I am drawn to the north. Coming from a small desert town in southern Israel might be the reason. The feeling of being surrounded by mother earth elements inspire me and filling me up with excitement and inspiration. Last summer, I got the chance to fly to Swedish Lapland and Hike for a 9 full days through the famous northern part of the Kungsleden – Sweden’s Kings Trail. Equipped with my handy Olympus Mju II and several kinds of films I was completely immersed in Lapland’s scenery, exposed to everything that nature has to offer.
Spring came late to Lapland this year, I could tell by the busy springs overflowing due the large amount of melting snow on high latitudes and the rare encounters with just a few reindeer herds, grazing around the not-yet green valleys. That made the hike a bit more challenging, I got almost a week of brilliant weather – sunny with scattered clouds with a promise of heavy rain only at the end of the week. The goal was to reach Kebnekaise – Sweden’s highest peak, before the rain.
I started my journey at Abisko Tourist Station, where I spent the night before leaving early to my first stop.
In the first part of the trail I was marching in ever-ending swamps, due the high thawing rate of the snow. After 7-8km I had my first glimpse of the higher mountains and valleys, that filled me up with excitement and motivation.
After leaving the Abiskojaure hut the next day, the scenery has completely changed. Gaining elevation as we go made the birch trees clear the way for low bushes and somewhat rocky terrain.
The view from Alesjaure hut was mesmerizing, the almost perfect reflection of the frozen mountains on the Alesjaure lake, the colors and the sounds of Lapland’s birds.
The Tjäktja Pass – I was a bit worried, this was the highest point of the hike. Rumors by the Alesjaure hut staff said that 5 meters of snow should be expected at the pass, some suggested to spend another night at Alesjaure, but I was racing the rain to Kebnekaise.
Sälka, the next hut, lies at the middle of the most beautiful valley in the hike, where I first spotted some reindeers. To reach it, I had to cross some freezing cold rivers, snow fields, rocky terrain and slippery frozen moss fields. It was worth it. I pitched the tent next to a massive stream, and went to the main hut to hear about the weather. It wasn’t good, they said that the rain clouds are moving fast towards my next hut – Singi.
After 6km on the trail from Sälka to Singi, I noticed a “shortcut” on the map. Going straight to the Kebnekaise Fjellstation instead of spending the night at Singi. I took it! my 13km day hike to Singi became 22km, It was a good call, just a few meters before reaching the Kebnekaise Fjellstation the rain started pouring.
After a good night sleep I packed a day hike bag and went to explorer Tarfala – a magnificent valley just 6km from the Kebnekaise Fjellstation. The way to the valley was full of lush green vegetation, milky glacial streams and at the end – a vast snow field stretching all the way to the semi-frozen lake. Even in mid-spring, Tarfala is still hibernating. Seeing all the snow covered glaciers sliding down to the valley was just breathtaking.
Images & words by Ran Benzara