After a pleasant time at Vajsaluokta, I headed west towards the Norwegian border, with some apprehension as it was a forested section and the weather continued to be warm and humid, with lush green foliage the insects were active. However, like all other sections there was always something to occupy my interest, such as the flowers, trees, rocks and the occasional Dalripa (Ptarmigan) family.
There was also lovely open plains, often with boardwalks and it was at the verge of one of these plains that I developed the skill of putting on the headnet and having an afternoon siesta, something I can thoroughly recommended.
The photo below is taken looking back towards Ahkká and its accompanying glacier, I continue to be amazed by the number of glaciers that are seen high up in the mountains, sadly they are retreating but I feel privileged to have seen them.
I continued westward towards Hellmobotn, intending to camp in the vicinity of Njallávrre, as I approached the area I noticed that 3 people were standing well off the track, looking like they were waiting for a bus, well it wasn't a bus but instead a helicopter came up the valley stopped picked them up and flew off. It took some of the wilderness feeling away, but once they were gone, it was peaceful beside the lake.
Later in the evening I noticed 3 canoes heading down stream towards Ritsem, I wondered how far they went as I never saw or heard them again.
Saturday, 30 July 2011
Saturday, 23 July 2011
Travelling by train to Stockholm then night train to Murjek and bus to Kvikkjokk I arrived at the beginning of the walk in a little over 24 hours. My first appointment was to take a boat from Kvikkjokk for about 5 kms. upstream to the trail head. It was a warm sunny day (too warm) and the lush green growth accompanied with the warmth ensured the mosquitos were plentiful.
The trail followed the valley and provided many view points of the surrounding snow covered peaks.
Within the first hour my feet were wet from a crossing a river and they stayed wet for most of the trip. Further up the valley after a short steep climb from Njunjesstugan the panorama of what lay ahead encouraged me to push on.
I camped near the lake the first night and the inner net inside the SL2 was tested and found to be successful and as Dondo has noted many of the mosquitos happily drifted to the top of the shelter. The next morning I awoke to sunshine, and increased humidity but I was aware of the impending change in the weather which was confirmed by the hut host at Tarrekaisestugan, who was happy to note that I was the first visitor for the season, even though I was just passing by.
As I climbed towards Vaimok, the clouds darkened and then it rained, which at least gave me some respite from the mosquitos. It continued to rain for most of the afternoon, and having only worn my windshirt I was pretty wet by the end of the day. But once the tent was up I soon settled in for the night (if you can call it night at this time of the year).
The next morning was overcast and with a light wind it was cool as I continued on towards Vaimokstugan, as I came over a rise at the end of the valley I was pleasantly surprised to see Vaimok was calm and with ice still floating on it, I sat there admiring the view recognising this is what I had come for. Descending to the shoreline I then rock hopped for what seemed like an eternity in misty rain on slippery rocks, something that is not to be recommended, especially with a fully loaded pack.
I had lunch sitting on the verandah of the locked stugan watching the mist rise from the lake.
The trail crosses a large waterfall and climbs vertically for about 180 metres, with a fully loaded pack I made slow progress. But the views back down to the lake were something special.
The weather had begun to clear by late afternoon and I chose a campsite and set about setting up camp, only to find a couple of pegs left by a previous user. I have never quite understood how people to can leave pegs behind. Admittedly these two pegs were to become useful later.
The following morning I continued the descent to Pieskehaurestugan, it was a pleasant descent, until I neared the bottom and found myself confronted by a deep fast flowing river with no bridge, though there were foundations for a suspension bridge. With the trail evident on the other side I assumed that I had to cross.
After crossing I continued along the trail to find an alternative route avoiding the crossing, which had not been obvious when coming from Vaimok.
Lunch was at Pieskehaurestugan which was also locked, after which I crossed a bridge over the Varvvekjåhkå before climbing into a beautiful valley which was occasionally shrouded in mist, all along admiring the plants and the surrounding peaks.
Along the way I crossed a number of bridges, including this interesting design.
Having survived the crossing, and just settling into my walking routine, I suddenly realised that there was a pair of very angry Gulls attacking me and while they did not actually touch me they swooped very close and persistently. Clearly they were nesting near by.
The remainder of the day can be best described as walking through a swamp, it was still very wet from the thaw. After a an evening camped on a slope watching the herds of reindeer grazing on the river flats I set off towards Staddajåkkå fjällstuga, where the alternative Nordkalottleden to Sulitjelma is met. Once through the pass adjacent to Jålle, the trail descend through grassland to Staddajåkkå. As I approached Staddajåkkå the thunderous sound of yet another waterfall could be heard, I reflected on the fact that the thunderous sound of water passing through gorges was one of the common themes which ran through the whole trip.
Stopping at Staddajåkkå for break I was intrigued by the shrill like sound of the Småspov (Whimbrel). Later in the day as rain began to fall I found a flat spot and set up the shelter, I was pleased that I was able to quickly set up the outer and get inside to complete the set up of the inner of the tent as the rain poured down.
The next morning I continued north along the banks of Stálojåhkå ultimately rejoining the Padjelantaleden near to Staloluoktastugorna. Staloluoktastugorna is a wonderful stugen and apart from all the expected amenities it also includes a sauna. I was fascinated when reading the guest book on where people were coming from or going to especially those travelling by helicopter, I realised that I was no longer in the wilderness but in a tourist area. This feeling was to reamin for the rest of the Padjelantaleden.
But there are always surprises and for me it was the Sami church which stands above Staloluoktastugorna, looking a little like a space ship on the outside.
Its origins were clearly evident on the inside, it was an amazing building.
It was a magic place with its stained glass windows, spaceship look on the outside and its mixture of wood, hides and grass matting on the inside.
It was my plan to continue on to Arasluokta for an overnight in a hut which would allow me to do some laundry, and just chill a bit. What I had not considered was the wonderful walk between Staloluoktastugen and Arasluokta there were many perfect campsites, but when it is laundry day then ... I arrived at Arasluoktastugorna and found a cabin and quickly set about getting the chores done. Later in the day I accompanied a swedish couple to a traditional sami smokehouse and purchased freshly smoked fish and smoked dried reindeer meat. The fish was cooked on the cabin stove that night and was perfect, the reindeer meat was a delicacy that I savoured for several days after.
The next morning was clear and sunny and as I climbed away from Arasluokta the views of the peaks across Virihaure was fantastic, these views were to remain with me the whole day as I crossed another plateau before descending to Låddejåkkestugan.
The plateau not only contained some fine views and enjoyable walking but also had its own geological formations. The varying types of rocks and the general geological structures is another theme that was intertwined with the trip.
I stopped at Låddejåkkestugan for a rest, and I was the only one there soon however I met many south bound walkers. They were a mixture of less experienced walkers and some who were walking from the northernmost point in Norway to the southern most point. Later I met a couple with 2 dogs who were walking north to south as well as east to west in Norway, they had already been out 3 months. This put my trip into perspective.
After a short sharp climb from Låddejåkkestugan you find yourself on an 800 metre high plateau which provides wonderful views to the west and north. I met many walkers heading south on this section, some who chatted, some who did not, but I was just happy with the wonderful weather and the views.
It was during this time I decided it was time to show that I was there, mud stained Montane Terra's and all.
Eventually I found campsite overlooking Vastenjaure and the path north to Akkajaure, it was a warm evening but with a slight breeze the mosquitos were kept at bay and I was entertained by the steady flow of helicopters flying up and down the valley, taking fisherman out fishing, rounding up reindeer, or taking sami to their summer houses, it was busy.
Strange things happen; when I set up the shelter there was a gentle breeze from the south, but by midnight I was out changing the alignment of the shelter from North/South to East/West as the wind had changed direction and had increased in strength significantly. The bonus was that I got to see the awesome sunrise/sunset. I have no idea on which it was.
Th next morning I descended to the trail and crossed Vuojatädno, on what has to be one of the biggest suspension bridges I have seen.
I crossed the plains to the STF Kutjaurestugan where I spent time talking to the cabin hosts. The STF cabin hosts wherever I went on the trail the were always friendly, helpful, informative and genuinely interested in hearing about what I was doing. After lunch I began the climb up to Guossjájávrre in search of a campsite for the night, whilst following the trail I met a lighweight hiker from Germany carrying a large GoLite Gust and using a Tarptent Contrail, he had started in Hellmobotn in Norway and was heading to Sulitjelma. We chatted for a while about gear and the lack of lightweight hikers in this part of the world before we went our own ways. I soon found a spot to camp overlooking Guossjájávrre.
The following morning I descended to Akkajaure and then followed the trail along shoreline through many cottages to the STF stugen Vaisaluokta, where the cabin host supplied cool lemonade which was greatly appreciated. Incidentally, this was the first area where I had a mobile phone signal since leaving Kvikkjokk.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent following the trail along Akkajaure towards Norway, more about that in the next instalment.
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
Well I have been back a couple of days from a wonderful 400 km trip along the Nordkalottleden in Sweden.
It will take a few days to sort through photos, notes etc., a full report as well as gear comments will appear in due course.
Some summary information:
Distance covered: 402 km.
Total Ascent: 12140 m.
Temperature range: 2C to 23C.
Some beautiful sunny days, some very cold wet days, dry days were in the majority.
Total Nights 19; nights in tent 17.
All gear, with one exception, performed as expected.
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Currently I am in Lapland hiking but thought you may like to read of another of my adventures on the AT, this time it was the The White Mountains in New Hampshire and the walk along the Presidential Range, all of the mountains are named after US presidents. For those that know their US history they will recognise the names for others I will provide some links as I go along.
I started this trip in a warm and humid July at the bottom of Websters Cliff Trail, with a starting height of 1270 ft (387 m.) The trail climbs steeply to Webster Cliffs 3330 ft ( 1014 m) and in the humid conditions I was soon getting warm.
The cliffs provided wonderful views to the south looking over Rte 302 and Crawford Notch. After taking my time to enjoy the view in the sunshine. Leaving this scenic spot the trail heads away from the cliffs and climbs firstly to Mt Webster named after Daniel Webster, then Mt Jackson named after Charles Thomas Jackson a Geologist.
The trail is well used and very rocky in parts, the signs of erosion are very evident and given that only walkers pass through here it is apparent that over the years much damage has been done to the surrounds. This is one reason why camping is restricted to certain areas within the White Mountains.
For this trip I had decided to stay at the Appalachian Mountain Club Huts along the trail, it meant that I did not need to carry morning and evening meals nor did I need to carry a tent. This was my first experience of such accommodation and provided for some interesting moments. The first hut to stay at was Mizpah Springs hut. The hut was built in 1964 and is intended to cater for about 60 people there is a large dining area seen on the right in the photo and the bunkhouses are to the left.
There was approximately 20 people staying there the night I was there. The hut is staffed (as are all huts in the area) by volunteers who are supported by hikers on the AT who work for free or reduced accommodation for the night. Meals are fairly standard fare are set at designated times be there or possibly go hungry. After dinner most hikers sit around discussing whatever takes there fancy as well the hut staff will interact with the guests providing information etc.
The next morning after breakfast, but before you leave, the staff (at all huts) put on a short song that is intended to remind you to clean your room fold the bedding etc. as well as suggest that you may like to make a donation to crews collection. The singalong was very entertaining and ensured that I left the hut in high spirits.
The trail continued its climb along what could best be described as large rock faces which were slippery from overnight rain.
This section of the trail seemed to go on for ever and was certainly a test for the feet and legs. For this trip I was wearing a pair of lightweight Solomon Mid Boots (no longer available)
Once above the treeline the first views of the Presidential Range appeared including the cloud covered tops of Mt Eisenhower and Mt Franklin.
As I climbed, down in the valley to the north west the Mt Washington Cog Railway locomotive which gradually climbed the hill to its terminus adjacent to Mt Washington. It climbs gradients as steep as 37% making it second only to the Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm railway in Switzerland.
The train nearing the top of Mt Washington.
A closer look at the locomotove.
After lunch the cloud had lifted so I decided to head back along the trail but this time I chose to climb over Mt Franklin and back to Mt Eisenhower. The view along the range towards Mt Washington with just a hint of cloud on top was very enjoyable.
By the time I had returned to the Lake of the Clouds hut, the place was full of hikers staying the night, many had walked the short distance from a carpark at Mt Washington whilst others had come from further afield.
After leaving Mt Washington the trail descends before climbing past Mt Clay (also known as Mt Reagan), providing views of the Great Gulf Wilderness area.
Madisons Springs Hut, was built in 1888 and has just been renovated, it was a magical place and whilst small it provided a wonderful environment for walkers to meet and chat. This was my favourite hut.
The next morning, my last on the Presidential Range, was sunny and I followed the high trail along Osgood Ridge, it provided magnificent views to the west towards Mt Washington.
A photo taken on many of the vantage points along the Osgood Ridge.
As I descended the towers on Mt Washington became visible as did the smoke Mt Washington Railway as the train climbed to the top.
My final night was spent at Joe Dodge Lodge at Pinkham Notch the following morning I caught the early bus to Boston and then train to a rainy New York. It had been a memorable trip one that I would happily repeat, along spending more time exploring the area.