Sunday, November 17, 2019

Saltoluokta to Vakkotavare, Kungsleden - September 2019

Jumping ahead a little.... conditions from our camp tonight were a little unsettled - but absolutely spectacular!

After a full day and a half of rest, kicking back and relaxing at Saltoluokta, it was time to start trudging my way north on the Kungsleden again today. Heading north wasn’t going to be as straight forward as pulling on my boots, shouldering my pack and heading off though. There is what appears to be a missing link on the Kungsleden, a section that requires a 3.5 kilometre boat trip followed by a 27 kilometre bus ride, and being late in the season the bus was now only running once a day ….at around 3:30 in the afternoon. So what that meant was that I effectively ended up with another rest day, or nero as my US trekking friends would call it.

While relaxing at Saltoluokta I got to catch up on a bit of laundry....
....sit around the fire for approximately 20 hours....  
....and eat:)!
Saltoluokta Fellstation. Our cabin is on the left and the bastu is on the right.
Vacating our cabin by 10am I spent the next few hours sitting by the fire, eating and bingeing on the wifi while I waited for the boat to leave at around 2:30 pm. I wasn’t exactly lonely though as Skye and Mark along with Anja, Mark and Ribka were all waiting with me. It seemed like a bit of a waste today as the weather was perfect for walking, so sitting around with my feet up definitely felt a bit indulgent. Eventually the clock slowly made it’s way around to 2pm and we shuffled down to the jetty to catch our boat, lining up behind the huge corporate group that we’d been sharing the fell station with…I’m glad it was a big boat!

Langas Lake from Saltoluokta.
Hmmm, I'm glad that it was a big boat! - I'm at the back of the line.
Left to right...Mark, some Feral bloke, Mark and Anja (Ribka's furry head is just visible behind the second Mark). Once again I'd like to than Skye for any photos that I appear in.
Safely across Langas Lake we disembarked from our cruise and set off to find our bus. The go here when heading north is to climb the sealed access road away from the lake for 3 or 4 hundred metres until you arrive at the main road that runs alongside the lake, this is the spot that bus number 93 stops. Thankfully for us things are fairly relaxed up here in the deep north of Sweden as with our corporate friends having a fair bit of gear to load onto the boat it meant that we were actually a little late getting to the bus stop, we arrived to find the bus waiting for us with the cargo doors open. Once safely on the bus we set off on our 27 kilometre journey, a journey that took more than an hour as we stopped at a small servo/café at around half way, no doubt for the driver to have a break. With the bus generally having a few Kungsleden walkers on board I bet this little café does a roaring trade. Back on the bus it wasn’t long before we were deposited on the side of the road beside Suorvajaure Lake, the Vakkotavare Stuga a few metres on the up hill side of the road.

Our short cruise across Langas Lake wasn't without it's scenic highlights.
Langas Lake
I bet this little shop makes a fortune from hungry Kungsleden walkers.
Our bus dropped us off on the road directly below the Vakkotavare Stuga.
So finally, at around 5pm, it was time to start the days walking! After saying goodbye to Anja, Mark and Ribka who were staying at the stuga, Mark, Skye and I set off. The plan this afternoon was to climb up to the open fells where hopefully we’d find some flat dry ground to pitch the tents for the night. The climb away from Vakkotavare was a solid one, climbing around 200 metres in just over a kilometre. While the climb was steep there were a lot of excuses to stop, the views back over my shoulder across Suorvajaure Lake being a highlight, although not the only highlight. The cascading creek that the Kungsleden was climbing beside also very pretty and no doubt would be a highlight by itself if it was back home in Australia.

We are about to head up to the open fells from Vakkotavare. Skye is chatting with a lovely French lady who's name I didn't get unfortunately....I actually bumped into this French lady and her partner many times on the journey north to Abisko.
The Kungsleden climbs fairly steeply from Vakkotavare....although there is plenty to see.
Like I said plenty to see!
The views back across Suorvajaure Lake opened up as I climbed.
Suorvajaure Lake

As is pretty normal on the Kungsleden once I was above the tree line the scenery ramped up and the climbing eased off a fair bit. Just after climbing out of the trees the Kunglseden passed between the towering rocky sentinels of Vákkudakvárátja and Garnnelababákta before striking out north, climbing fairly easily on the open fell. It was along here that we met a very large group of around 20 walkers heading south, so far on the Kungsleden I hadn’t really bumped into any huge groups however as I was now walking the more popular north sections so I was expecting some larger crowds. Thankfully this large group was going the opposite way so we didn’t have to camp with them tonight though.

The weather was pretty changeable this afternoon....thankfully we pretty well made it to camp without getting too wet.
Above the tree line again :)
I'm not sure of the name of this mountain... but it was impressive.
Late afternoon on the Kungsleden above Vakkotavare.
Today was a good day...great company and stunning scenery!

We didn’t have far to go now to get to our planned camp, which was a fairly good thing as it was now getting pretty late in the day. Arriving at the small creek where we’d guessed that we’d be able to camp we thankfully found no other walkers already occupying the small site. The tents were up quickly tonight and we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the changing light in the now somewhat changeable conditions. I’m not sure of the names of the mountains and glaciers that I could see in the distance but whatever their names are they looked pretty stunning to me, especially as the setting sun lit them up. Eventually the cold forced us into our tents, each of us pledging to wake the others up if the Northern Lights came out tonight.

Tonights camp on the fells above Vakkotavare.
The view from the tent wasn't too shabby.
The changing light conditions tonight were amazing.
The Dirt.
I walked 3.3 kilometres (that’s not a typo) and climbed 310 metres on today's very easy walk on the Kungsleden. Now if anyone actually reads this waffle they may have noticed that I didn’t actually stop at Vakkotavare, it just happens that Vakkotavare is the nearest well known spot to where we did stop. Over the 15 days of my Kungsleden journey so far I’ve walked 345.6 kilometres and climbed around 8884 metres. There were a few options to camp just as the climb reached the open fells in a shallow valley off to the right of the track. If anyone needed a bed then the Vakkotavare Stuga is the only game in town. Once again I used Cicerone’s Trekking the Kungsleden book along with my GPS topo maps today.

Relevant Posts.
Day 1 on the Kungsleden, 2019.
Previous Day on the Kungsleden, 2019.

Skye....taking in the scenery.
Tjaorvek from camp.

It's tent o'clock I think.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Vággevárás to Saltoluokta, Kungsleden - September 2019

I was appreciating the blue sky this morning after yesterday's overcast conditions.

Last night was a fairly wet and wild old night….however I still slept remarkably well. I did hear some people arrive late in the day but for the most part I managed a fairly good nights sleep. Even better news was that the rain basically stopped when daylight arrived this morning, so I was able to pack up without worrying about keeping all my gear dry, although as usual my tent was pretty wet. When I’d arrived in this little valley late yesterday I was the only one here, however emerging from the tent this morning I could see that there was now 5 tents scattered around. Even better news was that my friends Skye and Mark were camped beside me having safely got across the lake on the second boat trip, they were the ones that I’d heard turn up when I was in the tent last night.

I'd camped in that shallow gully last night.

On paper today looked like a fairly easy days walking, I was walking across some open country before dropping down to the Saltoluokta Fellstation where I was planning on having a rest day. After stashing my ringing wet tent on the outside of my pack I climbed out of my shallow gully and immediately things looked a fair bit more welcoming than they had been late yesterday afternoon. Conditions were still a little overcast but the cloud was high enough that I could see the tops of most of the mountains lining the U shaped glacial valley.

Heading off - things looked a little more promising this morning.
I meandered my way north past a few small lakes, first up this morning.

Once I’d climbed the twenty metres out of the valley the Kungsleden stuck out northwards, initially passing by some lakes that may have provided some exposed camping last night if I’d needed it. Things were all fairly easy this morning, the track about as level as it gets as I headed towards the Avtsusjvágge Emergancy Shelter which seemed to be teasing me in the distance for a long time before I actually got there. I wasn’t lonely this morning though, not only did I walk with Skye and Mark for awhile but I also had a lot of company from my furry Reindeer mates.

Looking north the weather looked OK....
....looking back to the south the weather was a little more unsettled.
It wouldn't be the Kungsleden without a few of these guys around.

Avtsusjvágge Shelter

Just before arriving at the shelter the headwaters of the Ávtsusjjåhka River started to appear to below me on the left, the river starting to cut out a fairly deep gorge and after leaving the hut things only got more impressive. Eventually the snow speckled mountains lining the valley eased off and I started to get my first look at the beautiful blue water of Langas Lake down below me. The easy walking continued for awhile longer as the views got even better, the towering shark tooth shaped bare rock mountain of Lulep Gierkav now dominating the view.

The Avtsujjåhkå River was starting to cut a decent sized gorge.
I even found some time for a bit of tent drying.
While today was an easy days walking the scenery slowed me down a little.
The gorge is getting a little deeper.
This U shaped glacial valley is called the Ávtsusjvágge Valley.

Lulep Girrkav

Eventually the Kungsleden started to drop fairly steeply the 300 metres down towards Langas Lake and the tree line. Starting my descent I could see the huge Swedish flag fluttering in the breeze down at the Saltoluokta Fellstation in the distance. Maybe it was because I was looking forward to kicking back for a couple of days, or maybe it was just that my Feral mojo was pretty good this morning in the sun, whatever the reason was I found the descent was over pretty quickly. Way sooner than I’d imagined I was walking into the somewhat sprawling fell station, arriving in time for lunch. The kilometres were coming fairly easy by this stage of the walk.

I'm about to start dropping off the open fells - the day was now officially gorgeous.
If you squint a bit you can see the large Swedish flag flying at the Saltoluokta Fellstation on the near shore of Langas Lake.
Langas Lake
The Kungsleden drops down this soft grey sand in one spot which my knees and ankles appreciated.

After managing to secure a bed for a couple of days, ironically enough sharing a 4 bunk hut with JC, Mark, Anja and my little furry friend Ribka, I spent the next two days relaxing. Spending a couple of days at Saltoluokta turned out to be one of the highlights of my Kungsleden walk I think, it was nice to have a wash, clean some clothes, eat some normal food, have a sauna and most importantly get to know my new trekking friends even better. Skye and Mark had arrived half an hour or so after me and were camping just down past our cabin, they also spent a rest day here so we had quite a good group for our convivial dinners.

The main building at Saltoluokta Fellstation.
Looking down Langas Lake from the fellstation, our little hut is behind the tree.
The view from the bastu (sauna) out over Langas Lake.
The view down over Langas Lake - the bastu is the building on the right.

The Dirt.
According to my GPS I walked 17.7 kilometres and climbed 165 metres today on what I’d call an easy - medium grade days walking. Over the 13 days of my Kungsleden walk so far I've walked 342.3 kilometres and climbed 8574 metres. If the weather is co-operating then there is almost unlimited camping up on the fells above the trees. If needing a bed then there is the emergency shelter at Aytsusjvágge and Saltoluokta Fellstation. The fellstation has around 100 beds but is accessible by boat from a road, when we are there a big corporate group had booked out most of the beds. Once again today I used Cicerone’s Trekking the Kungsleden book along with the topo maps on my GPS.

Relevant Posts.
Day 1 on the Kungsleden, 2019.
Previous Day on the Kungsleden, 2019.

My feet enjoyed my time at Saltoluokta.....

....and so did my stomach!

Mushroom Rocks, Baw Baw National Park - June 2016

I mentioned in my last post that I was heading out and doing a snow walk next and indeed that's how it turned out. The weather in Me...