Saturday, 17 July 2010

Along the Nordkalottleden Part 2: Gaskashytta to Jerta

I awoke around 4 am and realised how light it was, a quick peek out the door and I noticed the blue sky so I swung the door back and lay back down to enjoy the view, after all it was only 4 am. I slept for a while and awoke again to the wonderful view out the tent door.
I finally extracted myself from the comfort of the Neo Air and Nunatak quilt and set about making breakfast and the all important coffee, all of the time admiring the view. After a while I was packed and ready to head north along the Strömskardet valley before swinging east towards Vuomajavri and its accompany hytta. It was pleasantly sunny as I climbed and the views to the north and south ensured that I did not rush.
It was one of those days in the mountains that you dream off and as I climbed I savoured every moment
Eventually the trail swung eastwards and provided excellent views to the north in especially towards the high peaks surrounding Maddagaisi. After a while I took a break and happily just sat, no hurry no need to get somewhere in a particular time and with the thought of 24 hours of daylight in my mind it did not matter when I arrived at my planned destination, it was a great feeling.

After a long break enjoying the scenery and the views of reindeer I continued to climb only to meet a reindeer herd, this herd seemed in no hurry to move and I quickly had my camera out for a few photos.

The further I climbed the alpine grasses decreased and the talus increased, whilst climbing I noticed a hiker heading towards me, the first since leaving Björkliden. Interestingly the female hiker was from New Zealand, but lived in Tromsø, we chatted for quite a while about the lack of bridges and the route. Her companion was a Finnish Lapphund which was always keen to herd up the reindeer and thereby providing an interesting challenge for the handler. I decided to pass over the saddle and find a spot for lunch on the other side, so after traversing several snow drifts I began the slow descent to a grassy spot for lunch. With the sun still shining and dark clouds on the horizon I was still happy to enjoy the experience. Once over the saddle I had views to the east as well as south and north, it was fantastic and the number of reindeer herds did not decrease either.
After a long lunch I continued to descend towards the lake suddenly realising that there were a lot of mosquitos, much to my surprise as I was at 800 metres. I quickly found my headnet and repellant and regaining my composure I continued to descend, only to realise that the Long Tailed Skua also liked this area so as I waved away mosquitos and Skua. I watched as a pair of Skua harassed a lone reindeer that was separated from the herd. These Skua clearly did not take no for an answer.
I finally found a campsite near Vuomahytta, there were a few mosquitos around and the sound of the waterfalls provided a wonderfully orchestrated backdrop. Taking the time to clean up and relax I began to realise that as the wind dropped the mosquitos increased. Oh well cooking in the tent it is. So after a relaxing dinner considering the design features of the Warmlite tent I settled down for the night, instead of counting sheep I counted mosquitoes on the outside of the front door of the tent. “32 is the answer”

I awoke early the next morning and had a leisurely breakfast, before packing up it was cooler and greyer but generally mild and humid, with little or no breeze. With a descent into the Anjavassdalen I expected it to be sticky with bugs, I was correct.

The air was still so the views as I left the campsite were highlighted by the calm waters of Vuomajavri.

The descent towards Anjavassdalen was easy and I could soon hear the sounds of yet another fast flowing river.

The skies were darkening and it looked like it would rain, it did. However, apart from the peat bog sections and the small stream crossings, it was a pleasant walk. Though stopping, soon encouraged a lot of flying visitors to say hello. Eventually I came to the suspension bridge that crosses the outflow from Vuomajavri, with its magnificent waterfalls hidden in the trees to the south. There was a nice rest spot here complete with fire place firewood as well as an axe and saw.
After crossing the bridge there was a sign indicating a new trail which followed the river more closely, it was apparent that this trail had not been used a lot and at times was a little difficult to follow. However, it was a pleasant walk through the forest with commanding views of the river and the gorge near the junction with Divielva.

Soon it was time for lunch and with it still raining I had a quick lunch before the next climb out of the valley to Dividalshytta. Initially the trail followed the Divielva and the flood damage from winter was clearly evident. I began the climb as the rain stopped but with little breeze it was humid, however, I was able to watch the different birds play in the trees and soon I was out of an old pine forest which I had first entered on the west side of the Divielva.
In time I reached Dividalshytta and found a campsite with views to the west and North, it was windy up here and having pitched the tent I settled down to dinner with the luxury of cooking and eating outside and I was blessed with a wonderful view of the clouds illuminated by the sunlight.

The following day I had planned for a short day, which became even shorter as I arose to fog and visibility of not more than 50 metres. So I sat around in the tent reading, writing up my journal and just plain not doing much. So by lunchtime I was getting itchy feet, I decided to head up higher to see if the fog was thinning, as I climbed it became evident that there was less fog so I returned to camp and made lunch. While having lunch I met a young Norwegian guy who came down the hill. He and his mates were camped on a lake a few kilometres away fishing. He had recently had a knee operation (as evidenced by the crutch on his pack) and had decided to return home. With his husky at his side we happily chatted before he continued his trek to the car. He did tell me of the best fishing spot in the area and that last winter he had dog sledded much of the area. But with no Tenkara fishing was not an option for this trip. After lunch I climbed and as I did the fog dispersed and with occasional sunny breaks the barren rock strewn landscape was evident. However the high peaks of Jerta and litle Jerta remained fog bound, I climbed towards the high saddle and as I climbed I encountered fog and increasing strength winds, upon reaching the saddle I found what was sheltered campsite and settled in for the night hoping that the fog would lift by morning.