Sarek in August; Part 2

Day 2

I woke up a few times early in the morning as it was already bright as day outside. I was using my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, and a thin layer of white, semi transparent Dyneema composite fabric doesn’t do much to block the sunlight. When I looked at my clock, it was only 04.30. I went back to sleep, and we got up at around 09.00 instead. We made breakfast, broke camp and went up to the STF cottage to pay for our stay. A couple of hikers had pointed us to the right cabin. The lady who smoked when we arrived sat on the stairs of the nearby cabin, looking at us.

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My Ultamid 2 and Fredriks Bergans Trollhetta 4 in the background
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My gear: In the bottom of the pack I have an Exped Schnozzle bag (the yellow one) with my sleep gear. After that two large Pack pods with food. Above those I have toiletries (neon bag) and electronics (zip lock bag). Tent (white bag) and extra clothes + down jacked (red one) next to each other and at the top I have a small Pack pod with my stove set and food for the day. All packed in a HMG Southwest 4400

When we got hold of the hut warden, he told us that it was prohibited to camp where we had pitched the tents. The ground, and the hut near it, did not belong to STF, but to the Swedish Nature Conservation Association. We did not have to pay because we did not camp on STF’s land. However, it felt a little embarrassing to have camped where we weren’t allowed to. But since the woman in the hut didn’t say anything, perhaps it didn’t matter. She had heard us talking about paying and looking for hut warden, both during the evening and during the morning, so I suppose she understood that it was a misunderstanding.

Our goal for the day was to get to Skierffe. A mountain with an almost 700 meter vertical wall right down the Rapadalen.

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Me, on our way towards Skierffe (photocredit Fredrik Storm)

We got up through the woods, which gradually changed from spruce to birch forests, and then disappeared completely as we reached above the timber line. 

Fredrik and I have a different hiking philosophies, where I am a lightweight hiker who like to march on at a fairly good pace, and hardly even want to stay for lunch. Fredrik packs quite heavily, likes to stop more often, and wants to spend more time chilling and just enjoying the moment, instead of trying to get a lot of km behind him.

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The snow covered mountains of Sarek

 

It was important to me to get back home in time, since my wife took the kids to visit her relatives in Greece and I was to pick them up at the airport when they got back. I realized that we would probably not be able to do our planned hike without having to stress it in the end, so we agreed to skip the plan and instead just go where ever we felt like for the day, take a lot of breaks and not care about the mileage. The only goal was to be back at the car at least 10 days later. It was a bit of a change of philosophy for me, but still felt nice. However, it meant that I had packed way too much food. But it still felt ok, although it meant carrying some unnecessary weight.

When we were coming close to the top of Skierffe we ​​decided to start looking for a camp site, even though the clock was only around 14.00. We passed the trail and continued towards the western side of Skierffe. There we found a really good camp site, with flat ground for both of our tents, and a lot of stones to anchor them. We could have saved weight sharing tents, but both Fredrik and I prefer to have our own space.

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One of our best camp sites ever

The camp site had a very nice view over Sareks snow covered peaks. The wind blew hard when we were setting up camp, so we anchored the tents well. I wanted to go to the top of Skierffe, but Fredrik preferred to stay in camp so I went by myself. When I got up at the top there was a young family there with their child in a child carrier.

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The river delta in Rapa valley

The view from Skierffe was amazing. It was uphill almost all the way up to the cliff. Then came the long cliff all the way down to Rapa Valley. It was a majestic view, and well worth the effort to get there.

I walked back to the camp and after a while we made dinner.

We went looking for water, and found a little stream a couple of hundred meters away from the camp. Fredrik went to bed quite early, but I laid on the CCF mat and read for a couple of hours. When the wind stopped, it was almost completely quiet around us. It is not often you get that silence when you live in a town. Traffic, sirens, lawnmowers, people talking, airplanes. There’s always noise, and it was refreshing to hear nothing like that.

I went to bed around 21.00, but went out for a while after 22:00 to check out the sunset. By then it had already disappeared behind the mountains, though it was still bright outside.

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The sun had just disappeared behind the mountains


I went to bed and sleep pretty well. The new way of attaching the quilt has worked very well, and I have not had any drafts, even though I tossed and turned a lot and it was cold in the morning.

Sarek in August; Part 1

General info

Sarek is a national park in Lapland, in northern Sweden, and is one of the oldest parks in Europe. It’s part of Laponia, which consists of 9400 sq/km of protected land, in the national parks Sarek, Stora Sjöfallet, Padjelanta and Stubba, as well as the nature reserves Stubba and Sjaunja.

Sarek is a popular place to hike, but since there are no marked trails, nor any cabins it might not be the place for beginners. There are some bridges inside Sarek, but most streams and rivers has to be forded.

Trip report

Day 1

I went on this hike together with my friend Fredrik, whom I hiked together with in Norway last year. We left Växjö on Saturday morning and drove up to Bollnäs, where we spent the night at his grand mothers place. We left there early on Sunday morning and drove the last ~1000km up to Sarek. We where planing to enter Sarek from the south, and use a free parking lot about 10km south of Kvikkjokk.

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Loaded, and ready to go

We arrived at the parking lot at the bridge over Sitoälven, just before 20:00 on Sunday evening.  There were many cars in the parking lot. Much more than we thought there would be. But this place seemed to be a popular starting ground.

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Sitoälven

We parked and switched to our hiking clothes. The sign showed that it was 16 km to Aktse Mountain hut from the parking lot. We planned to hike just for a little while, and then set up the tents a bit from the parking lot, as soon as we found a good spot. The forest was too dense to find anywhere to set up camp, and the mosquito swarmed around us as soon as we took a break, so we kept on walking at a fast pace.

After a while we arrived at a small pier, where you could rent boat rides to Aktse Mountain hut. After the pier there was a bog. We were looking for the trail but did not find it. After a while we found the foot bridges through the bog, and saw that it was 6 km left to Aktse. The clock was now ~22.00.

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View from the pier, looking towards Sarek

We decided to go on. However, it went much slower, and the trail went through dense forests and marshes. We found an descent place, but when I read the map, I thought we where only about 0.5km to the cottage and so we went on. It turned out to be 3km left instead, as I had miscalculated our position.

We arrived at Aktse sometime between 24.00-01.00 at night and pitched our tents. We saw a sign that we should contact the hut warden, but since it was late, we decided not the wake up the warden, but do it the day after instead. The price to camp near the cabin was 200SEK.

A woman came out from one of the nearest huts, looked at us and took a smoke. We wondered if it might be the hut warden, but since she didn’t contact us we thought that it probably was someone renting one of the STF cabins. We went to bed immediately after we had pitched our tents. I used my Sea to Summit nano bug net, but I wouldn’t have had to. My shelter did a good job keeping the mosquitoes out. I didn’t really like the bug net, and didn’t use it any more on the entire hike.

Change of plans and change of gear

As I’ve wrote in previous posts, my big trips this year was planned to be the Arctic Circle Trail between Kangerlussuak and Sisimiut in Greenland. I had really been looking forward to it, and basically everything was planned, except buying the plane tickets. The thing is though that I’m also going on a week-long hike with my childhood friend Fredrik, who hiked with me in Jotunheimen last year. Three weeks away from my family this summer was to much, and I decided to postpone the trip to Greenland. It actually felt like a hard choice to make as I was dead set on getting to Greenland, and my planning had to start from the beginning again. My wife has told me though that we’ll make sure I can go to Greenland next summer instead.

I still wanted to go on a two-week hike, but Fredrik wanted to hike for a week at the most. To make this work, I had to come up with a route that would make it possible for me to start hiking a week in advance, meet up with Fredrik and then continue together. I also needed to make sure there were shortcuts to our meetup point if weather or my physique would keep me from reaching it in time.

If I could make this work, I would still get the solitude I wanted the first week, and then a second week of hiking with a good friend. I started to look at Sarek, but I’ve never been there, and from answers in Swedens largest outdoor forum I came to the conclusion that it would be hard to put together a 1+1 week trip that didn’t include Fredrik flying out with a helicopter to a meetup point. I knew before even asking him that this wouldn’t be an option. I also felt that hiking for the first time Sarek, with no marked trails, shouldn’t be done with a timeschedule like that.

Eventually I looked at Kungsleden, the Kings trail, and the possibility to meet up at Nikkaluokta and hike to Abisko together. My plan was to start south of Nikkaluokta about a week before Fredrik. The starting point had to close enough to reach Nikkaluokta in time even if the weather forced me to have a rest day or I would hike slower than I had planned. But I also wanted to be able to take a longer route if I hiked as fast, or faster than planned.

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My planned route to Nikkaluokta

After looking at the maps and searching for places to get to by bus I planned to start at Vakkotavare, in the lower left corner of the map. I would then follow the green line to Singistugorna. Here, I could turn east and hike to Nikkaluokta (the red line). This route should take approximately 3 day. But my initial plan is to keep following the green line until 2,5-3 km before Sälkastugorna. Here I’ll turn east along Gaskkasjohka. I could turn south again and take a shortcut to Kebnekaise mountainstation and then hike to Nikkaluokta (the orange line), keep hiking to Kaskavagge and there turn south to Kebnekasie mountainstation (the yellow line). But the plan is to hike around the mountain Palkastak and then hike south along Visttasvaggi until I reach Nikkaluokta (where the red and green line meets in the right part of the map).

The planned route, following the green line, should take somewhere between 6-7 days. The rest of the hike, between Nikkaluokta and Abisko should take somewhere between 5-6 days.

I have also done a few gear changes. A few very large gear changes. I did spontaneously bought the Exped Expedition 80 backpack, but I realized that I didn’t want to go the heavier route, but instead will try to fit two weeks worth of gear and food in my Exped Lightning 60 pack. If I come to the conclusion that I’ll need a bigger pack I’ll probably just go with the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Southwest instead. A sub-1kg 70l backpack.

But I’ll do my best to get the gear to fit in my 60l backpack. I thought I’d use this summers trip to test it. Otherwise it would be easier to have just one weeks worth of food in the backpack and then post a food cache to Nikkaluokta and restock for the second week. We’ll see how I’ll do it.

Anyways, I’m a bit embarrassed to write about it, but I sold the Expedition 80 pack without even using it. I don’t want do start using heavier gear again, and I think I’ll be fine using the Lightning. I also sold two old backpacks that haven’t been used for a long time, my Hilleberg Enan and my Luxe Outdoor Sil Hexpeak.

I did get quite a lot of money for the gear I sold, especially the Hilleberg and the Exped pack, and I used the money to buy new gear. I’ve ordered a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, polestraps and a Gossamer Gear polycro groundsheet from Backpackinglight.dk. They have great service, and if you order for more than 5000DKK you get at 10% discount on your order. I also ordered a Borah Gear cuben bivy with a sidezipper.

With this setup my shelter, with polestraps, groundsheet, tent pegs and bivy will weigh ~900g. And it will be large enough to use with my wife or with two of my kids. Hopefully this will subdue my gear ADHD and I’ll stick with what I got.

A cold night at Lerike

I decided to get out this weekend too. I had just purchased an Exped Winterlite sleeping mat, and I wanted to try it. The weather report predicted lows of around -5º C and it seemed like a good time to try it out.

I had planned to go to Lerike, at the north end of the lake Helgasjön. It’s a short drive from home, and the nature is beautiful there. There aren’t any marked trails, but I planned to hike off-trail and just see where I ended up.

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The trees were covered in frost

At around noon, I parked as far out on Lerike as I could get. There is a lean-to here, but I don’t like to camp on spots like these, but prefer to get away a bit. I hiked out on a cape, that becomes an island when the water rises. It’s just a small cape and I followed the shoreline around it and got back again. On the far edge of the cape there was a homemade lean-to covered in branches and leaves. I remember going here as a boy-scout when I was a kid, so may it was made by scouts.

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Yeah, thats what Småland Outdoor looks like

I kept hiking the shoreline westbound. I’ve mostly hiked on trails, and it is somewhat constricting to just follow the trail, and have a designated goal to reach. Hiking off-trail gives you more freedom to explore, and without a trail to follow, even smaller areas can take time to explore. I didn’t put many kilometers behind me, but that wasn’t the goal with this trip. I just wanted to get outside and enjoy nature.

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Hiking, with the lake Helgasjön to the left

As I hiked I looked for good places to set up my tent. There were good places everywhere on the first streach, so I planned to get back there later if I didn’t find any other spots.

After a while I came to a beach. There was a fire ring there, and I made a poor attempt to make a fire. But I really didn’t put much effort into it. I don’t have any mad firemaking skills, and I didn’t take the time needed to find dry firewood, and as I didn’t want to get a lot of sand in my gear I continued and found another great place to make lunch.

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Another view of the beautiful forest

After my lunch I continued along the shoreline. The forest changed, and eventually the forest consisted of mainly spruce and pine.

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Frost covered basically every branch, pine needle and leaf in the forest
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Despite the mist, I had a great view overlooking Helgasjön

I went on for a while, but then came close to a farmhouse. I didn’t really hike far, but since I took it slow, and hiked off-trail, it took some time. I went through the forest and back to the shoreline on the side that I first hiked. I’d like to hike around the entire lake someday, but today I cut it short, and with the sun setting it was time to get the tent up.

I found a good spot that I had passed earlier and set up my Hilleberg Enan. It was starting to get colder and around 17.00 I made dinner, Mint-couscous with feta. It was delicious.

Wise from last weeks wet experience with condensation I decided to sleep with the fly-door open. And I didn’t have any problems with condensation, but it did get colder that with a closed door.

I wish I could say that I slept good, but I had a bad pain in my upper back even before I went out. And it got worse during the night. I toss and turn quite a lot at night, and every time I changed position I had to brace myself for the pain of moving. But despite the poor sleep I was glad to be out there.

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It was a wonderful morning to wake up to, with clear skies

When I woke up the skies were clear and the air was cold. I laid in my sleeping bag for some time before I got up and made breakfast.

This trip I brought my 120g cellfoam sleeping mat to use on breaks. In an effort to praise the UL god I had skipped it on most precious trips. But it was perfect to have one a cold trip like this. It was very comfortable to roll out the mat, and lay on it as the water was coming to a boil. I’ll definitely bring it on trips in the colder season, and probably on other trips to. It’s tricky to balance weight vs comfort as too much emphasis on either one of them will reduce comfort.

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Ready to leave

After breakfast I packed up and left. It was around 10.30 and it was only a short hike back to the car.

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Winter hikes does have its perks

I was considering hiking a while longer, but eventually I decided to get back home.

On this hike I did try to make a short hiking movie. Unfortunately I didn’t bring a large enough SD-card so I didn’t film a lot. But I’ll try to put something together from the clips, and put it on Youtube.

 

Long drive – short hike

So last weekend I was finally able to get away on a trip. The weekend before it had been very nice weather, and now in the upcoming weekend it’ll be very nice weather. The weather last weekend was, well, not so nice. I saw on the weather report that it would be rain the entire weekend, but decided to go anyways. I’m fully booked this weekend and I couldn’t wait two more weeks to get out. So last Friday I drove to Tiveden, a national park located between Vänern and Vättern, the two largest lakes in Sweden.

I drove from home a little before 16.00, and I had three hours in the car ahead of me. It rained until I had approximately one hour left to the park.

I arrived around 19.00 and by then it was dark outside. I drove to the park entrance near Vitsand and parked the car there. The moment I parked the car, the rain started falling. I saw a campfire nearby, and met a couple with a dog that had left the fire. (It was in a concrete circle with no risks of spreading).

The park entrance is being rebuilt, and it’s being prepared for an expansion of the park. By spring 2017 the park will be 50% bigger than it is today. This is both good and bad. I like that they will make the park bigger, but since you’re not allowed to camp inside the park the new borders will make me have to choose new camp spots next year.

But by now it was ok to camp near the lake Stora Trehörningen. I hiked out of the park and found a nice camp spot to set up my tent. There was a fireplace there, but no firewood. I decided to just put up the tent and start the stove as I was to tired to try to find dry firewood.

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My camp-spot with a view over Stora Trehörningen. (photo taken the next morning)

I had mashed potatoes with smoked gammon and a cup of tea and then got to bed. I read Chris Townsend’s “Out There” for about an hour before going to sleep at around 21.00. I woke up sometime early in the morning when I heard a rustle. I thought it might be mice eating up my tent. It took me a while to figure out that it was the sound of the wind in my trash-bag that I had hung up in a tree. Bears, even though we have them, aren’t a big problem in Sweden. However mice can be a problem and wise from experience I hang up the trash-bag outside the tent to minimize the risk of having them inside the tent at night.

 

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Vitsand

As soon as I understood where the rustle came from I could sleep again. I slept until 9.00 and didn’t get up until 9.30. The rain had stopped during the night, but by the time I got up the rain had started again. It was also really cold outside and the rain mixed with snow. It rained quite heavily. I made a quick breakfast and then broke camp. I couldn’t decide if I was going to stay the entire weekend or not. The weather was awful with a lot of rain, the temperatures around freezing, and the weather report showed that it would rain even more the next day and the temperatures would stay around freezing. I didn’t really feel like staying any more. I hiked a few of the trails, but around 13.30 I decided to cut it short and get back home.

It felt bad to get back early, but at the same time I felt that if I would have stayed, it would only be for the sake of it.

I’ll get back to Tiveden again. I don’t know if it’ll be again this year, but it’ll be nice to see the expanded park and the new trails next spring.

Planning this weekends hike

This weekend I’ll be visiting a friend in Gothenburg and we’ll hike the New Wildernesstrail together. This trail is not the same Wildernesstrail north of Växjö that I hiked earlier this year, but a quite popular trail, 42 km long that starts just outside of Gothenburg.

I’ll be getting off work at 7 am on Friday morning, sleep for a few hours and then drive to Gothenburg. I’ll have the bag packed and ready on Thursday evening so I’ll just have to grab the bag and go when I wake up.

I’ll bring tortillas and Nutella for breakfast, Lappsgojs (mashed potatoes with jerkey), Snabbhusman (mashed potatoes with smoked gammon), West African stew, Chicken noodles and rice with tuna for lunches and dinners.

This is my packlist for this hike. It’ll be the first real test of my new Hilleberg Enan, and my friend is going to use my Luxe Outdoor Sil Hexpeak.

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Maps are printed for the upcoming hike

 

This morning I made three more foodbags. I had planned to do chicken noodles for a while, but didn’t have the time to prepare them. But yesterday I put ground chicken in the oven to cook it, and then put it in my dehydrator to dry it. I prefer to dry ground chicken compared to slicing chicken breasts and then dry the slices. It’s a lot easier to get small pieces from the ground chicken.

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Chicken in the dehydrator
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Chicken noodles ready and bagged

I used 500 grams to make three portions. The recipe says 100 grams (around 30 gram dried) of chicken for one portion, but I prefer to make the portions a bit larger. I now have 33 portions of homemade freezerbag-meals and two store bought meals. This will last me through this hike, the planned Jotunheimen-hike in late August and it’ll probably last for the rest of my hikes this year.

I’m looking forward to this weekend and to get outside again. I’ll update with a trip-report when I get back.