Dark bruised clouds are draped over the high summits. Occasionally the clouds part momentarily to reveal a fresh dusting of snow on the mountains’ upper ramparts. Lower down in the valley, I sit in my tent listening to the amplified drum beat of steady rain (July 10, 2020).
Having explored the southern half of Sarek national park in northern Sweden last summer (see an earlier blog post), a window of opportunity unexpectedly opened up this July for me to visit the northern part. Record levels of snow in the winter and high meltwater conditions in the rivers meant that the trekking season started later this year. Not only that, but with the coronavirus, it seemed that there were far fewer foreign hikers in the mountains. STF cabins (Sweden’s tourism and hostel association) had also imposed restrictions, including the need to book cabins in advance.
Crossing the reservoir Akkajaure in a boat taxi from Ritsem, I started my solo eight-day trek in Änonjalme amid warm and sunny conditions. The weather would soon change, however, to the cool and overcast conditions typical for Sarek; it would rain for six days of the trip, though luckily not continuously. Finishing in Saltoluokta, my route took me through Guohpervagge and Basstavagge – two of Sarek’s main valleys running west to east. I also scaled three of the area’s peaks, including up to 1806m in the Ähpar massif.
Despite having travelled here for twenty years now, Sarek never fails to impress with its dramatic scenery and wilderness character.
- The large reindeer herds grazing in Guohpervagge. I encountered three Sami reindeer herders camped here with their dogs.
- Hiking through Basstavagge with its steep valley walls and hanging niche glaciers.
- The view from Favoritplåtan in the Ähpar massif with some of Sweden’s most alpine scenery and the everchanging grey-to-turquoise hues of the lake Bierikjavrre.
- Being divebombed three times by an Arctic skua (I quickly passed through its territory).
- The weight of my rucksack (around 27kg). In the future I hope to invest in more lightweight equipment. See this excellent article (in Swedish) by Claes Grundsten on his lightweight Sarek tour in 2016.
- Hiking through difficult terrain (marsh, willow thickets, boulders) and heavy rain showers from the bridge over Guhkesvakkjåhkka to Slugga at the western end of Pietsaure.