Scandinavian wilderness hike 13- Into Padjelanta and Sarek

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...

                                                               Near Sorjushytta

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.

                               Morning atmosphere

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

Large, flowery meadows

I soon get the impression, that trails in Sweden are more developed, there are massive steel bridges, and in swamps I often don't get wet feet, because of many board walks. The weather gets better and better and I profusely like the walking across the wide, open spaces of Padjelanta.

                                            On dry moraines

So far I chatted with every hiker I met, but Padjelanta is more busy, so soon the hikers just greet each other, without talking.
Towards the big Virihaure lake the landscape becomes even more vast, what a change in just one day of walking!

                                            Towards Virihaure

Stalaluokta, a summer sami settlement appears below on the shore of the mighty lake and soon I have reached the Padjelantaleden, a popular, 140 kilometer long distance trail. It is possible to sleep at huts along the way, so this route is walkable without a tent, something many people like to do. So far, most of the time on this hike I had just a faint trail, or often just red markings, but this is a well trodden "hiking highway", nevertheless I find the area beautiful.

                           The Sarek mountains appear

In the evening dark clouds threaten and after pitching tent it rains heavily. Next morning the weather seems to improve, but soon a steady, quite heavy rain falls down. As it is not windy, I am able to use my small umbrella, which doesn't keep me completely dry, but the upper part of my body is quite well protected. No surprise, in this weather I meet no other hikers...

                           An umbrella is useful in the rain

After some hours I reach the five dark, wooden buildings of the Duoddar hut. From here I want to head cross country into Sarek Nationalpark, therefore I prefer to wait out the rain. Unlike the cabins in Norway, in Sweden each hut has a warden. Here in Padjelanta the cabins are run by the sami communities. The huts are good, but not as spacious and luxurious as in Norway. The price of 36 Euro for a night is very high...
There is  gas heating, so I am able to dry out my clothes, then I have a lot of time to read in the interesting books the hut provides about sami culture and history. 
Thomas. the warden lives as a social worker in Jokkmokk and is married to a sami woman. He enlarges his salary as a warden by selling homemade bread and fish he caught in the lake to the visitors.
Late in the afternoon a group of five swedes arrive, they are very friendly, but now the hut is definitely too crowded for my taste, so I prefer to leave. Luckily the rain has stopped recently...

                                              Duoddar hut

I walk some  kilometers cross country before I finally pitch tent above Duoddarjavre.
Next morning I continue hiking across the lovely green hills of Padjelanta. Near the distant Rissajavre I spot a yellow tent, and little later a helicopter lands near. This is illegal in the Nationalpark, as I learn later...
Like on the norwegian side, there are reindeer fences as well.
The dark Sarek mountains with their deeply incised valleys come closer, appearing quite inhospitable under a grey sky with thick clouds...

                                   I get closer to the Sarek mountains

When I reach the wide and swift Miellädno, I am happy, that my map shows a bridge. Sarek is one of the few places on my hike, where I carry a paper map. But as I hike downstream no bridge appears, probably it has been washed away...
I could hike around Allgajavre to get into Sarek, but that's a long detour, so I try to wade the river. I hope, that where it splits into different channels the water might not be too deep, and indeed, some channels I manage to wade, but finally at the main stream the river always gets too deep, so I have to retreat.

                          I am not able to cross Miellädno

On the shore of the Allgajavre lake I see a rowing boat, but hesitate to use it. While I am having my lunch break I see a person on the other side, taking a boat and rowing across, that's what I call good luck!
Birger is a professor from Stockholm, with a lot of hiking experience in Scandinavia on his belt. We have a nice conversation, and after, I paddle the boat back to the far shore, sparing Birger a second journey with the towed boat.

                           Rowing boats at Allgajavre

Not far above the lake is a tiny chapel, the reason why the boats are there. The church has a long history starting in the 17 th century and then it had a role for the proselityzing of the Sami people. Although far away from the nearest road, it still is occasionally used for mass. 

                                             Algavare chapel

Now I have entered Sarek Nationalpark, sometimes called "Europes last wilderness" because this area of little less than 2000 sqkm, with high mountains, glaciers, forests and unregulated rivers has almost no infrastructure. Although other areas even in Lapland are more remote and less visited, Sarek is indeed a very special, rough and beautiful place, which was already protected in 1909.
I follow the broad Algavagge valley upwards. Although occasionally there are quite dense willow thickets, the trailless walking is not too hard.


After having pitched my tent, I start an evening stroll. Although the temperature is just 6 C°, the evening feels quite mild, with many flowers and some young birds and frogs, announcing that summer, now at the beginning of august has reached another stage.

                                   Camp in Algavagge

                                        Common redshank

Next morning is mostly cloudy. I continue following the valleys of the nationalpark, always surrounded by steep, dark, hostile mountains with glaciers higher up. Although there are no marked trails, I step occasionally on a trodden path, and see some hikers in the distance. Everybody walks here as he pleases, so even though one follows the same valley, encounters are just by chance. But anyway, there are more hikers than you would expect in the "last wilderness" 
I get nice views across the deep green upper Rapadalen with its meandering stream.

                                           Upper Rapadalen

In the evening the sun illuminates the landscape fantastically, how beautiful it is here!

                                       Evening light in Sarek

                                   In the morning

I continue walking along the Ruohtesvagge valley, where soon the distinctive Niak mountain comes into view.

                                 Upper Ruohtesvagge

Sarek is Sami homeland as well, an old ruined Kota tells about the not so distant, nomadic past.

                                  Ruined Sami kota

For a shortcut towards Padjelantaleden I follow the shoulder of a incised valley immediately west of the mighty Ahkka massiv. Here I have reached Stora Sjöfallet, the third of the three adjacent Nationalparks here.

                                   Trailless hiking west of Ahkka mountain

Although the descent into the Vuojatädno valley is steep, I find a good route down, and soon I have reached a quite dense birch forest.

                                                  In birch forest

When I step back on the Padjelantaleden I immediately realize that this is another hiking world, with this well trodden, in places quite eroded trail, where it is even possible to hike without a tent...

                                      Padjelantaleden in Stora Sjäfallet

Stora Sjöfallet was protected because of the mighty waterfalls in the area. Although that has changed with the advent of waterpower, I still find the cataract of the Vuojädno very powerful and impressive!

                                       Vuojädno cataract 

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen