Day 8: Afternoon light in the deep north
Kungsleden ("The King's Trail") is a hiking trail in northern Sweden, approximately 440-kilometre (270 mi) long, between Abisko in the north and Hemavan in the south. It passes through one of Europe's largest remaining wilderness areas. In the winter Kungsleden is a ski trail with approximately the same route.
Kungsleden was created by Svenska Turistföreningen (STF) at the end of the 19th century, in order to allow more people to experience the beauty of Lapland. It runs for about 440 kilometres (270 mi) between Abisko in the north and Hemavan in the south. The trail is well marked and many sections are well equipped and maintained by STF, with plank walkways covering swampy or rocky ground, but other sections further from the trailheads are eroded and rocky, increasing the difficulty of hiking some parts of the trail. There are bridges across non-fordable streams and during the summer season lakes and rivers could be crossed either with rowing boats provided by STF or by taking a local charter boat.
The trail is separated in four portions which each represent approximately one week of hiking. The most practiced part is by far the northernmost, between Abisko and Kebnekaise. The season, when the huts are open and rowing boats available, usually runs between mid-June and the end of September, but the weather can be very treacherous, including late or early snow. The winter season runs from mid February to the end of April.
I somehow got used to going to the north on a yearly basis, if not even more often. This time, our hiking destination was Sweden - northernmost part of the world-famous Kungsleden trail and locations close to the Abisko national park. And of course, early September means peak of autumn season in the deep north - arguably the best part of the year there.
The 9-days itinerary was as follows: Nikkaluokta -> Visttasvággi valley -> Unna Reaiddávággi pass -> Sälkastugorna -> Alisvággi valley -> Unna Allakas -> Abiskojaurestugorna -> Abisko. Except one night in the Unna Räitastugan hut, we used our tents and enjoyed autumn landscape of the deep north quite heavily. That sense of freedom... cannot be described by words.
This is a shot taken during our eighth day in the area - we continued hiking further to the north, visiting Ábeskojávri (Abiskojaure) lake and finally camping quite close to Abisko Turiststation.