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Lake 928 with Sulitjelma in background

 

Nordkalottleden Kvikkjokk - Pieskehaure - Staloluokta
(August 1999, 97 km, 6 days)
Part I: Kvikkjok - Tarrekaise - Pieskehaure

© Kurt Bangert and Carola Bläsing-Bangert

Tuesday, August 10: Jokkmokk - Kvikkjokk - Tarrekaise

We had planned a tour through Sarek National Park actually, but it was raining all day long, and the five-day forecast was easy to understand, even in Swedish:"Rain" for every one of the next five days. "Lots of water in the Sarek this year", they said in the Jokkmokk Tourist Info. Hikers coming from the Sarek reported just the opposite, but maybe it just was changing.

It was clear to us that there were only two possibilities: Either we would go on our Sarek tour, then it would probably rain for five days, or we would not go into the Sarek, then the weather would probably improve a lot in contrast to the forecast. We chose the second option. Another tour that we had planned in the future was the southern part of Nordkalottleden. One branch of this 800 km-trail starts in Kvikkjokk, leads to Tarrekaise on Padjelantaleden, then via Pieskehaure and Staddajåkkå back to Staloluokta on Padjelantaleden, and you can take a helicopter back to Kvikkjokk. We would hike this one. If it would really rain for five days, we would at least sit in a cabin in the evening. And the trail guaranteed loneliness and beautiful landscapes, just what we wanted to find in the Sarek.

At 9.45 a.m. the bus left Jokkmokk bus station. We met some Germans in the bus. Time passed quickly with conversations, and around noon we and the other hikers got off the bus at the supermarket in Kvikkjokk. There were 40 minutes left to the scheduled departure of the boat to Padjelantaleden, and so we went to the STF-Fjällstation to weigh our backpacks at the scale and to look around in the shop. My backpack had 20 kg, not so bad, regarding the lots of provisions that we had with us. I wanted to know how much the camera bag would add - I shouldn't have done that - now it showed a total of 24 kg. They did not have the "Fjällhandbok" in the shop, and there were not sandwiches, so we returned to the boat landings very soon without adding more weight.

Boat to Padjelantaleden

There were six people in the boat, among them Klaas and Julie from Germany. Björn Sarstadt, who drove our boat, made a sightseeing trip to a branch of the Tarraätno before he headed for the landing place at Padjelantaleden. We jumped off, sorted our luggage and eventually went on the hike at 2 p.m. - a bit late, but it would not get dark.

Padjelantaleden near Njunjes

The trail is rather flat and leads through the jungle-like birch tree forest along Tarraätno. It was easy to walk and not very muddy in spite of the rain. Without much effort we reached Njunjesstugan, where we made a short rest. There were beds available in the cabin, but according to our plan, we had to reach Tarrekaise today.

The trail ascends rather steep for a few hundred meters. I had overlooked this ascent in the map, because the word "Njunjesstugan" was printed over it. it was stoney there and we sweated in the damp air. Sometimes, the plants reached up to our shoulder, and it did not take long until the mud creeped slowly upwards from the shoes, and our trousers became wet. But there were only 3 km left now to Tarrekaisestugan, and it did not make sense to put on the raingear.

Ingrid Brinkmann, stugvärd in Tarrekaisestugan, greeted us very friendly. Although it was 7.30 p.m., we were the only guests in the cabin, so there was a lot of space for us. She was happy that we would go to Pieskehaure, because she had three letters for the stugvärds there, and she had already been afraid that no one would take this way before the end of the season. We spent a wonderful evening in the quiet cabin.

Wednesday August 11, Tarrekaise-Vaimok

It would be a long hike today anyway, so we did not hurry. At 10 a.m. we were ready for the trail. We followed Padjelantaleden for about 3 km to the trail fork that leads to a bridge across Tarraätno. The following short trail section was not marked very well, and the trail was not clearly visible. We missed to cross a little stream, probably followed a moose path instead, and soon we stood at the banks of Tarraätno, saw the bridge not far away and had to look for the way back.

On the other side of Tarraätno near the bridge is Tarraälvshyddan, one of the oldest STF cabins with an age of about 100 years.

The trail has an ascent of 500 m now, the largest one of the tour. We passed the treeline in a slow pace and reached the highland after one and a half hours.

Tarraätno with Tarrekaise from the East

After we had passed the steepest part, we put off our backpacks and enjoyed the view on Tarredalen. Today was August 11, 1999, shouldn't there be the last solar eclipse of this millenium ? We were far away from all newspapers, and during the preparations for our tour I did not have the time to inform about the details. I did not know whether we could see it up here, at 70 degrees northern latitude. We lay on the back in the grass and watched two layers of clouds that moved in opposite directions.

Solar eclipse, August 11, 1999 in Kuravagge

Suddenly a gap opened, and there was the solar eclipse. Due to the clouds, we did not need filters, and so we observed how the moon obscured the sun in a very slow process. It would have been nice to stay here and watch this rare sight, but there were at least 12 more km to go. We had to move on and could only look back from time to time.

Nordkalottleden near Kurajaure

The path had been easy to walk so far, there were even some boardwalks, but now we had to pass rocky places. It was cool and it started to rain. At 3 p.m. we reached the Kurajaure shelter and went inside. But it was not much warmer here than outside, and we would cool down if we stayed here for a longer rest.

We had nine more kilometres to walk, and now there was rain, head wind and more rocks.

Trail near Vaimokstugan

At 6 p.m. we saw Vaimokstugan just 2 km ahead. But there was one more rocky section cross. Whoever had marked the trail, he had given up at this place. It was everybody's own choice over which rocks he or she would step. The cabin was so close that we expected to reach it in minutes, but it took us about one hour to master the final two kilometres.

Nine hours, quite a long trip. The evening was nice. Again, we were the only guests. A fire warmed up the room, and we sat together with the stugvärd and talked about almost everything in the world. Very tired, we went to bed late.

Thursday, August 12, Vaimok - Pieskehaure

Today we needed a while longer to pack our backpacks. We still felt the efforts of yesterday. We were ready at 10.30 in the morning, and today's ascent started right at Vaimokstugan, steep (at least if you are carrying a backpack), but easy to walk. It took us about an hour to get up. The trail passed near the summit of 1100 m, and temperatures around zero and a strong wind awaited us.

View on Sulitjelma from Vaimokpakte

The following descent was easy, it got warmer, and we walked in the sunshine for a while. For the first time we could see the Sulitjelma - Glacier in the distance. At a little wooden bridge down in Vaimokvagge we took a rest, and the sunshine was warm behind a big rock that shielded us from the wind. There were good campsites in the nearby.

Lake 928 (in the background)

Near lake 928, where other hikers had camped, another ascent of about 150 m started.

Sulitjelma Varvekjaure

From the slope of Muoranjunnje the views were fantastic. The Sulitjelma - Glacier was impressive, though we saw only part of it. We also overlooked the valley called Varvekråttå, along which we would hike in the following days to Staddajåkkå from Pieskehaure. We crossed the Sami path that went directly from here to Staddajåkkå. It was marked with stones like our trail, but without red dots on the stones.

For a while we had a pleasant downward hike, until we reached the ford at Adamvalta.

In former years there had been a bridge, but it was frequently destroyed in spring, and eventually it had not been rebuilt. The ford marked in the map was not valid any more, a new one was marked about one kilometer upstream. It was easy to cross the river at this time of the year just by jumping from stone to stone. But after we had crossed the river, the trail markings ceased, and now we stumbled through a hilly moor.

While it rained, we saw the cabins not far away against the light of the sun. As at Vaimokstugan, the last two kilometers seemed to be the worst of this day. The illumination of the scene was fascinating - and also the thoughts of a bastu and perhaps a beer. At 7 p.m. we had made it and entered the cabin.

The couple who lived here as cabin wardens was happy to see us. Since some days we were the only guests. We handed over the letters that we had carried from Tarrekaise. Did we want to go to the bastu ? Yes, we would like that.

It took some time until we had prepared our dinner, and the sauna was heated not before 10 p.m. There were comfortable facilities, a plastic tank could be filled with warm water from the sauna stove and the pressurized with a pump, and so we had a real warm shower. We cleaned up finally , and it was already after midnight when we creeped into our sleeping bags. Nine hours of hiking, the sauna bath and a Lapinkulta - I was really exhausted now, and I knew that we could not do a strenous hike tomorrow. Fortunately, Pieskehaure seemed to be the right place for a day of rest.

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