Monthly Archives: August 2012

The King’s Trail – Hiking Kungsleden

When I was researching fun hiking destinations in Europe, Kungsleden (the King’s Trail) just kind of jumped out at me from nowhere. I’d never heard of it and then all of a sudden I was reading about it everywhere, with people raving about the unique landscapes and beautiful scenery. It didn’t take much persuading for me to book tickets and make my way into the Arctic Circle for the first time. Flying over Lappland was the first eye opener, with vast plains and shimmering lakes covering the world below. There was a little asking around involved but I didn’t have too many problems finding accommodation in Kiruna and a train to Abisko, the northern end of the Kungsleden trail. From here it was an endless supply of gorgeous views, mixed with changeable weather and a late setting sun (it is summer in the Arctic after all). I saw reindeer, learned about the Sami people, climbed to the highest point in Sweden and ate a lot of dried fruit. From a photography stand point it was fantastic, with the section from Abiskojaure to Alesjaure being the highlight, the reflecting lakes and funky cloud formations were mesmerizing. The Kungsleden trail stretches much further south but like most people I walked the northern section, finishing my journey at Nikkaluokta. I’d love to come back in the winter to see the northern lights and do some dog sledding but for now I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my Kungsleden adventure.

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The Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel

To celebrate the end of my Kungsleden adventure I booked myself into the Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel for a little frozen fun. Being summer time things aren’t quite as spectacular as they would be in the winter but it’s a lot quieter and I almost had the place to myself. I took a tour of the ice factory where they process harvested ice from the river, creating all kinds of ice sculptures and drinking glasses before shipping them around the world, the whole process is quite remarkable. I then moved on to the ice rooms which are really cool (sorry), each one is uniquely themed and they spare obviously spare no expense when making them.

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Posted in Lappland, Sweden Tagged , , |

Reindeer at Sámi Siida

With half a day up my sleeve I decided to check out the reindeer park and Sámi camp named Sámi Siida. It was a refreshing change of pace after the hectic days hiking through the Kungsleden and great fun just chilling with the reindeer.

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Kungsleden – Reaching Nikkaluokta

I put my camera away for the journey between the lodge at Kebnekaise and Nikkaluokta to make sure I made it in time to catch the bus that left for Kiruna around midday. The weather was a little miserable so I don’t think I missed much. I made good time over the 19km trail and took a few snaps when I had comfortably made it to Nikkaluokta, including one of this tent shaped gate that marks your arrival.

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Posted in Lappland, Sweden Tagged |

Climbing Kebnekaise

I walked like a mad man over the last few days to give myself enough time to climb Kebnekaise (Sweden’s tallest mountain at 2,106 metres, 6,909 ft) so the summit fever was raging inside me even before I set out. It was another dramatic day with low clouds and fog hovering around early in the morning. There were slippery slopes, a few awkward river crossings and I genuinely got lost in the fog at one stage but I reached the first peak without too much drama. Only this peak wasn’t the summit, it had already been quite strenuous but I had to go down the other side before going back up to Sydtoppen, the real deal. The summit was quite a sight, with the snow covered peak rising sharply into the clouds. There are some dangerous drops at the peak so you have to be very careful when posing for that triumphant photo at the highest point in Sweden. I lurked around in the hope that the clouds would magically part but they didn’t and I was getting a little chilly so reluctantly moved on. The descent was tricky at times and it felt like I’d never reach the mountain station but I eventually got there. I then celebrated by devouring dinner in record time, what a day!

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Posted in Lappland, Sweden Tagged , , , , , |

Kungsleden – Salka to Kebnekaise Mountain Station

Today may have been the longest day of hiking I’ve ever experienced. I needed to find an extra day so I could spend it climbing Kebnekaise (Sweden’s tallest mountain) but it meant I’d have to put it some extra yards on the way. While I’d walked pretty far over the last few days, today I really went to school notching up around 37km through all kinds of weather and terrain. It was great stuff and while I’d saved 2 or 3 kilometres by skipping Singi, I’d arrived at the Kebnekaise mountain station after dinner and would you believe they were all booked out! This place is kinda luxurious and is a lot more busy than the other mountain stations and huts on the Kungsleden trail, with most people staying there as a base for climbing Kebnekaise. Thankfully the staff there were really nice and hooked me up with a rollaway bed that suited me just fine.

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Kungsleden – A Rainbow on Arrival

After battling through the stormy weather my arrival at the Kebnekaise mountain station was greeted with an outrageous rainbow, bravo weather gods, bravo.

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Kungsleden – Valley Storm

A few kilometres after passing Salka I made a sharp left turn and headed east into stormy weather. I ascended a few hundred metres and made my way past an incredible mountain lake to a narrow valley that combined with the dark clouds to form a dramatic scene. I can happily live with rain when the scenery is this good.

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Kungsleden – A Miniature Valley

I’ve been experimenting with focus and I love the miniature look you can create with certain scenes such as this grand valley that has been shrunk down to size.

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Posted in Lappland, Sweden Tagged |

Kungsleden – Tjäktja to Salka

With another big day in mind I got up early and made my way over the Tjäktja pass, it’s quite a rocky section so I found it tough to get a smooth rhythm going while I walked. I got to the top eventually and had a rest at the small cabin which sits next to the lake. From here it was down to Tjäktjavagge, an epic valley that leads to the Salka hut, around 6 kilometres from the the top of the Tjäktja pass.

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Kungsleden – Alesjaure to Tjäktja

I was feeling relatively fresh when I arrived at the Alesjaure hut so after a bite to eat I ventured on towards Tjäktja. It was an interesting section of the trail and I experienced pretty much every type of weather you could imagine from blistering sun to torrential downpours and sometimes what felt like both at the same time! Taking my wet weather gear on and off was a little frustrating and I was happy to eventually reach the Tjäktja hut. 33 kilometres was a good effort for one day of hiking but it stays light for so long you could potentially walk all day if you wanted to (if you were crazy that is).

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Kungsleden – Abiskojaure to Alesjaure

I got up early today to give myself a chance of reaching the Tjäktja hut, around 33 kilometres away. My first target would be Alesjaure so I packed up my things after a comfortable stay at the Abiskojaure hut and headed off. The landscape in these parts is really unique and feels quite alien to me, I spent a lot of time gazing into the distance and marveling at reflections in the lakes, strange clouds and interesting rock formations.

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Kungsleden – Surreal Reflections

While walking from Abiskojaure to Alesjaure I came across a number of surreal reflections in the lakes that follow alongside the Kungsleden trail. The funky cloud formations were a constant amazement and I thought they looked especially cool in this shot of a boat on the lake.

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Kungsleden – Abisko to Abiskojaure

To get my hiking adventure started I took a train from Kiruna to Abisko, arriving at the northern end of the Kunglseden trail. There were some other hikers about so I followed them from the train station to a wooden gate that marked the start of my Kungsleden trek. The sun was shining and the 15km walk from Abisko to Abiskojaure lake was beautiful. I’d almost go as far as calling it relaxing after the up and down nature of the Tour du Mont Blanc I hiked a few weeks ago. I got to Abiskojaure quite early but decided to stay at the hut there for the night rather than pushing on to Alesjaure, which was another 20km away.

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Midnight Sun Trail in Kiruna

There isn’t a huge amount to do in Kiruna but it is an interesting town. My taxi driver gave me the lowdown, explaining (to my amazement) that they’re actually packing up the town and moving it to a new location! I thought things might have been lost in translation but no, they’ve done so much mining that the town is sinking and they have to move it 3 kilometres to the east, crazy. I also heard about a nice little walk called the Midnight Sun trail that goes up the hill next to the city, giving you a good view of the surrounding area. Kiruna is in the Arctic so during summer time it never gets completely dark, you can walk the trail and enjoy the midnight sun from the top (hence the name). It’s late summer so while the sun did disappear for a few hours it was more like an extended sunset followed by an extended sunrise. My brain struggled to comprehend this as I sat on the side of the hill and watched the sun set and then rise not long after, confusing but awesome. I was hoping for it to get dark enough to catch the aurora borealis but not tonight unfortunately, there’s a slight chance of seeing it at this time of year but it really needs another month or so. I should probably get some sleep, I’ve got lots of hiking to do tomorrow and it is the middle of the night after all.

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Posted in Lappland, Sweden Tagged , |

Inside a Sami Tent

What am I doing inside a Sami tent? Good question! I’m in Arctic Sweden for a week, cruising around the national parks of Lappland. Sami are the indigenous people in these parts so I’ll be exploring their bark yard while walking the northern section of the Kungsleden (King’s Trail) from Abisko to Nikkaluokta, I flew in to Kiruna so I’ll be having a look around here too.

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Posted in Lappland, Sweden