One of the most famous trails in Sweden is the Kungsleden in the very north. The Northern Kungsleden is the popular one, stretching about 450km from Abisko to Hemavan. It’s been on my bucket list for a while and since I was already in Sweden for the Jåmtland Outdoor Experience, I wanted to hike at least a part of it. I was limited to 5 days and had a hard time figuring out which part I want to do and mainly how to get to the entrance and exit points – from Östersund. In the end I settled on about 113km from Abisko to Nikkaluokta (some 19km off trail but often people hike this part as it’s easy to get there). Not many kilometers for 5 days, but my hope is that the weather is good enough so that I can also summit the Kebnekaise, the highest peak in Sweden with some 2100m. This would be a full day leaving me just about time to do everything and no bad weather extra day.
Kungsleden day 1. 14km.
Some 18h train ride from Östersund I finally arrive at 2.45pm in Abisko. Thanks to the plugs at every seat all my batteries are now fully charged, except for myself due to the lack of sleep in the train.
Nevertheless the plan is to start hiking right away. And so I do, I am full of motivation as it’s a beautiful sunny day and I have had enough of sitting around. About 25 other hikers get off as well in Abisko and some also start hiking right away. I won’t be on my own on this trail for sure.
The trail goes through birch trees and up here in the north, the autumn has already full started so I can enjoy all wonderful golden colours. Just after a few hundred metres the first highlight, an impressive canyon.
As there is supposed to be plenty of water and my backpack feels heavy with the food for 5 days, I decide that I will just leave my cup out and drink whenever I cross a river. Luckily here in Sweden no need to filter the water. And it turns out this method is perfect for me today (and the coming days) there’s always water somewhere.
I meet a few people coming the other way, less walking my way. It’s so great to be hiking again just on my own, my backpack, my little tent, my feet walking and walking. I realise how I calm down again, become relaxed. How I missed to be out in the nature just by myself. Just yesterday I was a bit worried if I am ready again for hiking and camping 5 days, I still feel more like catching up on being comfortable and having nice food. But right now everything feels perfect! I walk and enjoy the view, the colours, the sun.
A few hours pass by and I can now see the hut at the lake. The campsites there have to be paid for and also tonight I prefer to be on my own, so I continue another 1-2km further to the end of the national park. From here on we can now camp anywhere.
It’s close to 7pm, I didn’t sleep much last night and I am hungry so I stop at the next river at a place where obviously people camped before. I set up my tent and want to cook dinner but the mosquitos are killing me. They even bite in my face. So all I do is cook water, throw everything in my tent and have then dinner inside, mosquitos outside. Luckily I can still enjoy the view from inside my tent! Early I go to sleep, hoping it won’t get too cold tonight.
Kungsleden day 2.
After a very good night of sleep (it was so silent!), I wake up at 6.45am but stay in my tent for a while longer before preparing a big pott of tea, followed by porridge and coffee. The weather looks again great, I am feeling warm already as I start to walk at 8.30am. After a few hundred metres I realise that I actually camped accidentally inside the national park, I thought I was out, but the sign is quite obvious and also there’s a tentsite with a handful of tents… Oups!
A little uphill then, with great views to the second Meditation Place. I can’t understand what is written on the stones marking the place but it looks beautiful!
Then I walk on and on, a lot of planks help my feet stay dry through wetland and over rivers (Where were these in New Zealand on the Te Araroa???). Every now and then I meet other hikers but it’s far from being crowded (and will be even more empty in the afternoon). I pass a small lake with beautiful mountain reflections and a herd of reindeers, a few Sami houses and walk on more planks to the bigger lake.
There’s a point where in the season you can order the boat from the hut at the opposite side to pick you up for about 35€!!! Or you just walk some 4-km for 0€. A little later at 12.30pm I decide it’s lunch time and find a place sheltered from the wind. While the sun is still shining, the wind is very strong in between calmer episodes and then it gets quite cold. Anyway, it’s not more than 10 degrees.
Reenergized I continue to hike, pass by the huts and admire from outside how fancy they look inside (but it’s so expensive also!). Another bigger Sami village on the other side of the lake.
And further on I hike, it’s rather flat, only a bit up and downhill with an on and off of my rain jacket depending how strong the wind is. My feet hurt and I can feel blisters coming. The sky gets clearer and clearer as the clouds disappear, however the wind gets stronger. Another break, then more planks.
I can now see the next hut. I wasn’t sure where to camp as the next hut is just before the pass. I don’t want to camp too high as it will be colder and I don’t feel strong enough today to make it over the pass and further down. So I decide to check the hilly countryside for a sheltered place and stay here. It’s difficult, the wind is everywhere so I end up just pitching my tent where it feels best. But it’s still very windy and my tent is not dealing well with wind, plus it means it will be even colder tonight! It’s 5.30pm and I don’t have any other choice (well, for my next trips to colder regions I really need a 4 season tent!)… The light is beautiful nevertheless and the sunset magical.
I watch it while cooking dinner from inside my tent (yummy, mushroom soup with couscous and dried tomatoes) before sneaking in my sleeping bag. As I am a bit off trail there’s no one but me and I enjoy the solitude. Today I had so much time while walking to “sort” my mind, think about everything that happened since I came back from my time out. How well everything developped and so many pieces of the puzzle came together. I really like how hiking clears up my mind and I make a note to myself that I should try once a month to go for a weekend hike.
I am now again a bit scared about how cold it will be tonight! No clouds and higher altitude, it will be colder than last night! But otherwise I don’t have any fears, I enjoy camping on my own, listening to music and singing without anyone hearing me. It’s completely silent here, besides the river no noise, no wildlife, no birds waking me up in the morning.