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Northern Sweden

Padjelanta Tour 2006: Tarrekaise

 
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Blue sky
Blue, oh so wonderfully blue blue sky!

It is early morning and I open my eyes and yes it is light outside, as it is always light outside this time of year in the Fjällen. But to my total surprise, it wasn't clouded, it wasn't raining... and it wasn't snowing either.... but it was sunny!! And warm! After all the weather man warned me for, the rain, the storm and maybe even snow, we got summer warmth and blue skies instead! Sometimes I am really really happy that the weather forecast is always wrong ;-))

The night had been cold though, +4C inside the tent, but equipped with some good quality sleeping bags, the cold wasn't a problem at all. This could not be said of the thin sleeping pad though! The mattress is thin, too thin to my liking and the floor so hard, that all the bones in my body are feeling stiff. Could I really move again after a sleepless night like this? Hahaha, I guess so! I need to anyway; only 150 km's to go before I reach Ritsem! :-)

But hey, forget about all that, the sun is shining and look where we are! It's beautiful out here! So despite my squeaking bones, protesting with every move I make, I get out of tent, splash my face with the ice-cold river water, put a smile on my face, force some breakfast in me, and start packing the backpack for our next leg of the journey... Tarrekaise... here we come!

Fields of Flowers

flowers
Fields of flowers just before arriving in Njunjes

Today we have 4 kilometres to 'catch up with' as we didn't hike as far as planned yesterday. But it doesn't really matter: we have all the time in the world, so no need to keep to a tight schedule but can just relax and enjoy our hike. It's good to know there is no pressure and we can adjust our schedule on a daily basis, adjusting to our form of the day, enthusiasm and of course the weather conditions. So relaxed we start to go on our way.... the first few metres are steep up a hill, but after that the hike towards Njunjes is easy.

Just as yesterdays hike, the trail goes through a forest of birches. It is a rather comfortable trail to hike... but having said that..... I am watching closely where I put my feet! The trail is at certain points scattered with stones, and I certainly don't want to fall down. Not here anyway! We walk slowly but steadily on, and after about 2 kilometres the landscape starts to open up before our eyes. The landscape changes and we are able to view over parts of the valley. The fields of flowers are a real feast for the eye.

The wooded area we went through at the beginning of the day was dominated by the Wood Crane's-bill flower, but out here, in the open meadows, the Stormhatt (in Swedish) / Wolf's-Bane (in English) is the flower that clearly has the upper hand. I take a deep breath and smell the wonderful scent of the flower and breathe in the fresh air. The sun is shining, the world around me looks bright and happy, and so do I... this northern part of Sweden is such a beautiful place to be.

Wood Crane's-bill
Wood Crane's-bill

Tricks to get a well-deserved rest....

Sitting in the grass
Me? exhausted? Noooo! ;-)

Well, of course I didn't WANT to fall down! But I did in anyway, hahaha, and what a good trick it turned out to be to get a well-deserved rest in the middle of a field of flowers :-) Make a good choice though where you decide to use this 'intelligent' trick. My pick was a large field of flowers, and some soft grass to land on and break my fall. Choose a tiny stone to trip over and make an elegant crash to the ground. Make sure you don't break any body parts, look hurt for a few minutes, and yes, you've got your 10 minutes rest that you so eagerly longed for the last 30 minutes. Hahaha, I did anyway. And as you can see the fall wasn't hard, as I am sitting here on the 'crash-site' with a big smile on my face :-)

Lunch at Njunjes

Njunjes
The Mountain Hut of Njunjes in the valley below

After a short rest with something to drink and grabbing the opportunity to take some photos, I scramble myself up again from the ground to continue our hike. The last little bit towards the Mountain Hut of Njunjes is slightly up, and we are making our way over big slabs of rock. The sun is shining brightly and burning on my head, wow, it is so warm! Although the terrain isn't so difficult to hike, I do start to feel exhausted. The long travel by train, the sleepless nights and the hike of yesterday are sabotaging my legs to move. I have to convince them to move for every step I make, but it works! Tired but happy I finally throw off my backpack at Njunjes. Time for some soup and bread and a good rest for my tired feet and legs!

The welcome of the 'stugvärd' (the one that takes care of the mountain hut) is very friendly. Upon arrival we have a nice little chat and he gives us some good advice about the next part of our hike. A steep climb is next, he warns us, but after that the terrain gets easier... which makes me very happy!

But we aren't ready for that yet! First that hot bowl of soup, to fill that big empty space in my stomach. Hiking does make me hungry! We find a good spot in the shade, crashing down with our lunch on a big picnic table.

The river

River  River

The water supply is a bit different at Njunjes then in most places. Our first reaction was to go to the river below to fill up our water bottles. The stugvärd looked at us with a grin on his face and said innocent: "If I were you, I would use that water hose over there instead. It collects water from the mountain. The river down below and is a little bit harder to reach." We looked at him puzzled seeing this tiny trickle of water coming from the water hose and wondering how good this water would taste. But okay, he probably would be right: the river would be a bit more difficult to reach.

Well, that was the understatement of the year! The cliffs beside the river were several metres high, making it impossible to collect water here! A good cause for laughter afterwards :-) And it also proves that it is good to listen to the advice of a far more experienced stugvärd. The "Stugvärd" is the person hired and trained by the Swedish Tourist Board. The stugvärd lives during parts of the year in this area, mostly knows the landscape very well (although, be warned, not all of them!) and can give you some good advice about the hiking trails in the area, good places to set up your tent, where to find water, etc, etc. One thing they don't seem to know is the weather conditions for the next few days.

At Njunjes it is also possible to cross the river Tarraätno / Darrhaädno. As you can see in the photos the river is quite strong and difficult / impossible to cross. But here at Njunjes is a sturdy bridge making it possible to cross to the other side without any problems. Crossing the bridge will bring you to 'off the beaten path' terrain; most hikers keep the main trail towards Tarrekaise.

Through the forest upp the hill

Hiking through the flower jungle
Hiking through the flower jungle

It is time to move on! We can't be lazy all the time and sit in the sun the whole day in Njunjes. Well.... we could, hahaha, but we are too eager to see more of this beautiful area to sitt still all day and do nothing. So we toss on our backpacks and start moving again.

The first little part of the trail makes us feel like being in a jungle of flowers. We cut our way through the plants while the trail slowly makes its way up out of the valley. But suddenly in front of us we see the 'big climb'; the dreaded climb that the Stugvärd warned us for. Luckily we are mentally prepared for the steep climb that is ahead of us which just made me determined to get to the top as so quick and fit as I can. We strap on our backpacks a bit tighter, take a sip of fresh water, and start moving up the mountain. The climb is steep, but certainly not impossible to do! In my imagination I made it to an enormous climb... wasn't that what the Stugvärd said?? Hahaha, most likely not, as it wasn't even close to being terrible. Yes it is steep, and quite a bit of a hike, but nothing to be afraid of. And before we know it we are at the top, gasping for air while the sun shines brightly over the valley below us.

Read more on page 2 about Tarrekaise....

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