This is the second part of the blog about 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 3: Alesjaure to Salka – 15 miles
We left Alesjaure at 9am after watching a helicopter land and take off behind the reception hut. Our goal today was Salka hut 15 miles away, but we planned to stop for lunch at Tjaka hut after 8 miles.
The track to Tjaka was good and made for relatively easy walking. On the way, we saw several herds of reindeer, more lemmings and some seagulls, and we chatted to members from the big group of British hikers. One, a Scot called George, told us he prevents blisters by putting talc on his feet and only wearing quality ‘1,000 mile’ hiking socks. Another, told us about a great hike in Iceland he’d done. He rated it higher than the Kungsleden, and we both agreed that many hikes in the UK were more scenic than what we’d seen so far of the Kungsleden.
Just before we reached Tjaka about 12.30pm, we had to make a decision. There was a river between the trail and Tjaka with a bridge further up. We took the longer route via the bridge but most people took a short cut across the river. All but one person fell in and we later discovered that a doctor had fallen in the previous day, cut his head open and had to be airlifted to hospital.
Tjaka is a small hut with no store or sauna. There is a day fee to use the facilities so, as the weather was dry and even sunny for brief periods, we prepared and ate lunch outside. The warden was very friendly – I think she was pleased to have someone to talk to as the place seemed very quiet. She told us she was caretaking the hut during her holidays and had been there a month. She only had a week to go and seemed to be looking forward to the end of her assignment. “It’s a very windy place,” she told us.
Just after we left Tjaka, the track turned into a jumble of rocks and we had concentrate on negotiating them for the rest of the day. It was rockier than yesterday and, the seven miles to Salka took us nearly five hours (including a couple of breaks).
By the time we got to Salka at around 6pm we were exhausted. We shared a four-bed dorm with a Swedish couple, who were on a nine day hiking and camping trip but had decided to have a reprieve from the cold for a night and give their tent chance to dry out.
I woke early to a stunning morning and a herd of reindeer close to the hut. But, as we only had to walk seven miles today, I went back to bed until about 9.30am. By that time everyone except us and the couple in our room had left, so we ate our breakfast in peace.
When we left Salka at 11am it was quite bright, but the weather deteriorated as the day progressed. We stopped a little over half way and had lunch in a small ski hut which was packed with people doing the same as us. The scenery was much the same as yesterday – rivers and mountains, reindeer and rocks – though, thankfully, the trail wasn’t as rocky as yesterday.
We met a couple of Swedish bird watchers taking photos of an arctic tern. They told us that the seagulls come from Norway, which is apparently quite close. We also chatted to a couple of British guys, Lee and Jonathon, who we hadn’t met in the huts because they were camping to save money. I was fascinated with Jonathon’s footwear; he was walking in moccasins and ordinary socks as if he were going for a stroll in the park. The moccasins looked a little worse for wear but he hadn’t had a problem with blisters.
Singi is another small hut with no store or sauna. By the time we got there at 3pm it was cold and wet, and people kept arriving throughout the afternoon (many were campers escaping the weather). No one is ever turned away so, by evening, our ten-bed dorm was full plus there were a few extra mattresses on the floor. It was very cosy … until you had to go outside to the loo and battle the gale force winds and horizontal rain. Ahh, summer in Sweden!