March 29 - Saturday
Preparations in Luleå, skied on water (with ice underneath) to an island where the group had lunch and waffles. Free night after preparations with the equipment, route, and such.
A longer travel day longer than expected. Train locomotive broke down after only approx. 50km. Stood still for almost 3 hours. Plenty of time for special feet taping procedures. Finally everyone had to take all the bags off the train, walk along the tracks to a nearby road and travel by bus to Ritsem. A long ride. Had to wait in Kebnats (45 min. from Ritsem) due to a lady who insisted that the bus wait for her while she waited for her ride to Saltoloukta mountain station. Arrived in Ritsem around 9 PM and had souvas (smoked reindeer meat) for dinner, yummie!
It stopped snowing and the sun came out. Akka-massif in clouds. Everybody was very fast across the lake and we had lunch in the Akka cabins. Very warm day, everyone hot. After lunch we went through a birch forest valley and had some reindeer sausage after a steep climb. Met two Swedish ladies who were also going to Kvikkjokk but along a different route. Approached the ravines where Kisuris cabins are located. Steep uphill and downhill. Found running water in a stream. Everyone comfortable in the hut. Some did some stretching, some preferred to rest. Had a raspberry dessert. Slept really well after a beautiful and sunny 25 km day.
Started climbing up to 750m. No climbing skins, everyone had good enough grip and light sleds. Cloudy. Again good speed. Soon after some old Sami teepees we had lunch. We later learnt the teepees and the fences are used by the Sami for marking of the reindeer calves in summer. The sun came and went as we skied along a wide valley and we had lunch at what seemed to be the highest point of the day. After a slight downhill we put up our tents around 4.30 PM. Made a beautiful campsite with 3 tents + 1 teepee for cooking/eating. Everyone seemed content and we offered Swedish “kexchoklad” (chocolate crackers) with almond paste as a dessert.
Wind picked up during the night. The harsh weather did not help in encouraging everyone to get out of the tents. Left at 9.15 AM. Very soon we reached Alkajaure and saw the chapel at a distance. Quite strong winds at this point. Partially sunny though the weather soon turned into a cloudy, white, no contour white-out. Started climbing towards the point of inaccessability. Adam went first and slid down a steep snowdrift. Shortly thereafter, Karin went over the same snowdrift, shortly followed by Rob. Karin sustained a serious injury to the elbow. The group helped in stabilizing Karin and splinting her arm. Are lunch soon after that, in the teepee. Johan re-splinted and prepared Karin for continuing the journey, with support from Neal the nurse. Adam skied with two sleds while Johan skied with Karin by his side. Wind turned into our faces. The odd-looking fellowship reached the so called point of inaccessibility of Sweden in a couple of hours. We could still enjoy the views and everyone, especially Karin, kept the morale high. Skied slow and carefully so that she would not fall. Everyone kept it simple and made it easier for us guides, despite the harsh wind, snowfall and low visibility. Having reached the cabins, we got in contact with the mountain rescue team who would pick Karin and Rob up the following day. Challenging day full of surprises.
Decided to have a rest day in the Touttar cabins. Got Karin and Rob ready for a snowmobile ride to Kvikkjokk. We did not send any of the food away, which in the coming 7 days will lead to a constant struggle to not leave any leftovers… Stretching, sleeping and celebrating Johan’s birthday kept us busy this day. Everyone is now recharged after yesterday’s accident, though a big part of the group is missing (Karin and Rob). The group feels incomplete but we try to keep the spirits up and move on. Possible storm heading this way tomorrow night, rumor says, so we plan to leave early tomorrow for Staloluokta. We stay the night in the Touttar cabins.
Nice, early morning and less wind. We soon discovered that the visibility was unexpectedly poor in the cloudy, snowy weather. Very careful skiing in the slopes now, not to have another accident… Skiing goes fast as we lose altitude. After 2½ hours we only had 7km to go to reach Staloluokta. Had lunch in the huts. We had plenty of time to talk to the hutkeeper, have a look at the Sami huts for drying meat and visiting the wooden Sami church (an interesting blend of Sami and Christian culture). Another short, easy day full of resting and eating. Oh, also saw moose and reindeer today!
Early rising to yet another great day. Met four people and a hutkeeper yesterday so we were longing to get away from the crowds. Went past a Sami sacrificial rock on the way to Staddajåkkå cabins where we had lunch. We started a long ascent towards Varvvekråhto, over the saddle. Warm temperatures made the snow sticky. Soon the horizon and the ground blended together as the clouds and snowfall got denser. We skied in a steady pace through the valley. Håkan described the experience as “This must be how it feels to be a bacteria in a carton of milk”. When we eventually came out of the saddle, the weather cleared up a bit and we put up our tents on a big flat surface. Dug out the group teepee really well which ensured a long, cozy time for dinner and chatting. Everyones favorite food for dinner: pasta with reindeer meat. Chocolate mousse was also on the menu. Everybody went to bed satisfied with both the food and the open, white expanses around us, spreading out as far as the eye could see (which was very far). Time to sleep after a long 25km day.
Cold morning but a lot of warm omelette for breakfast. As we skied, the weather got better and better. The clouds covering the sun disappeared and we found ourselves surrounded by an amazing landscape of rolling hills and glimmering snow. We skied along a river in a wide valley until some climbing was needed to go eastwards toward Vaimok. When we finally had lunch, we had skied around 12km and completed most of the ascent. As soon as we sat down the whole sky turned even bluer and a strong sun heated us up. We had a two hour lunch with a long sun nap. The last two hours we spent crossing lakes and skiing down a nice downslope in which we could practice skiing technique. Everyone did very well! Both of the guides soon started having a strong urge for a styrofoam seat and rapidly made it to the huts. There we enjoyed the comfort of STF (Swedish Tourism Association) huts with large spaces, separate sleeping rooms, an open fireplace and a happy hutkeeper. After dinner we made a huge quantity of apple pie with vanilla sauce. Planning to eat the leftovers in tomorrow's wind shelter. Sleep-in tomorrow. Approx. 20km today.
Long morning in Vaimok to prepare us for a shorter day. Very nice hutkeeper (and her friend) in Vaimok. Did some 150m climbing in a partially sunny weather. Took some great photos of Johan and Paul doing yoga half-naked… Then later, more sun and when we eventually reached the Kurajaure wind shelter, we had lunch beneath a clear blue sky. Relaxed in the afternoon with some skiing without sleds and backpack. Brought a lot of wood with us from the previous hut with which we could “pay” for the visit and night in Kurajaure. Great views over impressive peaks and cliffs ahead of us! Beautiful day, approx. 10km.
Windy, cold morning. As usual too much food for breakfast and we had to bring some as leftovers. Left the shelter to ski for a couple of kilometers on flat ground with the wind and snow right in our faces. When we started going down, the wind dropped. Sliding around everywhere on the icy snowmobile tracks, tough. Dropped 400m down to a lake and the Tarrekaise huts where we had lunch and got some extra food like pasta, canned corn and fresh pasta sauce. Continued to Njunjes where we arrived at 4pm. Trees growing denser. Ate lots of food in the hut, as usual, but everyone was not excessively tired as we had made our 19km in a descent of 600m. Cardamom buns for dessert!
Late morning preparing for departure after a long night. Johan was sick during the night in severe stomach pains and wants to keep on skiing to Kvikkjokk. Adam, however, decides to call Björn for a snowmobile ride and says Johan is not allowed to ski. Johan doesn’t really agree but accepts the decision. The four remaining group members ski towards Kvikkjokk. Fast progress, slight downhill, icy river all the way. Change of scenery, and the trees are welcome. Everyone happy to be on the last day. We skip lunch and try to finish all the snacks. Passed by lots of snowmobiles, impressed by our long ski trip. After such a trip, last few kilometers seem to go slow even though actually going quite fast. Total time approx. 4 hours for 17 km. Great feeling to take last steps to Kvikkjokk! Paul had nosebleed all the way. Shower, shave, sauna, restaurant dinner, dessert, beer, NICE! Everyone really happy, Neal cheerful and Johan feels well. When time to go to bed, Johan quickly gets worse, goes to bathroom, very sick again. Adam and Neal sit outside bathroom awake while making fun of Johan in a loving way. Johan sleeps on a mattress outside of bathroom.
Johan has stomach pains in the morning and Neal decides that he shall have no food for 24 hours, only clear liquids. Neal very kind taking care of Johan. All but Johan enjoy european breakfast buffet. Neal and Johan argue continuously about the solution of the stomach illness: yoghurt or pills? Adam and Paul climb the Nammasj mountain. Neal and Johan sleep. Adam prepares lunch and tries to find clarity on Björn’s opinions concerning snowmobiles and Backcountry Lapland. Björn takes Neal, Paul and Adam on a guided nature tour which also includes a local history and geology lesson. After that, we enjoy a calm afternoon with a dinner of yummie leftovers, spiced with stuff from the small STF shop. Going to bed early for an early morning.
We had to take an early bus to Jokkmokk, leaving Kvikkjokk around 6 AM. After that, we had a great breakfast at a local, organic and genuine café in Jokkmokk. We went to the Sami museum for a guided tour which most of us thought was very interesting. The last thing we did on the trip was to have a Swedish “fika” (coffee break with a cake) with semla.