Hiking the King’s trail

No food or recipes this time, instead some highlights from a week’s hiking along the King’s trail through the mountains of northern Sweden. There will be some pictures included of delicious food from this region though, to satisfy those of you who prefer cooking over hiking.

For foreign hikers coming to Sweden and exploring this region for the first time this must be as close to paradise as you can get. Not only for the enchanting and spectacular beauty, but also for the freedom to roam. This Right of Public Access (Allemansrätten) is a unique privilege which is not found in so many places outside the Nordic countries. It means you can hike, bike, swim, ski, pick flowers, berries and mushrooms freely almost everywhere and you can pitch a tent for 24 hours where you wish as long as you don’t do it in someone’s garden. But this privilege also requires respect and responsibility not to cause damages to cultivated land or interfere with or destroy life in the wild.

It is here, in Lapland, you find the last true wilderness in Europe. This is a sparsely populated region and those living here are mostly the native Sami people, of which some still live a life of reindeer herding, hunting and fishing. And it is through this vast area The King’s trail (Kungsleden) runs for about 440 km, connecting Abisko in the north with Hemavan in the south.

Together with three of our friends I and Devoted Husband had chosen to hike part of the trail the last week of the season, while the huts were still open. Some of the benefits of   walking this time of the year are the crystal clear air, you don’t have to fight the mosquitoes, you have the huts almost to yourself and the autumn colors are at its peak. Our choice was the 80 km stretch between Ammarnäs and Hemavan through the Nature Reserve of the Vindel Mountains. Here you find all kind of nature from alpine birch forests in the lower parts, through mountain moorland, U-shaped valleys, babbling brooks and waterfalls to snow-capped alpine peaks.

Ammarnäs

Here we are, ready to climb the mountains. Missing Viv is behind the camera.

 Ammarnäs is a small village with about 160 inhabitants situated at the end of the road and mostly known for its famous potato hill and fabulous fishing waters.

A last delicious meal before a week on freeze-dried food. This is fillet of reindeer, potato and parmesan cake and cream sauce with autumn chanterelle and lingonberries.

 

Ammarnäs – Hemavan

As the trail meanders upwards the temperature falls and the rain turns into snow.

The low clouds block what is said to be a stunning view over the valley.

Huts are dotted along the trail, all within a day’s walking distance (9 – 22 km), for overnight stay at a small fee. Most of the huts are operated by a “hut host/hostess” and have a small shop for refill of supplies. The huts are fairly comfortable but lack facilities like electricity or running water though. You have to saw and chop your own wood to heat the room and kitchen stove, and the water has to be fetched from a nearby creek.

We saw a lot of reindeers roaming around the mountain slopes, but they were very shy and difficult to catch without a tele photo lens.

The trail is well equipped with plank walkways covering wet marshland and swampy or rocky ground.

Passage over the first of five  footbridges across the islands in the southern archipelago of  Lake Tärnasjön.

Some of the trail marks look like grave stones, just lacking the inscription.

The U-shaped Syterskalet

When hiking the Swedish mountains you don’t need to carry drinking water along. Just stop at any stream or creek and fill up your bottle.

Autumn colors.

The last slope down to Hemavan……

… and a last tasty meal of pan-fried arctic char before hopping on the bus back to Stockholm.

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One thought on “Hiking the King’s trail

  1. What wonderful pictures. And reindeers are my favorite. Must be really majestic to hike as you guys did. You must be very fit to do all these hikes I assume. It is not easy with a steady incline like that. But with some arctic char at the goal line, it is all worth it.
    Gisela

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