Kungsleden Trail Sweden – Part 1 – Berlin to Kebnekaise Fjällstation

Autumn view over STF Kebnekaise Fjallstation mountain hut, Lappland, Sweden

Photo: Kebnekaise Fjällstation mountain huts in Autumn, Lapland, Sweden.  Sept. 2012

Days 1-2 Berlin – Kiruna – Nikkaluokta – Kebnekaise Fjällstation

[This is part 1 of my hike along the northern section of the Kungsleden trail, Sweden from Sept 11 – 20, 2012.  For a general overview of hiking the trail in Autumn, CLICK HERE ]

Beep, Beep, BEEEEEEPPPP! WAKE UP!!!  My imaginary mental alarm wakes to the 4:00 am darkness of Berlin.  My real alarm wasn’t too far behind; my head likes to give me a bit of a warning so I have a moment of brief calm before the day begins.  Showered (would be the last one for a week) and packed, we head out the hostel door into the mild morning air barely 12 hours after we’d arrived in Berlin the previous afternoon.  Hopping on the U-bahn, we ride with the early morning commuters, most looking like they wouldn’t have minded a few more hours in bed.  But despite our tired faces our backpacks give us away.  Just passing through…

At 7:00 am we were in the air heading north to Stockholm.  A few hours later, we were landing north of the Arctic Circle, under the grey, misty skies of Kiruna, Sweden.  Though it doesn’t really ever appear on any schedule, or at least not the two times I’ve flown to Kiruna, there seems to be a bus that appears from somewhere mysterious and takes you to the city center.  The last guy to get on the bus asked if there would be another one later that night, as his girlfriend would be arriving on another flight.  ‘Nope,’ the driver replies.  ‘Only one bus today.’  That seems to be how things work in the north, and I’m always wondering if the info I read, especially if found online, is accurate.  Does the bus actually come when the schedule says it will?  Or do they just go by their own rule.  Luckily, the bus taking us to Nikkaluokta did show up at the bus station in Kiruna and by late afternoon were were deposited at the trail head. The next 120km would be by foot.

The clouds hung low in the valley, concealing the peaks around us.  A light drizzle fell from the grey sky.  One of those rains that temps you not to put on rain gear, but then ends up getting you unexpectedly wet somehow.  After taking shelter to change into full waterproofs, we took to the trail for several hours of uneventful hiking into the fading afternoon light.  At the estimated halfway point, I found a nice flat spot amongst the autumn birches and setup camp.  I did put a little effort into trying to find someplace slightly scenic, trying to remain optimistic that I could put my camera to work at sunrise. As morning came heavy drops pelted the tent, a bit more sleep seemed the best idea.

The only thing worse than setting up a tent in the rain is taking down a tent in the rain.  And the rain was falling, and falling as the morning hours passes.  Finally tired of waiting to see if the storm would relent, we packed up camp and continued along the trail.  In my best swag (scientific wild ass guess) of an estimate, we’d reach Kebnekaise Fjällstation is about 3 hours, around noon or so.

The rain was relentless a we continued down the sloppy trail and through forests of golden birch trees.  We passed the ghostly silhouettes of hikers, hoods up and heads down, more closely resembling waterfalls than men.  My (supposedly) waterproof shoes soon began to show their submission to the weather, and my thin fleece gloves left my hands wet and cold.  We continued in silence towards the dream of warmth and of fire, of a place to dry off and relax, of an expensive bunk at Kebnekaise Fjällstation.

And then, out of nowhere, the clouds parted and a brilliant blue filled the sky!  My first thoughts where that we should have waited in the tent longer.  My next thought was that it probably would have rained for a week straight had we waited.  I think the North sometimes likes me to suffer a bit before she offers me any rewards.  As we neared the surrounds of hut, my thoughts drifted to finding a nice place to camp and maybe a few nice camping photos.  And then reality reminded me that the tent was completely soaked, sleeping bags were damp, clothes were wet, and most importantly, if I set up my tent, it would rain again.  And so I forked out the 500 SEK for a bunk bed and went even more extreme and bought myself a beer or two.  And since I was carrying a laptop for no other reason than I had no place to leave it, I even made use of some internets.  Luxury in the mountains.

Kebnekaise Fjällstation turned out to be a busy place, or at least much more so than I imagined, it being so late in the season.  And entering the guest kitchen I was presented with the dilemma I always seem to find myself in: Yummy free food to eat or the beginnings of a lighter backpack.  A mix of both would do on this night.  And so my head hit the pillow that night, full, dry and warm.  Luxury in the mountains…

1662 meter Tolpagorni - Duolbagorni rises above Ladtjovagge viewed from near Kebnekaise Fjallstation, Lappland, Sweden

Photo: 1662 meter Tolpagorni – Duolbagorni rises above Ladtjovagge viewed from near Kebnekaise Fjällstation, Lapland, Sweden.  Sept. 2012

 

Autumn tree with summit of Tolpagorni - Duolbagorni in distance, viewed from near Kebnekaise Fjallstation, Ladtjovagge, Lappland, Sweden

Photo: Autumn tree with summit of Tolpagorni – Duolbagorni in distance, viewed from near Kebnekaise Fjällstation, Ladtjovagge, Lappland, Sweden.  Sept 2012

Skottinden Hiking Guide

Skottinden Lofoten Islands Norway

Photo: Reflection of Skottinden, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  September 2012

It’s another year and time for more mountain pages to be added over at 68north.com  The first for 2013 is Skottinden -CLICK HERE- to check it out.

Skottinden is one of those peaks that I’ve always thought about hiking up, likely due to its Matterhorn-like appearance, but never really got around to hiking.  Thanks to some young Germans at the hostel who had borrowed the book ‘På Tur I Lofoten’ – The best hiking guide for Lofoten Islands, though only in Norwegian, I saw where the route went.  And so, on one late September day about a month later, I found myself on the summit and watching sea eagles circle in the distance.

Skottinden Lofoten Islands Norway

Photo: Skottinden, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  September 2012

Ryten – New Mountain Hiking Guide

Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Lofoten’s northern coast from the summit of Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2012

New hiking guide for Ryten -CLICK HERE- 

Ryten is one of the last peaks in the northeast tip of Moskenesøya.  But the small mountain is better known for it’s spectacular views down to Kvalvika beach.  I now have a new guide up at 68north for hiking this scenic little peak.

This will be my last update at 68north for the year, I’ll pick things back up in January with a few more hiking guides and also some more general travel ‘itinerary’ type guides and so on.  I’m also going to really put some effort into writing some more photography-specific guides to each island which I can hopefully turn into some (free) eBook’s so you can download and take with you on your photo tour of Lofoten.  Only setback will be the design aspect, which I’m not so good at…

Looking down on Kvalvika beach from near summit of Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Spectacular Kvalvika beach seen from summit of Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2012

Person stands under rainbow near summit of Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Summer rain and rainbow over Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2012

Himmeltindan Hiking Guide – Lofoten Islands

View from summit of Himmeltindan

Photo: View from summit of Himmeltindan, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Oct 2012

There’s now a new hiking guide for Himmeltindan over at 68north.

-CLICK HERE-

The highest mountain on Vestvågøya, Himmeltindan is a steep hike up to the 931 meters of the south summit.  The higher north summit is closed to the public, as it is used as a military radar station.  And there is actually a tunnel/elevator running inside the mountain.  On the day I hiked the peak though, there were a few army dudes at the top who said I could hike over to the north summit as the radar was down for repair that day.  I may have been a bit unlucky with the light, but at least I got access to the highest part of the mountain.  If I was in the army, I think I’d take the elevator up there to watch the northern lights, would be a pretty awesome place!

Himmeltindan and Utakleiv Lofoten Islands Norway

Photo: Himmeltindan rises above sea at Utakleiv, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Oct 2012

Hoven – Lofoten Islands

Hoven mountain peak, Gimsoya, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Hoven rises above marshland of Gimsøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  October 2012

New hiking guide for Hoven -CLICK HERE- over at 68north.com.

Hoven is a small little peak/hill that rises alone out of the boggy flats of northern Gimsøya.  It makes a nice easy hike for those days when the weather isn’t the best but maybe you still want to get outside.  The low elevation means that the summit is usually below the clouds while the other higher peaks are concealed.  And the views aren’t that bad anyhow.  Would actually probably make a good place to watch the northern lights from as you get a true 360 degree view without much effort…

Also…  I’ve already posted links to the full galleries here, but again, at 68north.com I’ve added two new galleries for my summer and autumn trips.

-CLICK HERE- for summer Lofoten photos

-CLICK HERE- for autumn Lofoten photos

Kungsleden Trail Autumn Photo Gallery

Kungsleden trail hiking sweden

Photo: ‘Mountain sidewalk’ along the Kungsleden trail, Sweden.  September 2012

I’ve added a new gallery of images from my mid September hike on the northern section of the Kungsleden trail – from Nikkaluokta to Abisko.  In a few more days I’ll hopefully add a more detailed writeup about the whole journey.  But other than getting a bad cold halfway through, I had much better conditions than my previous hike in 2009; even some days where I could hike in a t-shirt, something I never thought possible!

–CLICK HERE– to view photo gallery from September 2012.

lake Radujavri along Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden

Photo: Evening comes to lake Radujavri, Kungsleden trail, Sweden.  September 2012

 

Alisvaggi, Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden

Photo: Incoming storm over Alisvaggi, Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden.  September 2012

 

Lofoten Islands – Horseid Beach Hiking Guide

Horseid beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Horseid beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2012

Over at 68north.com I’ve just added a new hiking guide for Horseid Beach -CLICK HERE- to check it out.

One of Lofoten’s most scenic beaches, it is also one of the least visited.  The short article provides info on getting to Horseid via the ferry from Reine as well as a few suggestions as to the best places to camp.  Also a few more photos as well…

Tent camping at Horseid beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Wilde camping at Horseid beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2012

Kvalvika Beach Hiking Guide

evening twilight at Kvalvika beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Late summer twilight, Kvalvika Beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2012

Over at 68north.com I’ve written a new hiking and camping article for Kvalvika Beach -CLICK HERE-  to check it out.  I intend to put a fair amount of effort into 68north.com over the next few months.  I’ll still probably cross post some stuff here on this blog (otherwise I’d have nothing to post), but I hope things start to pick up a bit over there and I intend to make it the best English language guide for Lofoten photography and travel – if it is not already despite the fact that it gets no traffic.  I still have plans to write an eBook or two for Lofoten, but I’m sure as soon as I do someone will come out with something better anyhow as it seems Lofoten is starting to get on the radar of quite a few more photographers latelty.  Maybe it’s time to go buy a horse and wander around Kazakhstan for a couple years…

Kvalvika beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Group of Three, Kvalvika Beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2012

Aggenstein – Germany

Aggenstein, germany

Photo: Moonlight silhouette of Aggenstein from Ostlerhütte, Allgäu, Germany. Oct 2012

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, You’d know that I was cruising around the Alps for a week.  And a week of absolutely fantastic weather it was.  If I actually had any idea of how good the weather turned out to be, I would’ve skipped renting a car and just done some long hut tours in the mountains.  But anyhow, I still stayed a few nights in the mountains in the Allgäu and Berchtesgaden regions.

 

Aggenstein, Germany

Photo: Climber on Aggenstein with Tannheimer Tal (Austria) in background, Allgäu, Germany.  Oct 2012

A Few Kungsleden Trail Photos

Kungsleden hiking trail sweden

Photo: Kungsleden Trail, Sweden.  September 2012.

I’m back on the Lofoten Islands now after having finished the northern section of the Kungsleden trail in Sweden; starting in Nikkaluokta and finishing in Abisko.  Overall the trip was fantastic.  Some days of bad weather which is to be expected, but also some amazing days as well.  I even found myself hiking in a t-shirt at some points, a far different experience than my last time on the trail in 2009.  I was even happy, and to my great surprise, to meet a few readers of my blog out there.

If you are looking for more info on hiking the Kungsleden trail in autumn, I have a more detailed writeup -HERE-

I’ll make a full writeup of the trip later on when I have a bit more time.  The weather here in Lofoten has been surprisingly good as well this autumn so I’m out and about more than I had planned.  So for now just a few photos…

Kungsleden hiking trail sweden

Photo: Afternoon sun, Kungsleden trail, Sweden.  September 2012

 

Kungsleden hiking trail sweden

Photo: A moment of sun between the rain, Kungsleden Trail, Sweden.  September 2012

 

Kungsleden hiking trail sweden
Photo: Mountain sidewalk, Kungsleden Trail, Sweden. September 2012

 

Kungsleden hiking trail sweden

Photo: Afternoon light, Kungsleden Trail, Sweden.  September 2012