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  • Writer's pictureChase Davidson

Kungsleden - 17 Day Trek | SWE

Kungsleden - 17 Day Trek


The idea to hike the world famous Kungsleden first came into existence 6 years ago when I came to Sweden to hike the highest mountain, Kebnekaise. At that point in time, it was more of a bucket list type attraction and not one that I had been actively planning. It wasn’t until I made the serious move to Sweden last September that the adventure plans began taking their first steps.

With COVID-19 situations around the world continuing to develop and an uncertainty constantly in the air relating to travel, I narrowed my hiking destinations to within the country in order to avoid any type of quarantine measures. My final “Top 3” list consisted of The High Coast near Sundsvall, The Jämtland’s Triangle near Åre and The Kungsleden near Abisko. I had initial plans to hike Jämtland’s Triangle in late June but unfortunately, I had a bad crash on the BMX and didn’t feel fit for the challenge.

My good friend Dana Tauderer and I have been keeping in touch consistently since the day we met nearly two years ago while unknowingly booking the same overnight sailboat together to the Whitsunday Islands in Australia. We had talked a lot about going up to the Swedish Lapland in August once my Working Holiday Visa expired and I was no longer employed with Copperhill Mountain Lodge.

Originally, the idea was to hike from Abisko to Nikkaluokta and then do some smaller day hikes over 12 days because I had other responsibilities to attend to back in Stockholm later in the month. Dana on the other hand felt like this was her once in a lifetime opportunity to hike the full length of the Kungsleden, a total of over 440 kilometers. When she told me that she’d be willing to tackle this venture by herself, I felt the sudden urge to continue with her at least halfway to Kvikkjokk before heading down to Stockholm.

As planning went on, her brother Nico decided he would join up with us in Kvikkjokk after obtaining his second shot of the COVID-19 vaccination. This would allow Dana and Nico to finish off the Kungsleden together and for me to feel a bit more comfortable with leaving, knowing the two of them were together.

Enough with the planning of all this and let’s jump into the adventure!


DAY 1(ish): August 7th

Although our trip together doesn’t technically start till the next day, I feel the need to include this one because it’s how my trip truly begins.

I woke up in the town of Åre where I had been living for the previous 9 months knowing I would be saying goodbye. I won’t get into the sobbing details but let’s just say, this goodbye was nowhere as easy as my previous countries. In fact, even as I write this, I find myself not ready to leave nor say farewell. Det är som det är - It is what it is. After getting myself completely packed up and my room cleaned up, it was time to go. Instead of taking the train from Åre like I had originally planned, my friend Dan asked if I would like to join him down to Gävle (about 6 hours towards Stockholm) and then hop on my train there. That was the perfect chance to spend not only a little more time with Dan, but also with his new puppy, Milo.

We made our way down to Gävle slowly but surely with stops along the way for Milo to take care of business. A quick stop at his parents’ summer house outside of Gävle for a bite to eat and then off to the train station. With me at this point was basically my entire life. I had my regular check in luggage, a BMX bike bag, carry-on luggage and a backpack full of camera equipment. It wasn’t easy to get around with all this but hey, det är som det är.

The train from Gävle to Stockholm only took an hour and a half but lucky for me, I had a seat next to a chronic puker which made the ride quite interesting… I mean that in the worst way possible. I’m not one for vomiting, but the smell had me ready to reach for a bag a couple times throughout.

I showed up at Stockholm Central Station at 11pm (23:00) where Dana was waiting for me after arriving from Austria the previous day and spending the day exploring the city. We had corresponded with our friend Fabian earlier about dropping off my luggage at his place, and getting a good nights sleep before hoping on the lengthy 18-hour long train ride to Abisko National Park the next day. Fabian wasn’t able to get the time off work and therefore his mother Marja welcomed us with open arms.

I had stayed with Marja and Fabian previously when I first arrived in Sweden which made it all feel a bit like being back home. As much as Dana and I wanted to catch up, we knew it was quite late and we wanted the best rest we could get both knowing this would be our last time in a real bed for a while. Lights out.


DAY 1: August 8th (Stockholm to Abisko)

Knowing our train to Abisko wasn’t leaving until 5pm (17:00) this afternoon, we took full advantage of a sleep in before getting our final pack together. Once we were comfortable with our organizational skills, we decided to go for a little walk around Lidingö to give our legs some exercise before we have to sit for the night.

The weather was a bit off and on with rain and judging by the upcoming forecast in Abisko, it’s something we’re going to need to get use to. After our walk, we said a short goodbye to Marja before catching the bus/subway back to Stockholm central station. We still had a few hours to kill before our train so we thought it would be a good idea to grab a big lunch and buy a few things for dinner/breakfast on the train.

Preparing for the hike.

Before long, our train had arrived and we were officially on our way to the trailhead in Abisko. Luckily, we had a couple sit at our table that was super easy going which made for some pleasant chats until they departed shortly after Sundsvall. In the meantime, Dana and I played some Tic-Tac-Toe, I Spy and a bit of Who Am I to pass the time. We were both pretty exhausted and knowing we had a 13km trek ahead of us once we get off the train in Abisko, we decided to call it a night around midnight to get as much sleep as we could.


DAY 2: August 9th (Abisko National Park) 17km’s

I awoke this morning in a bit of a panic. I felt something hit me on my arm when we reached Umeå and when I took my sleeping mask off, there was two guys sitting next to me with Dana nowhere to be seen. I asked them if they had seen a girl and they said the seats have been empty… Confused but still noticing that her bag was there and her shoes were at my feet, I chose to go back to sleep knowing she probably just went for a comfier spot to sleep.

By 9am, I was up for good and by this time I had realized where abouts Dana had moved to. Her back had began to hurt in the seats we had since we weren’t able to book a sleeper wagon, so she moved to a two seat row and laid down. Eventually, the two guys that had sat next to me got off in Kiruna which gave us time to eat breakfast and get one last preparation in for the hike.

The clock struck 11:08 and we found ourselves finally at the Abisko Tourist Station after the longest train ride in both of our lives. We set out on the Kungsleden finally and within moments we were mesmerized by the river and many rapids that flowed down it. We didn’t have that long to go on the first day, which was nice to think about knowing we’d be doing a bigger push the second day. The aim for day 1 was about 13 kilometers to Abiskojaure.

The path lead us along the river most of the way and the skies were constantly cloudy. It did tend to rain quite a bit but it was never a serious downpour. There was a few stops we took to have a break and give our legs/arms a rest. The mountains had shown themselves from time to time but if anything, it just made us anxious to get closer to them.

As we made our way to the junction for Abiskojaure, we decided it would be better to continue the Kungsleden out of the Abisko National Park so we could set up our tent for the night. Plus, that would give us a little headstart on tomorrow’s trek. As we neared the exit of the park, we found an amazing little spot next to Mt. Giron.

Campsite #1

We quickly set up camp while the rain took a break and got our dinners ready. Dana had risotto and I went with a chicken curry. Both delicious! By the time we were all set up and full, it was 8pm (20:00) and the knats were in full force partnered up with the mosquitoes so we thought it would be best to get in the tent and relax.

After reminiscing about the days events, we called it a night and were surprised to see that we ended up doing nearly 17km’s altogether today.


DAY 3: August 10th (Abisko to Alesjaure) 23km's

Today started off well rested and surprisingly enough, we slept in quite a bit. It was nearly 9am by the time we rolled out of the tent and began getting ourselves ready for a big day. We knew we had a minimum of 22km’s ahead of us and needed to make the most out of the time we had. Fortunately, the days are still quite long up here which meant breaks and mini side hikes wouldn’t be an issue.

Morning Breakfast Location

Once we had everything packed up, we began making our way towards a river crossing where we decided to have breakfast. Just as we were arriving, we met a German couple that chatted with us for a bit before heading further along the trail.

The views after this point began to be more and more dramatic which made me want to stop more and more for photos. I had to learn to pick and choose otherwise I swear we would never make it to the next camping site.

Kungsleden - Abisko to Alesjaure

Eventually, we came upon Alisjávri and followed the trail next to the lake all the way to Alesjaure. We chose not to take the ferry that saves you 5km’s of walking in order to appreciate the views a bit more but also to save ourselves 450kr each. Ditching the boat was worth it though as we got to step up next to an amazing waterfall location and then a small little beach as we got closer to Alesjaure.

When we were walking through the little mountain cabins of Alesjaure, the German’s we had met earlier called out to us. We went over for another chat and got to know them a bit more. Turns out their names are Marie and Jasper. They were doing the same sort of itinerary as us for the moment and shared an idea to take a different path up Kebnekaise. Dana and I were quite intrigued and at this point, it seems like that’s the route we’ll be taking in a couple days time.

We said our goodbyes and kept hiking a bit further to find a good spot to set up the tent. It didn’t take too much longer before we found an incredible little spot overlooking the river. Seriously, this was straight out of a fairytale. We cooked and relaxed but by this time it was already 9pm (21:00) so we quickly called it a night knowing that tomorrow would be an even bigger push than what we just accomplished.

Campsite #2


DAY 4: August 11th (Alesjaure to Sälka) 22.3km

This past night was a bit chillier than the first but I slept great. Actually, I slept so great that I awoke at 5am thinking it was closer to 8am full of energy, ready to go until I saw the actual time. Instead of jumping straight back into bed, I got out for a few blue hour shots of the surrounding area and then got a couple more hours of shuteye.

By 8am, I was all ready to go and Dana had woken up shortly after. Our aim was to get a better start on the day than the previous in order to cover roughly as much ground in order to have the same kind of start the next day. These first few days were crucial for us to make up ground in order to have a bit of extra time incase of poor weather conditions later in the hike. By 8:45am, we had the tent packed up and were on our way south towards Tjäktja with intentions of getting as close to Sälkta as possible.

Our new routine has been to pack up first, hike a couple kilometers and then find a good spot to eat breakfast. That allows us to focus on what’s important (covering ground) first instead of perhaps spending a bit of extra time in the same location. It was 3 kilometers later that we found a small little spot with a makeshift bench that seemed perfect for our first meal of the day. Dana made herself buckwheat and almonds with some dried fruit and I went with a Swebar Protein Bar. Can you tell which one of us is a bit more health conscious?

The rain started to come in a bit but luckily, it didn’t hit us too hard. We had all our gear on and were prepared for the worst. After another kilometer and a half, we came across the perfect little waterfall with a bridge crossing it. I instantly knew we’d be stopping here for a bit of a photo op. Moments after I got my camera ready, our two new German friends came hiking up and Jasper recognized my Wandrd camera cube which gave me the impression he was also a photographer of sorts. Not long after, he was down at the base of the waterfall joining me for some photos!

At this point, the four of us would stick together for the hike so we continued onward towards the Tjäktja Hut. It’s always nice getting to know someone new because there is a whole lifetime of memories to share with one another. Dana got to speak her mother tongue with Marie while Jasper and I nerded out over different photography gear.

We came upon Tjäktja Hut around 2pm (14:00) and pretty much as soon as I saw the waterfall, I made a b-line straight for it. Jasper has been having some difficulty with his knee and therefore chose to use the hut for an extended rest/lunch. Dana and I had a quick bite to eat and then continued on just the two of us knowing that I’d be stopping for photos at some point anyway.

Tjäktja Hut

The next area we passed through was a bit of a barron land. The wind had died down quite a bit and it was basically rock hopping the entire portion trying to avoid the water. The area came up to a mountain pass which saw us gain elevation and then giving us an immense showing of the valley that we’d be traversing through. Just as Dana and I were about to head down into the valley, two familiar heads popped up over the ridge. We laughed, chatted a bit and then waited for Jasper to get some shots before beginning the journey down into the valley.

Perhaps a mere 10 minutes went by and we were greeted with an even more spectacular view of the valley with the lighting seemingly perfect for photos. Today has been magical to say the least! Of course we had to stop here for a bit but the break was short knowing we still wanted to get as close to Sälkta Hut as possible in order to ease our hike the following day.

Once we got down and began traversing through the village, I could tell that Jasper’s knee was really starting to hurt. Dana and I figured we’d go on up ahead for another hour or so since we still had some energy and we’d link up again tomorrow. Unfortunately, Jasper wasn’t too confident in his ability to trek up Kebnekaise anymore due to the knee injury so we all thought it would be best to say our goodbyes now and exchange information. If this was indeed the end (which I don’t think it is) than it was one of the best mini friendships I have ever built on a hike!

As we navigated our way along the Kungsleden, you could tell that others had a similar idea to us because tents were beginning to pop up sporadically. It took us a bit of time to find a proper good location but once we did, it ended up being the first night we’ve been able to cook, eat and relax without the pesky mosquitoes in our faces. All in all, today was a serious highlight but I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!


DAY 5: August 12th (Sälka to Singivagge) 18.6km's

The sleep this past night was a bit rough to say the least. The spot we thought was quite epic turned out to be just a bit more epic in photos than actual comfort. I found myself sleeping somewhat on a bump and slightly in a hole at the same time. I woke up multiple times throughout the night but kept trying to get some sleep until I saw it was 8am.

At this time, I began to get myself together and begin packing up the sleeping bag, air mattress and small liner I use for extra warmth. Dana woke up as I was doing so and began to do the same that way we could get another good start to the day. Personally, I love getting started early because I’m always so eager to see what the next location has in store for us.

By 8:30am, we were well on our way through the Tjäktjavagge whose mountains towered over us with its mighty cliffs stretching out for what seemingly looked like forever. It was a bit chilly this morning so we layered up a bit more than usual, which meant we’d be delayering soon enough with a brief pause. I used this opportunity to get a closer look at a nearby waterfall but couldn’t navigate my way across the winding river.

Aside from Jasper and Marie, there was another German couple we continually leapfrogged throughout the entire hike. We always shared a good laugh and a bit of conversation whenever we passed. Today seemed to be no different as we must have met them at least 4 or 5 different times.

Our goal was to have brunch at the Sälka Hut and after finding out that some food items weren’t outrageously priced, I was excited to treat myself. Not too long before we reached the hut though, a big herd of reindeer came wandering by which left us and fellow hikers in awe. Just as they passed and we went up around the next bend, another small herd come jaunting in front of a waterfall located on the other side of the valley making for some beautiful scenes.

I did my best not to get overwhelmed because in situations like these, I can get a bit carried away with the camera. Sälka was only 300m away now which had us motivated and excited for a longer break. When we entered the area we were greeted by more reindeer but best of all, a butik full of food. I had 60kr so I bought two kex chocolate bars and two ramen noodles. That’s my kind of lunch!

While we were relaxing and eating, Jasper and Marie came strolling up! We had definitely thought we’d said our goodbyes the night before but surprise, surprise. I talked Jasper into buying a Kex because he’s moving to Sweden and it’s basically a staple snack here. We talked a bit about where we would be camping for the night and decided on a place that would not only set Dana and I up for the Kebnekaise summit the following day but also not too far off the Kungsleden so they wouldn’t lose anytime. It was still another 8km’s away, so we set off quickly. The weather began to spit here and there but nothing too major.

Jasper and Marie continued to leap frog us here and there when I was taking photos but we knew we’d be doing the same shortly after when Jasper began his photo taking. That was what sort of happened for the next 4km’s until the four of us actually stuck together. We chose to take one last bigger break together before making the final push. During the break, a couple of hikers told us about a Fjällraven race that would be starting tomorrow in Nikkaluokta and ends in Abisko. Apparently 2,000 people would be running past us tomorrow with staggered starts. I’m glad we’ll be heading up to the summit after all.

By the time we reached the point where Dana and I would be changing course to go towards Kebnekaise, the sun was beginning to show some light and the four of us thought it would be a great idea to camp out down by the river instead of up in the valley. We set up camp next to each other and then everyone (not me) wanted to go down to the river for a quick bath. I went with them, but only to take some photos and show moral support knowing tomorrow’s hike would probably change my mind for a dip.

The four of us had dinner together, got a couple of group photos and then said our goodbyes once again. This time knowing it would certainly be the last as Jasper has the big decision to make now wether he goes to Nikkaluokta or continue on to Vakkotavare. Soon after we crawled into our tents and called it a night with anticipation of a very early start for the top of Sweden.

Me, Dana, Marie and Jasper


DAY 6: August 13th (Durlings Led) 26km's

The initial plan this morning was to set an alarm for 4am knowing it was going to be a long day. Instead of setting the alarm however, we opted to sleep until I woke up the first time which is usually between 4:45am and 6am. I had actually woken up probably around 4am initially but there was a bit of rain and strong winds so I went back to sleep and then woke up again at 6am on the dot.

By 6:10, we were awake and getting out of the tent with our day packs that we organized the day before. With one last look at Jasper and Marie’s tent and a quick wave goodbye, we headed towards Singivagge that would bring us to the top of Sweden.

Kebnekaise has two main peaks, the north and south summit with the latter being the higher of the two due to a small glacier on top. The glacier is melting quickly though and eventually the northern summit will become the highest point in Sweden. The southern summit is the easier of the two to get to and most people summit it via Kebnekaise Fjällstation but since we were currently on the Kungsleden, we took the lesser known route called “Durlings Led” and it still took us 22km’s and over 1,300m of elevation gain alone.

After just a couple hours of hiking, we had passed multiple little camping spots that others had made in the rocky areas before coming upon a narrow valley that felt simply unreal. We admired this majestic landscape for a bit before crossing a couple streams. In part to this not being a marked route, it meant there was no bridge crossings so rock hopping was a must. During the second crossing, I admittedly took my shoes off and walked through part of the freezing cold stream because I was unsure if there’d be a better point to cross at. Sure enough, Dana found that better point mere seconds after me.

The great thing about this route up is that we were completely alone. In fact, throughout the entire ascent (aside from where it merges with the main trail at Kaffedalen) we alone saw a handful of people compared to the hundreds (may be exaggerating a bit) we saw from the other routes. The fun part is that your only navigation up is the cairns that lead the way. It can be quite easy to get off path if you don’t pay attention but this is the kind of hiking I enjoy the most!

Admiring all the views

It took us 5 hours to reach the saddle between Kebnekaise and Vierranvárri and to be honest, I forgot how much of hike was still left to go. It felt like forever as we hiked in hiked, seeing false summit after false summit. One thing I forgot to mention was that when we came to the saddle, we also entered into the clouds so our view and depth of field had decreased immensely.

There was a brief moment when we began circling onto the eastern side of the mountain when the sun shown itself and we caught a tiny glimpse of the Lapland from high above. We may have been deceived a little because as we drew closer to the summit, we just entered into more clouds. The freezing temperatures from the altitude also took notice and my glasses continuously fogged up making the cloud seem much gnarlier than it really was.

We passed an old hut around 1,880m and then not long after we reached the plateau. I knew we were close at that point remembering from last time I was here in 2016 with clear weather we could see the summit by this point.

Coming back down was much easier and only took us about 5 hours. We took a few brief pauses along the way to ease the burden on the knees but our stomachs were itching for some real food by this point. I had just a couple of chocolate bars and a pack of ramen noodles for the day but Dana also gave me a few of her nuts and knackabröd to tie me off.

When we finally made it down to our tent after a long 12 hours up on the mountain, we didn’t waste anytime in gathering some fresh clothes and heading down to the river to clean up. There was a herd of reindeer on the other side grazing along and the sun began to shine more than it ever had during the trek. It lit up the mountains like we had never seen. Here’s to hoping for more sunny days to come!

After a calorie packed dinner, and some slight reorganizing in the tent, we crawled in and wrote our journal entries before putting the sleeping mask on and calling it a night. Did I ever mention we are in the arctic and it barely gets dark this time of year?


DAY 7: August 14th (Singivagge to Kaitumjaure) 22km's

Today was meant to be a pretty chill day after exhausting ourselves on Kebnekaise the day before. I feel like saying we’re going to have a chill day is like saying you’re going to go out for just one drink…

As per usual, I kept waking up between 5am and 8am before eventually just getting the day started. Keep in mind we are usually asleep by 9pm (21:00) so even a 5am wake up still nets me 8 hours of sleep. It’s pretty much my body telling me to wake the hell up and go! We headed towards Singi which was only 3km’s away from where we camped and that was to be our breakfast destination. We passed a small sami village and shot some beautiful reflections in the nearby little ponds on the way.

Once we got heading towards Kaitumjaure, we realized how easy today was really going to be. We envisioned stopping to camp somewhere in the valley, perhaps a few kilometers before the Kaitumjaure hut but the track proved to be much easier than expected. It was flat compared to the recent tracks we had been on, especially yesterday’s boulder hopping trek.

We took a couple small breaks and then a bigger lunch break at an old sami tipi before stopping at the bridge crossing Täktjajåkka to pick some wild blueberries.

From this point we were only 3km’s from the next hut and it was only 4pm (16:00) so we thought we’d hike until at least 6pm (18:00) and see where we ended up. We were both feeling quite well at this point surprisingly so when we arrived in Kaitumjaure, we hit the shop for a few different chocolates and then continued on.

I’d say 10 minutes after heading south from Kaitumjaure, Dana hit her breaking point and was ready to call it a day. We arrived at the bridge crossing Kaitumjåkka and set up camp on the other side. The weather was perfect and since it had been sunny all day, there was a ton of dry wood laying around to make a fire. I got started on that while Dana prepared dinner for the two of us. Just as we were about to eat and the fire was raging, mother nature decided she would have some fun with us.

The rain clouds came in and the water fell. Now is a good time to mention that there is also a waterfall just a few hundred meters north of our campsite! I had full intentions of shooting it once the sun set enough so I could get some long exposures but due to the rain, I instead battled with keeping the fire alive. I did my best for nearly an hour while the sky gave way to a beautiful double rainbow before running out of wood and having to jump inside the tent where Dana had already been to keep warm and dry.

Campsite #6

Taking the time to organize everything once again while in the tent, the rain had began to slowly drizzle before coming to a complete stop. Instead of jumping on the opportunity to go shoot the waterfall, I chose to write my journal entry and then take the chance with the waterfall…

*Break in writing to shoot waterfall*

100% worth getting back out of the tent! As I pulled the zipper to reveal outside, I was met with the first sunset colours of our hike. I immediately ran to the waterfall to fire off a couple photos before I lost all the colour and then ran down to the bridge for a few more long exposures. Now I know the sunset is around 9:30pm (21:30) and I’ll be making sure to keep an eye on the sky until then. Bring on another day!


DAY 8: August 15th (Kaitumjaure to Teusajaure) 12.8km's

This marks the first day of our hike where the sun was so hot in the morning that it practically forced us out of the tent. Knowing we had only 7km’s to go until Teusajaure meant this would be our chillest morning yet. I decided to get another little fire going with the rest of the wood we had left, did a bit of laundry in the river and then soaked up some sun.

We didn’t hit the trail till 10am but once we got moving again, the kilometers started to come quite smoothly. Before we knew it, we were at an old Sami Tipi that had been renovated in the 1900’s to act as an emergency shelter. The trail to it could be easily missed but luckily, Dana saw a small information sign that gave it away. Glad she had her eyes open!

The trail was pretty easy from the start and then it became quite an uphill as we entered into a new valley down to Teusajaure. The coolest thing about Teusajaure would no doubt be the waterfall that majestically descends behind it. You bet I spent a bit of time wandering around that before the final descent.

When we arrived at the Teusajaure hut, a woman had offered us lingonberry juice and stopped to have a bit of a chat. She happened to be from Åre, the same town in which I lived for the past 9 months so we had a fun little chat.

The next step for our day was to get across the lake. Here we had two different choices. We could take a small ferry across the water for 150kr (€15) or choose to row our way across with one of the three boats supplied. The issue with rowing across is that there always needs to be one boat on either side, which means if you get there and your side only has one boat, you’ll have to row back and forth three times.

When we got down to the water, there was only one boat… We prepared to row over and grab another boat but just as we were untying the boat, Dana could see that two groups were currently paddling over which meant we only had to paddle once! It worked out great for both parties because one of them would have had to paddle back with a boat otherwise.

Thankful to have to only row 500m instead of 1.5km’s in total, we split the rowing up 50/50 and enjoyed the windless cruise across the lake. It’s an entirely different perspective looking at the valley in the middle of it all.

When we arrived and docked on the otherside, we immediately entered Stora Sjöfallet National Park. You could tell there was a drastic change in scenery with lots of large mushrooms, birch trees and tons of blueberry bushes just waiting to be picked. We hiked up nearly to the edge of the tree line in order to find a good spot for camping.

Once we had set everything up, I got a little fire going but the rain from the night before had really dampened the wood all around us so we just made a smokey fire to rid off all the mosquitoes. The sky was much like last nights minus the rain which meant I was hoping for some more sunset colours.

There was still an hour to go until sunset and I was restless in the tent. I ate a pack of noodles to kill some time and played with my thoughts before eventually deciding to pick some blueberries. But… Mother nature had other plans; As soon as I got out of the tent to pick some blueberries, it began to pour down completely cancelling my sunset plans after all.


DAY 9: August 16th (Teusajaure to Vakkotavare) 17km's

After failing to see the sunset the night before, I had hoped for a bit of a positive start. However, the night was a bit chilly and my sleeping spot turned out to be in a bit of a rut when my air mattress deflated slowly during the night giving me not the best of sleeps. When I awoke to turn my phone on in order to see the time, there was a constant drizzle happening outside. It was only 8am and we were in no rush today with only 12km of hiking ahead of us. I stayed calm and patient waiting to see if the rain would fizzle out.

By 9:30, we were in luck! I looked over at Dana, and she was already awake as well. We organized as best we could in the tent before getting out and stripping it down. We aimed for a breakfast spot 3km’s away that was next to a river. On the way there, we saw more reindeer than ever before, including two white reindeer. I didn’t even know they existed!

Breakfast was a good little break and we had a nice spot out of the wind. When we got back on track, we set a good pace and covered a lot of ground quite quickly. We took a few different photo breaks before taking a longer lunch break to enjoy the views. Dana made a few miniature cairns near a rock shelter while she escaped the wind.

When we were crossing one of the many boardwalk style bridges a few minutes after our break, there was a girl who called out to us to ask “How did you get the fire started the other night?”. We got to talking and then all of a sudden a helicopter came buzzing in, landing right next to us. The pilot needed to drop of some nails but it resulted in quite the experience.

We continued chatting with the two sisters from the Netherlands for a bit longer and got to know them, Rose and Marie. Marie had been studying outdoor education and had been showing Rose the ropes, she even taught me and Dana a couple new things!

At this point, we were only a couple of kilometers from our camping area so we carried on and said our goodbyes. We were a bit pickier about our spot this evening, because I did not want two bad sleeps in a row. We put down our bags at one location and then did a bit of scouting until we found one we both agreed on. It had a decent location for a campfire and potential for a sunset if the weather cooperates.

Campsite #8

Once we set up camp, Dana looked up at the nearby mountain and asked if I wanted to go up. Yepp! 30 minutes later, we had one of the best views of the hike. Looking out over the entire valley and lakes. Seriously, it was incredible! We took our time up top but on the way down we encountered small patches of cloudberries that were just right for the picking.

Back at camp, I tried to get a fire going but eventually gave up. My fire making skills are just not up to par with the wet wood we’ve got from all the rain. I ended up boiling some water and making a dehydrated Vegan Chili Con Carne for dinner and then crawled into the tent to wait for sunset.


DAY 10: August 17th (Vakkotavarre to Saltoluokta) 5.1km's

This marks the first time we had to set an alarm on the trip. There was a bus leaving Vakkotavarre at 9:50am that we couldn’t miss and our campsite was roughly 30 minutes up the mountain. We chose to set the alarm for 7:40am in order for us to have time to pack up, pick some blueberries and then still have some extra time for possible photos on the last leg to Vakkotavarre.

As seems to be the case for me on this hike, I was up extra early. My mattress was once again slightly deflated so at this point, it’s safe to say I’m over it. I bought it for cheap while I was living in Australia and certainly got more than my money’s worth out of it. Upgrade time on the horizon!

I let Dana sleep until the alarm went off, and then we started packing everything up. There was low rolling clouds which put us in a mist to start the morning. We still took the opportunity to pick a few blueberries but the dew was just making our feet soaking wet. There has been endless amounts of blueberries throughout the hike thus far so we weren’t too bummed about it.

On the way down to Vakkotavarre, we had a river running down the left hand side that cascaded over and over again leaving us with waterfall after waterfall. We also managed to get below the cloud and everything seemed so much brighter. I shot a bunch of photos of the waterfalls and made it down to the bus stop near the lake with 30 minutes to spare. We used this time to relax by the lake and then prepare for what we thought would be a short 30km bus ride to Kebnats where we’d catch the ferry over to Saltoluokta.

Stora Sjöfallet

Once we got going on the bus, we quickly realized that the ride wouldn’t be so short after all. We pulled into Stora Sjöfallet Mountain Lodge around the midway point for a 45-minute rest break. I was ecstatic to stop because the waterfall that the national park is named after can be seen from this location. Did you know Lapponia was the first national park in all of Europe?

I decided to get myself a coffee in the lodge while we waited and Dana grabbed a bit of a bite to eat. The drive to Kebnats went by super quick from this point and before you know it, we were on the way to Saltoluokta and officially at the halfway point for my adventure. The sun was shining and I was ready for endless coffee!

We had a bit of a wait at the Fjällstation since this was a point where all the hikers on the Kungsleden mixed with the day hikers in one place. We got assigned tent place #5 and paid 300kr (€30) each to have access to hot showers, a tent spot on site, a drying room and you betcha, endless coffee! The price also allowed us to relax inside and charge up all my electronics to prepare for the next half of the hike.

Once we had our tent organized and set up, the first thing we did was get in a well needed shower. I don’t think I’ll ever take a hot shower for granted anymore! After that, we did some laundry and let it hang in the drying room before paying 110kr (€11) for an all you can eat lunch. Well worth it! From that point on, we sat and made a plan for what’s to come and charged are devices.

While charging, we happened to look out the window and couldn’t believe who we saw. Marie and Jasper had made it to Saltoluokta! We instantly ran out and gave them both a big hug and caught up with them for a brief moment before they finished up their adventure with the ferry back over to Kebnats.

After charging everything we headed back to the tent only to find that someone decided it would be a smart decision to set his tent up right in front of ours. No matter how far away from people you get, there is always one… We laid down and pondered what decision we’d be making the next day in regards to moving our tent as to avoid any extra STF fees. We agreed it would be best to move it first thing in the morning before the rain to avoid setting up in the rain and getting everything soaking wet.


DAY 11: August 18th (Saltoluokta to Peitsjaure) 15.2km's

The first moment I woke up, I heard no sound of rain and decided to check the time. It was 4am… I checked the weather to see how long we had before the rain would start coming down and it looked like we had a 3 hour window. We took full advantage of it! We packed up inside the tent as best we could and then when I opened the tent, an amazing sunrise was in play that made me wonder how the heck a storm could be coming in. I ran down to the lake to get a bunch of photos because the whole lake was a picture perfect mirror.

I came back up to the tent not long after and finished getting everything together before going to the Nåiben cabin where we could dry some last minute things before moving our tent to a new location. A quick tea while we waited for the tent’s rain fly to dry and then we were off on the Kungsleden once again. We didn’t plan to stray too far from Saltoluokta though, so we pitched the tent up about 1km out where the path parts ways to a small sami village called Pietsjaure.