On this stage I leave my northerly bearing and take a big detour eastwards into Sweden, to explore the big Nationalparks of Laponia, Padjelanta, Sarek and Stora Sjöfallet.Next morning the sky is grey and a steady drizzle is leaving the clouds. Sulitjelma is located just 124 meters above the sea, so I have a long way to ascend...
A vehicle track leads 4 kilometers up to Ny Sulitjelma DNT- Cabin. I just want to have a look, but a german couple staying there, invites me for tea, so we chat 1,5 hours!
This hut has electricity and even a drying room heated by electric energy, these are for sure gifts from the power company, but although comfortable, in my mind such luxury seems inappropriate here...Ny Sulitjelma hut
Even below 600 meters no tree is growing here, the mountains are covered in clouds, it is grey and cold. At 850 meters I reach the first pass, followed by two others and finally I have arrived at the highest point at around 1050 meters.
A cold and grey day in Sulitjelma range
Even though the landscape seems to be very inhospitable, I spot some birds, like a lonely Snipe and some Snow Buntings, but soon I am in a winter landscape, unbelievable at the end of July...
Three times I need to wade streams with numerous channels, but most of the time I can use snow bridges, which might not be that safe any more...
Before I reach Sorjushytta, I cross the river on a suspension bridge.
Although the lake is only at 850 meters it is still frozen. "Never summer" range. I take a break at Sorjushytta to cook my dinner. When I have finished a swedish family shows up and tell that they have never seen that much snow here at this time of the year...
I continue and follow the lake shore for a while, slowly leaving the snow. Probably the area around the main crest of the Sulitjelma range gets the most precipitation, further east into Sweden it gets drier.
Next morning a fine mist evolves from the frozen lake, creating a fairy tale like atmosphere. It is not long ago, that the snow has thawed here, therefore the soil is often very wet.
Soon I have reached the swedish border, where the visitor can learn a lot about the environment and the Sami culture.
In many ways the crossing opens a new chapter of the hike: For the first time I leave Norway, have arrived at Laponia and the Nordkalottleden hiking trail.
Laponia is a network of protected areas, covering about 9400 sqkm, almost as large as Yellowstone Nationalpark in the USA. It is a World Heritage Site for its natural value and the culture of the Sami, which is still very much alive here. Laponia is the largest wilderness area in Europe, outside of Russia, which of cause makes it a must for me to explore!
The Nordkalottleden is a 800 kilometer long distance trail, which I mostly will be following for the next weeks, aside of some detours of my own.
Interesting information boards
I have reached Padjelanta Nationalpark, with 1984 sqkm, Swedens largest. The contrast to the intimidating, harsh mountains of the Sulitjelma range, is very great. As Padjelanta is mainly a rather flat, quite fertile, green high plain, it has a lot more colours than the border mountains. I love the green reindeer pastures and many flowers!
Nordkalottleden in Padjelanta