores on the heels and a toe that starts gently to purge … but hey, when you walk 8 hours a day in swamps you must not s’ wait for better – we also meet a Swede later who had an interesting philosophy: “Get wet and accept” (Be soaked and accept it) …

We will light a small fire tonight. What to warm a little even if the wet wood does not heat very hard.

The day was good in the end and we made good progress despite the difficult terrain and the knee of Quentin. The bivouac is really beautiful and pleasant. Once again, the lights of the self make you want to take pictures continuously.

Because it’s freezing, we will soon be joining our down.

Day 8 - Skierffe, Kungsleden and Sitojaure


It was cold tonight! With Matthieu it was because we are two in the tent and we have good duvets but Quentin is well peeled. We had about -5 ° C. The funny thing is that since everything is soaked, and everything has frozen, even the shoes. So we have the good fortune to put good big blocks of ice right after the sunrise.

By cons who says cool night said pretty sunny morning atmosphere :

The first step of the day is to climb the Skierffe. Just 600m from D +, it is not huge but there is no way on this side which changes the situation in the end. So we start off trail through the birch forest once again relatively dense.

In order to find you I advise you to aim at the waterfall that descends to the left of the Skierffe. Following this course you will not encounter any major difficulties. There is just the Nammàsjjåhkå to cross but looking a bit you can find a watchtower.

We arrive quickly at the beginning of the climb which is done largely in the forest. The slope is quite steep and the lack of path does not help but by going quietly no worries. In addition, the view is more and more beautiful as one raises what gives balm to the heart:

You will reach a “false” plane at the top of the climb where trees are scarce. Take direction to the right (full east) at this time. Once the cascade has passed from above, you start the long final slope towards the summit. I advise you not to walk too close to the cliff, already for safety but especially to have the surprise of the view when you reach the highest point of Skierffe.

And I must tell you that this view is absolutely beautiful! From above you kiss in a glance Rapadalen and its delta, Nammàsj very small down, Tjahkelij, the lakes of Làjtavrre and Tjaktjajàvrre, … It’s amazing! To the north you can also admire the large empty moors that extend to Lake Sitojaure. The Skierffe keeps its promises in any case and we are happy and far from the harshness of the last days. That’s why we walk: to see these unique and wonderful landscapes with our own eyes.

We take advantage of this magical place to make our lunch break. However at 1179m altitude it is cold especially in the Far North, we cool quickly being static. Still some photos and we take the road again.

The continuation of the path must lead us to the lake Sitojaure, for that we must reach the Kungsleden but the path goes down to Akste to go up. So we decide to cut straight past the Doaresoajvve. We find ourselves again off the trail in a very pleasant terrain walking freely. The landscapes are superb: tundra as far as the eye can see with a backdrop of great peaks all white.

We finally reach the Kungsleden which seems to us a highway after these 7 days in the pampas: the path is wide, perfectly marked and marked up every 10m. In short we advance quickly on the end of the plateau and then in a forest / swamp relatively sad.

Around 16:30 we arrive in sight of the little cabin near the pier which allows to cross the lake. From here we can take a motor boat but as we do not have enough Swedish crowns on us (400Kr / pers), we say that we will row on the 4.5km except that … there a 0 rowing boat! There should be at least one except that no … It’s a problem!

Fortunately for us there is an American waiting for 1h the boat to pass the other side. We will wait until the driver arrives and see with her how we can arrange to pay for our crossing (euros, transfer, ..).

Then starts the wait, we do not know what time it will pass, there is just a word saying that it will … We wait while chatting with the American hiker, nibbling, improvising a petanque to pebble base, …

Time passes and is long, after 2 hours of waiting we begin to wonder what we will do ….

Fortunately, our pilot will arrive around 18:30. Fortunately she also accepts euros, so we will be able to cross tonight and not waste time. So we embark all four and left for 10 minutes crossing.

The distance is really long to the small village on the other side. I think that rowing is possible but it is a good step not to undertake if there is too much wind! And I’m not even talking about the case where you have to make an extra round trip to bring a boat to the other side. I advise you to prefer the passage with the motorboat even if it is expensive.

We arrive on the other side, we land and we take the time to chat with the pilot who is also a reindeer breeder. Initially we thought we would stay well at the Sitojaurestugorna for the night (a refuge) but she advised us to continue the road 3km further to bivouac and spend the 50 € of the night (500kr) Saltoluokta is more fun according to her.

So we take the road at dusk walking quickly to try not to arrive at night. The Kungsleden is still “rolling”, so we need just 45 minutes to cover the 3km to the bivouac near a water point.

It’s already dark when we get on camp. We will have the visit of a beautiful red fox, not afraid who will approach a few meters to glean a little food I think. He will leave after a while leaving us to our lyophi eaten in the light of the headlight.

The sky is clear, it will still be cold tonight. We sleep for the last time in our tents because tomorrow is the last day.

Day 9 - Last day toward Saltoluokta


The mercury is still down well tonight as evidenced by the frozen tent awakening. The rising sun also reveals the beautiful landscape that surrounds us and which we could not enjoy yesterday. I love these early morning atmosphere where everything is calm and peaceful.

We fold the camp one last time and we take the road for the 15km that separate us from the Saltoluokta fjallstation.

The landscapes are really beautiful all along this stretch of road, moreover we are lucky to have a big sun today, the perfect time to finish the trek. It’s the first day without any rain.

So we go forward the light heart happy to find the civilization after these 8 days not always easy.

It will take us only 4 hours to travel the distance that separates us from the “resort”, 4 hours of show offered by nature:

We will arrive in Saltoluokta around 13h. There are a lot of people here, it’s even surprising and a little destabilizing after a week having almost nobody. I always need a little moment to land …

The rest of the day will be shared between a small beer, a sauna tour with a beautiful view of the lake and the valley, a good evening meal (~ 25 €).

In the evening we will wait for the dawn and we will be rewarded by a beautiful show! A great way to finish this trek.

We will fall asleep with our head full of northern lights in our room.

The next day we will take the boat at 12:30 and then the bus to Kiruna where we will spend a day before returning to France.

From the bus ride, we will feel a nostalgia for the great outdoors and the “Wild”. Unfortunately we say goodbye to Lapland but already we want to go back to live such an experience again.

Conclusions


What an adventure ! I wanted to go to Sarek as soon as I heard about it and my hopes were not disappointed. Sarek is wild, hard, beautiful, breathtaking. The dimension of Nature, whether landscape or weather, make you feel very small. It is rare nowadays, in Europe at least, to walk 3, 5 or even 7 days without crossing a real human structure or even people or just 2min time to cross.

This trek will have been one of the hardest that I have done and it is the same for my acolytes. The field was the main difficulty but the weather will have arranged nothing. But besides that, the reward offered by the landscapes and all these little indescribable moments largely compensate for the difficulties. A few days after our return Quentin was talking about amnesia to pain, I like this picture. We forget what was wrong and we only keep the good and we immediately want to leave a little further, a little longer. I do not know yet where it will be, but what is certain is that the call of the North will still be strong in the coming months.


Traversée du pont de neige - Laponie

Kungsleden - From Nikkaluokta to Abisko

9days

into the wild

96km

walked

1500m

D+

140km

north from the Polar Circle

The “Call of the Wild” has been strong again this year ! Of course we answered if : destination Swedish Lapland with Matthieu and Quentin in the Kebnekaise region for around ten days between Nikkaluokta and Abisko.

First we wanted to follow the Kungsleden between this two places but we had to change our plans a bit as I will explain later.

For this trek, our main goal was to escape in the Great Outdoors with as little human contact as possible, in total freedom. Sweden and Lapland are perfect for that !

Follow us for this 9 days in the birch forest, the swaps or the snow, far for the civilization, alone and happy to be !

The path


Download

Our first wish was to go in a remote area with very little human contact and in which we would live the “Great Life”. Sweden was perfect for that especially in the Lapland and thanks to the Allemansrätt law (More information about this law here).

 

So we wanted to walk the Kungsleden between Singi and Abisko starting in Nikkaluokta but after few searches on the Internet et some feedbacks from the field, we chose to start in the Vistas valley first and then cross in the Mountains at the Raïtastugan hut and join the regular path after Nallo.

The Kungsleden, the Royal Path, is a 400km trek between Hemavan and Abisko. It crosses wild area of the north sweden as the Sarek, the Vindelfjallen ou Saltoluokta mountains. The Singi-Abikso portion is the most walked because there are shelters every 20km so one can do this part with a light backpack.

The problem is that this idea was good but winter has been late this yer and there was still much snow from the locals feedback. Finally we started in Vistas valley as planned and then we crossed toward Alesjaure. After that, to avoid meeting too much people, we went to the Gama and the Kårsavagge valley. This was a interesting way, more remote than the Kungsleden and offering beautiful, unspoiled sceneries.

Start and first day: beginning of the journey and first mishap


Meeting is at 8am in Charles de Gaulle Airport, France. Quentin and Matthieu are there with their huge backpacks full of 10 days of food. Excitation is there to, we are eager to be in the wild soon.

The 2h30 flight is quick. Here we are in Stockholm airport. We decided to continue our journey by train. It is a good way to take time, to adapt slowly to our new environment.

But before that we have to wait for 5h in the airport. So we use this time to pack our bag and to check the path one more time.

The train is leaving at 6pm, we have a compartment for three, it is a bit small but it will be ok for the night (there are also shower available). The evening will be spent playing cards and watching the landscapes flying through. It is a succession of lakes, forests and small town from time to time.

This night, the sun will barely set, polar circle is closing up…

We spend a good night, It’s around 8h when we wake up. Card play again while playing breakfast. We take a new train in Boden at 10am. It is a regular small on full of hikers going in Lapland. This next 4hours seems very long.. It’s already been 17h that we are in a train…

Finally we arrive in Kiruna! The end of the journey is impressive because the train passes by the enormous iron mine of the city (27500 tons on iron are extracted every day). From the trainstation we go to the city thank to a free shuttle. Then we go to the tourist office to have some informations about the ways to go to Nikkaluokta.

Normally there are daily buses from Kiruna to Nikkaluokta but they only that on the tomorrow so we want to take a taxi. The lady at the office tells us that it is possible but she just received a mail which warn people that the Kungsleden is almost unwalkable due to a 80/90% snow coverage and swamps…Ouch ! Listening to her, it seems that our plans are about to fail due to the conditions…

We think about the options we have : going there anyway, waiting for tomorrow to have more informations or going in another place… Changing place : no, it will be the same and we are not prepared, waiting : it will change nothing… So we choose to go to Nikkaluokta and asses the situation there… if it is not good we will return…

So here we are, in the taxi, to Nikkaluokta. I’m happy to be there in this northern landscapes soon into the wild…

One and half hour and a nap later we are finally in Nikkaluokta, the true beginning of our trip !

Not many things here : just a big building which is an hotel, a restaurant and a small shop but the best thing is that this is the end of the road !

Before we go we stop to check with the owner of the hotel to get more informations about the field conditions. She has no more news than the Lady at the turist office earlier. She just confirms us that the valleys are quite snowy and that it can be a bit difficult to walk there. At this moment some guys are just passing by and it appears that they are helicopter pilots here. They are telling us that all the Kungsleden valley is almost full of snow from Singi to Abisko. The Vistas valley seems better but they don’t how is the end of it. Yesterday they had to “rescue” people… not a good news… With all this infos we decide to begin in the Vistas valley tand to improvise depending on the snow… We’ll see.

Here we are, ready to go, everything is set, it’s sunny,.. one last photo and GO !

We start on the road for 2km then we turn left into the birch forest. We are directly attacked by the mosquitoes !

In summer, polar regions can be a real inferno because of the mosquitoes which are swarning in the swamps. We hoped that there would be few of them in June (which was true especially because of the late winter). There are few of them after mid august.

The problem is that we made a mistake ! We turned left too soon so the path disappears after few hundred meters and now we walk either on thick forest or in swamps ! Ô happiness ! We don’t know if it is normal or not and or map is showing us that we should be in a right place… so we go on.

Quickly we are totally soaked, we try to keep going in the swamps but it is difficult and to improve the situation mosquitoes are very found of us. After two hours we will just do 2km… I have to admit that I am a bit afraid of the rest of the trek if it’s all like this…

It’s already late and we are tired of the journey so we start looking for a place to camp. After a bit of hesitation we find a nice place close to the river. It will be fine for the night.

The tents are quickly set up even if the mosquitoes are trying to distract us. The mood is quickly better after we lit up a fire.

Fast lunch and everyone is going to bed because we are tired… The place is nice on this evening with a beautiful sunlight over the valley. However, I am falling asleep a bit worried due to the snow, the swamps we had to cross and the ones ahead,… We will see tomorow but I hope it will be better… Anyway, I’m still happy to be there !

Download

Day 2 : further in the Vistas valley


Download

We had a good night sleep even with the midnight sun.

We don’t spend too much time at the camp on the morning because of the mosquitoes. Once we are ready to go we choose not to continue in the “right” direction but in perpendicular way because we think that the path could be in this direction after a fine analysis of the map… and here it is 200m from the camp ! A beautiful path in wood planks… Yesterday we were so close but we didn’t see it…

Of course we are moving much faster on this good track. It is cloudy today but the landscapes are pleasant. For the time being we have not met anyone since we left Nikkaluokta …

Arrived at a large river, the path is more discreet in the high grass, so we are wrong turning on the right but this is a chance because we fall on a moose grazing nicely at 50m away … The absence of antlers makes me think that it is a female, it is not very big but itt is however impressive. It lets us observe it for 1 minute and then moves away without too much hurry revealing a second one hidden farther in the undergrowth …

We find the right way after this nice meeting. The crossing of the river is done on a makeshift bridge in trunks of birches. We then meet a group of four Russians who passed by the mountains a few days ago, good news! We can therefore pass despite the snow, the conditions are not so horrible as that.

We continue the road at a good pace taking time to admire the landscapes. Behind us, Nikkaluokta seems already far away, the phone network has disappeared since this morning, we are now really in the Wild Lapland!

There are many rivers to cross on the way, many are relatively narrow, others wider or more flowing require a bit of judgment. But the one ahead of us is going to be complicated to cross without removing the shoes and the pants … so be it. Everyone crosses his turn, the water is freezing! It comes directly from the melting snow and has not had time to warm up …

The path then continues gently. During the lunch break we meet two Germans arriving from where we want to go! Good news especially that we also met Dutchmen who turned back towards Nallo … The road we want to do is therefore feasible even if it will be a bit challenging according to the Germans…

The day is long, especially as we are not yet “warmed up” and that the bags are heavy in this trek start. Quentin begins to feel pain on the iliac crest and suffers a little while walking, for my part I start to get a little fed up, it is soon 16km walking. Two guys we met earlier (with 10 people this day was the most populous of the trip) told us that there are some very nice camping spots next to a bridge. We decided to push another 2km.

And indeed, we find a perfect location for the camp: flat grassy ground, river below 20m, corner for the campfire … Perfect!

I spot a herd of reindeers in the forest a little further away! They have not seen us, so we approach discreetly to observe them. They obviously spot us before long and escape but we still have time for few photos.

The camp will soon be set and the fire quickly lights up. It’s a fresh weather we have tonight. Everyone washes a little at the river (the water is always as cold) and we have a “good” meal based on dehydrated food, sausages and cheese by the fire. We are well that night, we feel free. We are living what we came for, we are lucky.

End of day more optimistic than the day before. The path will be fine until Alesjaure but it will be complicated then until Abiskojaure …

Day 3 : To Vistasstugan


Download

Another good night even though the sound of the river was pretty present. We fold, we tidy up, we start. The program of the day is light: we walk to the cabin / refuge of Vistas 10km away.

But before resuming the road: DIY workshop! Indeed, the shoes of Matthieu show signs of worrying at the level of the soles. That of the right foot is already well detached and that of the left foot will not be long … It is not a good thing for the following of the trek. Fortunately, I took my big climbing tape which is solid, so we will try to keep the sole in place as well and change the tape in the evening, at the worst Quentin also has a little of it and we have a bit of string …

We are on our way back, still further into the wild Lapland. The beginning of the road takes us to a small bridge that crosses an impassable river otherwise, farther, again, small bridge that crosses a beautiful river and which offers a superb view on the valley downstream.

The map shows the presence of a hut near the second bridge. We did not go inside but this one looks more than rundown.

The path then leads to Vistasstugan. We arrive there 4 hours after the departure of the camp this morning (without hurry). The day of walking was short.

Vistasstugan is normally guarded but the keeper will only arrive 2-3 days later according to what we were told in Alesjaure the next day. The facilities cover a fairly large area because there are several residential or technical buildings and even a sauna!

As far as we are concerned, we are heading towards the winter hut (the one near the bridge) which remains open annually and which in particular contains an emergency telephone. The hut is really nice, it’s even amazing how well it’s laid out, maintained and clean! The atmosphere inside is very cozy, there are four beds (relatively comfortable), a table, a stove that heats very well, gas and a small gas cooker (great luxury) and quite a lot of kitchen equipment. We will believe ourselves at home!

We settle for the rest of the day and the night, three days already that we left and it would be stupid not to take advantage of this small cabin, especially since, according to what we know, the next days will be hard!

Scarcely settled, we are welcomed by reindeers passing in the middle of the cabins.

The afternoon will start with a hearty meal followed by alternating siesta, “shower” at the river, playing cards (a lot) and just enjoy the moment.

We will also throw a fire in the stove to warm up and dry the clothes, the latter heats very well, so it is very (very) hot quickly in the cabin but it’s not bad.

Vistasstugan is a beautiful place, it offers a nice view of the mountains around and on the valley. There is also the beginning of the path for Nallostugan.

We will be joined in the early evening by two Us girls who come from Abisko, which is good news because it makes two groups that come from this direction, so it will be achievable. As we took three beds out of the four of the cabin they decide to settle the tent a little further, we will nevertheless share the meal and heat of the stove.

We will be in our bed soon because tomorrow we have a long road to Alesjaure.

Although the winter cabin is unguarded there is a small “fee” that must be paid (250SEK / night / person). You can pay the amount by bank transfer or at the STF office in Abisko (and maybe in Nikkaluokta but I have a doubt about it).

Day 4 : from Vistasstugan to Alesjaure


Download

Destination Alesjaure after tidy up and cleaning of the hut. We are rested, the tape is put on the shoes of Matthew, the bags done … Let’s go for 19km!

Today, we leave the valley of Vistas after three days to walk in it. We will begin to take a little altitude to arrive finally a small pass that will allow us to “descend” on Alesjaure.

The vegetation changes rapidly, the trees become more and more rare and stunted, the tundra takes the place. The bottom of the valley is beautiful and wild.

We will have the chance to pass not far from a reindeer couple shortly after departure. The reindeer are here accustomed to humain since they belong to the Sami people and are parked several times a year to be counted or marked.

The path is good and relatively dry on this portion. We’re moving forward quickly.

We will have lunch break in front of a Renvaktarstuga hut(private hut owned by Sami people).

Further on we cross the Moarhmmàjhoka on another small bridge, all on the same kind, simple but efficient. Just behind, we start the climb on the pass. Last look at the valley of Vistas who will have kept his promises in terms of landscapes and isolation.

We then cross three groups, some Swiss, Estonians and Germans who all come from Abisko. They give us all the same version of the way, ie achievable but extremely wet and snow is often above the knees between Alesjaure and Abiskojaure … Despite the fight that seems to be waiting for us, we will make it which is better than than turn around (the US girls of the previous day still told us that a group of 9 people had called the helicopter to Alesjaure to go back…).

The path passes here on a kind of plateau. We’re starting to get our first snow. This one is rather good and is none of a problem to us. We feel that we are in altitude because the trees are almost absent and the lakes still partially frozen!

The hut of Tjatjajaurekåtan is a ruin, it can offer a relative shelter to the wind for a break.

We quickly begin the “descent” on Alesjaure. During this one we pass not far from Alisjàrvi a Sami camp still unoccupied because it is a little early in the season. The view of the lake makes it clear that there is a lot of snow on this part of the Kungsleden.

As it begins to be late in the afternoon the snow has softened, so we pass a little through but nothing terrible for now. A few river crossings and finally we arrive at Alesjaure.

Alesjaure is a big installation, there are quite a few cabins. I do not know how many people can be welcomed here but we think there must be quite a few people on the Kungsleden in the high season.

We will make a stop at the main cabin, time to chat a little with the friendly guardians about the field conditions and to give them of feedback about the Vistas side.

We will not stay here, however, we prefer to set the camp a little further. We go on 300 meters further and find a beautiful location that offers a breathtaking view of the valley. The vegetation has changed a lot, here only shrubs and grass are found.

The camp is quickly installed, we relax because we walked a fairly long distance. Matthieu goes in search of berries and brings back a few black berries (it’s a shame because there are still few berries given that the winter was late).

The end of the evening will be cool because the wind blows strong and it descends directly from the mountains. Tomorrow awaits us a difficult day, so we eat a lot and we go to bed early.

Day 5 : a hard day (or not) !


Download

One day more in deep Swedish Lapland and not least because today we attack the part so dreaded since the start.

Our strategy for the day is established: the majority of the groups met followed the “true” path of the Kungsleden along the lake but the “U” shape of the valley makes the water run and stagnates in this zone which makes the snow bad so one ends up soaking wet in the snow / swamp mix. So we chose to go higher up to 800-850m in order to be in an area where the water does not stagnate and to take advantage of the altitude to have a snow a little colder.

According to the feedbacks we had the main difficulty is concentrated on the crossing of an important river 2km after Alesjaure and whose snow bridges in the lower part are broken, we hope to find good ones on our way, upper.

We leave, after five days each now has its reflexes, its rituals, we are now 100% in the trek. We must admit that the absence of a network is positive for this because we are really disconnected from the outside world.

The beginning of the way is good and we take advantage of the cool morning to progress rapidly on the hard snow. We stick a little a few times but nothing dramatic. The famous river is approaching but for the moment no problem and to top it all it is beautiful!

After 45min we arrive to the river, we quickly understand why it can cause problems: it is relatively wide and the flow is impressive. Luckily we fall directly on a snow bridge that seems solid. For safety, we go through each turn; and everything goes fine! It is a moment of joy because our apprehensions of the previous days are flying, the weather is beautiful and the scenery in this place is magnificent! We take the time to savor it.

We then stay on the heights because it is clear that the bottom of valley is gorged with water. We walk relatively fast, there is nobody, it’s nice and the sun does not spoil anything at all. The view of the valley, upstream as well as downstream, is magnificent.

We meet the Kungsleden at the level of a “rengärde”, a large circular enclosure to park the reindeers during the annual counts. The path is much more muddy but fortunately the sections arranged make it possible not to be too wet (even if in the end the water finds its way into the socks).

The use of gaiters and really waterproof footwear is recommended for the whole trek to limit the penetration of water.

We have progressed much faster than expected but it is useless to run because we still have quite a few days ahead and so we have time to go slow. We decide to spend the afternoon in the small cabin of Radunjarga, it is a simple shelter a little away from the Kungsleden. It is composed of a lock (with shovels and brooms) and a large room with wooden benches, table and stove. The use of firewood is reserved for emergencies and there are no trees in the area, so there will be no fire today.

The afternoon will start with a good lunch and even some homemade hot chocolate made by Matthieu with love.

We will then spend our time between resting, water chores and card games. This moment in the cabin will have been a small pause in the trek, the comfort there was minimum but just as it needed to be.

We chose not to sleep in the cabin in order to be quiet if people arrive late. The camp will be set up a little further on the heights to enjoy a dry location. The landscape and the light are superb.

I feel relieved and serene at the end of the evening because I know we will be able to join Abikso; Even the shoes of Matthew and their soles appear to want to hold.

We sleep under a beautiful midnight sun in the calm of the Lapland …

Day 6 & 7 : change of plan and resting


Download

It was not hot that night but we still slept well. We are back on the Kungsleden. There is a lot of snow but we are still progressing quite quickly.

We are on the sixth day and we still have three days left before returning to Kiruna. We are only two days away from Abisko. So we decided to change the plans a little bit: we are going to change the valley for the Kamajakka river because we are starting to meet more and more people here and we want to be more isolated. We also decided to stay two days at the same place to enjoy the nature, the quiet.

We will then branch off from the Kungsleden to Sami camp (a few hundred meters after the reindeer barrier). The path is then a bit muddy but it’s pretty. At 800m altitude, we climb a small hill to admire the valley below. The landscape is wonderful. The vision is going for miles on a succession of snow-capped peaks and lakes further down the valley. We can see the Sami camp of Rovvidievva in front of us. We settle down to snack while admiring Lapland.

We begin the descent. The road is good, there must not be many people who passed here this year because there is no footsteps. We quickly arrive at the small bridge that spans the river Kamajakka whose flow and power are impressive. On the other hand, Quentin realizes that he lost his camera a little earlier, so he goes back to look for it and, fortunately, finds it quickly.

The Sami camp is not inhabited at present, so we pass quickly and continue north. The ground is particularly soggy, I hope we will find a nice place to set the camp.

We arrive towards the Hoiganjohka river after 2km. We only saw one interesting camp place for now. We leave the bags near the small bridge and we go in scouting in the area to find a good spot.

After some hesitation we find the perfect spot! Flat ground, superb view, river at 20m … We are even welcomed by a great sun just after setting the camp.

We settle for two days in our little camp. The rest of the day starts by eating a good lunch by the fireplace that we just launched. We will then share our time between farniente and workshop wood carving especially for Quentin and Matthieu.

The light at the end of the evening is beautiful, we take full advantage of the moment. We have not crossed anyone since we forked out of the Kungsleden, we feel at the end of the world, isolated, we are well … We really feel fullness in this kind of moment, we came for it , we are overwhelmed.

We will not lie down too late that night because the cold catches us even if the sun does not set.

The next day we will enjoy the day to eat well and rest, Quentin will also take a long stroll on the heights. Matthew and I will stay near the fire all day long, pruning wood, chatting …

We will see absolutely nobody that day, it’s great … We are lucky to be here in Lapland and to be able to fully experience our adventure.

Day 8 : further & lonelier


Download

Cool night as evidenced by the hat of frost on the surrounding mountains.

We leave the camp and make sure to leave no trace of our passage except two small stone benches. We take the road towards Abiskojaure and certainly towards more human contact …

The path is good and well marked towards the hut, with the loss of altitude, we find forests composed of large trees that contrast with the puny birches of the previous days.

We will soon arrive at Absikojaure which is a big hut installation. The guards will tell us that they can accommodate up to 60 people per night. We meet them by the way taking breakfast and they will invite us to settle with them so that one exchanges on the conditions of ground. I am surprised because I do not have the impression that the cabins discuss a lot between them to get informations of the conditions on the ground, so the guards are very interested in the return that can be made to them.

One of the managers tells us about a valley a little further north in which few people go. We had initially planned to follow the Kungsleden until Abisko but the prospect of being even more isolated is attractive. So we’re changing our plans to get to the Karsåvagge valley.

The beginning of the path is behind the camping site of Abiskojaure. We first go along the lake and then a small river. We quickly take the altitude and the view emerges behind us revealing the lake, the mountains around and on the horizon. It’s beautiful.

The snow quickly reappears, hiding a bit of the road, which is easily followed by the regularly spaced cairns.

The path and the general atmosphere of the landscape are becoming better and better as the ascent progresses, there is an air of garden of Eden, intact nature, pure. On our right two herds of reindeers graze, on the left a small stream is running between the grasses. There is a great sunshine, we are alone, it is a very pleasant moment during which we were particularly happy to be there and to venture in a valley where few people have passed this year.

The path takes us higher and higher, we follow the traces left by the guardian of Abiskojaure yesterday, there are only his …

We arrive at the summit (which is quite flat and all in length) towards 1150m of altitude. The view around is superb: to the south west the valleys from where we come and far the Kebnekaise. To the north is Abisko and Lake Torneträsk.

We start the descent towards Kårsavagge. There is no traces anymore, the terrain is pristine from now on. The valley is particularly covered with snow, we see from here the lakes that are still frozen.

There are some cairns to indicate the way. It is very beautiful. One has the impression, once again, to be alone in the world.

There is a path on the other side of the valley but you have to cross the river at the cabin of Kårsavagge. We will not take this option, instead we choose to remain from this side of the valley and progress off the trail. We turn then to the right at the level of the big river 500m after the summit. The descent is fast, we use the snow plates to go faster.

We will continue a little further time to find a beautiful camping location for the night. It will be done not far from the river to a place where his bed is tightened.

We are setting the camp for the last time because tomorrow we will be in Abisko. We are well installed even if there is a little wind. There is a small place to shelter to have a snack and to play cards.

Late evening classic with meal, moment of fullness and beautiful light when the sun passes behind the mountains. Kårsavagge is beautiful ! We are not far from the Kungsleden but we feel that here few people come.

Day 9 and last days: Abisko...


Download

Last breakfast, last packing … We take the path towards Abisko. None of us are in a hurry to find the city and its hustle and bustle …

We progress in the Kårsavagge valley off the trail towards the bridge which crosses the river. It is reached quickly but its appearance challenges us a little from far … It is by getting closer that one understands better: one of the slats that supports the bridge way is broken so that it hangs over the river. A sign on the other side indicates that the bridge is closed. The problem is that if you do not take the bridge you end up with the choice of turning back and crossing to look higher (in spite of the very strong current) or else make a long detour downstream … Given the state of the bridge it is estimated that one can try. We go one after the other and despite some cracking we pass without encumber …

There is not much to say about the end of the path to Abisko. It offers a beautiful view of the Torneträsk and the surrounding peaks.

We finally join other paths traveled by tourists passing through Abisko. The civilization is beginning to be rediscovered. The end of the road leads to the road not far from the famous gate that marks the beginning or the end of the Kungsleden. We stop there for a photo.

Here we are at Abisko! The shoes of Mattieu have held!

It is 1pm and the bus to Kiruna passes at 6pm, so we moved to the Turist Station on the tables outside enjoying the sun. It is the Mid-Summer festival that marks the summer solstice. So there is a whole dance and music animation and even cake! This allows us to pass the time …

We board at 6pm in the direction of Kiruna where we spend the night and the next day (we will sleep at the Scandic Ferrum hotel which is not bad). We will also take advantage of our day to visit the mine which is worth it. In the evening we spend the evening at the Bishop Arm, the Kiruna pub …

Return to France the day after. Difficult return to reality between the temperature that had to take 20 ° C, pollution and the crowd … Lapland is already far …

Conclusions

Another trek that will be remembered. These ten days in Lapland were absolutely brilliant thanks to the landscapes, the atmosphere but above all thanks to the feeling of freedom and wild nature that one feels there. I had some apprehensions before the start on the nature of the terrain and the difficulties that we were going to encounter, apprehension confirmed on our arrival by the feedbacks that we had but now in retrospect, it was not so hard on the contrary. The moderate physical difficulty has allowed us to benefit even more. I am also happy because it was the first time I left with 10 days of autonomy in the bag and I even had some food left at the return. We can therefore think about treks of this duration or even a little longer with a bag of 65L well filled.

This trek was my first Swedish experience and in Lapland. I Would definitely come back here again! As soon as I returned I started to look at the Sarek National Park for a next walk … Who knows, we will see? …

I can only advise you to go and lose you a few days in these wild lands.


Lofoten Island, Norway

It has been a year that we wanted to go back in Norway and especially visit the Lofoten Islands. Why there ? Because Lofoten Islands are a magnificent jewel lost north of the Polar Circle. Imagine kilometer high mountains with their feet in the ocean. You begin your hike just by the sea on the morning and walk in high mountains by noon ! Lofoten are unique and magical.

Where are they ?

Located between 67° and 69° north, the Lofoten Islands are 300km north of the Polar Circle. The archipelago is 150km long in the north Atlantic. Despite they are located far north the climate there is quite nice due to the Gulf Stream which bath the islands.

They are seven main Islands (from East to West) : Austvågøya, Gimsøya, Vestvågøya, Flakstadøya, Moskenesøya, Værøy, Røstlandet. People living there are mainly of the shore because the inside land is mainly sharp mountains.

The archipelago is easy to cross by car thanks to the E10 road but it would be a shame to just visit the island in two hours. It is the perfect place to walk to discover all the hidden treasures that Lofoten can offer. So our plan was to walk from Svolvaer to Moskenes and to choose the details depending on the weather or our envy…


How to go to the Lofoten Islands

They are many ways to go to the Lofoten :

  • by car : from Narvik and the E10 or from Bodø and Moskenes after few hours of ferry
  • by ferry from Bodø : from there you can go the Moskenes, Svolvaer or Stamsund.
  • by plane : there are two small airports on the islands : Leknes and Svolvaer. There are regular flight every day.

On our side we chose the following solution :

  • Plane to Oslo (Gardenmoen)
  • Train between Oslo and Bodø
  • Ferry Express Boat from  Bodø and Svolvaer

The train is 17h long but we like this soft way to travel. It allows the traveler to appreciate the moment, to enter slowly in his new environment. The Norwegian train are especially comfy thank to the private double compartments so the 17h were fine. 


Day 1 : from Svolvaer to the Olderjforden

At last  Svolvaer ! It’s just been a flight, “few” hours of train and a ferry but now we can really start. The hike begin on the road in the direction on Kleppstad. The beginning of the path is located near the Lille Kongsvatnet after the bridge over the Straumen, next walk toward the small power station. This part is not very interesting. The “real” path begins after that, following the Stor Kongsvatnet shore. We are walking quite slowly because of our backpacks full of food, the time to warm up but also because the ground is wet and muddy. In any case we are happy to be there and to discover the Lofoten !

After a bit of time we arrive to a smal hydroelectric power station where we turn right to begin to climb to the Damvatnet. The bags are heavy on this first ascent but it’s ok… It’s around noon so we have a small lunch close to the lake. The view is beautiful on the lower lands with lakes and the ocean in the distance.

The next stop is Vestre Nøkkvatnet. From where we are we wonder a bit where the path goes because we can’t see it climbing to the lake. Following it we understand fast that it’s running along a water pipe (used for by the dam). The ascent is very steep, there are ropes to help climbing and it is a good thing because it is not that easy with the backpack on our back…

On the top weather begins to be be cloudy but the view is nice. No more trees here just bushes and grass. We are trying to go to a sort of pass to go downhill next but we miss a bit the right path. From he top we can see what is waiting for us  : no path, a long way down and a swamp at the end. It is 5pm and there still is a long way to go and no obvious place to stay for the night so I begin to worry a bit for the end of the day. 

We start walk the slope next. It’s very slippery and muddy. The path is not clear so I haeve to use the GPS to find it otherwise it is easy to go to a wrong way and to finish blocked by a cliff for example. We, both, begin to feel tired by this long day, we would like to find a place to camp for the night…

Two hours later we are at the bottom of the valley, it is a swamp, so it will be hard to find a place to camp there. We continue to walk a bit and suddenly we are passing by a small hut with a sign on it : “Open Cabin”, O miracle ! It’s a public cabin where everyone can stay freely. It’s perfect for us tonight ! The inside is simple but just as it needs to be to be comfy : two benches, a small table and a stove ! Perfect. We set for the night, we will be fine here.

It has been a long day for a first one ! The weather was not perfect but the landscape were still beautiful. We are going to change our plan a bit : we will do shorter distance and we won’t go to some place because we want to focus on Moskenoya which seems to be the most interesting island.


Day 2 : from the "Magic" hut to Haukland

A good night’s sleep ! We are back on the road after a good breakfast, after storing and cleaning and after signing the guestbook.

The plan of the day is the following: join the E10 road and hitchhike to reach the beaches of Utakleiv or Haukland, we will see on site where spend the night. We chose not to go through Vestvagoy because according to the map it is mainly the relatively flat wetland and we want something else. The weather is sunny this morning.

It will take us 1h30 to reach Kleppstad along the coast of the fjord. The path is nice. We try to find a strategic place to start hitchhiking and it seems to work because a couple stops to take us after a few minutes. Those are two Swedish climbers who spend a little time in the Lofoten. There are many possible and very wild ways given the number of parishes there are. They will drop us at the intersection between the E10 and the small road that leaves towards the beaches (Leiteveien). We will try again to hitchhike because the prospect of walking on the road for 2 hours does not please us too much. Our new driver will leave us on the beach of Utakleiv. The beach is very beautiful and wild, there are few people.

We wanted to stay on this beach initially but between the wind which strong, lack of water point and also a weird sign about the price of the night on the beach, we decide to return by the coastal path to Haukland. This path is beautiful and allows you to discover the beach as we walk.

Haukland is a very pretty white sand beach nestled in a cove with crystal clear waters. It makes you want to swim there if the water had not been so cold. Behind the beach is a large grassy area perfect for setting up the tent. Unfortunately the car park that is behind attracts people and notably a lot of motorhomes. Tonight we will not be alone but the closest tent should be 20m away from us, not to bother us. Interesting point : there are washrooms on parking which also offer an easy water point. So we set our camp just behind the beach next to a picnic table. The entrance to the tent is facing the sea, it is sunny, life is beautiful.

From its height of 489m, the Veggen which is located between Utakleiv and Haukland is reachable on foot from the beaches and offers a superb view.

It was a small walking day but we needed to rest after the trip and the first day of walking. Anyway the goal is not to run but to enjoy. What we will do during the afternoon on the beach in the sun.


Day 3 : from Haukland to Nusfjord

Waking up to the sound of the waves and under the sun by 68 ° N … What a joy!

The program of the day is relatively simple. Join Nusfjord and hike to Nesland. The choice of this day without much walking  is justified by the weather of the next days that will not be great, so we prefer to see the village under the sun. We also have to take into account that we will have to hitchhike to cross a tunnel (without pavement) to change island.

So we get ready early in the morning. Our first goal is to join the E10 at the crossroads with the Offersøyveien just before the tunnel. We will walk, it is not a very interesting part due to the relatively poor landscapes.

We finally arrive at the crossing with the E10, so we start our hitchhiking mission.

It will take us 1h30 in the wind and after several disillusions for a couple of Norwegians to stop finally. We ask them to drop us at the beginning of the FV807 which leads to Nusfjord but after explaining to them what this small village is, they decide to go there and deposit us there. Perfect! The road is nice and we feel that the landscapes are becoming more and more mountainous.

We will finally arrive in Nusfjord around 1pm. This village is said to be the oldest of Lofoten. It is an old fishing village converted into a museum village and listed on UNESCO’s “Sites to be Protected” list. We wanted to go there but we were afraid it would be just a tourist attraction where Tour Operators dumps tourists straggling with photos. Well no ! We were very pleasantly surprised, there were few people and the charm of the village is intact. This one has been preserved in the style of a typical “fishing village”. So of course there is a souvenir shop but it is “hidden” in the building of the old grocery store (there are also some fresh but overpriced products!). The Rorbus are to be rent (but  Norwegian price …) with a superb view of the fjord.

The Rorbus are fishermen’s cabins mounted on stilts and laid directly on the rocks of the coast, feet in the water.

To sum it all up, I advise you to take a tour in Nusfjord, some rorbus have been transformed into a museum exhibiting old craft or old fisherman’s material.

We pick up the keys of our rorbu, after leaving our backpacks, we decide to do the Nusfjord-Nesland hike which is reputed.

This one starts from the end of the village and follows the coast to the hamlet of Nesland. The coastline is beautiful during the walk especially under the great sun that we have today. One could believe oneself in the south of France with this crystal clear water. A small navigation error causes us to lose some time. In the end we will only make half of the hike in order to enjoy the village in daylight. The walk is really worth doing.

On our return we will make a little boat on the fjord; in the evening we will dine in a restaurant in the village and enjoy our rorbu …


Day 4 : from Nusfjord to Kvalvika

First day of rain this morning. The awakening is longer than expected especially when you are warm in a real bed and you know that you have to go walking in the rain … Anyway we have to go.

We are therefore on the road to go up towards the E10 direction Kvalvika. This part is not pleasant. We are along the road with little or no place to walk, there are few cars but not a lot of trucks and buses. All in the rain is not folichon.

Once on the E10 we hitchhike with very nice locals (again no choice because there are road bridges to pass). First we wanted just to be dropped off at Ramberg but the couple suggests us to drop us at the beginning of the path! Our lovely drivers are from Lofoten and lived there all their lives. Today retired they take advantage of their day to stroll by car and rediscover their islands.

They will leave us at the small carpark which serves as starting point for the hike towards the beach of Kvalvika. The trail, well marked, is simple to follow and is not complicated technically. However, we go through soggy areas especially after the rainy morning.

The path to the beach begins by climbing nicely to lead to a kind of pass to 200m altitude. Behind, the trail continues on the descent towards the beach in a more rocky terrain. Everything being soaked, you have to be careful because it’s slippery. The beach is revealing itself along the descent. It extends over two coves separated by a rocky outcrop. At each end are two summits thus closing the whole, to the SO the Kjerringa (585m) and the NE the Ryten (515m). It is sumptuous, even under the gray veil of this early afternoon. The first beach under the Ryten has to stretch about 500m, a stretch of grass runs all along perfect for a campsite. The second beach is smaller and more insulated. It is also slightly less oriented towards the sun especially in the evening.

The place is magnificent and perfect for camping. Unfortunately, there are some rubbish on the beach, the majority being dumped by the sea.

On the SW side of the first beach under the Moltinden (600m) we settle on a pretty flat grassy platform.

The weather is always dull but we feel that the sun begins to break through. We  rest under the tent waiting for the sun to appear. On my side, I go out for scouting and fall 50m away from the camp (next to the path) on a semi-buried hut tinkered in the hollow of rocks. This beach is known to have “hosted” two surfers during a winter, they had built a hut directly on the beach. I do not know if this is this one but in any case it looks like a Hobbit hole with its round door.

The sun will finally pierce in the late afternoon, the beach is transformed, it is even more beautiful under the rays of the sun with the mist of spray, the atmosphere is peaceful, serene.

We decide to climb up the Ryten in the evening to enjoy the sunset light. The sun sets at around 11pm so we have plenty of time. The ascent begins next to the small stream which descends from the Ryten, it is besides the best water point of the beach. About 250m higher, we arrive at the small lake which nestles in the hollow of this flat place. You have to take on the left a few tens of meters after the lake. We are barely 300m above sea level but the landscape has already completely changed: we feel more in the mountains than by the sea.

The following of the path follows the edge of the cliff and ascends gradually towards the summit. The main point of view is a little below the summit. The view is absolutely beautiful and stunning, especially at this hour with the evening light ! This will be one of the most beautiful views of the trek with the Reinebringen and the Hermannsdalstinden. We enjoy the view and the calm, there is nobody, we are well, it is a beautiful moment.

We begin the descent which will be very fast obviously. The end of the day will be peaceful and beautiful on the evening atmosphere. It is only four days that we are here but Svolvaer and France seem already far away.


Day 5 : from Kvalvika to Reine

Pleasant awakening by the sea, although the surrounding mountains hide the sun. So it’s a fresh awakening this morning. We get ready to go and resume the ascent to the pass. The rocks are a little less slippery than yesterday. We arrive quickly at the small pass, we already cross some people who come to make the ascent of the Ryten.

Last look at the beach that will have been one of the most beautiful places of the trip. We continue on the descent which, it is always well slippery and damp. The schedule of the day is to go to Reine, once on the spot we will advise according to the hour.

Arriving back to the car park we head towards Fredvang. We will arrive in the small town in an not very exciting hour of walking on the road. We take a break just before the bridge series which will allow us to join the E10. We settled on a picnic area without charm. A few minutes later a large van arrives. We are starting to talk with the driver who is Norwegian. After exposing our plan he proposes us to come with him as he also goes to Reine. We accept and embarks then after having eat a piece with Ian (the driver) and his son.The road to Reine is very beautiful. The journey is high in color. Ian is a great talker and has a lot of story to tell!

The arrival on Reine is beautiful, the road passes from islands to islands suspended above the water. Reine is nested on a small peninsula. The village is built around a central square with pretty wooden houses, including a great cafe that makes delicious cinnamon rolls and good coffee (right next to the kayak rental)! There is a set of Rorbu / hotel which forms a typical ensemble.

Ian drops us on the square. We had originally rented a rorbu but we are ahead of schedule and we will not be able to change nights as they are full. So we try other hotels in the area (there must be two more from memory) but the same, there are full. We are a victims of Reine’s success.

We need a roof for the night and there are not great campsite possibilities for the night otherwise. In the end we find the contact of a resident who rents rooms for the night. Luckyly she has a room left!

So we settle here for the night. On the spot, we meet Felicie, a Franco-Swiss who spends a month solo in the Lofoten. We debrief the things we have done / seen so far and we exchange tips for the future. In the evening we will dine with Ian, his son and Félicie in the restaurant of the Rorbu hotel which is good. It will be our last day “conveyed” we will do all the follow on foot.


Day 6 : from Reine to Bunes passing by the Reinebringen

A good day ahead, especially as it begins under a great sun, it is even hot. We will have an insolent luck during all the holidays on the weather …

The program is simple. In the morning we head to the Reinebringen (448m) to climb and to admire the most famous point of view of the Lofoten. Then head towards the beach of Bunes on which one will join Ian, his son and Félicie.

We set off light for our summit of the day. The beginning of the hike meets by following the road (direction Å) over 200-300m. The path is marked by a sign that warns of the dangerousness of the ascent. Regarding this panel and various things that can be read, I think that the path is quite practicable and without other immediate dangers when the weather is dry for a few days, on the other hand it is that in wet weather it can become very slippery. It should be noted that when we went hiking (in 2016), a path was being constructed in order to make the climb more secure.

We begin the ascent in the trees. The trail is good and one rises quickly. You just have to pay a little attention to the direction you follow because “false” paths lead nowhere. A little higher up the vegetation clears and the view emerges. You can see the zigzag climb up to the small pass just below the summit. It’s very hot, it’s sweaty. The heat in the Lofoten is all relative but in any case we feel the difference with the previous days. We arrive at the point of view on the other slope after this long ascent. It’s really beautiful. You can see the village below but also the road that runs along the coast and all the islands in the distance. It was well worth the effort to climb here, the reward is worth it!

We take our time to admire the view and walk along the ridge. However, we have to think of going back because we have to take the ferry for Bunes.

You have to pay a little attention to the descent because it can slip. We meet a lot of people who climb. Some, just equipped with sneakers or flat shoes, struggle a lot in the mud …

Back in the village we pick up our bags from our yesterday room and we head for the ferry.

The ferry is an old fishing boat converted to go back and forth in the fjord. The trip is pleasant and above all fast. Our companions, Ian and Félicie will paddle 1h30-2h in kayak to Bunes.

The arrival in Vinstad is done by a small pontoon on which a real crowd of tourists is waiting for the return to Reine. Luckily those are people who are just day tripping to the beach. Bunes is, therefore and hopefully, less crowded on the evening.

Walking to the beach is fast. Follow the path along the fjord and turn left just after the small cemetery. All you have to do is climb up the small hill which is within 80m and there you are !

The beach is large and there is plenty of choice to settle our camp. We decide spend the night on the right part of the beach to be a bit away from people. Bunes is overlooked by the Helvetestinden, impressive smooth rock face of 510m high. The place is very beautiful and soothing. The sea is quite distant because the beach is deep. There are many buoys stranded on the beach in the middle of the scattered vegetation. This is another great place to discover.

We spend the end of the day enjoying the beach and its variations as the hours pass. In the evening, Ian and Félicie will join us, but also French, Americans and other Norwegians. We spend the evening chatting around a fire with the sunset that never ends in the background.


Day 7 : from Bunes to "Hill 448m"

Awakening in the shadow on this seventh day in the Lofoten Islands. But the weather is nice, which augurs a hike in the sun.

The goal today is to reach the summit of a small hill at 448m under the Hermannsdalstinden (1029m) which will be climbed the next day. Normally a small ferry will allow you to be dropped off at the Forsfjorden power station, but according to the information on the internet, the ferry does not pass this year. So we’ll have to walk around the fjord. Afterward we notice that the information that we had was not good because we saw a ferry coming from Vinstad and going to the electric station.

Relatively close on the map the station will prove to be longer to reach than expected. The path from Bunes is very bad and difficult. To reach it you must return to Vinstad and go on the right before arriving at the level of the pontoon. The path begins by following the fjord in rather spongy terrain but which allows a rapid progression. However, we arrive quickly in the “complicated” part: the greater part of the path passes by a path that slips through large rocks covered with moss and in dense vegetation. The mossy rocks, in addition to being slippery, hide holes covered with moss … So we pass the leg through holesvery easily and there, we risk getting hurt. We progress, therefore, gently, by groping with the sticks the ground before us. This portion is so long and boring. The power plant does not come close and it is really hard for a long time.

We will finally get to the power plant a little broken by the fact of having taken so long to travel such a little distance.

From the station we take to the right following the big pipe. The ground is very muddy and slippery. It climbs quickly over the fjord and the view is beautiful.

We reach the lake of Tennesvatnet once at the top of this relatively steep ascent; from there we take to the right to reach the summit of the hill that separates the lake from Krokvatnet. In the climb we meet an old gentleman who climbs with his dog (the only person we will meet today), we discover by discussing with him that it is the landlord here and that he is going to his cabin near the Krokvatnet to spend a few days with friends …

The climb of the hill is steep but we finally reach its summit. We are very tired … We find a place to set the camp. This is an arduous task because although there are a lot of flat areas, these are mostly swamps.

Finally we will find a good location whose view embraces the fjord and the Hermannsdalstinden. We enjoy this beautiful place in the sun for the rest of the afternoon.

Another long day of walking even though few kilometers were made. Tomorrow we will climb the highest peak of Moskenesoya, the Hermanndalstinden.


Day 8 : from "Hill 448m" to Munkebu passing by the Hermanndalstinden

We get up this morning under a great sun. Head towards the summit of the Hermanndalstinden (1029m) this morning. We leave the camp relatively early in the morning after having a good breakfast. We leave light, leaving the tent and the big bags behind and taking only the bare necessities for the return trip.

The trail begins by descending almost to the level of the lake and then back up into a relatively narrow path, muddy and lined with dense vegetation that can hide some holes. We will meet a couple who goes down and who had to spend the night higher. The view is rapidly becoming more beautiful.

The ascent is deemed difficult especially in rainy weather. There are no difficulties on the beginning of the path but the following section can be scary if one is not accustomed to a little air and emptiness. The road climbs suddenly strongly on a ridge that leaves a lot of air especially on the left. Chains and ropes were installed to help the walker. We went there while the terrain was dry but I think that doing this portion in the rain may be slightly more dangerous and in any case we should not be impressed by the vacuum.

The advantage is that you quickly take the difference in altitude.

Arrived at the cairn of the previous picture the path leaves on the right. Vegetation is beginning to become scarce. The climb then continues on a path that could recall a trail of the Alps. The view is very beautiful and unobstructed, it promises for the suite.

On the end, the path is 100% mineral. We are not even at 1000m and it looks like 2500m in France. Only a few lichens remain. On this part the path becomes a little less visible and red paint points give the direction to follow. We finally arrive at a small pass (very windy when we were there) that is not yet the summit.

This one is a few tens of meters on the left and is marked by a post. To reach it you have to go through large rocky blocks that must be slippery if wet.

A few more meters and that’s it where we are at the top ! The view is breathtaking, sublime, stunning ! The surrounding area is totally dominated. To the west, the Lofoten threw themselves into the ocean with Vaeroy in the distance. To the east, the archipelago extends for tens of kilometers, far to the south one perceives the continent. It’s absolutely perfect! Surely the most beautiful view we had during the stay (with the Ryten) …

We take the time to savor the moment, alone, well sheltered from the wind.

After this moment of plenitude, we decide to go down again. We will meet some groups of people going up. Some will not pass the passage with chains and ropes.

Once back at the camp, we give ourselves a small lunch break before re-bags and head towards Munkebu.

The path is relatively simple to get there.

Munkebu is a refuge located under the Munken. Several bivouac spots are available in the area. The refuge itself is accessible only if you have the keys to be collected in Sørvagen from the DNT (Norwegian Alpine Club).

The Munken is within walking distance and offers a beautiful panorama of its summit.

Concerning the campsite, the area is quite swampy, there are pitches to put the tent but not so much in the end if you want to be dry. For our part we will choose to put ourselves on the heights to have less moisture. We have a lovely view of the refuge with the Hermann as a backdrop. We will end the day that will have been sunny all along again.


Day 9 : from Munkebu to Sørvagen

The night has been wet… Munkebu is really a beautiful place but not necessarily the most suitable for a bivouac.

So we leave the area after packing everything again, direction Sørvagen for a return to civilization.

The beginning of the path undulates between small secondary summits. We stay on the heights it is beautiful even if the weather is more sullen today. We then begin the descent which will be progressive on the beginning and quite steep at the end with some passages with chains and ropes to help; but nothing impossible. We meet a few people who certainly climb to Munkebu for the day.

The arrival on Sørvagen is by Lake Sørvagvatnet. The city stretches along the E10. There are two convenience mini-supermarkets. For the night we choose to sleep under a roof so we book a room that belongs to the restaurant the Maren Anna. The room is not extraordinary even a bit austere … but we wanted to sleep in a bed and especially have a nice hot shower …

The day was not very busy. We will end it by a walk in the city and especially a good meal at the Maren Anna which serves a very excellent cuisine!

Some guidebooks suggest a round trip to the Hermanndalstinden from Sørvagen during the day. I do not doubt it is feasible but I think it requires a good physical condition and especially to travel light. Moreover it leaves little time to take the time which is also a pity. Another possibility is to do the opposite of our way: from Sørvagen and finish to Reine by the ferry which is already more possible in a day.


Day 10 : from Sørvagen to Moskenes passing by Å

Transition day today. We chose to leave for Væroy the next day, so this day will be devoted to the visit of Å and to rest.

To reach the small town of Å which is at the end of the E10 is relatively easy and fast from Sørvagen following the road. The scenery is beautiful along the route and fortunately there is not too much traffic. The coastline is not far from the water, passing by small local villages.

Å is a small village museum at the end of the road. We were afraid it would be ultra tourist because there is a large bus parking and that is quite well known. Luckily there are not any crowds. We will cross Félicie, our friend from Reine, right at the entrance of the village who is hicthhiking to return to Svolvaer.

We start our tour in the village by buying bread and cinnamon rolls with a coffee in the bakery of the small main square. We will then land near the water to enjoy the sun and viennoiseries. We will be joined by two groups of French with whom we will share our experiences of Lofoten.

We will take a further tour in the village. This is not very long given the size of it. The village is friendly but not extraordinary either when compared to Nusfjord.

We do not stay very long in the end. We prefer to go to Moskenes, stay at the campsite and enjoy the late afternoon. We therefore take the road on foot in the opposite direction.

Several beautiful excursions are possible from Å: one of them is the beach of Stokkvika passing by Ågvatnet Lake, another beautiful hike is the ascent of the Andstabben (514m) west of town.

As we take the ferry tomorrow in Moskenes we choose to spend the night at the small campsite of “Moskesnes Camping As”. The place is ok but we can take a shower, do a little laundry and have a beer under the Lofoten sunset. The end of the afternoon and the evening will thus pass calmly. Tomorrow we leave the main islands of Lofoten in the direction of Vaeroy.


Days 11 & 12 : Vaeroy

Before we talked about Vaeroy as such, I wanted to explain why we were there. First, we hitchhiked with a couple who had spent a few “unforgettable” days on the small island, another couple who drove us originally from the Lofoten and had sold us Vaeroy as “special” in the good way; finally some photos and his isolation had finished persuading us to go there. We will see.

To reach the island, we start from Moskenes via the ferry which then reaches the mainland (via Røst). The crossing takes about one or two hours.

The arrival will be made in a cloudy weather on a concrete landing without charm… There are not many people who come down or not many people who get on the ferry … Let’s see in the village of Sørland.

The road to Sørland is relatively sad and the village also … There is no one in the streets and the greyness does not help … We pause at the local shop to buy some groceries for this evening. I try to chat with locals so they give us nice places to stay but they do not speak very good English and also do not seem very motivated to help us …

We decide to reach the beach at the end of the road on the north coast not far from the disused aerodrome which hosts the “Midnight Sun Festival” during polar day.

The road passes through a small pass and then follows a coastline of little interest. The path is relatively long to the beach. We will get there after a local stopped to drive us there.

The beach is nice: in its back are large vertical cliffs on which the clouds form. The beach opens to the ocean with a nice view of the Lofoten. It’s still gray but it should change. On the beach and in the surrounding area there are traces of the festival in the form of pebble or wood sculptures, large wooden huts on the beach or a fake pirate ship stranded. The whole is nice and looks like a old pirate place.

We spend the evening strolling along the beach or on the road that runs along the coast to the west. The sun will return in the late afternoon so we warm up a bit and allow to dry the moisture of the day.

From our eleven days this day is the least sympathetic at the moment. We shall see tomorrow what Vaeroy has left us.

The next day we do not really have a plan. We wish to reach Sørland by cutting through a pass above the beach and going to see the famous sight of the horseshoe.

We pack all our equipment (for the last time) and attack the climb by the well visible path that leads to the pass. This one is steep but not complicated and offers a nice view as the area. From the top you can also see the small town of Sørland and the particular physiognomy of Vaeroy with its large plain surrounded by high cliffs.

We then wanted to reach the point of view that we see everywhere and that allows to admire the horseshoe cliffs. Unfortunately we will be wrong thinking that the view was accessible from the radio station. In fact no, you have to fork to the left but we have not really seen any panels or even clear path. So big disappointment … this and the weather and the general atmosphere of the island is a bit depressing… So we decide to join the city and find a hotel. One of the few hotels on the island is in the harbor area and has no charm. We will have to wait for an hour that the receptionist arrives but “fortunately” we will be accompanied by two guys completely drunk and relatively freaking that we will not get rid of until we have the room!

A bad day !! Vaeroy is a huge disappointment… An impression of misery, lassitude is felt everywhere. Many people live here fishing and are unemployed … In any case we are truly disappointed by these two days … Of course this is just our experience and it could have be better with more sun and luck …

We will take the ferry at the first hour the next day.


Days 13 & 14 : Bodø and back home

The ferry between Vaeroy and Bodø takes about 5 hours and passes through Røst. Enjoying the view of the sea. Back in Bodø we join the Airbnb that we had booked with a Norwegian who lives here for 3 years. We will pick up our bags leaft at the check-in at the airport. The end of the day will mostly be marked by a big pizza at Bjørk in the city center.

For the return we will take two planes with a stopover in Oslo. It’s faster than the train … Bye bye Lofoten and Norway after these two busy weeks.


Conclusions

This trip have been for us one of the most beautiful we have ever done. Definitely in the TOP 3 of the most beautiful destinations. We had made Fjords ofNorway the previous year but the Lofoten Islands have nothing to do with the south of the country. These mountains with their feet in the water are truly unique, magnificent. We stayed there for fourteen days but felt as if we had not made half or a third of the possibilities offered by this extraordinary playground. On the plus side, there are not too many people and a lot of tourists stay along the main road so as soon as you walk away you are alone.

We had during this holiday an insolent chance with the weather: only three days of bad weather! It is extremely rare in these islands. In addition we have even had quite comfortable temperatures near the 20 ° C.

Aside from the landscapes and the weather we have also meet a lot of very nice people, in the spirit of “backpacker” which is nice to exchange, share.

I advise to 200% to visit of the Lofoten Islands and especially to take the time to explore them. One thing is for sure we’ll be back, I do not know when, but we’ll be back!