Photo: Long shadows in late afternoon at lake Radujavri, Kungsleden trail, Sweden. Sept 2012
Alesjaure to Abiskojaure: 20km – Abiskojaure to Abisko 15km
[This is part 3 of my hike along the northern section of the Kungsleden trail, Sweden from Sept 11 - 20, 2012. Part 1 HERE, part 2 HERE, part 3 HERE. You can find a complete photo gallery of the hike HERE. For a general overview of hiking the trail in autumn, CLICK HERE ]
Even after a full day of rest at Alesjaure, our colds were still taking a toll on energy an motivation levels. The original plan had been to leave the Kungsleden trail proper and head west to Unna Allakas at the Norwegian border, but this would also add another 24km to our journey, something my stuffed up head and runny nose weren’t very excited for at the moment. Even the thought of staying another night at Alesjaure was discussed, but quickly dismissed. Best to get a move on, even if not all the way to Abiskojaure. After a bland breakfast, we were once again on the trail, heading north towards our final destination, which now sat only 35km away.
Overnight rains turned the trail into a boggy, slippery mess, and it was slow going around the lakes. We had heard that the forecast promised clear skies, but as noon neared, heavy clouds still guarded us against any possibility of getting a sunburn. The winds were calm however, giving the day a much more relaxed feeling than what most of the previous week had been.
Sometime around noon, we ended up at the small shelter near lake Radujavri. Taking a slow lunch, I began to notice the the clouds seemed to be quickly clearing. I then mulled the decision, to stay or not to stay. We had not even reached the halfway point to Abiskojaure, but on the other hand, we still had some extra days, and I didn’t mind laziness. Not to mention, I was hiking to trail to enjoy myself and hopefully get some nice photos; I was carrying too much camera gear to miss the possibility of a good photo opportunity just because I was in a hurry. The reason I purposely scheduled a few extra days than necessary for the trail.
I also knew that if the weather did clear, it would be better to remain up in the high country rather then head down into the forests which surround Abiskojaure. I’d also heard some mentions of a moth infestation which had stripped many of the birches barren. And so at that, the decision was made. We would stay at the small hut. And luckily enough, there was even one last log of firewood that had thus far survived the season. Though the saws and axes were in a bit of over-used state and it required a little creativity to get the log into a burnable state – no need to mention that it was also pretty wet.
As as the afternoon hours passed the sun finally emerged from the clouds. As dusk arrived the sky was now almost completely clear and my excitement grew at the possibilities of something that had thus far eluded us, Northern Lights. The night grew clear and crisp and dark. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many stars! It was a struggle to choose between remaining outside in the cold, or the warmth of the hut.
I soon settled into a restless sleep. No doubt because I set my alarm to go off over 30 minutes so I could check for Auroras. The hours passed and passed but the sky remained quite. Sometime around 03:00 am I gave up hope, knowing that if anything were to happen, it likely would’ve by then. I didn’t wake again until the light of dawn was creeping through the tiny window.
The morning arrived with a chill and not a single cloud in the sky. A good decision had been made to stay up in the high country. An added benefit was that the previous day’s boggy trail was now frozen solid, making for much easier going. Or at least most parts of the trail. The wooden plank sections were covered in a layer of ice and slippery as hell, needing much extra caution at times.
We made quick progress towards Abiskojaure and arrived by late morning. The stories of the moth infestation was true and we near suffocated as we had to hike though clouds of them that hung over the trail at times. And indeed, much of the forest was nothing more than brown twigs, the leaves not failed, but eaten.
Abiskojaure turned out to be a pretty crowded place as it seems many people make just a single overnight trip there from Abisko. A lazy afternoon followed and thoughts of our last night in the wilderness. The morning would see us back to civilisation, at least as much as Abisko can be called as such. We turned in for an early night.
the final 15km to Abisko went by quickly and we arrived before noon. We checked into the hostel for a couple nights and then quickly headed to town for something that had been on our minds a lot in the last days, food! I generally know better than to go shopping while hungry. I should have definitely known better than to go shopping in a Swedish supermarket after 10 days in the mountains. To say we overbought for the next two days would be a fairly large understatement.
The hostel in Abisko was a much more popular place than I was expecting and we had the unfortunate benefit of a school group of teenagers from Kiruna who pretty much ran uncontrolled about the place. It took some harsh words by a middle aged German dude before that at least quitted down somewhat. I guess the Swedes are a little more relaxed in their supervision of youngsters, though I don’t think the teacher were much pleased when they heard the Sauna had been left littered with empty beer cans. Kids will be kids…
Abisko markets itself as a ‘Northern Lights watching destination,’ and it appeared many of the guests at the hostel where there for this. Our first night passed uneventful, mostly thanks to the clouds. But finally, on the second night some Aurora’s finally decided to make an appearance, though still mostly hidden by clouds. The photographer in me wished I could have been back at the hut on the shores of lake Radujavri as I don’t actually find Abisko to be that scenic of a place. I don’t quite know why it is such a popular destination, other than perhaps ease of access and the fact that the weather is often better than over in Norway, where there seems to sit a perpetual wall of cloud quite literally at the border to Sweden. Quite funny actually.
In the morning came the train back to Kiruna where our journey had begun 10 days and 130km earlier. All in all, it was a brilliant week in the Sweden’s mountains with some excellent days and a much greater variety of weather than my first trip. No doubt I’ll be back again. [As I type these words I'm working out the possibility of a winter tour on skis for the coming months, but will more likely have to wait until Spring 2014]
Photo: A rare photo of me. Practicing my rock jumping skills, Kungsleden trail, Sweden. Sept 2012
Photo: A more balanced approach to standing on a rock, Kungsleden trail, Sweden. Sept 2012
Photo: Yellow grasses of Autumn, Kungsleden trail, Sweden. Sept 2012
Photo: Mountain sunset, Kungsleden trail, Sweden. Sept 2012
Photo: Twilight comes to the mountains, Kungsleden trail, Sweden. Sept 2012
Photo: Blue hour on the shores of lake Radujavri, Kungsleden trail, Sweden. Sept 2012
Photo: Keron rises in the north, Kungsleden trail, Sweden. Sept 2012
Photo: Descending back into the trees near Abiskojaure, Kungsleden trail, Sweden. Sept 2012
Photo: Autumn hiking under bluebird skies, Kungsleden trail, Sweden. Sept 2012
Photo: Enjoying some afternoon sun outside Abiskojaure hut, Kungsleden trail, Sweden. Sept 2012
Photo: Final morning on the trail, Abiskojaure, Kungsleden trail, Sweden. Sept 2012
Photo: Hiking under a golden birch canopy in the final kilometers to Abisko, Kungsleden trail, Sweden. Sept 2012
Photo: Wandering the shores of lake Torneträsk, Abisko, Sweden. Sept 2012
Photo: Northern Lights shine from behind clouds, Abisko, Sweden. Sept 2012