Scandinavian wilderness hike 16- Into the primeval pine forests of Dividalen

On this stage I explore the primeval pine forests in Øvre Dividal Nationalpark.

After a relaxing week with Jana, I get back on the Nordkalottleden near the Torneträsk lake. Now the first signs of autumn have arrived in earnest. Some leaves have already turned yellow, and the first fresh snow covers the mountain tops. I walk on a good trail across hilly, rather lush birch forests and for a short distance along Torneträsk. With 70 kilometers this is Swedens largest lake!

                                          Back on trail near Torneträsk

When I get near to the norwegian border, I find something special: Jana told me about a hidden Geocache, and after a quick search I find some overgrown bunkers, on a bluff overlooking a valley. Although off trail, nearby I find an information panel, announcing that this was a defence post in World War 2, when Sweden was fearing to be overrun by the germans, after their invasion of Norway!

                              Bunkers from World War 2

                               The defense post was overlooking this valley

Back into Norway I have two interesting encounters: First I meet a cyclist, pushing his bike. The Italian guy was not intending to be here, apparently his GPS led him a wrong way, so he was already 20 km pushing...
Understandably he was not so happy, when I told him, that he will have another 20 before he reaches the road....

                                            Lost Italian cyclist

At Lappjordhytta I meet a German couple with their Norwegian Guide Ane. Their baggage is transported by three reindeers! As Ane tells me, she is the only person offering reindeer supported treks in Norway. In winter she changes to Husky trips...

                                    Ane offers reindeer treks

I do a trailless shortcut and soon have reached the treeline. The tundra is quite grassy here, with lots of nice looking campsites. Back on the Nordkalottleden, I meet two german solo hikers, one of them living near Marburg!
Light fog rising from the valleys makes for a mystical atmosphere, in the big early autumn silence.

                                         Almost mystical atmosphere

When I descent into a valley next morning, I discover a village of about 25 houses on the other side. It seems to be deserted, so I guess it is a Sami settlement, only used in the summer.

Widespread, deserted settlement

There seem to be a good number of hikers on this stretch of the Nordkalottleden, among them I meet a young swedish woman, attempting to hike the "Green belt route" along Sweden's mountains from north to south, and Robin, an Italian who started his trek at Hemavan in southern Swedish Lapland. I am impressed by his light kit, which enables him to do great distances each day.

                                   Light weight hiker Robin

Although I get close to Innset, I pass by the hamlet and continue across the open moorlands at Altevatn, a big artificial lake. In 1992 I started my hike towards Kilpisjärvi here!

                  Wide moorlands with views to the border mountains


As I always start very early in the morning, it is no wonder, that when I reach Gaskas hut 4 kilometers away, nobody is already up...
From there the trail leads upwards in less green, more hostile terrain...

                                 Gaining altitude after Gaskas

It starts to rain, and the heavy wind unfortunately keeps me from using my umbrella. Three young Merlin Falcons beg their parents for food!
After reaching a pass, I have to negotiate large boulderfields, quite uncomfortable under the cold and wet conditions.
When I meet a young english couple, Lucie and Ed we walk together, something very unusual for me on this walk!
At Vuomahytta we can't resist to having a break, drying out our clothes. A lone norwegian, who stays there for some days has lit the stove, so it is cozy and warm inside and we even get hot coffee offered. Although the guy apparently doesn't do much walking, he warns us about bears and thinks I will get problems in my trailrunning shoes, as autumn closes in. We will see...
He suggests to take a trailless, high route, as the trail in the valley will now be very wet and muddy. My young colleagues are a bit unsure, but as I suggest we carry on together on the trailless route, they are happy to join me.

                                       Warming up at Vuoma hut

No doubt, trails are nice to walk, but I really like the freedom and higher adventure level of choosing my own route, so I am very happy, to leave the trodden path's.
My companions are really nice fellows, so we have lots of fun!
When we surprisingly meet two old guys, it turns out, that one of them is a swedish national, living since long in the US!

                                        Unexpected encounter

                          Trailless across the Fjell

Finally the vast valley of Anjavassjohka, mainly covered in birch forest, stretches down below. Although I am a bit sceptical if a bad bushwack awaits us now, the descent is rather easy and soon we reach the river, where my friends pitch tent at a used campsite with a firepit.

                                    Descent into the Anjavassjohka valley

I continue some distance, and make camp, just in time before it starts to rain.
Next morning is cold and grey, clearly autumn has arrived! The mountains I crossed yesterday, now have a light snow cover!
I continue following Anjavassjohka, sometimes on dry, lichen covered benches, other times the trail is rather muddy. Before the creek reaches Dividalen, it enters a spectacular gorge.

                                                    Anjavassjohka Gorge

I have decided to spent most of the day exploring the forests of Dividalen, so when I reach the main valley, I leave Nordkalottleden, and soon reach the tiny, open Nergardsbua, which is owned by statskog, the norwegian forest administration. I already know this cabin from 1992 when I camped in front of it, because 4 other guys already had  installed themselves in the little hut. I remember how long and nicely we chatted that time.


As it has started raining again, and I don't expect that to end soon, the hut is most welcome! By the way, in 1992 it rained a lot here as well....
I use the axe to chop some of the supplied birch wood, and soon have the stove running. Nice and warm!

                                     A cozy retreat from the rain

I relax and read books on my kindle, but as the rain is not going to stop, I venture out to explore the wet forest, which is even under these conditions very beautiful.
The 770 sqkm Dividal Nationalpark reaches from the pineforests in the valley up to the open fjells and houses animals like lynx, bear and wolverine.
In the sheltered valley grows a fine pine forest, which was never logged. To walk across this open forest is a delight, even though a bear is not waiting behind each corner...

                              The open pine forest of Dividalen

Although this not seems to be a good year for picking fruits, there are blue- and cloudberries.



The forest is full of mushrooms, many of them quite sizeable. Surely they like these wet conditions...

                                               Mushrooms in Dividalen

Although in stretches it is very muddy, I love to explore this forest with my camera, although finally I am happy to dry out in the cabin again...

A rainy day

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