17 km, 1 day, and back
A little map can be found in a separate ine Karte findet sich in a separate window.
On our tour through the North, we had reached Kilpisjärvi/Finland. Pältsastugan, the northernmost cabin that is maintained by the STF, seemed to be appropriate for an overnight hike. Hiking was not very pleasant here in the middle of July because of the mosquito plague, and if it would get better in the mountains, we would carry on, otherwise we would go back. It didn't get any better.
Kilpisjärvi is a little village at the northern end of Finland with a hiking center (in the picture) offering accomodation for hikers, some hotels and a supermarket, where you have the last chance to buy provisions at the cheaper finnish prices before entering Norway. A regular boat service brings tourists to the other side of the lake three times per day. Public buses go to Tromsö in Norway and Enontekiö in Finland, with a connection to Kiruna in Sweden.
The yellow-painted concrete block in the water, surrounded by a beautiful landscape, attracted many tourists including Carola and me. Taking photos is a must for everybody. When we had seen enough, we followed the signs for the Nordkalottleden through the fence, while the other people returned to the boat. A gentle ascent of 400 m over 3 km, and the direct trail from the boat landings joined. We noticed that it was slightly different from the trail marked in the map.
We passed snowfields occasionally, but they were not a problem. It was quite easy to follow the path, as summer and winter markings were not far apart and the trail was almost a straight line. So navigation was easy, but hiking was not so pleasant, as the trail seemed to ignore the natural landscape completely, and we crossed every valley in an angle near 90 degrees. So we repeatedly hiked down into the small valleys and up again. In the afternoon we reached Pältsastugan.
Pältsastugan is located in the Pältsa valley in a picturesque landscape ( the unique flora has been subject of a study). We knew the stugvärd already, we had met him years ago in Teusajaure. It was his last year on duty as a stugvärd, he was 75 now and that was the age limit set by the STF. He had applied for Pältsastugan and had spent the summers here since the cabin had been opened. During the last summer there had been 250 visitors, not very much. The cabin itself was nice, clean and everything was new, with a ten-bed and two four-bed rooms. He made suggestions for a round trip and gave us hints about the trail.
A nice and pleasant evening, but outside billions of mosquitos were waiting for us. So far, we always had avoided the main season, and that should be the best again for the future. But that did not help very much at the moment. When we left the cabin for an evening walk, the story about the two delicious foreigners spread among the population in the Pältsa valley. Djungelolja prevented them from biting us, but not from forming clouds around us and creeping into our noses. Swallows had found their way to Pältsastugan and rushed through the air. It surprised me, I had not expected them so far up here in the north. I suppose that the abundance of food was the reason for that long journey. We decided to hike back and retreat to Norwegian coast, to where the mosquitos would follow us. But at the moment we where still in Pältsa.
At least, it was easy to keep the cabin's interior free of mosquitos, Carola and me being the only visitors, and the mosquito shields for the windows were new, like everything else in the cabin.
During the necessary breaks I preferred to watch them through a green net strapped over my hat. This time, we chose the direct trail to the boat.
We enjoyed the view a last time before we hiked down to the lake through a forest. Just here, where it would have been important, the trail was not marked very well, but soon we noticed that we should not have crossed this little river, as there were no signs any more. We had to go back for a short distance to reach the trail again. We were in time for the afternoon boat and soon we were back in Kilpisjärvi. We tried the Pizza number 6 in the hiking center with dried reindeer meat, blue cheese and pineapple pieces. Peter Bickel had recommended it, it was excellent, and we even succeeded to reproduce it at home, of course without reindeer meat.