Day Seven – Teasojaure to Saltoluokta 11.5km. Total distance 113.4km.
The rain and mist during the previous night made everything wet, the tent needed to dry and the trails are a little sloppy. Its still humid but there is no rain. The first part of the hike is fairly easy so we take it easy, towards Vakkotavare the trail get steep and muddy but nothing too crazy. When we got down to the hut we took a quick look around and tried to find the bus schedule but failing that we just lined up behind the other group. There seems to be two buses, one early in the morning and one at lunch time. We only had to wait five minutes which made us realise we almost had to spend a night at Vakkotavare – our spare day would have been used waiting for a bus!
The bus journey is only around 30km but the stops mount up and the whole journey takes a couple of hours, the bus driver did a good job of describing the highlights on the road. At the end of the bus journey we had to jump on a motor boat, STF non-member rip off price, again! During the crossing the rain blew in so we put on our goretex gear 🙁
At the other side we took advantage of the large fjallstation for wifi, supplies and a good rest while the heaviest of the rain passed over. We had planned to hike around 1km and camp but the only flat spots ended up being a little further away. Despite all the rain we also wanted to find a good water source. We cooked and ate whilst running in and out of the tent avoiding the showers but the camping site was pretty stunning when the clouds parted. Although wet the night was warm with the cloud cover.
Day Eight – Saltoluokta to Sitojaure 18.8km. Total distance 132.2km.
After the dreaded expectations of waking up to rain it turned out to be a nice morning, some small patches of mist but no rain! This made it a lot easier to pack things up. After the usual oats and coffee we startd to head up over the fell. The groups of reindeer had not yet been scared off by any other hikers so they bounded around in the distance before disappearing into the mist.
Around half way through when we both needed a rest we came across the emergency shelter. Just as we stepped in the clouds opened up and the rain came down heavily on the corrugated tin roof. We tried to wait it out, however there is only so much time we wanted to spend in the small hut so we braved the elements with all of our rain gear on. We have goretex shoes so everything should be good…..ha ha goretex shoes suck, or at least both of ours do, after an hour of rain and puddles both of our sets of feet are completely soaked through. We have no choice but to carry on.
The rain comes and goes but pretty much most of the second half of the hike was in heavy mist and rain. Everything stayed dried aside from our feet. It was getting quite draining and pretty miserable until we hit our highest point and started the descent to the lake where had to decide on a paddle or pay for a motor boat. The paddle is 4km and when we got to the cabin there was no boat, we decided that we did not want to paddle across three times so paid for the motor boat. Luckily for us the cabin tenant liked us and gave us a nice warm coffee. Getting a lift across the lake was the right idea, on the other side we hunted out a forested camp site and pitched the tent in between showers.
As the sun peaked out of the clouds we tried to dry our shoes and socks, there were still a few showers but soo much water had soaked our feet that it was a futile drying attempt. In the forest the nights are warmer and while there are a few mosquitoes but not as bad as we were expecting.
Day Nine – Sitojaure to Aktse 18.6km. Total distance 150.8km.
Awesome, wet boots, wet socks and it looks like more rain will be on the way. With our breakfast sorted we squelched our way up the trail ready with our rain gear for the expected showers. Thankfully it did not rain today and as a bonus we shared the trail with a solitary reindeer, he would walk past us and then kept pausing to eat and wait for us to approach before moving on.
The reindeer is a nice respite from simply counting down kilometers, watching him/her approaching from behind and then following for a kilometer makes the uphill portion of the hike so much easier. At the peak we laid the tent out to dry and watched our guardian wander off into the distance. After a refuelling snickers we set off down to the scenic Aktse huts and prepared ourselves for a paddle.
At the huts we stocked up on some supplies and used the facilities, as usual a hole in the ground with a hut providing privacy – its just like being in Canada. As we left we swatted a few mosquitoes, this area is renowned for its pests but at this time of year its relatively clear. At the lake we took the only boat and tried to figure out in which direction we had to row, a slight detour had to be made when we finally noticed the white markers, a little further out the bouys became visible. The boat had two sets of oars but our coordination was very poor so we took turns. As we unloaded on the other side the rain storm hit hard, we ducked into the emergency shelter and tried to wait it out.
As I grew restless I decided to prepare to row in the rain, goretex jacket and sandals were put on and almost everything else was taken off. The rain eased off and in the drizzle I set about getting two boats tied together and set off to the other side of the lake, the two boats tugging and pulling at each other making me weave left to right like a drunken sailor. At the Aktse side of the lake I moored one boat and a couple of people came out of the bush, I managed to negotiate a lift back across the lake, it was a nice easy, relaxing journey.
In the meantime MJ had setup the tent in a small clearing, surrounded by lush green trees, grass, moss and copious fungi probably of varying levels of toxicity so we just ate our mountain meals purchased earlier. A couple of other hikers passed but the night was uneventful and it was a great, quiet camping spot.
Day Ten – Aktse to Parte 17.6km. Total distance 168.4km.
Everything is damp, the dew settled all across the forest and the canopy prevents the sun from drying the tent. As usual we start with oats and packing everything up, strapping any wet clothes and the tent on the outside of the bags to dry, at least my boots are almost dry.
Todays hike climbs over a fell and undulates through the forest, its similar to the Canadian forests that we are used to, slightly different species and a lot of meadows for the Reindeer and Elk to graze. We knew we did not want to get to Parte but find a site further up the trail, close enough to make the final day a reasonable length. We spent a few kilometers looking, heading off the trail and finding small pitches on slopes, on rocks and others covered with spiky plants. Eventually we settled on a spot 100 meters above the creek.
Being near water is great, you get to bathe, its easy to get water for food and the sound helps you sleep at night. After ten days on the trail bathing in ice cold water is a luxury, luckily we have a nice private area. We found the site fairly early in the day so have enough time to relax and prepare for tomorrows final hike.
Day Eleven – Parte to Kvikkjokk. 19km. Total distance 187.4km.
The final day, the usual bittersweet feeling, its all over….well almost, just a 20km hike to go. We have high expectations for Kvikkjokk, all the treats at the fjallstation, finding a laundrette, getting some news and all the other mundane day to day tasks. The rain storms have passed so there is no threat of a downpour and the sun is shining as we trek down the rooty, rocky trail.
Our food supplies have been measured to perfection we have enough to get to Kvikkjokk plus some small emergency supplies of sugar. At Kvikkjokk we will get some real food! Our focus and determination is firmly on the destination, we have a brisk pace and take breaks quickly before checking distance covered and ETA. The wind that helped move the storms is whipping across the lake and up through the valley, against the large backpacks, the gusts almost flipping you over sideways.
We approach Kvikkjokk, passing the large ant hills and various different fungal life. Soon hitting the edge of town as the sounds of people pervade the silence of the ancient forest, day hikers, dogs, cars, trucks. That feeling of accomplishment tinged with the feeling of the loss of the simplicity mountain hiking life, we reached our destination and set about the restaurants menu.
There are not many gluten free options so just the basic fries for me, a burger for MJ. We checked out the accommodation prices but could not justify the $200+ hostal room so we headed in the big smoke called Kvikkjokk. Our other options for accommodation were limited to damp looking cabins or side of the road camping spots. The town is not what we expected, no shops, barely any life and two options for a bed.
In the end we camped just up the road from the Fjallstation, the night seemed fairly warm but we had to get up at 5am and putting the tent away at the time was very cold, the poles felt like they would freeze your hand instantly. We managed to get everything packed and catch the bus…..a very successful Arctic Adventure!