I love the very north of Sweden. This is the mountain area called "Fjällen" and home to some of Swedens most amazing National Parks (Abisko, Padjelanta, Sarek and Stora Sjöfallet). Endless areas of wilderness, perfect for making multi-day hikes.
We love to go to this area and hike, all from a week up to two week-long hiking trips. On average you can find us in the very north of Sweden each other year putting on our hiking shoes and strapping on our backpacks ready to absorb the vast landscape. This is our a story about our first trip to the Fjällen.
We wake up with grey skies, but the rain of the previous evening has blown over and I sense that this might become a nice sunny day. For now there is still this chill in the air and the sky is grey, but I don't really care. We are on a dream spot; I just love it here so much. The Mountain Hut at Rádunjárga is located on such a wonderful place; right at the lake, beside a little stream. The mountains are surrounding us and there is this quietness, peacefulness which gives this strange sensation of inner peace and happiness..... sigh, it is so hard to explain in just a few words....
Some birds fly around playfully, the air smells fresh and green. I hear the sound of the little stream beside our shelter, and in the distance I hear the more thunderous sound of the waterfall on the other side of the lake. And maybe more intriguing is the sound of 'nothing'. No people, no cars, not even in the very distance, as a mumble in the background.... just nothing; nothing besides wonderful nature sounds surrounding me.
Soon I am going to say goodbye to all this. And right here, at this very moment I also realize how much I love it here in the Fjällen. A special place, a place where the mind comes to ease, one can think again, clear in the head. It is also a place where you realize how huge nature is, and how small you are. There is nothing out there, just you, your partner and the immense beautiful nature. I wash myself at the cold stream beside the shelter, brrrr, such cold water! It is melting water of the snow from the mountains. But luckily I have some warm water boiled on the fireplace with me, which makes this into a luxury experience. Strange how quickly you get used to primitive circumstances. I do miss my electricity,and my tap with running warm water, but on the other hand..... I guess I just don't miss it all. It feels good, it feel right to be here without all that.
Our day continues, our trip moves on. We pack our backpacks and hoist them back onto our backs. It feels heavy at first. But maybe my heart feels heavier than that. I need to say goodbye to Rádunjárga, a place that has found a special place in my heart.
Before us lie new adventures, many kilometres of amazing landscape to hike through.... there is no time to be sad of leaving this dream spot: I am eager to look ahead and see what more the Fjällen have in store for me.......
With me is my travel partner, hubby and love Åke. It is so amazing we both love hiking like this just as much. We look at each other and smile. Let's move on.... only 7 kilometres to go and we are in Alesjaure! On my back is my backpack and my always present little mascot and travelling bear called Nalle. Yes, life is good!
Only a short hike from our shelter we come across this strange looking tepee at the lakeside. This tepee is a shelter for the people that want to cross the lake by boat and shortcut the hike to Alesjaure by about 7 kilometres. The boat only goes a couple of times a day, and this tepee-shaped shelter makes the waiting more bearable on those rainy and windy days. Most people hike from Abiskojaure to Alesjaure in one day and being able to shortcut this rather long hike is a great solution for many.
I thought of doing this, especially yesterday evening when I was feeling so tired and stiff in my whole body. But this morning I just smile, look at the tepee and think... nooooo! I am here to hike, to enjoy nature in a different way, take it slow and easy and breathe in and absorb all I see on my way. Coincidence brings that the boat just arrives to pick up a passenger when we are at the tepee. They look at us and shout from the boat...... "do you want to come along?" "Nooo", we shout back, while shaking our heads. We wave and they wave back, and only seconds after that the boat whizzes off in the distance.
There, right ahead, at the end of the lake is our end destination for the day: The Mountain Hut of Alesjaure. We could have been there in 10 minutes by boat; we opt to hike there instead, which will probably take us a few hours to do. "Come, let's go" we say to each other. Another smile, we feel happy....
Here you can see the boat to Alesjaure Mountain Hut whizz off in the distance. The boat crosses over to Alesjaure a couple of times a day:
The boat departs from:
Alesjaure at: 10:00, 15:00. 17:00 and 18:30
Hiking trail at: 10:30, 15:30, 17:30 and 19:00
Between 8 am and 8 pm you can order extra tours in addition to the regular tours. There is a phone at the tepee that you can use ( I think that is soooo funny, hahaha)
Don't forget to raise the yellow flag when you are waiting for the boat. They can see the flag from Alesjaure and this way they know someone is waiting for the boat and they will cross over the lake to get you.
The cost of the boat trip is about 120 SEK if I remember correctly. That is approx. 15 - 16 USD / 12 - 13 Euro.
PS: These boats only go during the peak season of the summer: July and August.
The hike towards Alesjaure follows the Lake Alisjávri all the way to the end. The trail is easy to do for the most part, a few bit of ups and down, but nothing serious. It is either a small but smooth pathway (as you can see in the picture) or the trail is made out of walking planks where the area is a bit swampier. The views over the sparkling blue lake and surrounding landscape are just wonderful. And once in a while you will pass some big boulders, which are ideal to sit on and take a rest. Some of these boulders are located a bit higher up and closer to the lake, which are the perfect picnic spot, coffee break areas or you can just use them as a lazy place to enjoy the wonderful views over the lake.
Here I sit with a big smile on my face. I am enjoying today so much! It feels great to know today is only going to be a short hike; no pressures at all of making it in time for our next camping spot. I can just relax, take some photos (so far that is possible with a clumsy heavy backpack, hahaha) and enjoy the surroundings. The temperatures are still rather chilly at the moment, but it is slowly warming up.
Another surprise and another good one. Not only is there a huge amount of flowers here, there are also many species of birds. Along this part of the Kungleden you can even see a few sort of birds you normally see close to the sea. The large lakes here attract lots of different types of birdlife. I heard fjällpipare and almost stumbled over a whole family of fjällripare here. Besides that I saw many many more birds. Too many to mention and also too many to remember them all ;-)
Oops.... the easy hiking stops just here. In front of us is a little stream with just one plank over it. And I have this heavy backpack on my back which makes me not so sure about my balance. It shouldn't be so difficult to cross, if it wasn't for this %¤! backpack!
The distance is too long to cross it in just one or two steps; I really need to keep track of my balance here. A worried look. Can you feel I am nervous? Yes, I am nervous! Very nervous! Not that it is so bad if I would fall in the water. I would get wet, hmmmmm.... not a good idea, but I would survive it! But then again: I could twist my ankle too! Absolutely NOT a good idea being so far away from everything. Okay Simone... now don't be so stupid. It is just a little plank a few metres to cross, no big deal? Or?? More nervous...... Why isn't there a normal bridge here??! This is the Kungsleden! The hiking highway through the mountains! There should be a normal bridge here, I reason on. Hahaha, how little did I know then of the challenges that would cross my path later on during my hike.
Looking to the left for other ways to cross this little stream... nothing. No options on the right either. No other planks that can come to the rescue. Okay, I guess I just have to cross it then. Åke is already on the other side of the stream, hahaha, piece of cake for him of course. Here we go.... one, two, take a deep breath...... and yes, I made it in one piece to the other side. Of course I didn't get any wet feet or twisted ankles. That is all just in your head. A lesson you will learn in the Fjällen is that you can do much more than you ever thought. And this little bridge was just the beginning for me....
How moods can change so quickly. One moment I am in doubt and very nervous and the next: well; I just feel so happy, cheerful and relaxed. Only a few metres from the previous stream we cross another one. An easy crossing this time...phew :-)
My eyes follow the stream and up there, on the mountain, I see this waterfall. I have to go there!! I decide. So I just toss off my backpack there and then and shout to Åke, who is a few metres behind me, "I am going to climb up the mountain to take some pictures of that waterfall!!!" I laugh and I continue to explain: "We've got alllll the time in the world today! It's only a few more kilometres to Alesjaure!" "Byeee!" Hahaha, a stunned look by Åke and a big smile :-) "Wait, I'll follow you!" he shouts back while taking off his backpack as well. Too late! I am already charging up that mountain with the camera in my hand.
I follow the little stream upwards and make my way through the high grass and flower fields. It is so beautiful here! I suddenly realize that I am gasping for air: oops, this is steeper and higher than I thought! More walking up the hill, but now in a slower pace. my heart is beating loud and my lungs feel heavy. Hahaha, don't give up now! You're almost there! Åke catches up with me by now and we walk the last little bit together. The valley lies below us, and from above we hear the roaring sound of the waterfall. Yes, it is every bit as wonderful as I hoped it would be.
Look at that view! Isn't it stunning! The clear blue colour of the Lake Alisjávri and the sound of the roaring waterfall beside us, The little stream working its way down into the valley. The green fields and the blue sky.... yes, you see that right: a blue sky!
The sun has come out by now. I can feel the warmth right away and everything seems to cheer up instantly! The mountains are green, there are bits of snow on top of the mountain, and even here on the edges of the waterfall lies snow and ice. And the lake, yes the lake is amazingly blue. It might be quite a climb up, but it is so worth it!!! We sit down for a while to take it all in before we start our descent down again.
Most people have asked me how much I have hiked during my trip. But to be honest: does it really matter? Does distance matter? Is it better to have hiked 200 kilometres instead of a 100?
A strange question maybe, but it is something to think about. Moments, like the one I described in the previous tip, are the moments to remember. It is all about to feel the Fjällen, to experience the Fjällen.
"The longest travel is the one getting here". Do take off that backpack so once in a while and just enjoy all you see around you. And when planning a trip: don't only focus on what you can hike on a day (if you want you can hike endlessly), but please plan in some days (and afternoons) to give you the opportunity to just sit, relax, and take it all in. It will make your 'fjäll' experience so much more amazing. Oohh.... and it might rain once in a while here too, hahaha, and in that case a resting day is good as well, lol ;-)
The photo you see is taken about 4 kilometres (or maybe even less) before Alesjaure. And that little dot in the picture: yes, hahaha, that is me! :-) And I feel so very happy. The landscape is beautiful, and I love this hiking experience. It is my first time going on a long hiking trip like this, being away from the world for more than a week, and I just love it! For today we have one BIG obstacle left, but with my cheerful mood, that is not going to be any problem..... or?... is it??..... ;-)
Oops obstacle.... another stream.... and a BIG one this time! And uuuuhhh..... where is the bridge???? Mmmmm, no bridge..... *Thinking*...... this must be what they call a "vad" in Swedish, hahaha, a river without a bridge! So take of your shoes, put on some shorts, sandals, and yep...... we are going to wade through ice-cold freezing water!!!
I still feel cheerful, even after realizing I have to cross this river; I feel I can do this. Åke seems confident and without any doubt, and that gives me a good feeling. Standing on the edge of the stream I look up, and I see the snow on top of the mountain that has produced all this water, brrrrr! The water looks so cold!!! The stream is rather wide, 10 to 15 metres, but the water only gets halfway to the knees and the current isn't so strong. Carefully I make my way through the water over the rocky surfice below it. And yes, it is just as cold as I feared it would be! But I clear it with a smile and a laugh :-) Piece of cake! :-)) My feet feel numb of the cold, but I feel happy. I passed this new challenge without any problems. I feel more and more confident with every hour I hike. So many things I never dreamed of doing before, and here I am, doing it, and enjoying it to the fullest. I dry of my feet and change back into my hiking shoes again. I feel relaxed and enjoy the warm sunshine on my face.....
From here on it is an easy hike to Alesjaure. Estimated arrival time 2 o'clock in the afternoon.... that gives us plenty of time to relax, enjoy the views and do a little exploring of the surroundings.....
As we had the afternoon off in Alesjaure, we decided to take some time to explore the surrounding area. Close to Alesjaure is a little Sami village called Alisjávri, beautifully located on the lake with the same name.
"Alisjávri" means "Alesjaure", but spelled in Sami. And the word "jávri" or "jaure" means lake. So it is Alis or Ales Lake :-) Reading maps can be quite confusing in this area though, because the names are sometimes spelled in Sami and sometimes in Swedish on the same map.
From the Alesjaure Mountain Lodge you can see the Sami village. It looks picturesque with its colourful houses beside the blue lake. You can't really walk to the village, because there is a little creek you have to cross to get here. But we were not so eager to visit it. There wouldn't be so much to see, it is quite your normal village, but one or two more unusual building, that are / were typical for the Sami.
But who are the Sami?
The Sami are an ethnic minority and the indigenous people of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. The area the Sami inhabited, today called Sápmi and it stretches from Idre in Dalarna in the south, to the Kola Peninsula in Russia to the northeast. I'll tell you a bit more about the Sami in my "Background Info" pages.
The warmest welcome I had was here, at the Mountain Hut at Alesjaure. We arrived very early in the day (around 1:30 or 2 or something like that). Most hikers don't arrive before 4 o'clock in the afternoon, so it was rather quiet at the Mountain Hut. But the welcome of the staff was so nice and heart warming. I felt at home here right away!
You can camp at the Mountain Hut itself, but they were very friendly and gave us the tip that camping just outside the Mountain Hut area would be for free! A perfect combination of having the luxury of the Hut in the area, but without paying the camping fee. So nice of them! So that's what we did! We crossed the bridge over the river and set up our tent. A big and good lunch was prepared in the kitchen and we enjoyed a lazy afternoon.
Sitting on a little bench in front of the mountain hut we looked down on the surrounding area. Down there, just across the hanging bridge, a bit to the left at the river you can see a tiny blue dot.... our tent and resting place for the night. It's quite the climb up and down to the mountain hut, but it is just perfect. It was nice and quiet down there, and we found a rather secluded spot, away from all the other tents. And from up here, on this little bench in front of the Hut, you have stunning views over the valley.
Looking a bit more to the right (compared to the previous picture), you have this amazing view. It somehow reminded me of the photos I have seen about Rapadalen in Sarek National Park. A park that is said to be one of the most amazing of them all and one of the last true wilderness in Europe. I am sure that Rapadalen is much more grand than the view I have here, but it must have a bit of the same feeling. The two rivers splitting up, a wide valley, an amazing view. Sarek must be so amazing! No other area in Europe has equally large quantities of unbroken and monumental wilderness.
Sitting here and looking over this landscape I start dreaming of Sarek. How much I would love to visit this place. But it is much more of a wilderness there, compared to hiking here along the Kungsleden Hiking trail. There are no real hiking trails there, no mountain huts, just endless nature..... one day, I promised myself.... And as difficult terrain as this may sound, it is not an impossible dream and trip either! The park is quite doable I heard. It just need more planning and a bit more experience. So some day I'll write to you here about Rapadalen and Sarek National Park.... This is what I promised myself :-)))
Okay, I think I've been lazy enough! Filled with new energy after a great lunch, a nice rest with amazing views, it is time to put on our hiking shoes again. The view you see is taken from the mountain hut. The direction the photo is taken towards, is the direction we are going to hike to! We first considered to go towards the glacier on the other side of the lake, higher up in the mountains, as this the place where the moose are hiding out in the summer season, looking for the colder areas (strange animals, hahaha, going to look for the cold on such a nice summer day!). I would love to see the moose, but climbing a long way up the mountain didn't seem the thing to do for this afternoon. So we opted hike in the opposite direction and take an easier trail, hoping I would spot the moose on another time during our trip.
It was so wonderful to hike without my backpack! Hahaha, amazing feeling to be without it! With more energy than I thought I would have after todays hike, we walked for a few kilometres towards the Sami village. The way back we took a more challenging route, making up our on route, climbing straight up a hill. The views are again amazing! The mosquitoes for once a pest, hahaha, and I felt more like a climbing goat then a hiker :-) But fun it was.
There are many nice hike to do from Alesjaure Mountain Hut, so this place is excellent to stay over for an extra day, and make a daytrip in and around the area. The perfect chance to go out without your heavy backpack and just take a lighter daypack with you.
On the way back to the Mountain Hut we found a nice big stone to sit on and relax. From here we had some great views over the landscape and also towards the Mountain Hut and its sauna. Hahaha, we actually had 'front row seat' to see some fun sauna behavior, looool :-) In the picture you can see the sauna (bastu) of Alesjaure, we sat on the right side of it, across the river.
The sauna here is a quite popular and maybe even a 'must do'.... oops, I didn't, hahaha, but I wanted to! Maybe next time :-))..... After having sweated it out for a while inside the sauna it is time to cool off in the freezing waters of the river below (that's the icy blue water you see on the right side of the picture). The way to get there is to take the many steps down the hill and they just jump into the freezing water. The sauna costs 50 SEK to use and the bathing is for free :-)) The front row seats we had costs about 100 SEK, hahaha, that was what we were told jokingly anyway when we got back to the Mountain Hut, loooool :-) Unfortunately we didn't have any brave bathers when we were sitting there watching. They didn't get any deeper into the water than up to their ankles.... A thing I can understand. But heeej... if you do the sauna-thing, do take that dip in the water too! It's part of the whole experience :-))
It is said that the sauna in Alesjaure is rather good. It's a mixed sauna and it opens up I think around 5 in the afternoon. If you are an early visitor to the Mountain Hut they might fire up the sauna a bit earlier for you.
Alesjaure.... a place for me to remember and a place I long to visit again. For me this picture says it all, the beauty of the landscape, the tranquallity: a dreamspot. Seeing this picture I can feel the crisp cold of the mountains in the air, but at the same time the warmths of the sun on my face. The quietness, birds flying free in the sky, a bird singing in the distance, the sound of the water flowing rapidly in the creek, the smell of the green meadow. The colours ranging for blue to bright green, topped off with some patches of white in form of snow in the mountains. Alesjaure is a place where body and mind can come to rest, far away from the rest of the world.
A last tip about Alesjaure and a forewarning of tomorrows day to come. Our day has come to an end at Alesjaure and tomorrow we are off to Unna Allakas. A trip I am looking forward to with anticipation, but also a bit nervously, as I also know this is going to be one of the hardest parts of our journey. Today the day ends with a beautiful blue sky, but also with winds that are picking up quickly. The night is going to be a cold one, the temperatures do go down quickly at the end of the day. But luckily it is rather warm in my sleeping bag, that can handle the cold well. The wind though is another story. The tent is not quite made for these weather conditions and creaks and moves under the pressure of the wind. I wonder what it would be like tomorrow when we hike further up into the mountain, while I look worried at the flag, waving energetically in the wind......
Simone & Åke, Alesjaure, Sweden, July 2005
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