I had intended to explore more of the granite country around Hellemofjord but next morning I soon must realise, that that is a slow, difficult undertaking. I would run out of food and more importantly miss an appointment in some days, so I decide to turn back on the Nordkalottleden.
Back to the Nordkalottleden
Near the excavation site I meet Mr. Aronsson again. He is not only an experienced arctic scientist, but half Sami as well, so this is the chance to learn more about these indigenous people.
As I already know, nowadays wild reindeer live only in the mountains of southern Norway. Up to short ago, it was believed, that in the north they were tamed by the Sami, so that their herds are descendants of the original wild ones. But recent genetic science has found out, that the Sami already took their reindeer with them, when they immigrated from the east. Around 1800 they had extinct the wild reindeer.
The Sami language is related to finnish, so both groups originated in todays Russia. But there are elements in the language of the Sami which are different, a hint to the people who lived in the area before the Sami arrived.
Unlike Norway, Sweden is much more tolerant to large predators. I express to Mr. Aronsson that I doubt that this plays a big role for the Sami, when they need to protect their herds, but he insists that in fact in Swedish Sapmi the number of bears and wolves has significantly increased. There are areas where 50 % of the reindeer calves are lost to the bears in spring.
A not so obvious question with big implications is, who is regarded by the swedish government as Sami. In the past there where language tests, but nowadays the government only gives Sami rights to people who own reindeer. As there always had been a large percentage of Sami who just hunted and fished, their descendants are nowadays disclosed from the exclusive land use rights of ackknowledged sami, which is especially important for hunting. This feels to be unfair, but on the other hand, today the biggest number of Sami lives in the respective capitals of their countries. To extent exclusive hunting rights on them would surely mean a depletion of wildlife...
After we have talked again, I continue my hike, full of thoughts about what I have learned during the two encounters with the scientists.
Back on the trail I see nobody for a long time, so I am quite surprised when I meet a lone hiker. Kaja from Oslo has started her hike at Nordkapp and wants to reach Kap Lindesnes, Norway's most southern point. She found the last days on the trail very tough and is happy to meet me, the first human of today...
Kaja is a professional photographer and blogs about her hike.
Norge pa langs hiker Kaja
Here back in Norway, there is still a lot of snow, quite a contrast to the gentler landscapes in Sweden! Inspired by my encounters I think a lot about my life and plans for the future. One thing is very sure: I will continue my long hikes! But I also would like to share more, not only of my personal experience, but to a higher degree add a broader dimension, especially on things related to the land.
Still much snow in northern Norway's mountains
Next morning I start in sun again. Today I have to cover a lot of altitude difference, because the pattern is climbing up to a ridge and descending into a valley, which repeats several times. When I get to a wilder river, I know this is the place I have already heard about. Supposedly other hikers turned back here, because they couldn't cross. And indeed, at the first two places I want to wade the river, I need to step back, because the current is too fast. So I hike a little distance upstream where I find a calm spot above a rapid. Here the water is thigh deep, but the crossing poses no problem. The lesson is, that even when a river seems to be unfordable, with a little scouting it is often possible to find an adequate place.
A rather difficult crossing
The border mountains
Life on the snow
The Nordkalottleden apparently doesn't get much use here, in parts the trail is badly marked and hardly visible, quite unusual in Norway!
Around noon I reach Roysvatn which at 800 meters altitude is still fully frozen! The hut buildings are on a thawed patch in the white wilderness.
The trail changes the side of the border here frequently and a long descent down a snowy valley gets me again into a greener landscape.
Long descent down a snowy valley
The weather has changed, for a long time a steady rain is falling, so I am glad when I pitch camp after this long, quite hard day.
On the grey morning the temperature reaches just 6 C°, mist adds a mystical atmosphere to the large Bavrojavre, which I follow for a long time, but mostly away from shore. Although there is a lot of snow, fortunately it is quite compact and easy to walk.
Mist over thawing Bavrojavre
When I meet a swiss couple, they tell me, that one of the rowing boats, which are used to cross a 50 meter part of the lake to reach Paurohytta is missing. When they arrived on the shore from the north, the boat was lying on the other side, so they had two options: Do a 9 kilometer trackless, strenous detour around the lake, or swim across. While the guy understandably hesitated to swim a quite long distance in a lake with icebergs sailing, his brave girl friend stripped, swam the 50 meters and rowed the boat back!
I wouldn't have done that, but am glad that the boat now is on the right side for my crossing....
I pass an old copper mine, ascent to a pass at around 1000 meters and finally get to an open hut, two Swedish hikers recommended to me. It is less cozy than the cabins in Saltfjellet, but o.k
Open emergency hut
I leave early on a clear, cold morning, because I need to reach the road at Kjatterat today. The snow along a lake is hard from the frost, and makes for a perfect ramp if somebody enjoys an ice cold swim, but I prefer to be cautious...
A clear, cold morning
Like so often on this hike, under the thin surface of the snow, there are big holes, with ankle threatening rocks...
Under the clear sky the walking again is a delight, even though the stretches of granite boulder fields are not so easy to negotiate.
When I reach the large Kattajaure, I know it is not very far any more. The track gets better and improves finally to a dirt road.
I had intended to take the train from Kjatterat to Narvik, but as there is no train today, I take the bus. But before I enjoy chocolate from the supermarket....
I urgently need some replacements, like for my torn trouser, and then I will meet Jana, and we will spent a week together, mainly exploring the island Senja, before I continue walking.
The end of a trouser...