Jotunheimen National Park Photogallery

Scenic mountain landscape of Jotunheimen national park, Norway

Photo: Wild camping in Jotunheimen national park, Norway

Jotunheimen National Park, Norway photogallery: CLICK HERE

I was quite lucky with my timing in Jotunheimen.  The rain cleared after the first night and I had pleasant weather until I was getting on the bus to Trondheim several days later and the rain once again returned.

Lake Gjende and Besseggen ridge, Jotunheimen national park, Norway

Photo: Colorful lake Gjende as seen from Besseggen ridge, Jotunheimen national park, Norway

Memurudalen – Jotunheimen national park

Memurudalen panoramic landscape, Jotunheimen national park, Norway

Photo: Memurudalen panoramic, Jotunheimen national park, Norway

Memurudalen (say that 10 times) is a scenic alpine valley that ends on the northern side of lake Gjende.  The northern end of the valley rises into glaciers and mountains, from where the fast and cold Muru river flows.

Memurudalen and mountains of Jotunheimen national park, Norway

Photo: Surtninssue rises above Memurudalen, Jotunheimen national park, Norway

wild camping Jotunheimen national park, Norway

Photo: Wild camp above Memurudalen, Jotunheimen national park, Norway

Muru river in Memurudalen, Jotunheimen national park, Norway

Photo: Cold glacial melt water of the Muru river flows through Memurudalen, Jotunheimen national park, Norway

Norwegian Hiking and Backpacking

Summer Wild Camping and Backpacking, Jotunheimen, Norway

Photo: Camping above lake Bygdin, Jotunheimen national park, Norway

Jotunheimen glaciers and mountains, Norway

Photo: Cloudy skies over mountains and glaciers in Jotunheimen national park, Norway.

To put it nicely, Norway is not a ‘sunny’ country.  Don’t be fooled by travel guides and brochures showing photos scenic green meadows, waterfalls, or fjords with calm puffy white clouds and blue skies overhead on every page.  This is a lie.  I can’t count how many times I’ve set my tent up in the rain only to take it down in the rain on the following morning, for days on end.  Even during the height of summer one should always be prepared for cold, wet, and windy conditions.  This applies even more if one is planning on venturing out in the mountains.

Camping Kvalvike beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Camping at Kvalvike beach, Lofoten islands, Norway.

So if the weather sucks so bad, why even go?  Because Norway is an amazingly beautiful and friendly country.  And because when that sunny summer day does come, you will instantly forget that week of rain and cloud that proceeded and will follow it.  And if you are north of the arctic circle and standing on a mountain top at 2 am under a perfectly blue sky, you will already start planning your return trip.

Mountain lunch, Lofoten islands, Norway

Photo: Mountain snack, above Stamsund, Lofoten islands, Norway

Here’s my packing list for a 3 week trip which I start tomorrow.  The first 2 weeks I’ll out on the Lofoten islands, followed by one week hiking around Jotunheimen national park.  Since the main purpose of my trip is photography, I need to keep the weight of my camping equipment and clothing to a minimum to help offset the weight of my camera gear.

Some useful links for traveling around Norway:

Backpacking packlist for Norway

Footwear:
I normally only wear hiking boots in places where I’ll encounter lots of snow and or bog/mud, such as Norway.  However, I’m trying to keep things a bit lighter on this trip so I’m only going to take some trail-runners.  This may be a regrettable decision and lead to constantly wet feet, but I hope not…

Camping Gear:
•Backpack – Golite Odyssey
•Daypack/camera bag – Black Diamond Sphynx 32L
•Tent – MSR Hubba single person
•Sleeping Bag – Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32
•Lightweight foam sleeping pad
•Leki Makalu trekking poles
•Water filter – Katadyn mini
•Petzl Zipka plus headlamp
•first aid kit
•Rain cover for backpack

Cooking:
•Stove – Snow Peak GigaPower
•Cookware – Snow Peak titanium pan & lid
•Spoon Fork combination
•Food

Misc:
•Multipurpose camp soap
•journal & pens
•Hand cleaner
•Plug adapter
•Book
•Maps

Clothing:

•Shell Jacket – Golite
•Shell Pants – Marmot Precip
•Marmot Driclime windshirt
•Lightweight fleece
•MEC lightweight softshell pants
•Lightweight shorts
•3x t-shirts
•3x socks
•3x underwear
•Fleece beanie
•Lightweight camp towel
•Sandals

Lake Gjende in summer, Jotunehimen, Norway

Photo: Scenic summer view of Lake Gjende, Jotunheimen national park, Norway.

Hiking the Kungsleden Trail in Autumn

Hiking the Kungsleden trail in autumn.

wild blueberries, autumn, Kungsleden trail, Sweden

I hiked solo on the northern section of the trail for 10 days from September 16-26 2009.  Here are a few FAQs and bits of info that may be useful to any travelers heading to the area at this time of year.

All the huts/Fjällstations/hostels along the trail are run by the STF (Svenska Turistföreningen) Swedish Tourist Association.

The STF website can be found here.

The Website will have all current info on opening/closing dates of the mountain huts, as well as some maps and other info such as services provided at each hut (ie. show up to Alesjaure a bit early and relax in the sauna)

sign kungsleden trail sweden

The Huts are closed:

The huts close towards the end of September (19/9/2010).  What this means is that there will be no staff on hand, no food can be purchased, and the gas stoves will be turned off.

At least on the northern section of the trail, between Singi and Abiskojaure, all of the huts have an ‘emergency’ room (säkerhetsrum) that can be used.  These rooms vary in size and the number of beds available:

Abiskojaure – 2 beds
Alesjaure – 4 beds
Tjäktja – 2 beds
Sälka – 9 beds (big, pretty much a full size hut)
Singi – 1 bed (enough room for 2 people on floor)

Access to the wood shed, a saw and axe should be available (though I couldn’t find a saw at Alesjaure) and all the shelters have wood burning stoves which provide plenty of heat after a cold, wet day on the trail.  Water buckets for fetching fresh water, cooking and cleaning supplies are also provided.  One or two toilets will also be left unlocked.   There might be a small amount of leftover food available, but don’t depend on it.  Be sure to bring enough for the entire trip.

Axe and wood in Shed at hut, Kungsleden trail, Lapland, Sweden

Besides the proper STF huts, there are also several primitive shelters at several points along the trail.  These typically consisted of a single room with wooden benches along one or two walls.  Some have wood burning stoves, yet by the end of the season, there was no more wood available.  Still, if the weather is bad, better to be inside and out of the wind, even if a little cold.

Weather:

View of rainy window at Salka hut, Kungsleden trail, Lapland, Sweden

My experience from September 2009 was of predominately cold weather and strong winds.  Snow fell on several days and rain on the rest, so most of the snow that fell would be gone from the trail by the next day or two.  The temperature dropped down to about -8˚ C  on the coldest morning.  While the average day was about 3-5˚ C.   7˚ C was the warmest day I experienced.  From talking to others I seemed to get the impression that this was an unusually cold September, but one should be prepared for such conditions.  It is the Arctic and any weather is possible.

Kungsleden trail autumn rain storm sweden

Will I be alone?

Though the crowds of summer will be gone, one will not likely be totally alone on the trail.  With the exception of one night at Singi, there was always one or more people at the hut each night and I would cross 1 or 2 groups on the trail each day heading in the opposite direction.

Transport:

The Kiruna-Nikkaluokta-Kiruna bus to the trailhead of Kebnekaise Fjällstation stopped running when the huts closed, which would be 19th Sept for 2010.  There was a private taxi available, but for quite a fee.  So if one is starting late in the season, it might be better to enter the trail at Nikkaluokta and head north to Abisko as opposed to the other way around – Which is what I did and ended up walking all the way back to Abisko again.

Access into and out of Abisko is not a problem, as the train runs year round. The Abisko Turiststation hostel closes on 26th of Sept, 2010, though there are several other  possibilities for cheap accommodation in Abisko village, or just simply camp a little ways out of town.

The trail:

kungsleden trail Sweden september autumn snow

Even under 10-15cm of snow, the trail was alway easy to follow.  The high point, Tjaktja pass, is rocky on the north side and without a proper ‘path.‘  It could be a bit tricky as the rocks are quite slippery and hard to see under a medium amount snow, though it is not a long distance between the pass and Tjaktja hut.  The trail itself, as long as one has a map and knows how to navigate, would be hard to lose as it basically follows a series of valleys north to south.  And there are a series of markers for the winter trail that are easily visible, though these do not always follow the proper summer route.

kungsleden trail Sweden Tjaktja pass

kungsleden abisko national park sweden

Why go in the autumn and not summer?

No mosquitos.
No crowds.
The color is amazing.
You like the cold.

Kungsleden trail sweden mountain landscape

Mount Whitney Mountaineers Route

Adventure travel stock photography - View from tent to Mount Whitney, California

View from my tent at Iceberg Lake, about 12,600 feet, towards the east face of Mount Whitney (and my smelly socks).

Sort of at the last minute I decided to make a quick trip up Whitney this past weekend before all the snow melted and before I leave California again (somewhat soon).  Weather was sunny the whole time but the winds were quite strong.  I’d estimate it reached 60+ mph on Sunday when I was on the summit.  I didn’t even bother bringing the camera out as there was so much snow flying around.  On the way up, whenever a big gust would come up, I would just have to lean into the mountain as I received a battery of snow and ice and rock for a minute or two, then climb on again. Good fun.

Mountain landscape photography - East face of Mount Whitney sunrise


Mount Whitney Mountaineers Route – Images by Cody Duncan