A new year, a new part of Kungsleden. The crew this year was V+R together with little sister C, but also an old acquaintance in the form of Gustav who went with us a short hike a few years back, and now graced us with his presence again. This was to be a warm-up for a longer trek into Sarek later this year. However, for various reasons the long trek got cancelled, so so far this is my only hike this year. Not that I have given up entirely, I may still get up there one more time!
New gear? Well, if you’ve read previous accounts you’ll be unsurprised that, yes, we had new gear! The most spectacular of which was that both C and Gustav had decided to buy new tents, and in fact single person tents (although Gustav’s Helsport Ringstind 2 is actually a small 2 man tent). So 5 persons had 4 tents As documented to the left, C had the good taste to buy a Hilleberg Akto, just like mine. But shiny and red instead!
My main new gear was a new backpack. Namely the brilliant Granite Gear A.C 60. And damn! That’s a good buy. After a small adjustment it became the most comfortable backpack I have ever worn. My only gripe is the lack of places to tie external gear. But as I bought the optional top lid as well I can always add than when I need a few extra litres. Without the top lid I did fit a 6 day hike, but without cutting down more on volume going past 8-9 days may a stretch. But having said that: I’m extremely happy with it!
Day One; A Light Evening Walk
We decided to meet Gustav at Ammarnäs, and to have dinner at STF. The trip up was uneventful, apart perhaps from the fact that none of us knew how to find STF when we did arrive. Details, details.
As we’ve done previous years we used the excellent Bussgods to send a bag ahead of us down to Hemavan. It is very nice to be able to get a pair of jeans and a t-shirt on after your first post-hike shower! Worked this year as well, apart from the fact the the pick-up place in Hemavan had changed to the Airport which had closed when we arrived. Ooops. We did get the stuff though thanks to R and the help of the staff at STF.
After dinner we set out towards Aigerstugan. Our idea was simply to try ot get above the tree-line before nightfall. It quickly turned out that in order to get there we needed to go the entire stretch to Aigert. Which we did. The First night camp was a few hundred meters past the hut.
We did meet a fellow wanderer coming the opposite way: as a true minimalist he walked in sandals and had lightweight gear, including an umbrella (!). He talked constantly about the TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE mosquitos, and gadflies, and flies, and GOD! THE MOSQUITOES! Er… I may be exaggerating, but according to him we were heading into the worst stretch of fly and mosquito-ridden mountain imaginable. That put us on the mood. But for the record, and we’ll get back to it, it wasn’t that bad by a long stretch.
Which reminds me: The nice lady at Aigertstugan was the first person to be able to tell me if, and why mosquitoes “goes to bed” at eleven. Almost always during my hikes, at about eleven o’clock in the night, the mosquitoes disappear. I have imagined some sort of subliminal food-and-sleep clock that calls the little buggers home, but I appear to be wrong. It’s simpler than that: If the temperature drops low enough the mosquitoes becomes dormant. So a really warm night in the mountains they’ll stay awake. Which they did the first night, just to prove her point
Day Two; Close Thunder
From Aigert to Serverstugan is a straight 20 km walk. But fairly flat, and to be honest, not very exciting. Luckily we got artificial excitement though: Midday we walked straight into a thunderstorm. For those of you who haven’t been in the mountains when the thunder is rolling around (yes ‘around’, not as you’d expect: ‘above’) your head, it is a special experience.
We where kind of lucky anyway and managed to bypass the worst of the rain until the last couple of hours which gave us plenty of fairly nice weather anyway. I have it by rumor that R and Gustav stopped and took a bath at one of the lakes. But bath-chicken that I am I think their just making it up to appear macho.
At the end of the day we where rather wet and the weather didn’t seem to let up. This early in the hike we really didn’t feel like packing wet tents, and when we arrived at Serve, and immediately was served lemonade on the house and putting our feet up, we decided to do something new: namely to stay in the hut as opposed to somewhere close. Apart from the fact that it was very warm inside at times, we had a relaxing evening and night.
Day Three; Oh Migod, the Gadflies!
So, our friend from the first day wasn’t entirely wrong: I have never seen, let along been stung by, so many gadflies. At the end of the day you where numb and just couldn’t give a shit about them any more: Let the little bastard sting, I’ll kill it when I’ve mustered enough interest. Oh bother!
Apart from that, this was a rather nice day, with just a little bit of rain as we approached Tärnasjön. At which point we had a choice to make: If we wanted to attempt an ascent of Norra Sytertoppen during the trip, an extra day for weather-adjustments could be good. And since there’s a very conventient boat across Tärnasjön, we could press on to Syterstugan the same day. This would cut one day of walking (mainly though birch woods, oh poor us!) and position us right at Syterskalet for the next day. Said and done!
Did I say nice weather? Well, as we arrived close to Syterstugan it became rougher. We could see heavy rain moving in the valleys. Me managed to pass through the outskirts of one during our walk, but the motherload hit us when we had pitched our tents and cooked dinner. In fact: R handed out dinner through the tent door and then me and C (having separate tents) had to run for it! Heavy rain? Oh yes… But I didn’t get too wet, and I’ll admit: sitting in my tent with the almost deafening sound of the rain and wind on the canvas, eating warm food and sipping whisky made me a very happy camper indeed.
Day Four and Five; Into a Post Card
Syterskalet is one of those iconic images of the Swedish mountains that makes a great image, but is even greater when you’re actually within it. This day started grey and boring but ended up with sunshine coming though. And we did find perhaps the best camping spot we’ve ever had.
So here’s the tip for anyone passing by who want to find the place to camp: east of Viterskalsstugan you can wade over Syterbäcken to get either up into Viterskalet or to follow the path up to Norra Sytertoppen. Just wade across the water and you have a big flat grassy plain you can stay at. But do make sure you pitch the tent so that you can lie and watch Syterskalet in the morning light. I did. And when the tent gets hot in the morning, opening up to a vista like the one to the left explains why I hike. If you still don’t understand, you’re a lost cause.
In fact, we stayed at the same place day five. C, R and Gustav went up to Norra Sytertoppen while me and V explored Viterskalet. On the whole, I think the ascent was the right choice, but V had a bad foot and my legs was a bit too tired so we opted for a simpler day. Not that I’m complaining, the weather was nice and spending a day with V is a luxury I too seldom get to do.
In the afternoon Gustav decided to press on towards Hemavan. He really wanted to catch an early bus home the day after. The rest of us was in no such rush as we weren’t flying out until the day after and opted to stay. I mean, with that kind of camping spot, you really don’t want to move! So Gustav packed up and walked away. And there was much rejo… Er… wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Day Six; Descent
Day six was basically just getting down to Hemavan. A nice, short trek ending with the birch woods in the Hemavan alpine center. Not too much to say about really. We did end the day spliendidly: first a shower, then coffee and a cake, then a beer or two in the sun, then pizza and beer. Really, is there anything more to life?!
Yes, we have pretty pictures!
Now, excuse me while I go dreaming about my second trip this year…