New Adventures in Lapland

We talk to Robens fan Sonny Kjaerside about his August 2012 trekking trip to Lapland and ask what it is that continues to draw him to the wilds of Sweden.

Can you tell us a little about your Lapland trip and did you go on your own this time?

My last trip to Lapland was from 12-22 August 2012 with my longtime trekking friend, Buller. We went to the northern part of the Abisko Fjells to revisit old haunts and explore an area new to us.

We started at Riksgränsen, near the border with Norway, crisscrossed south between Sweden and Norway following the track that we did some years ago. We then turned south-east into Hoiganvaggi where we had missed a good part some years ago due to bad weather. This time the weather was very good, with sunshine and up to 18˚C. At the southern part of Hoiganvaggi we turned east and risked an old plan to cross the fjells to find the track from Abiskojaure to Kårsavagge. That worked out fine and we found a good campsite from where we could see Abeskojávri 488m and a good part of the famous Kungsleden among numerous fjell tops and valleys.

In the evening we had a good view from our 900m high spot of the dramatic change of weather. Slowly all the valleys filled up with fog that came creeping in from the big lake Torneträsk to the north-east and before long we were totally hidden in fog and could not see further than 10m. This was, of course, not good for our planned crossing to Kårsavagge at 1,150m the next day.

Next morning the valleys were still filled with fog but we had fine sunshine at the top and managed to cross the fjell to Kårsavagge where the weather was fine.
We found a nice campground by the lake Gorsajávri but in the evening we were all swallowed up by fog again. So we were back to worrying whether we could climb up to Guoblavággi the next day or if we had to change our plans.

The initial plan was to explore the fjells north of Kårsavággi and to get there we had chosen the steepest climb which goes up to Guoblavággi (from 696m to 1,130m). With fog this would not be wise, so we hoped for better weather for the next day. Luck was with us again and the next morning all the fog had gone and after lunch we reached the spot where the way up to Guoblavàggi started. Still no fog, so we started the climb which was kind of not very easy. There is hardly any discernible routes, just small heaps of stones to mark the best way up. Looking upwards these are not easy to find and a 28kg rucksack doesn't make it any easier.

We managed to get to the top and enjoyed a wonderful view over Kårsavággi. Unfortunately the beauty didn't last long. The weather changed again and before long we were all covered with fog. We continued through Guoblavággi, which is mostly big rocks, small lakes, ice and snow and hardly any tracks to follow but some painted spots on a rock now and then. At times we had some short strays of sunshine that helped us see the beauty of the place.

The lack of any suitable ground on which to pitch even our small tent meant we had to continue our trek in the clag until something showed up. The plan was to turn east halfway past a small lake where we hoped to find a pitch, but we never found the way. We became disorientated but suddenly we spotted something strange in the fog looking like a roof and a chimney. And yes – we practically walked directly on to the Låktatjåkkastugan mountain hut, three to four kilometers north of where we should have turned east. This was a welcome find and we paid a visit to its ‘highest’ bar in Lapland. A cozy fireplace and a pint of beer turned out to be the contrast of the day. And the Låktatjåkkastugan itself is a contrast to all other huts in the Lapland fjells. It is run by a restaurant at the Ski resort Björkliden from where trekkers fancy taking the 12km trek to enjoy a nice stay in the high fjells.

After a week in the outdoors we could not stand to stay indoors for more than a beer, so we continued along the new route in direction towards Björkliden – still with no more than ten to 20m visibility.

To our right we could hear a river down the valley, so when we finally found a spot for our tent we could head towards the noise to find water for dinner. As we could not see very much, only hear, getting lost in the process was a problem. This was solved by one of us stopping at, what we thought to be, halfway down to the river while the other went down to fetch the water.

The next morning we woke up to the finest sunshine and blue sky and discovered that we had found a very nice camp ground. Our new way down to Björkliden was beautiful easy to trek, except for a few snowfields. From Björkliden we went south, again down to Kårsavagge, where we found a good campsite that we used some years ago. This was our last night in the fjells and time to check the departure time for the train the next day – which we missed by five minutes having lost all concept of time during our adventures.

People often ask how far we go on average per day. A good rule for planning tours in that area is 12km a day. Ten days will be about 120km with every third day as a rest day. In some places you can easily go 20 to 25km a day and in other five or six km will be a good day’s work. We often don't have rest days but prefer to explore more places and do less distance each day. But it is always a good idea to have room for a spare day in case of accidents or bad weather.

You have been to Lapland numerous times – what is it that makes you return so often?

I like the beauty and roughness of the nature up there – especially up in the high fjells. It is quite easy to get to remote areas where there is no cellphone access and to find a spot with nobody else but you and nature. You have to be well prepared for every kind of weather, so your equipment and skills will be a sport in itself. I like the freedom of the Swedish law called Allemannsretten, which means that you can camp everywhere if you obey the written rules of behavior, such as distance to private property, fire and not disturbing nature etc. 

I know you have already planned your next trip to Lapland – but when and where will you be up there experiencing more outdoor adventures?

Yes – I'm going back to Abisko in October. I had planned to go alone this year but my good trekking friend, Buller, has changed his mind and will join me again, so we will go back to the part that we missed in the fog and in addition explore the Siellanvággi and Ballinvággi south and east of the Giron mountain.

Thanks to Sonny and we wish him the best of luck on his next trip to Sweden’s wilderness. We look forward to talk to Sonny again and to show more photos from his amazing adventures in Lapland.

Check out why and how Sonny plans his trips here