It was about this time that I think I realised I was starting to become rather fond of my new tent, the Hilleberg Enan.
Over the years, I’ve always backpacked with various incarnations of Terra Nova Voyagers – a bit cramped for two, but lovely and spacious for one or one person and a dog. And having the tendency to feel a bit claustrophobic at times, I’ve always shied away from tiny, low tents.
It had been rather tempting however, to get something a bit lighter to take to Sarek and the Enan had filled that desire.
I was pleasantly surprised how spacious it really was – easily swallowing all my gear every night, either into the inner or under the fly, and rather than feeling claustrophobic it was wonderfully cozy. I still hadn’t yet tried it in any rain, but that would come later in the week…
On our initial bus journey up to Kvikkjokk, James had spent an absolute fortune on a Swedish, wooden, dipper, cup thingy to dip into rivers for drink breaks, but after parting with all that cash, this morning was in fact the only time I saw him use it!
But I’m sure it must have made the water taste extra delicious.
And so we set off once more, again in beautiful sunshine, with the weather once again promising to be pretty much idyllic. Our plan for this morning was to drop down into the next valley – the Njoatsosvagge valley – and as you can see from the next few photographs, these first few miles were all about the views.
Nearing the valley floor, a few Sami huts came into sight.
And once down at the valley floor, the Ruopsokjahka river had to be forded. This can apparently be difficult after a lot of rain, but today it was absolutely fine.
It was a day of two halves, really. The afternoon was then spent following the Njoatsosvagge river upstream. It wasn’t, however, quite as straightforward as it sounds. We were now in dwarf willow country. Coupled with that there were birch trees, bogs, heat and mosquitoes.
If you look very carefully at this next photo, you might just be able to see James in a tree.
It was slow going, but actually quite fun – in a hot, sweaty kind of way.
And generally speaking, when there was a stretch of bog to be crossed, there would be a bit of relief from the all encompassing trees.
After a couple of miles of pushing and shoving our way through the dense vegetation, we emerged to the sight of the Skajdasjjahka river. This was another one which could apparently be difficult in wet weather.
It was obviously both faster flowing and deeper than any of the others we had already crossed. We crossed together, the water coming higher and higher up our legs as we progressed, until it was at mid thigh level. We should have taken our trousers off first! Still, on reaching the far side, at least the weather was hot enough to remove them then, spread them on some bushes and have a chocolate break while they dried in the sun. My Rohan Trailblazers were dry and ready for an Embassy party in no time. (Sorry, but if you didn’t buy Rohan in the 70s and 80s, you won’t understand that.)
The trees were thinning out by now, as we set off for the next leg.
And then, we came across the Luohttojahka and this did not look very friendly to my eyes.
Coming from a glacier higher up, it was obviously extra full and extra fast after all the sun and hot weather we’d been having.
James had a go at crossing just where we were in that photo, but turned back after only a quarter of the way – too deep and the current too strong. He then left his sack with me while he went off downstream to have a scout around. I have to say I was a bit concerned about him going off out of sight on his own, to try and find a way across. I know he’s often on his own anyway doing stuff like this, but nevertheless, I was stood there looking at a very powerful river and couldn’t help but worry a little bit. Luckily, he was back safely 10 or 15 minutes later, but without finding a safe place to cross.
So, the plan then was to find somewhere close to camp for the night and see if the water had calmed down somewhat by the next morning, as the glacier hopefully stopped feeding it overnight when the temperature dropped.
And as usual, the campsite spot didn’t disappoint.
James’s version of Part Four can be read here.