Arctic Sweden Videos

Currently mooching about a bit and suffering from man-flu as I am, I thought I’d put a couple of videos up that I made of my Arctic Sweden trips.

This is the one of my first trip – to Sarek in 2015, with James:

And this is the one of my second trip – to the Nallo/Kungsleden area in 2016, with Geoff:

Geoff and I have got a trip planned to Sarek too, for this coming August. Can’t wait – although I have got the TGOC to come first, which is also pretty exciting!

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Mt Whitney – 1997

At 14,505ft, Mt Whitney is the highest peak in the contiguous United States. This makes it Very Popular. The normal way of tackling it is from the east side, over three days. On the first day you make your way from Whitney Portal (at 8,360ft) up to Trail Camp (12,000ft). The night is spent there, then the second day sees you summiting and then returning to Trail Camp for another night, before finally dropping back down to Whitney Portal on the third day.

In August of 1997, we managed to obtain a permit for this climb, which allowed us to summit on the 3rd of the month. In those days, permits were issued on a first come, first served basis. A few years after our trip, the system was changed to a lottery instead, making it almost impossible to get the necessary permit – the peak being so immensely popular.

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Of course, there are some nutters people who attempt to do it all in one day, but that’s certainly not for us!

We set off on our trip with high hopes, after spending a few days in Yosemite – supposedly acclimatising to the altitude. This was our first ever trip to anything this high and unfortunately we didn’t get it quite right. Since then, we have had many trips to the High Sierra without any problems, but have learnt to take the acclimatisation process much more slowly.

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We did, however, have an amazing experience. We made it to Trail Camp in good time (in reality, climbing too quickly) and were treated to an almighty thunderstorm which rattled and circled around us all afternoon and most of the evening.

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I did suffer, though. Up to press, this has still been the longest night of my life. I spent the whole time with a headache which felt like it was threatening to explode my head into little pieces, and a stomach which constantly threatened to throw its contents all over the floor.

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I was no better the next morning. The weather had improved greatly – although there was forecast to be more thunderstorms that afternoon – but we made the decision to descend. And almost by magic, we only needed to descend around 1,000ft before I once again felt absolutely fine.

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But we’d lost our permit slot. If it says 3rd August, then you can’t summit on the 2nd or the 4th – the 3rd it has to be. And they do have Rangers at random spots on the trail, checking up on you….

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A lot was learnt, however, and this paved the way for many more wonderful trips to the High Sierra in California.

Apologies for the lack of photos. At that time we used to use slides and I’ve only ever had a handful converted to prints.

Eagle Cap Wilderness – Oregon

Whilst mooching about feeling a bit under the weather for the last few days, I came across some photos of a backpacking trip we did in the Eagle Cap Wilderness in Oregon.

This was back in 2001, long before we had a digital camera, so I’ve had to scan the photos into the computer – hence the rather grainy appearance.

We spent 5 days wandering around the area, with three of the nights spent in one place while we did some day walks and then went back to the tent each evening. I seem to remember just chilling by a lake for the biggest part of one day, as well.

We also encountered two, rather fierce thunderstorms. One overnight at the first camp, and another one in an afternoon, which was so terrifying that Geoff and I just sat in the tent holding hands.

Memories!

 

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Arctic Sweden – 8 Nights In A Tent With Geoff And We’re Still Speaking

Day 1 – 8 miles

Day 1

Getting off the train at the Abisko Tourist Station was a bit of a shock. This stop has obviously been built purely for the start of the Kunglsleden, which starts right there – next to the tracks. It looked like at least 50 or 60 people got off with us, too. How busy was this going to be!

Luckily, most folk were milling around trying to take photos of each other so we made as quick a getaway as was humanly possible, whilst carrying fairly heavy rucksacks loaded up with 8 days’ worth of food.

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There was an inevitable tangle to start with, with groups passing and re-passing each other along the trail, but we gradually began to spread out. Our plan anyway, was to leave the Kungsleden after the second day, so we had high hopes of a much quieter hike once we’d done that.

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The walking was pleasant and easy, passing alongside the Abeskojavri Lake, through forest vegetation, with duckboards taking us over the wettest bits.

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Nine miles was the projected distance to our first camping spot. The first eight miles take you through the Abisko National Park, where – unusually it would seem, for Sweden – you are forbidden to camp except at designated spots, so we wanted to be out of the park before pitching. The downside to this plan however, was that we hadn’t set off walking until about 1:30pm, and the heat (yes, heat!) and those 8 days’ worth of food we were carrying, started to take their toll.

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So, just before the Park boundary after doing about 8 miles, we gave in and pitched camp. It had become apparent by then that nobody was taking much notice of the no-camping rule anyway, and we figured nobody would come looking for us. Which they didn’t.

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Day 2 – 11 miles

Day 2

The first night had been much cooler than expected. We weren’t cold, but there was a thin coating of ice on the tent in the morning. Nevertheless, fluffy clouds and blue skies promised another dry, warm day.

Unlike the day before – which had been fairly flat going – we started gaining some height this morning, climbing past Garddenvarri to a high pass of around 800m. We also began to pick up the hordes again. Surely Geoff wasn’t beginning to get grumpy?

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We also had an extra mile to make up after stopping short the night before, which made for an 11 mile day instead of the planned 10. But, who could really moan with views – and weather – like these?

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The rest of the afternoon was accompanied by wonderful views of three lakes – Miesakjavri, Radujavri and Alisjavri.

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We eventually found a spot for the tent, about a mile before the Alesjaure Hut – one of many STF huts that can be found dotted around the mountains in this area.

It was peaceful. It was beautiful. And if you look very carefully at the next two photos, you might notice that Geoff is using one of those rather nifty Thermarest chair kits on his Neoair Xtherm. I was to become very jealous of that chair kit over the following days.

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Day 3 – 8 miles

Day 3

This was the day we were leaving the Kunglseden and all its busy-ness behind. But first, we were very intrigued to call in at the Alesjaure Hut, just to see what it was like.

It turned out this was one of the extra posh ones. You could spend the night there for a fee, camp and use the showers etc for a fee, or – like us – just call in and drink coffee and hot chocolate, for a fee. We might have bought and eaten a couple of delicious cakes as well.

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Leaving the hut we crossed yet another fun suspension bridge, where I got into trouble for apparently creating a ‘double bounce’. I did notice that after that, he never got on one of those bridges at the same time as me again.

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And so, we were now leaving the Kungsleden. Turning left, instead of right, we passed close to the Sami village of Alisjavri. Clearly occupied, this is a summer settlement for the reindeer herding community.

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Our route then took us over another pass, visiting a rather scenic high lake at 874m, before dropping down to the head of the Visttasvaggi Valley.

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This was were I got my come-uppence for the earlier double bounce. The photos don’t do it justice at all, but the Moarhmmajohka gorge had to be crossed by an airy bridge. Rounding a corner and catching a glimpse of it, it looked Very High. Probably because it was Very High. By the time I’d reached it, Geoff had already dashed to the other side and was standing staring at me across the gaping chasm with the roaring water far below. To be fair, this was the only bridge on the trip which made me think ‘Oh ****!’, but, I’m not ashamed to admit that I did hesitate for a couple of seconds.

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I looked at Geoff. Then, locking my eyes onto his, I went for it, refusing to look anywhere else other than his face, until I had safely bounced and swayed across to the other side.

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As we dropped further into the valley the walking became a little rougher underfoot, as we alternately passed through tree-rooty dense forests and over boulder fields. Always wonderfully scenic though, we eventually settled on a pitch for the night in the middle of a large, grassy flat area.

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With high peaks all around, we lost the sun here very early. It was going to be another chilly night.

Day 4 – 8 miles

Day 4

Around midnight, I had to go out for a wee. It was a bit disconcerting then, that whilst answering the call of nature, I heard an enormous crack then loads of crashing, as rock after rock fell down one of the high faces nearby.

On going back into the tent, I woke Geoff up and told him.

‘So?’ came the reply.

Then we both heard another rockfall – this time from the other side of the river.

‘So?’ came the reply once more. ‘What’re you gonna do about it? There’s nothing that’s actually been falling around where the tent is for thousands of years! Go back to sleep.’

He was right of course. I went back to sleep.

Morning brought an ice covered tent again, and it was going to be hours before the sun hit us. Consequently, it was all rather wet and cool when we packed up after breakfast.

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We set off for a further 3 and a 1/2  miles down the valley, towards the Vistas hut. Three hours it took us to get there, once more tackling clinging forest vegetation and the odd talus field. A beautiful setting for lunch though, the hut was a grand spot to get a brew on and gaze up at the route we were taking in the afternoon.

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After a decent break, we filled our water bottles again and set off up the Stuor Reaiddavaggi valley on the other side of the river. With the peak of Nallu in our sights, we climbed ever higher. The sun was hot and frequent drink stops were required. Again, not a particularly quick route, with it turning rockier as the valley narrowed.

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There was a bit of confusion too, as it turned out that the ‘lake’ we were hoping to camp near, wasn’t a lake at all, but just a river. Presumably in the spring melt it swells enormously, which is why it looks like it does on the map, but when we were there the water level was very low. It wasn’t a particularly good spot to camp anyway – far too bouldery – so we moved on a touch, finding an excellent pitch just about a mile before the Nallo Hut.

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Day 5 – 8 miles

Day 5

This time, the tent had kept the sun till quite late and then caught it early in the morning, so the night was pleasantly warm. In fact, the sun woke us so early, that even after a leisurely breakfast outside we were packed and off again by 8:30.

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It didn’t take us long to reach the Nallo Hut. Not one of the posh restauranty-types, but in the most wonderful alpine setting imaginable. I had a quick look around whilst dropping off some rubbish. The air was clear, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and there were people – and dogs, as they’re allowed in the huts too – excitedly chatting and milling about. We had a pleasant chat with a couple of Swedish lads, who gave us a tip about which side of the lake to walk as we continued up over the pass and down the other side.

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We stayed to the right of the lake (at 1056m) as they’d suggested, and it was idyllic. Definitely a highlight of the trip.

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Several miles later, we eventually dropped down to around 860m and joined the Kungsleden again, at the Salka Hut. We once again availed ourselves of coffee, Coke and cakes. Well, why wouldn’t you?

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Another great camping spot was found about a mile further on and as we retired for the night, we couldn’t help but noticing that the weather was changing. Clouds were bubbling up all around us.

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Day 6 – 6m

Day 6

A shorter day had been planned, to take us to a particular lake which was supposed to have good camping.

It was grey this morning. A cloud covered sky and a bit cooler, but nevertheless a perfect temperature for walking.

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The first 5 miles took us a bit further south on the Kungsleden, before we turned off and left it for good. Here, we started a steady climb up to said lake, at 980m.

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I wouldn’t say the camping was brilliant as the ground was exceptionally stony, but it was certainly brooding and atmospheric. We were pitched by early afternoon and shortly after, the rain and the wind started. This was definitely a time when having the larger tent with us paid off. With plenty of space inside, we could not only have all our gear in there and pass the afternoon quite happily, someone could actually use his Thermarest Chair Kit inside as well. I was nearly green with envy.

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Day 7 – 8 miles

Day 7

The rain rained and the wind blew, for most of the night but by the time we’d had breakfast, it was finally dry. We still set off in waterproofs mind – the sky didn’t look trustworthy at all.

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Leaving the lake, we descended to join the trail to the Kebnekaise Fjallstation. Not part of the actual Kungsleden, but known as a ‘side-trail’, it’s another section which attracts a greater number of people. The route was once again rocky and followed a narrowing, somewhat intimidating valley, between high peaks.

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The menacing clouds also decided to give us an hour or so of very heavy rain, during which the temperature dropped quite dramatically.

By the time we reached the Fjallstation then, we were more than happy to partake of its upmarket-holiday-camp-type hospitality. This was another STF hut, but of the exceedingly posh variety.

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We ate an extremely tasty lunch in the restaurant, availed ourselves of free wifi for a while, and used the toilets. We could have even had a shower but couldn’t be bothered, so I just contented myself with watching noticing a good looking, fit, Swedish guy getting undressed outside the shower cubicles.

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All too soon, it was time for us to move on to find a pitch for the night.

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Day 8 – 7 miles

Day 8

A good night’s sleep was once again had, before being woken by helicopters at about 8am. It would appear that a fair number of the visitors to the Kebnekaise Fjallstation don’t walk in, but take a helicopter. It became a bit like walking through the set of Good Morning Vietnam for the next couple of days.

The Fjallstation is situated in the shadow of Kebnekaise which, at 2106m, is the highest peak in Sweden and of course this is part of what makes it such a popular place. Not a climb for everyone, but people obviously still like to go and see it and soak up the atmosphere.

Continuing on our way, the trail now became quite a lot easier – after all if folk do want to walk into the Fjallstation they want to make it easy for them – and all boggy bits and bouldery bits were once again covered with duckboards.

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We were now very much aware the trip was nearly over, but it was still very pleasant and we made the most of it. We had sun again and the scents from the foliage were decidedly autumnal.

We pitched camp for the night at the Sami settlement of Ladtjoluspekatan, alongside the Laddjujavri lake, for the princely sum of about £8. Our last night on the trail.

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Day 9 – 3.5m

Day 9

Up early, we cruised the final 3.5m into Nikkaluokta, quickly and easily. We had a bus to catch at 11:10am but wanted to make sure we had time for a good breakfast at the eatery in the village.

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And suddenly, there we were, being driven back to the STF hostel in the iron ore mining town of Kiruna. It had been a wonderful trip and amazingly, Geoff and I were still speaking to each other. I do wish he’d do as he’s told, though…..

Thanks

Thanks have to go to our good friend James for introducing me to the Swedish mountains in Sarek, last summer, and also for putting this route together – he walked this a few years back and we unashamedly copied it for our trip.

Also thanks to Mark Waring, for help with a few Swedish tips and translations.

Practical Stuff

We used SAS airlines for our return flights from Manchester to Kiruna and back.

We used the STF hostel in Kiruna – on the way out to the trail for one night, and then another night on the way back after finishing the walk.

The train was used to get us from Kiruna to Abisko at the start (about an hour) and the bus to get us from Nikkaluokta to Kiruna at the end (again, about an hour).

And if you want to read Geoff’s version of events, click here!

 

Sarek Part Six: An Amazing Arctic Adventure – or – Is It Wrong To Love A Tent?

I woke at about 5 the next morning, desperate to go to the loo. Nothing unusual about that, only this morning it was pouring with rain. I tried lying there for as long as I could, in the hope that the rain would stop, but it didn’t. Half an hour later, I couldn’t wait any longer. So, waterproofs had to be donned – overtrousers and jacket – and I had to go out and get really wet. Not the most pleasant experience. And of course I then came back to the tent with a load of wet stuff.

Still, I managed to go back to sleep until it was time to get up and get ready for the off.

It was still raining a bit when it came to packing everything away and this was another test for the Enan. Could I pack whilst sitting inside, like I could in my Voyager? The answer was a definite ‘Yes’. Impressive.

But the best thing for me was being able to take the inner out, dry, and put that away in a separate bag while leaving the outer up. I’ve never had an outer-pitching-first tent before and it was a bit of a revelation for me. I was now getting very fond of this tent….

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Anyway it was seriously cloudy and damp then this morning and for the first time this trip, I set off with full waterproofs on.

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We were now heading off back towards the path we came out on.

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The clouds were lowering and we were climbing again.

At one point, we found what we thought was a moose antler.

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The temperature was a lot cooler than when we crossed the saddle at Sahkok a few days ago, and as we approached it I almost thought it was going to turn a bit sleety. The big snow bank we’d crossed before, was definitely harder and more icy, so this time we picked our way around the edge as much as possible, where it wasn’t so steep.

I didn’t like to take my camera out in the rain this day so the photos are a bit thin on the ground, I’m afraid.

We dropped back down the other side of the saddle, checking our route often, as visibility was not so good. The rocks underfoot were now very greasy with the wet but despite being really careful, at one point I suddenly found myself on the deck. I’d landed on my left side, with my head slightly lower than my feet. I could neither get up easily or even undo my hip belt, for some reason, but James came back to help me. I was somewhat bruised and it also served to remind me how important it is to have both your hip belt and chest strap undone when crossing awkward rivers. Imagine trying to undo those under water.

Anyway, we crossed the wide, glacier fed river with no problem, before once again arriving at the, ‘White water! White water! Very dangerous!’ river. Thankfully, still with a good snow bridge, we negotiated our way across. This time though, there were quite a lot of red marks on it. We decided it probably wasn’t blood though, but some kind of algae….

I took a few photos of the snow bridge this time.

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The next river was also still filled with snow

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and before we knew it, we’d lost a bit more height, turned a corner, and were once more looking over the Parek bog.

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By now, the rain was a bit on and off, but not enough off to take waterproofs off.

We found a spot for the night not too far away from the river between the two lakes, which we needed to cross to get back onto the boggy section.

James made sure that his spot was comfy enough for a good night’s sleep.

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Putting the tent up, I fell in love with it even more. The outer went up and then I put the dry inner inside! Brilliant!

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Lying in bed, listening to the rain overnight, I began to wonder if we should have crossed the next river before making camp that evening.

I had another sopping wet toileting experience in the early hours – at the same time checking the stream we were camped next to, making sure it wasn’t overflowing – and we once again breakfasted and packed up in heavy rain.

Making our way to the river, through the trees, was even wetter. The ground was covered in streams we’d not noticed before and the foliage constantly dripped more water onto us.

When we finally reached the ford, I didn’t even recognise it. All the stones and triangles of wood were now so far under water they couldn’t be seen and I’m sure it had got wider as well.

I can’t say I was that happy at the thought of crossing it. Short of camping there for a couple of nights though, ’till the weather changed, we didn’t really have a lot of choice.

I muttered things about being washed away and drowning, while James appeared calm and started giving me orders like,

“Right. Take your trousers off…”

We crossed together and it seemed to go on forever. I remember getting half way across and thinking that it still stretched off into the distance. Up to our waists most of the way across, I was thankful that the current between the two lakes was quite gentle.

The other side was finally reached, safe and sound. I didn’t take any photos, but James took a couple, looking back at the water we’d just negotiated.

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Trousers

As we continued on our way, across the Parek bog and back through the forest to the same spot as we’d camped on the first night, the sun came out briefly – just disappearing again and dumping more rain on us as we started to make camp.

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It proved to be an eventful night. An organised gang of Arctic Voles ambushed us from all directions. Rat sized, they made my flesh crawl. I’d rather have had a bear wander through camp.

James managed to trap one under his pan at one point – but it escaped – but when we finally retired to bed, the onslaught really began.

I was initially rudely awoken in the early hours by a loud crunching noise near my right ear. As I looked, and saw the two holes that had been eaten in the tent inner, I think I screamed.

I then saw a rat through the thin yellow fabric, running round and round in between the inner and the outer.

The only thing for it, was to stay awake all night, chasing them away every time they came near. Much easier said than done. I awoke again, a couple of hours later, to more munching sounds as they industriously made the holes in the tent even bigger.

It was a bit like a cross between a Stephen King horror movie and a National Lampoon comedy.

The night seemed to last an eternity and when I packed away in the morning, I found a bag inside the inner which had been chewed…….I couldn’t even bear to think about what that meant.

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It was still drizzling when we finally set off for Kvikkjokk. The four miles passed quickly and when we got back to the hostel, we paid for a shower each, and a delicious lunch, before starting our long journey home.

The trip had been a magnificent experience and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world; many thanks have to go to James for organising the whole thing.

I can well understand why people return to the area time and time again, and when I got home Geoff decided that he really fancied an arctic trek too, so we’ve already booked some flights to Kiruna for next summer.

Can’t wait 🙂

James’ version of Part Six can be read here.

Sarek Part Five: An Amazing Arctic Adventure – or – Is It Wrong To Love A Tent?

We were up very early the next morning to look at the river.

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I know it looked a bit less lively than the previous day, but I think I’d psyched myself out of it really. With the other rivers we’d crossed, the worst thing that was likely to happen if you fell over, was that you’d get a soaking. With this river, if I fell over, I was thinking that I might well have got a very nasty battering on some rocks.

I knew James was a bit disappointed, but he’d got an alternative high level route planned instead of backtracking through the dwarf willow, so we went for that.

With getting up so early, we were packed and off by 8:30. Just as well, as it turned out to be quite a long day….

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This was the first day of the trip that we didn’t waken to bright, blue skies and sun. The weather was beginning to change.

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For the first few miles we climbed through dwarf willow then over grass.

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And despite the change in the weather, it was going to be another day of all encompassing, amazing views.

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Gradually, the grass turned to stones underfoot and the slope started to ease.

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And as I got my first view of the glaciers and snow fields we were headed for, I had another little worry that we were going to end up contouring round over some steep snow fields, and I had neither ice axe nor any spiky things with me.

It was fine, though. The plan was apparently to pass just below any steep snow patches and that’s exactly how it turned out.

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The whole place was starting to take on a totally different atmosphere to the previous days. Wild, rocky and on the craggy side of the high mountains, you began to get a sense of your own insignificance.

And now cool enough for me to put some more layers on, this made a pleasant change after having lost half my body weight in sweat so far on the trip.

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It was utterly out-of-this-world up there and took us quite a while to make our way around all the bodies of water – including a large lake, named Balgatjavrasj – some of which were still covered in snow.

We were very carful not to go over any snow which looked a bit crater-ish, as these were possibly weak spots, a bit thinner and due to collapse with some extra weight on them.

Some patches looked solid enough, though.

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I did think what a fantastic place it would be to spend the night – if you could have found somewhere to pitch the tent, of course.

We had three rivers to negotiate up here – the ones which drained the three glaciers which we were getting fairly close to.

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None of the rivers were any problem to cross and we had our proper lunch break just after wading the first.

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A wow lunch spot, if ever there was one!

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Rounding a corner, a short while later, four people suddenly appeared over a rise on the other side.

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We waved, they waved back – an almost instant connection and feeling of briefly sharing such a special place.

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Some more river crossing followed, before climbing onto a high shelf under the snow fields.

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If you look carefully on this next photo, you can just see James in front of me, bounding up the slope….

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This shelf – underneath the peak of Loametjahkka – only went on for about a mile, but was very hard going, being talus fields all the way along.

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Every step had to be thought out. Falling and injuring yourself here was not something you wanted to do.

Part way along, we had another break. Breath taking views all around, with the lowering clouds making for a dramatic atmosphere, matching the wild, lonely scenery.

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It was with a sense of relief when we finally reached the end of the ledge and dropped down to more grassy walking.

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We had changed direction and were now on another high ledge above, and paralleling, the Njoatsosvagge valley.

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Another couple of miles, and we were nearing our planned destination for the night. That was when the forecasted rain suddenly started and we found ourselves putting on waterproofs for the first time that week.

James did some impressive navigating to get us to the only point above the Ruopsokjahka river where it was possible to cross the gully, and as I slithered down the side to join him at the bottom, I realised that after 12 hours on the go I had finally drifted off into my own little world of Tired, Hungry and Crabby. We had set off that morning at 8:30 and it was now nearly 8:30pm. An absolutely awesome day, but I was now ready to stop for the night.

I think even James might have been a bit tired, as when we crossed the river, neither of us could be bothered to do anything about trying to keep dry, we just splashed across regardless.

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And after crawling up the other side, through wet grass and dwarf willow, we pitched the tents as soon as we found some flattish ground at the top of the slope.

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A nice cup of tea and a hot meal later though and I was back to normal.  And with yet another unbelievable view to fall asleep to.

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James’ version of Part Five can be read here.

Sarek Part Four: An Amazing Arctic Adventure – or – Is It Wrong To Love A Tent?

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.

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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!

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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.

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Nearing the valley floor, a few Sami huts came into sight.

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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.

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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.

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If you look very carefully at this next photo, you might just be able to see James in a tree.

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It was slow going, but actually quite fun – in a hot, sweaty kind of way.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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And then, we came across the Luohttojahka and this did not look very friendly to my eyes.

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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.

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And as usual, the campsite spot didn’t disappoint.

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James’s version of Part Four can be read here.