Days 4-5: Guhkesvágge – Álggavágge

Day 4: Guhkesvágge – Bierikjávvre

In the evening I have been thinking about the next stage of my hike. Since the stretch from Saltoluokta to upper Rapadalen was unknown to me, and I was hoping for interesting photos at the lake Bierikjávvre, I have opted for a short hike today to enjoy the morning and evening light at the lake.

At night and in the morning there is some rain falling from time to time. This is not a real problem, but it delays my departure a bit. Fortunately, I’m not in a hurry anyway. I have a relaxed breakfast and get ready when a few beams of sunlight hit my tent.

Getting ready for today's short hike
Getting ready for today’s short hike

As mentioned before, my campsite is close to the top of the pass. When I get there, I encounter a dramatic combination of sunlight and heavy clouds. Hardly on the move, I stop again for an extensive photographic break. The view towards the stream Bierikjåhkå together with the mountains in the background is breathtaking. I have seen it yesterday, but with today’s light it looks even better.

Bierikjåhkå with nameless peak 1806 m (left) and Bierikbákte (right)
Bierikjåhkå with nameless peak 1806 m (left) and Bierikbákte (right)
The complete panorama
The complete panorama

Finally, at some point I decide that it’s time to go on and descend into the valley. The next stretch is easy to walk.

Further route towards Bierikjávvre (telephoto, it's not as close as it seems)
Further route towards Bierikjávvre (telephoto, it’s not as close as it seems)

Down in the valley I meet a footpath that is easy to follow. I briefly consider whether I should climb the rise of Bierikvárásj. I even think about setting up camp on the top. However, laziness prevails. I don’t feel like crossing the river, and up there it would be too windy today anyway, wouldn’t it ;-)?

Several times I encounter small streams, which I can cross comfortably with my boots.

The steep face of Bierikvárasj
The steep face of Bierikvárasj

Slowly Bierikjávvre comes into view.

Bierikjávvre; in the foreground one of the abovementioned small streams
Bierikjávvre; in the foreground one of the abovementioned small streams

I walk along the west bank of Bierikjávvre and settle down as I find a good campsite. It is still relatively early and I take a few photos. Then it’s time for washing, eating and lazing around. Later, in the evening, I climb up the slope a short way.

Bierikjávvre from my campsite
Bierikjávvre from my campsite

Although there is no spectacular light today, I really enjoy the views of the lake and the peaks beyond from the elevated position. The jagged shape of Bierikbákte dominates the panorama.

View to the north (you can guess where my tent is...)
View to the north (you can guess where my tent is…)
View to the southeast with Bierikbákte and the end of Basstavágge
View to the southeast with Bierikbákte and the end of Basstavágge

It’s been another great day and I’m looking forward to the next morning.

Day 5: Bierikjávvre – Álggavágge

At night the sky has mostly cleared up. This has resulted in a significant cooldown and a lot of condensation in the outer tent.

I wake up before sunrise and have breakfast. Then I get dressed and walk the slope again to take some photos. I won’t be able to see the sunrise today because the mountains in the east are way too high. Mist has formed on the water surface, which looks really interesting. I conclude that a “normal” sunrise would have been almost boring in comparison.

Lake view in the morning at about 6 o'clock
Lake view in the morning at about 6 o’clock
Detail (long exposure)
Detail (long exposure)
View towards Basstavágge
View towards Basstavágge

After I’ve had enough, I head back down to the tent. On the lakeshore I take some more photos. The mist is constantly changing.

View north; the first rays of sunlight hit the lakeshore
View north; the first rays of sunlight hit the lakeshore
Another view towards Bierikbákte
Another view towards Bierikbákte

Because of the steep rock face of Bierikbákte it would take a long time for the sun to reach my camp. Thus, I pack my tent in wet condition. Maybe tonight I will have a chance to get it dry. If not, I’ll just wipe it out.

When everything is packed, I walk on towards Rapadalen. North of the lake Bielajávrátja I stop for some more photos. Also here, the mist creates interesting moods.

View towards Bielajávrátja
View towards Bielajávrátja
Fogbank beneath Bierikbákte
Fogbank beneath Bierikbákte

When I reach the upper section of Rapadalen, parts of the valley are shrouded in mist. The sun, however, is trying hard to drive it away.

Mist in Rapadalen
Mist in Rapadalen

At the stream Tjåggnårisjåhkå I meet a path that I have followed two years ago. It leads to Snávvávágge. Crossing Tjåggnårisjåhkå requires taking off my shoes, although the water level is not very high. That doesn’t bother me much in the sunny weather. Before crossing the stream, I take a photo of the waterfall nearby.

Waterfall of Tjåggnårisjåhkå
Waterfall of Tjåggnårisjåhkå

The further way to Skárjá (where an emergency shelter is located) leads across marshes and past one or the other small lake. Far to the west, the peak of Guohper is particularly striking.

Mirror image in a small lake
Mirror image in a small lake
Panorama featuring Guohper (in the middle)
Panorama featuring Guohper (in the middle)

This is where the trouble with my waterproof Ortlieb camera bag begins. The zipper gets caught somehow and only with a lot of fiddling I get it closed again. I’m quite annoyed by that. Later I will close the bag only halfway in dry weather, to prevent the camera from falling out.

Before I reach the footbridge across the stream Smájlajjåhkå, I meet two hikers who are on their way in the opposite direction. They started their hike in Sulitjelma in Norway and came here via Álggavágge – where I am headed today.

Footbridge and emergency shelter at Skárjá
Footbridge and emergency shelter at Skárjá

I’m taking my lunch break next to the bridge, which is in place only in the summer. In fact, the bridge across Smájlajjåhkå will be dismantled in about a week. I had requested this information from the responsible authorities beforehand. A missing bridge would have required a longer detour as the stream is impassable.

After my rest I go on in westerly direction. This section up to the eastern end of Guohpervágge features some game trails but no real footpaths. Whenever you think you have finally found a path, it disappears soon again. Thus, I trudge through rather unpleasant terrain. But the views of the river and also towards Guohpervágge compensate for it. (If only it weren’t for that stupid camera bag…)

View of upper Rapadalen
View of upper Rapadalen
View towards Guohpervágge
View towards Guohpervágge

As you can see in the images above, clouds have moved in. Fortunately, it remains dry so far. In Guohpervágge there is finally a trail again, which I follow until reaching the confluence of the streams Áhkájåhkå and Guohperjåhkå. A few meters upstream from that location I cross Guohperjåhkå.

Álggavágge is to the left
Álggavágge is to the left
Crossing Guohperjåhkå
Crossing Guohperjåhkå

On the other side of the stream I ascend the slope and meet a reindeer herder’s hut. There is also a reindeer fence here, which spans the entire mouth of Álggavágge. In the fence there is a passage for hikers. It is worth mentioning that the reindeer roaming the mountains are property of the Sami, indigeneous people who have been reindeer herders for centuries.

At the entrance to the valley, the Áhkájåhkå is widely branched and flows across gravel flats. It is hard to imagine the water masses to be found here at times of snow melt.

Gravel flats of Áhkájåhkå
Gravel flats of Áhkájåhkå

After having left the gravel, I follow a pleasant trail across grassland. This section of Álggavágge is sometimes referred to as “world’s largest soccer field”.

Trail in Álggavágge; the rock face of Härrábákte to the right
Trail in Álggavágge; the rock face of Härrábákte to the right
View back towards the peaks of the Sarek massif
View back towards the peaks of the Sarek massif

Álggavágge forms a slight “bend” in its middle section. Just before reaching this bend I set up my camp. While it’s grassy here, further west there’s a lot of brush and swampy terrain. When fussing with my tent, two hikers walk past. At this point I don’t know that the next human beings I’ll encounter in 6 days from now.

My tent is still wet. Thus, I dry the tent floor with a cloth (that also acts as a towel). Drying would take too long by itself in the current weather.

My campsite in Álggavágge
My campsite in Álggavágge

I wash myself and some of my clothes at the creek (of course without soap to not affect nature). Then I prepare dinner. I don’t take many photos tonight as the light doesn’t play along. At least, I see a lot more of the mountains than I did on my first Sarek trip 5 years ago. At that time, the clouds were just above my head.

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Painting with Light