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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In an earlier post I wrote about the hiking plans for this summer, with a two-week hike in northern Sweden. The initial route was planned for me hiking solo the first week, and then my friend would join me for the second week.
However plans have changed, since my friend was able to get away for two week. Our first plan was to hike Kungsleden together, according to my route. We found out though that during our second week Fjällräven Classic occured, which meant that we would meet thousands of hikers on our way to Abisko. It would not be as lonely and pristine as we’d like. That, and the fact that there probably would be fresh poop under virtually every rock on the path from Nikkaluokta to Abisko made us look elsewhere.
Kungsleden passes through the southern part of Sarek, but other than that there are no marked trails and very few bridges. There are some unmarked trail, but hiking in Sarek means finding your own route, and fording streams.
None of us have hiked in Sarek before, so I bought the book “På fjälltur; Sarek” by Claes Grundsten. There are several different routes described in the book.
None of them fitted us perfectly, as we wanted a circle hike for 10-12 days. But I used the book to make a route from parts of 11 different described routes.
The plan is to drive to the parking lot next to the dam at Måhkkål, and hike the trail from there to the mountain hut Aktse. From Aktse we would hike up on the mountains north of Rapavalley. This way we get less mosquitoes and also (if the weather is good) get some nice views over Rapavalley.
We’ll then use a trail from the mountainside down to Rapavalley along Alep Vássjajågåsj, and follow that trail to Mikkastugan, where there’s a bridge. From there we follow Álggavágge down to Niejdariehpvágge. Then we’ll follow Sarvesvágge to the east before we round the mountain Noajdde. From there we’ll hike south west until we’ll find the trail to Pårek. Once on the trail, we’ll use that trail down to Kungsleden, hike Kungsleden back to Aktse and then back to the car at Måhkkål. From a rough calculation it should be somewhere around 180km. I am planning for exit routes and alternatives if we get delayed, hike slower than anticipated or otherwise need to leave faster for some reason.
The route is planned to get the most out of the trip. There is a mix of trails and off-trail hiking. We’ll see Rapavalley both from the mountains and down in the valley itself. While we’ll hike both high and low it still shouldn’t be too much elevation to handle.
I really like planning trips like these. I think that the preparations is a major part of the fun of hiking. Studying maps and areal photos, planning routes, prepping food and looking through the gear. I can’t wait to get out again.
On Thursday I finally got away on an overnight trip. Last time had been in mid-November, and I had really missed having some quality time alone in nature. Spending a night out in the woods the first week of the year has become a sort of tradition. It was the third year in a row, and the coldest one yet.
Temperatures where down to -10°c when I left home. My sleeping bag had a comfort value of -6°c and a limit value of -13°c. My personal limit lies somewhere between those numbers. But I thought I’d be fine, and if it got cold I could just sleep with my fleece jacket on. This proved to be wrong though, as temperatures dropped down to -17°c to -18,5°c during the night. But more about this later.
After I got up on Thursday morning I drove out to Lerike. I hadn’t decided where to go until the last minute. But Lerike is beautiful, close to home, and I still had lots of parts to explore.
I got out to Lerike at 10.30, and parked at the same place as last time, at the far edge of the cape. But this time I decided to follow the shoreline north east instead of west, as I did the last time.
The air was really cold, and the skies where clear with just a few scattered clouds. After 20 minutes or so I stopped at a gravel beach. I decided to roll out my cellfoam mat and relax in the sun. I laid there for about half an hour, listening to the wining and singing sound the ice made as it was setting on the lake. The sun warmed me, and it didn’t feel like -10°c.
After a while I rolled up the mat and continued north along the shore. Parts of the time I was able to hike near the shore, other times the dense vegetation forced me to hike further inland. There aren’t any marked trails here, but every once in a while I stumbled on what looked like animal trails that I followed for a while. The route I took would have been challenging if it hadn’t been freezing. I hiked over marshes and parts covered with reed that would have been impossible to pass without being soaked if the lake hadn’t frozen over.
After a while I came to a small beach. There was a fire ring on the beach but I didn’t try to make a fire. I wanted to try my multi fuel stove and it was time for dinner.
I set up my stove and made dinner. I tried Knorr spagetteria, Pasta bolognese, and it tasted great. A lot better than I expected, and affordable with a price of ~15 SEK. I’ve never used a multi fuel stove before, and it takes some getting used to, to get a perfect flame that burns efficiently. As soon as I put the pot in windshield the blue jet flames turned yellow and produced a lot of soot and I had to fiddle a lot with the valve to get a good flame.
I continued my hike along the shore line. After a while I came to a road and passed three houses. After I passed them I turned back into the woods and followed the shore, this time going south out on another cape. I thought I’d start looking for a place to set up camp, But at the far edge of the cape there wasn’t enough open space with flat ground to set up the tent. I carried on further along the shore and finally found a great place to make camp. It was in a deciduous forest with a few scattered really old pine trees.
I set up my tent, forcing the tent pegs into the frozen ground. After that I made a half assed attempt to make a fire. I had collected tinder along the way, dry grass and birch bark from fallen dead birches. A couple of times I actually thought I’d get the fire going, but it died out, and I gave up. I used my stove instead to boil water for the coffee. I took the water from the lake, and by the time I’d got the stove burning a thin layer of ice had already formed on water.
After I had my coffee I discovered a 7 cm rip in my pants. I guess it’s one of the hazards of hiking off-trail. I laid in my sleeping bag fixing the rip. It was the first time I had to use anything from my repair kit. The end result might not be pretty, but it does the job. When I got home I waxed the thread to make it more durable.
I read for a while and then made dinner. By now it was really cold, and I heated up some water and put it in my pet bottle to have with me in the sleeping bag as a radiator.
I’ve always thought Nalgene bottles to be a waste of money. Pet bottles are both cheaper and lighter. But after this trip I’m actually considering buying a Nalgene bottle for winter trips. Pet bottles, however great they are for three season use, does have a serious weakness. They can’t handle warm water well without deforming. Because of this I made sure not to heat the water too much, but the bottle still deformed from the heat. Nalgene bottles can take boiling water, and with that warm your sleeping bag for a longer time.
I went to bed, read for a while and also watched parts of Beasts of no nation as I downloaded it before to try Netflix new offline mode. But at 20.30 a started to fall asleep. I woke up at 22.30, already feeling cold. I put on my fleece jacket and fell asleep again. I woke up on and off, feeling cold. Outside the tent I heard something screaming once in a while. I don’t know what kind of animal made the sound, but I haven’t heard anything screaming like that before. I woke up later with it screaming louder, and with the sound of a fight. I guess what ever was screaming, it got eaten by a fox or something. Is was silent after that. At around 4 in the morning I was really cold and had trouble falling asleep again. Eventually I decided to fire up the stove and reheat the water in the bottle. I did this, and went back to sleep.
I got up around 8.30 and made breakfast. It was really cold and I was freezing a bit, despite wearing two fleece jackets. I made bannock for breakfast and then packed up and left camp. I walked back to the car in a faster pace than when I hiked out. I had to be back home rather quickly, and didn’t stay for any breaks, despite the weather being perfect. The hike back to the car only took roughly 75 minutes, and I was soaking in sweat when I got to the car.
When I got back home I found out that the temperature had dropped down to between -17°c to -18,5°c during the night. No wonder I was feeling cold and had slept bad the entire night.
Despite being cold I’m glad I got out. I learn a little every time. I could have had a comfortable night even with the temperatures being below the sleeping bags rating, if I had brought a silk liner, a pair of thick wool long johns to wear over my thin base layer and a water bottle that handles boiling water. Next time I’ll be better prepared.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After my lunch I continued along the shoreline. The forest changed, and eventually the forest consisted of mainly spruce and pine.
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.
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.
After breakfast I packed up and left. It was around 10.30 and it was only a short hike back to the car.
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.