1/2 day, 11 km , and back to Björkliden
A little map can be found in a separate window.
To get a key for the for the locked Norwegian cabins, we proceeded to the shop in the Abisko Turiststation at the beginning of our trip. With our STF membership cards it was quite easy, and I think that 70 Skr were not expensive. We would get back part of the money when we returned the key later.
We were not quite sure whether we would need propane gas to connect it to the cooking facility (as it was recommended in a German book), but after a while an expert showed up, who ensured us that there was gas provided in the Norwegian cabins. The boat Abisko - Pålnostugan was out of service, as no hikers except Carola and me wanted to go there. Two conditions were necessary for a boat trip to Pålnoviken: gentle winds on the lake and enough requests by hikers. These conditions were not so frequently met so far last year. O.k., we were hikers anyway, we would ( have to ) hike all the way to Lappjordshytta.
Peter had guided us to some of the important places along the Rallarvegen (see Abisko - Björkliden ) at that day and eventually left us out at the E10 street, where the Nordkalottleden crossed the street. It was already 3.30 pm when we started our hike, perhaps a bit late, but it would not get really dark here in summer.
Before the ice age, the Torneträsk had been a fjord connected to the Atlantic ocean. Later, when the ice melted and the pressure stopped, its level rose and the end of the lake was filled up with debris from the glaciers. An interesting scientific story, but unfortunately we had to hike right through this debris, and that was sweat-producing reality.
In some sections the trail was quite easy, but sometimes we had the feeling that an evil-minded giant had scattered smaller and bigger rocks to make hiking strenuous. Snowfields did not make things much easier. It took us until 7 p.m. to get to Pålnostugan. The cabin was empty, no cooking facility provided, just 6 beds, a table and some chairs. We did not rest very long here, but continued our hike. Only 200 more meters -- height difference, not distance. A big rock blocked our way, the "Riksröset", a marking for the Swedish-Norwegian border, was set on top of it. We could see the continuation of the path in some distance on the Norwegian side, but we could not find the trail markings, as they were covered with snow. We chose to pass at the left side of the rock, while the right side would have been the correct way. Somehow we managed to get back to the trail without losing too much time and getting wet shoes, and so we could pass the reindeer fence through a door.
Now the trail ascended through forest and a rocky area. At about 8.30 we unlocked Lappjordshytta. Four people from the staff of Abisko Turiststation already stayed in the other part of the hut. They had come to Pålnostugan with a boat. Lappjordshytta was more comfortable than the STF cabins usually are, as besides a kitchen it had a nice place for dining and simple but comfortable couches in a living room. I read "The lost world" by Michael Crichton at that time. It was very late in the evening when we went to bed, and we decided to stay for one more day in this fine place. Woodshed and toilet were integrated in the other building, so that there was no risk to get lost in bad weather. That gave us an idea of how bad the weather could perhaps get up here. By the way, we carried a certain amount of Norwegian money to pay the fee in the hut, but "Troms Turlag" had forms for paying with credit card, and so we just filled out the form.
The next day was fine, we did a short hike in the surroundings without our backpacks, and a fjällripa posed in front of my tele lens. We did not see any markings for the way to Innset, so I hiked about 1 km across a snowfield in the suspected direction, until I found a wooden pole that had fallen down during winter time. The day passed, and we calculated how long we would need to Kilpisjärvi in Finland. If no problems would occur, we would be able to be there just in time. The distance to Innset for the next day was 28 km, too long for us for a one-day hike, and we would have to camp somewhere in between.
We got up earlier the next morning, had breakfast, packed our things together. Finally we cleaned up the cabin, and just when we wanted to start hiking, it began to rain. Should we get wet right from the beginning ? No, we could wait for a while. But it did not stop raining. I was sure that it would rain all day long, and I was right. The temperature dropped to zero, and we watched as the mountain tops around us slowly turned white from snow, while it was raining at Lappjordshytta and deeper in the valley. And the clouds came lower and lower. It would not be very pleasant to hike and camp under these conditions. We counted the days to Kilpisjärvi once more. We could still make it, if we stayed here one more day, but then we would not have any time left, and we had to be back in Kiruna in time. There were possibilities to get back to civilization in between, but then we would be in Norway, and what if the desired bus perhaps would only go twice a week ? But, spending the whole day in Lappjordshytta was not an option for us. Finally we decided to change aour plans, hike back and do a different tour during the next days. The next place with accomodations was Björkliden, 17 km from here. We started in pouring rain. It was really a bad weather.
Well, a frog might have have a different opinion. I never had tested my backpack in real rain without an additional rainshield, and I had the crazy idea that today would be a fine day for such a test. Just about one hour to Pålnostugan, and there I would check whether my backpack was rainproof for an hour or not. We went down on the slippery trail, once again around the rock bearing the Riksröset.
This time we found the marked path around the rock. After little more than one hour we were back at Pålnostugan. Five friendly people sat in the cabin already, and with Carola and me stepping inside now it was filled up. I opened the backpack to check if the clothes were dry. The water had found its way inside and all the clothes and even the sleeping bag, packed in a separate bag, had started to get wet. We cooked a fast food soup and drank a coffee, and then we hiked on, leaving all these nice people behind. In the meantime my feet were wet, but my gore-tex jacket and trousers kept most of my body dry.
At the bridge we met the first hiker for today, a man from Austria on his way to the north. Once more we crossed those ice-age rocks and finally, we reached the E10 and looked around. Couldn't there be a bus station somewhere ? No, there was none. We walked on the E10 for a while, but on the broad street without protecting vegetation, the chill factor of this mixture of wind, snow and rain was much higher, and so we turned back to the Rallarvägen.
Walking was easy, but in the meanwhile the trail served as a drainage ditch for plenty of water. We did not care for any water any more now and walked right through these little streams. At 7 p.m. we reached Björkliden. No cabins to rent, everything closed. We hiked up to the Fjällhotel and got a room. Half an hour left until the sauna would close at 8 pm. We hurried, and after sauna we sat in the restaurant for dinner. Perhaps hard to understand, but we were quite pleased with everything. It had been the wettest of many days of vacation up here in the north, but it was also something to remember. And I would never hike through the rain any more without a shield for my backpack. We dried our clothes overnight, and at breakfast we were ready to make new plans.