My next few blogs will be an account of my hike on the Kungsleden Trail in Swedish Lappland last August. I posted a blog about ‘Planning a hike on the Kungsleden’ on 3 March 2015, so if you’re after practical information that’s the one to read.
DAY 1: Abisko to Abiskojaure – 9 miles
By the time we reached the start of the Kungsleden it was 4.45pm, the sky was looking ominous and we had to walk nine miles to get to the first hut. Worried that we might not make it before it turned dark or started to rain, I set off at a cracking pace.
Our hike had started in a rather muddled fashion. We got off the bus from Kiruna at the store in Abisko, rather than at the tourist station about 2km further on, then tried to take a short cut across country to the start of the hike with the help of a German couple we met. However, there were no tracks and the terrain was too boggy so we ended up having to walk there by road anyway.
There was no missing the Kungsleden, it was an obvious rocky path or board walks where the trail crossed boggy areas. We saw lots of other hikers, many were camped alongside the trail, which is understandable given the number of people hiking and the cost of the huts. Thankfully, we just missed a massive annual event with 2,000 hikers that finished the day we started.
That first evening, we walked beside water the whole way, first beside a river, then a stream and finally a lake. The only animals we saw were a herd of reindeer (wearing cow bells) and some little critters that looked like fat brown, orange and white mice scuttling around the boggy areas under the boardwalks. We later discovered that these were lemmings. We also saw a flock of grouse near the hut.
We got to Abiskojaure hut about 8.15pm and bought some supplies for dinner, which consisted of a can of fishballs (these were free from the on-site shop and, after trying them, I realised why they couldn’t sell them!), some crispbreads and two beers.
We retired to our 10-bed dorm about 10pm. The huts don’t have electricity or running water and the bed was just a wooden board with a thin mattress, pillow and duvet, but it was cosy and peaceful. It was difficult to believe we’d been in the bustling metropolis of Stockholm that morning.
DAY 2: Abiskojaure to Alesjaure – 12 miles
The next day we had a leisurely start and set off at 10am to walk the 12 miles to Alesjaure hut. The track was rocky, which made walking tiring as we needed to concentrate on where we put our feet, and there were more board walks in varying states of repair. I assume the board walks are all checked and fixed at the start of the season, but must soon suffer from wear and tear given the number of people walking over them. It was a very cold day and when we stopped for lunch after about three hours, we huddled among some rocks so we could light our stove and make a cup of soup to warm us up.
The terrain was spectacular but pretty bleak – mainly mountains with snow on the top and scrubby trees and lakes. There’s a ferry that cuts about 7km off the hike but it costs 300 SEK (about £22) and we weren’t feeling too tired at that stage so carried on. The last few miles to Alesjaure hut were muddy with a couple of small rivers to ford and a persistent drizzle, that later turned to heavy rain.
We reached the hut about 4.45pm and got a 4 bed dorm to ourselves in one of the huts. We didn’t stay there long though because a big group of rowdy kids arrived so we moved to another hut. Later we had our first Swedish sauna. This was busy as a large hiking group from the UK had just arrived. They’d hiked 21 miles from Abisko so had earnt their sauna!