Kungsleden Hemavan - Ammarnäs

(March 1999)

Day minus 3 to day minus 1

Day minus 3

I am at home, it is 2 a.m. and I awake suddenly. I forgot to pack the shovel. The shovel is essential for a ski tour. Not to think of sleep any more. Should I get up in the middle of the night ? But I know that this is simply a symptom of stress disease. What else did I forget ? I must have slept again, as now 3.30 a.m. and the radio awakes us. Who had the idea to start a vacation at this time, in complete darkness ? We have to get up. It is 4.30, and the taxi to the airport arrives. No trains at that time. Sunrise at 7.30 a.m., and the Lufthansa B 737 to Stockholm takes off. Two hours later we are in Stockholm. We move our luggage to the Inland Terminal. A Fokker 50 of Skyways awaits us. Check in and boarding is one procedure. "The plane is fully booked, and ski transport depends on available space. If we don't have the capacity, we will send the skis with the next plane". But every second passenger has skis ? And there are only two planes per week ?
The skis are in the plane now and the plane takes off. We are on the way to Hemavan. One and a half hour later, we are in the mountains, and the clouds are very low. Sometimes I see rivers, streets and houses, sometimes only clouds. It seems that we are landing, but then we climb higher in a turn. This lake, bridge and scooter trail - doesn't it look like the one I saw a while ago ? The pilot announces something in Swedish, and I understand that this was our first attempt to land, but we will try it again. Low clouds again, but now there is a runway. And there is a sudden side wind, but we touch down on the runway. Someone claps his hands.

Day minus two

We mostly travel with little cash and get money at a local banking machine, but Hemavan has neither a bank nor a machine. We decide to take the skibus to Tärnaby and look around in this slightly bigger village. We get cash in the bank there and visit the Tourist Info. We read in a folder that the stugvärds will normally arrive around the 15th of March. If that would be true, we cannot get provisions in the cabins. The Länstrafiken bus drivers are on strike, and the Ski bus returns not before late afternoon, so we spend 300 SEK for a taxi Tärnaby - Hemavan, back to our hotel. Who can give reliable information about the cabins ? We call the STF Vandrarhem in Ammarnäs. This year, the stugvärds are one week earlier, they say, and they are sure about that.

Day minus one

We have slept a lot and are a bit familiar to the area. We put on the skis and try the first few kilometers of the tour. An ascent of 350 m leads to the upper end of the Hemavan downhill slopes. It is cold, about -11 C, and strong wind up here. Carola advises me to take all my pictures today, so that we would save this time tomorrow. It is not easy to get up here, the snow is hardened by wind and sun. As soon as we reach the highland, the wind is close to a storm. We cross several downhill slopes and reach the highest point with a nice view on the Umeälven and the valley.
The newspaper says that the end of the bus strike is expected for tonight. Another bastu, and I talk to hotel guests in the bastu. Almost everybody seems to be here for work, on a statistics conference for instance. I try to imagine how I would feel attending the evening sessions of the conference after skiing, a bastu and a Corona Extra Class Beer. Everybody below 25 has a snowboard, most of the rest is here for downhill skiing. Still others are here from northern Sweden for a mountain guide training, an very few visit Polisens Flygskola and fly around with helicopters a lot. Although all these meetings would be very interesting, especially the one with the helicopters, we don't change our plan to go on a ski tour.