Day 9: Skårki Hut – Lulep Vássjájågåsj
After a good night’s sleep I’m a little more motivated again. Surprisingly the rain lets up; only a few droplets fall every now and then. After breakfast I put on yesterday’s wet clothes. If I can get them dry somehow, then using the heat of my body. I take a look at the new information board. It shows photos of Axel Hamberg’s expeditions and the construction of the Skårki hut. That really must have been a huge challenge back then, since the building material could not simply be brought in by helicopter.
After taking the above photo I don’t get my camera bag locked again and use repair tape to prevent the camera from falling out. As long as it’s not raining, this solution should work reasonably well and keeps the camera at hand.
The next section I’ve done already two times in the past. Everything seems quite familiar – which is not a bad thing. The late autumn landscape is a new aspect for me. Where flowers bloomed in summer, a large part of the vegetation is already brown, but the autumnal leaves provide color accents. However, in some places the birch trees have already lost all their leaves. This time I take the path in the forest opposed to the one directly at the river that I know well.
While the path is muddy at the beginning, walking gets easier later. Again and again I ascend small hills and cross clearings in the forest that offer views to the surrounding mountains.
Due to still low water levels, I cross several streams without taking off my shoes: stepping or jumping from stone to stone. Now and then there is marshland for a change.
Finally I reach Alep Vássjájågåsj and find a trail that winds its way upstream. When I cross the creek I do it without taking off my boots. This hasn’t been possible during my last visit here.
I continue to follow Alep Vássjájågåsj uphill, but at some point I realize that I’m too far west. So I traverse the slope through forest and undergrowth. I could have saved myself that effort if I had branched off earlier. En route I fill my bottles with a few litres of water to be flexible in the choice of campsite. I encounter a reindeer herder’s hut that’s also marked on my map. It is in a pitiful condition: the roof has partially collapsed (due to the weight of snow?). Probably not much can be saved here.
I continue walking towards a less overgrown zone and climb higher. When I finally reach the forest line, I enjoy a wonderful view down into the valley towards Rapaselet – a delta area that has been a lake some millennia past. I’ve stood here before, but this sight impresses me every time again.
The following ascent is now much easier as I’m out in open terrain. I’m looking for a suitable campsite on the way. At some point I succeed.
Even though it was a rather gray day, no more than a few droplets of rain occurred. Most of my clothes have dried. After dinner I take some pictures. The rather gloomy mood is a perfect fit for the landscape.
This has really been a good day! At night I wake up and take a glimpse outside: there’s a faint green light in the sky – the northern lights. It’s really cold. The condensation on the outer tent is frozen. No wonder: The sky is clear. Since I was spoiled by the aurora during my ski trip last winter, the weak activity is not a very compelling reason to leave my cozy sleeping bag. But it might certainly be exciting to capture some images of the starry sky – perhaps even as a timelapse.
So I put on many layers of clothes and gloves. In the following one of the resulting photos. The distinctive snow line is quite striking.
In Central Europe one can only dream of such a sky. There isn’t any light pollution at all. When I crawl back into the tent after maybe an hour, my feet don’t warm up anymore. I start the stove and make myself a hot-water bottle :-). Finally I can go back to sleep.
Day 10: Lulep Vássjájågåsj – Skierffe
I wake up early and look outside. The morning sun bathes the mountain peaks in warm light. Although it’s very cold and my shoes are covered by a layer of ice, I dress up and get outside to enjoy the morning and photograph the stunning scenery. Down in the valley, a bank of fog has formed and is slowly wafting around.
The shadows in the valley slowly recede and the sun finally reaches the river. Simply great! I capture this spectacle in a timelapse sequence that you can see in my trip video.
What a wonderful morning! The night before yesterday, after a full day of rain, my motivation reached its minimum. At this point I thought that it might not be so bad to sit in a warm office after all ;-). Today I’m just glad that I’m here – in this beautiful landscape!
After many photos I have breakfast without any hurry. My plan for today is to get to Skierffe, a summit at the end of Rapadalen. It offers a spectacular view of the vast Laiture Delta.
After everything is stowed away, I finally get going; it’s about 10 o’clock. The cloud cover has increased, but it is dry. It’s not long until I stand at the gorge of Lulep Vássjájågåsj.
I remember the gorge as quite steep, but there are places where it’s possible to get down and up safely. Changing into water sandals is at this stream. After crossing the stream and climbing out of the gorge, I walk slightly uphill to a nameless creek that is easily crossed.
A while later I reach the next stream, Buovdajågåsj. Again, I have to descend into a small gorge. There’s also a small waterfall here. Jumping from stone to stone I avoid taking off my boots.
I see several herds of reindeer today. Throughout my hike they’ve become a familiar sight. But here on the slopes of Rapadalen they’re particularly numerous. From the southern slope of Suorkitjåhkkå, which drops off steeply, I get a first glimpse of the trio Skierffe, Nammásj and Tjahkelij, as well as of the Laitaure Delta in the distance. This arrangement is sometimes called the “Gate to Sarek”.
Next, I have to bypass the gorge of the stream coming from Niehter in an inverted U-loop. Then I arrive at the steep slope of Gierdogiesjtjtjåhkkå, where a longer rocky passage is necessary. Here and there stone cairns help me to find an easier passage and to avoid the largest boulders. Now I stand opposite of Nammásj.
As you can see on the photos above, the sky is completely overcast now. After the boulder passage, I descend into a depression northwest of Skierffe, where I encounter some brush again. After a last ascent I finally reach the pass north of the summit and pitch my tent there.
I won’t climb the summit today, because I don’t expect interesting light. Instead, I set myself an alarm for the early morning. Maybe the next day I’ll be lucky…