Walking the world
- Norway/Sweden: Ritsem – Mo I Rana
- 23 August – 3 September
- 293 km (1249 km in total)
- E1 European long distance path: Scandinavia + Green Ribbon (Gröna Bandet), The Arctic Trail (Nordkalottleden)
During the past 11 days since we left Ritsem we passed the 1000 km mark of this expedition, walked across the Arctic Circle, and summer has transitioned into fall. The colors are turning in the mountains and weather is a lot more unstable and colder. While really beautiful, it has been a pretty demanding section, climbing a lot of mountain passes and battling the weather to get here.
We catch the ferry from Ritsem to Vasalockta and head into Padjelanta National park,rolling hills with views into Sarek National Park, well maintained paths with boardwalks and large steel bridges, lead us back to the border of Norway.
This next section consisted of some large mountain passes mixed in with the smaller ones, boulder hoping, large solid granite mountain tops and forested valleys.
Passing by beautiful mountain lakes , crossing never ending flowing rivers, and passing by numerous mountain huts.
Plentiful hillsides of blueberry and cloud berry’s scattered the sides of the trail.
Day 58: Padjelanta National Park
Distance: 19 km (975 km total). Weather: clouds and sun, heavy rain in the evening
We had a mellow and relaxing morning at the mountain station since the ferry to Vaisaluokta did not leave until 11. The weather was pretty clear and we could actually see all the peaks of the Akka massif as we crossed the Akkajaure lake. Very impressive mountains and a if glacier in the center.
We climbed up from the lake and cruised along a pretty easy trail towards Norway. As we approached the last hut, just before the border into Padjelanta National Park, it started to rain. We went to the hut for some shelter, only to find 4 other hikers already crammed in under the small porch cover. The hut warden was a stickler for rules and would not let anyone in without pay, even to wait out the rain. Since I’m a member I talked him into letting us use the entry hallway for a few minutes while we made a plan. Technically members only get to use the huts for free between 11-15, and it was closer to 18 now. Swedes and their rules…
We waited for a while but the rain did not want to let up and did not seem likely to stop anytime soon, so we moved on. We walked another kilometer past the hut and found a great camp spot by a small stream. Pitched the tent as the rain intensified again. It really sucks to make camp in the rain, dealing with all the wet gear. We ducked in under cover as fast as we could and took a nap before dinner. Now we lay here listening to the rain beating against the tent.
Day 59: Virihaure lake, Padjelanta
Distance: 30 km (1005 km total). Weather: sun with a few clouds
Past the 1000 km mark of this expedition today!
Padjelanta National Park is mostly rolling hills. We got a few glimpses into the adjacent Sarek National Park though which was very cool. Otherwise trail was pretty uneventful. They obviously want to make it an accessible trail. There are huts every 10 km, bridges over the slightest bit of water and a large portion of the trail is even boardwalked. Not really our cup of tea, but fast and easy going for a change. We met quite a few hikers, several of them older. Pretty cool.
A nice and warm summery day for once! Went swimming in the river at the end of the day. Cooked outside too. Nice!
Day 60: Gáhpesluoppal lake
Distance: 22 km (1027 km total), Weather: rain
Rain all night and all day!! It started raining hard at 2 in the morning and it did not let up for about 12 hours. So we slept in and packed up when the rain finally eased up a bit. Drizzle and rain on and off all day as well as a pretty cold wind.
We got to Staloluokta and stopped in at the STF hut for a weather report, but there was none. We had a snack and continued on up into the mountains.
We originally had plans to go further, but the weather was pretty bad and we were feeling the late start. Hard to convince the body to keep going even when it is screaming for dinner and a cozy warm tent, lol. We found a fairly sheltered spot to camp up though. We’ll try and get an early start so we can make the post office in time. We have a 30 km day to get into town.
Day 61: Sulitjelma
Distance: 29 km (1056 km total), Weather: rain
Another day of really cold rainy day coming over a really long high mountain pass from Sweden at the end of the day. We are out of food too, so we are really looking forward to the resupply tomorrow new boots in the mail too!!
Day 62: Coarvi
Distance: 27 km (1083 km total), Weather: warm and sunny
Walked 20 km after five-o-clock after waiting all day (!) for a package to arrive at the post office in Sulitjelma. The package, new boots, was a welcome sight. We are sending our Lundhags boots home, they need new soles, but the cost of resoling them is the same as these new Salomon Quest Prime GTX boots. As much as we’d love to keep servicing them, logistically this is easier since we cannot be without our boots and send them in. Too bad. Well, hope the Salomons work out.
Walked until 21:30 to make our km. We’re not quite used to it actually getting dark at night now…
Day 63: Argalad
Distance: 29 km (1112 km total), Weather: warm and sunny
Nice and sunny day! Still some summer warmth left! We took a slow morning since we had such a late day last night. On trail by 10.
Scott really like the new Salomon boots, but they are not a perfect fit for me. They are just a bit too tight on the sides about mid foot. I really love my Salomon trail runners, but I have similar issues with the women’s model. Switching to the mens models eliminate that annoying break-in period and solves the problem for me. I had hoped these (unisex) hiking boots would err on the wider (men’s) model, but not so lucky. I made it work by skipping a loop on the laces, but it is not perfect. The soles seem rather hard too, needing a bit of break in before they get grippy on slippery rocks. Not my favorite. We’ll see how they hold up.
Beautiful section. We followed a huge river half the day, then up a beautiful valley. We ended the day with a swim in the river and gave our clothes a rinse too. Nice!
Day 64: Løns
Distance: 31 km (1143 km total), Weather: warm and sunny
Pushed a very long day to get up and over the mountain! There is a storm coming tonight and we did not want to get caught out up there in the weather. It seems nice and calm down here in the valley so far.
Day 65: Bolna
Distance: 31 km (1174 km total), Weather: warm and sunny
Nice and sunny day! A bit of an historical road walk to end the day too… Look up The Blood Road (Norwegian: Blodveien) for some unsettling history from the Nazi occupation up here during the war that we were completely unaware of.
We also walked passed the Saami sacrificial stones at Stødi. Three large natural boulders a stones throw away from the Arctic Circle.
Crossing over the Arctic Circle, the most northerly of the five major circles of latitude on Earth, was another milestone for us. Officially leaving the arctic zone and entering the northern temperate zone. We are slowly working our way south.
Day 66: Virvass
Distance: 25 km (1199 km total), Weather: overcast
Up and over the mountains… Very vast landscape up here, just goes on for ages! All the ridges ran the “wrong way” though, so it seemed like an endless up/down day.
There are so many blueberries here! It would be easy to stop every other step for a handful, but then we would never get anywhere… lol.
Got to Viresjávrre lake around 17, right before the rain started. Nice to beat the weather.
Day 67: Kvitsteindalstunet
Distance: 22 km (1221 km total), Weather: overcast, rain on and off
Chased by the rain all day! We finally made it over the mountain pass before it started pouring down in earnest.
We had to take our boots off to cross a river today. It has been a really long time since last. These new boots are holding up to the wet ok so far, but crossing rivers like we used to is not really an option anymore. We definitely want to keep them dry since these goretex boots take a lot longer to dry.
We met another hiker walking Norge pa Langs northbound. Nice to talk for a bit.
We are pushing a long day tomorrow to get down to the road where we can hitch in for a resupply in Mo I Rana. Looking forward to pizza!
Day 68: Umbukta Fjellstue (Stabburet)
Distance: 28 km (1249 km total), Weather: overcast, some sun and rain showers
A pretty demanding day. It seemed to go up for the better part of it, and the trail was really wet and boggy at times. Slippery rock hopping over a big pass mid day. Nice to stop into a hut to make lunch out of the rain and driving wind. Another hiker was there and already had the fire going. He had pulled a muscle walking up and was staying the night to rest.
We pushed on and finally dropped out of the mountains down to the road in Umbukta. The owner of the Umbukta fjellstue and café lets long-distance hikers (mainly people doing Norge på Langs) stay in this amazing little annex to the bigger fjellstue for free!!! We even got a free shower! So nice, it had been 12 days since last, although we have ben jumping into a few rivers along the way.
We will hitch in to Mo I Rana tomorrow for a resupply then back here again for a rest day before we continue south. Very thankful!
Day 69: Umbukta Fjellstue (Stabburet)
Distance: 0 km (1249 km total), Weather: overcast, light rain shower in the afternoon
Resupply mission to Mo I Rana. Precious little traffic on this road, snd 90% going in the wrong direction. Norwegians going to Sweden for cheaper shopping. Tärnaby and Hemavan just over the border to the east. After about 45 minutes we finally got lucky though and got a hitch by a really nice Swede all the way in. He was a freelance writer and had a few pretty cool adventure stories to tell from his youth too.
Got to Mo I Rana and picked up our packages at the post office. Scott’s awesome new Norrøna jacket we scored for 55% off, and my new Superfeet insoles.
Next, the resupply. Walked down to the Rema 1000 which supposedly is the cheapest food chain of stores in Norway. Not the best selection, but we did ok, we are just struggling a little with our lunches at the moment. Having nearly burned out on peanut butter we are experimenting. Last stretch we did ramen noodles, but we are not really happy there either. So this leg we are trying polarbread and cheese alt. Nutella. A bit bulkier but worth a try.
We have been dreaming about pizza for days now, so that was our next order of business. We kind of had to earn it though as it was a bit of a walk, but it was pretty good. Managed to snag another lift back after about 30 minutes by the road. Another Swede. This one working in Norway but living in Sweden. This is pretty common as you can make better money in Norway.
Spent the evening relaxing in our little hut. So grateful for this “rest” day. We needed a bit of a rest.