Aug 31st. Excursion to Unna Visttasvaggi

A light frost on the ground this morning, making the duckwalk to the toilets slippery, but I made it. Otherwise the weather is high overcast with very little wind. Temperature just above freezing.

Colin went for a small tour around while I had second sleep. Breakfast at7.30. Cereal from Real Turmat. I good one, nice and grainy and with added fruit. Colin the went off to phone Shiela while I washed up. Yes we can. Phone from here, for 20SK per minute!

Very tired in the morning, don’t know why, I got lots of sleep. I don’t know how much as my Fitbit , since its last technical update in Abisko, has refused to track my sleep. Still we went on an excursion anyway.

We left at 9.20 and returned at 2.00. Looking at the map it is less than 1000 ft of ascent, according to Fitbit we did 1500ft. and about 16k. While it was dry when we started the forecast rain and wind soon arrived. Of coarse it was ion our faces. We started on the main trail. We could not find the small trail off to the lakes we were going to so we just struck off across country towards the falls at the base of the valley. We never found the trail, just  occasional reindeer paths. The climb up to hanging valley and lakes was tough, especially with the wind and rain blowing hard in our faces making it quite cold, and not knowing quite where we were going.

We made it to the first lake. Very desolate and bleak it was.

Coming back down was much easier. On the way we found a memorial to 3 women who died one winter in very bad weather. They were not found for 6 months.

The weather remained bad all the way back, but at least it was on our backs.

It stayed bad the rest of the day. Lots of bedraggled hikers arrived and the drying room soon was full.

After tea and cookies spent the afternoon in bed reading the only English language book in the library. Then (6.00) supper – Bla brand Indian chicken stew . Good, but small portion. Filled up with cookies and the usual trail mix.

After supper booked in here for the third scheduled night. While subsequently reviewing future days plans I discovered that I had miss labelled the days and that I had two August 29ths. Fortunately this is not a mistake with major consequences, just one less day exploring side trails.

iPhone battery got down to 13% today so recharged it. At this rate the back up battery I brought with me should be ample.

No sauna to day, the weather outside was not inducive to it, so early night continuing book.

Fitbit stats for the day: 1590 ft. Vertical, 5818 cals. 18.7k, 23,300 steps.

Aug. 30th. Abiskojaure To Alesjaure 22k (my Fitbit said 24k), 330m ascent, 40m descent. 7hrs.

Woke at 5 for pee, in time to catch a portentous sunrise – yes it did rain later on.

We left around 8.30 in still conditions and a high sky and not wearing our rain gear for the first time. Shortly even my down vest was shed as we made our way up the first part of the hike. On the way we passed several places where people were cowboy camping and, at last, our first reindeer.

After about 90mins we reached the plateau and suddenly encountered the wind in our faces.

There after it gradually got colder and windier, then the rain started. My this time we were back in ful rain gear. I even resorted to gloves.

The surrounding scenery was pretty good with lakes and. Far snow covered mountains.

Eventually we saw another herd of reindeer. These were close enough to photograph.

There was a possibility of taking a boat down the length of the final lake, cutting 6k off the hike. Unfortunately service stops for the winter on the 28th. So it was not an option for us. We probably would not have taken it anyway, it cost 350 SK, ~$70 per person.
As we approached the huts the wind dropped, the rain stopped and the sun began to show itself. The rest of the afternoon it alternated sun and showers.

We were given a room with a view back over the lake and a rainbow thrown in for free.

The shop here is well stocked so we brought a selection of meals to last us the next few days that we are here. Tried the chicken, rice and lime. Not bad, but Colin’s curried cod smelt better.

Only 3 couples staying in our hut tonight, it could accommodate 26 people. There are three similar huts here and the manager seems to have adopted a philosophy of spreading people around. We are in a double room by our selves which is nice.

On the trail today, while sheltering from the wind and rain and having a snack, we met a couple of about our age from Yorkshire who had been all over the place, South and Central America, all over Europe. They usually travel by bus and camp, as they were this trip. They recommended Marjorca and the GR11.

Sauna, a bit of a disaster. Very hot which was ok. But rinsing arrangements bad, very dark and crowded, and the lake was 30 vertical feet or more below the sauna and reached by a narrow gangway which went down at about 45 degrees. Not for me in bare feet , no glasses, and bare ass naked.

Bed at 9.40, late, but no matter as it is a local excursion.

Fitbit report: 1940 vertical ft. 5548 cals. 26.6 km. 33232 steps.

Aug. 29th Side trail towards lake Boazucohkka. 9k, 700ft ascent and descent. 3 1/4 hrs.

Woke at 6. Visit toilet back to bed til 8. A good night. Though could still feel ache in knees and legs . Apparently Colin was up at 1 doing his stretches before returning to bed.
After  breakfast had a go at my toenails. The nail clipper in my new fancy Swiss army knife(recommended by I forget who) were great for finger nails, but bounced of my toenails. Fortunately my med. kit includes surgical shears which were up to the task.

It was breezy and cloudy in the morning, temp about 5. We went for a short walk. We decided to follow a cascade up to a lake, no footpath, bushwacking and following animal trails.

We did not get all the way to the lake, but stopped on a wide ledge with a great view back down the valley and up the cascades to the rim. We had the soup we brought with us ( the thermos’s we brought are proving a great  idea) took photographs and admired the view before descending again.

When we got back to the hut Colin decided he was still hungry so we brought some rice and a can of mackerel and devoured that. Then chores again. Me fetching water and Colin chopping firewood. Then an extended nap.

Supper – Mediterranean vegs and pasta – very good, especially after adding garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and salt. Dessert – the usual trail mix.

Interesting feature here, they are currently working on making the hut wheel chair accessible!

Conversations today: mainly with couple from Leek who since retiring early a year ago have been travelling/ hiking continuously, Turkey, Morocco, Ethiopia, Canada, South America. India is next . He is 50,  clinical psychiatrist with lots of good stories about his patients , but none good about the current state of his part of the NHS.

Sauna, bed around 9.15.

Fitbit reports: 730 ft ascent/ descent. 4188 cals burnt, 12.8 k walked and 15955 steps.

9.30 Oh dear, I might have overdone the crushed chilli peppers.

Aug 28th. Abiskajaura.Trail to Unna Allakas huts as far as Sami huts. 18k. 5 hrs 40mins ~1000ft ascent and descent.

We slept well and finally got up around 7. Unlike most others we were in no rush to get going anywhere. So after breakfast (freeze dried scrambled eggs and ham – bad) tidying the hur, and consulting with the guardian, we set off at around 10am, southwards, on the opposite side of the valley we will eventually we going. The weather was cool, breezy, with rain showers. The latter sometimes seeming to come out of sunny skies. The walk went through the aspen forest, skirting above the valley bottom. A very pretty walk, especially in the early going with the rain drops glistening I the foliage. The trail was the usual combination of planks over boggy sections and rocky trail over the higher drier ground.

After 2 bridges and 3 hours we creasted a ridge and found the collection of huts that made the Sami settlement. Uninhabited at this time of year as the reindeer are still up in their summer pastures. Great view north down the valley and across to the south covered peaks to the east.

Lunch then we returned by the same route we had taken there. Arriving here, both of us with sore knees, just before 4. We then treated ourselves to a beer, and then hauled water and chopped wood as required by our rental agreement . Nap and write blog. Dinner – freeze dried salmon, potatoes and dill sauce, a good one, followed by nuts and dried fruit. Sauna, tea and trail mix, a nice sunset then bed.

Less chat with others today, and what there was was mainly in the sauna. One Brit who has been living and working in Stokholm all is life – Telecom . Another couple from London. Acedemics. He an historian, she is a child psychologist at Birkbeck! Also just talked to a couple of Swedish church musicians who are just finishing their walk.

Bed at 10pm.

Fitbit says: 1030 virtical feet, 5242 cals. 22.9 k, 28643steps.

Aug. 27th. Abisko to Abiskojaure 13k. 105m ascent 4hrs.

3.30pm. We left this morning at 9.30 under a grey sky and in very light rain and these conditions continued for the rest of the morning.
I had had a good nights sleep, going to bed around 9.30 with only a few disturbances between then and 7.00am. We had been advised to look for the northern lights around 1.30am. Colin went to look but by then it had clouded over. He had a less good night as he is fighting  a hacking cough and could not get comfortable. When I got upset seven I found him in the lounge reading.

The trail was not as soggy as I feared, there was extensive use of broad walks through, or rather across, the marshy and muddy areas. In some areas they were dual carriage way broad walks! The trail between the broad walk sections while being generally quite flat, was quite rocky. Just striding along was out of the question.

The trail followed a river through open countryside.

We were amongst the earliest arriving here, but others were hard on our heels and now it is quite busy, but by no means full we guess about 50 people staying here. We are in a dormitory with about 8 bunks. We have done our water fetching and wood chopping chores , had a hot chocolate and now the sun has come out so I must go and have a look at the mountain tops that up to now have been hidden.

9.40pm finally abed. Strange, usually I am wiped and one of the first to crash, but not tonight. Maybe the sauna envigorated me, or maybe the short afternoon nap. Whatever, I am getting there.  Colin is the same, but then he had a really long nap this afternoon.

The sun did come out, but the mountain tops kept hidden. It was nice enough to sit in the sun and enjoy the warmth and be told of the virtues of hiking in Crete by some fellow baskers. Then nap, then beer $40/6.5 for 1/2 l. Chat with couple from NM who were just getting into hiking, but finding they are carrying too much. Then supper, freeze dried chicken, noodles and black bean sauce – ok. Then, after suitable delay sauna, including 2 trips to the river for a cold plunge. Tea, chat to girls from Cambridge and Estonia, they latter with wolves in her back yard, and one less cat then she used to have. Suddenly everyone had gone to bed and Colin and I were sitting by ourselves and feeling wide awake. Well that has passed and so to sleep.

Fitbit says 550 ft ascent, 5331 cals burnt, 19.1k walked, 25,497 steps today.

Aug. 26th. Abisko Mountain Station

After three days of visiting friends and relatives in Scotland, yesterday Colin and I started on our way to the trailhead here in Abisko. Last night we stayed in Kiruna, home of a nice church,

the worlds largest underground iron ore mine, with world class waste heaps to show for it.

We did not see these when we arrive at midnight, though there as still some light in the northern sky at the time. We were more concerned with getting into the hotel which was locked up for the night. A shuttle bus from the airport had kindly dropped us of at the door. Fortunately we were spotted, we were in process of trying to phone the emergency contact number, and let in, registered and shown to our room. About an hour and a half later Colin was ready for bed! He had decided to do the accounts.

After a very good breakfast we set of for the train station, only to be sidetracked by a very good outdoors supplies store. By the time we had finished there we had missed the shuttle  bus to the station. So we walked the 3 k there and waited for 2 hrs for the next train. Some of the time was spent examining the map we had just brought.

The train when it arrived was not a new sleek modern one. It was boxy, and had wooden trim on the seats and tables! Still it was smooth, clean and spacious and got us here in good order, along with a good crowd of other hikers.

The mountain station here is enormous. The food good and it’s view north over the lake is superb. 

After lunch and finally (3pm) getting access to our room we went for a short walk . We first went downhill to where a river ran through a gorge. Very pretty with green water. 

Then we went up the hill to a Sami camp – full of different storage structures, deserted for the summer.

It’s been a very pretty day, unfortunately they are now forecasting some rain tomorrow, but we will see.

Dinner tonight was definitely not standard hiking hut fare. More former hotel style. Very nice of course, but calorywise it would not cut it on the trail.

21st. August  Ayr and the Carrick hills

After an uneventful flight, during which I managed to get just an hour of sleep, I arrived in Glasgow at 6.40am and was in due course met by Colin, my  long term friend and hiking partner. We then drove to his place in Ayr, through rain, catching up as we went. 

We spent the morning going over gear lists, eliminating duplications, and addressing concerns about each other’s gear choices.

After lunch I had a brief nap only to be informed that the sun had come out and that we were going for a brief walk to try out Colin’s new shoes. 

After a 10 minute drive south from Ayr we turned down a side lane and parked
The walk turned out to be  2.5 k up a quiet country lane, with a rise of 700ft to the radio masts that can be just seen in the above photo, and then back down again. Done in also exactly an hour. Colin had no trouble with his new shoes, in fact he was delighted by their performance. My right knee felt a bit shaky at first, but settled into the task well so we were both happy.

Carrick Hills
View north over Ayr

20th. 5.30pm. Pearson International Airport 

Well, off at last. My trusty travelling companion, my big red MEC bag weighed in a comfortable 10% under the limit at 46lbs. Fortunately I will not be carrying all that on the trails. It includes clothes for the cold and wet (Sweden), presentable attire for visiting in the UK, and light weight clothes and camping supplies for hiking in Turkey. Three very different holidays really.

So now I have to get ready for change in time and temperature. 30 here today, 15 in Ayr tomorrow, then 10 in Kiruna.

I still have to get the hang of taking selfies. You will get one with a smile when I do.

19th August

Off to Scotland tomorrow! The gear has been selected, weighed, listed etc and awaits packing tomorrow. All up weight for the Kungsleden looks like starting at just under 30 lbs. but 9 of that is food and water. Today I went on a little tester hike, just 13k. I wore my Turkish gear, ie shorts, short sleeved shirt and Keen sandals. The latter kept my feet reasonably cool, air temperature was around 27, but I was constantly worried by getting small pieces of grit under my heels. They never amounted to anything, and only once did I have to stop to take of a sandal, but, as I said, a constant worry. At the moment I am minded not to use them.