Woke to a freezing cold tent covered in frost. Even some on the inside today. We had gotten out around one last night to look at the northern lights and had nearly frozen our butts off! But yes!!! I had really wanted to see the aurora borealis on this hike so I feel very fortunate. It wasn’t super strong or colorful, but totally there! We were photographing it while jumping around trying to stay warm. We eventually had to surrender to the warmth of our sleeping bags again, man that was cold! Well below freezing for sure.
Once the sun came up in morning the temperatures mellowed a little bit. Nice to have all the frost and ice on the tents melt before we had to pack up. Tonight we’ll stay in a hut to dry out gear, perhaps we will stay in huts for the remaining two nights as well, we’ll see. Feels like the grace period for our three season gear may be over. We stopped in briefly at Sälkastugan on our way to warm up a bit and stock up on chocolate. One can never have too much chocolate!
The day started with a hike through the long and scenic Tjäktjavagge valley. Unfortunately the weather was rather gray so we did not get the same beautiful experience as we had yesterday. Still, no rain so that was nice! By lunch we reached the rather steep and demanding trail up to Tältjapasset, the highest elevation on Kungsleden. Just as we cleared the summit it started snowing. Not the tiny hail like snow we have experienced before but rather large and fluffy flakes that actually stuck to the ground making it look more like Christmas than early September. There is an emergency shelter on the very summit and we ducked in to get out if the wind and snow for a bit. Three hikers were already there making lunch. We chatted with them for a while. Then a young German hiker also came in. He had just finished school he said and he was hiking the E1 (European long distance path) roughly 8000 km from Nordkapp in Norway Scapoli in Italy. Very cool! I am more than a little jealous!
I wonder what my next project will be. I am really intrigued by the Te Araroa in New Zealand or The Great Divide Trail in Canada perhaps. Part of me would love to just take off and be a digital nomad for a while. Hmmm… we have not even finished this one and I am already starting to dream about the next hike.
When it was time for us to get going again it was snowing with earnest up at the pass, but it soon turned to slush and rain further down on the other side. Thankfully we now had the hard wind from behind but the weather still made for miserable hiking conditions. Not improved by the fact that it was nothing but rocks to walk on either. Round ones, sharp ones, big ones, small ones, you name it. Rocks as far as the eye could see!
We finally made it to Tjäktjastugan and checked in for the night. This is a smaller hut with only 20 beds but with very generous size rooms. There were quite a few people here already and most seem to hang out in the kitchen. From the sound if it, mostly Germans, although some French and a couple of rather annoying young Swedish chicks giggling in the corner. Still, it was nice to be indoors with a wet blizzard roaring outside.
Dinner time. Tikka masala with chocolate for desert. A sign on the wall in the kitchen marks 370 km to Hemavan… I made the mad dash to the outhouse in the driving rain and am now tucked in listening to the roaring wind outside. The room sleeps eight, we’ll see how many of them snore before long. One is already going, never fails. Still happy to be indoors tonight.
I learned something about myself on this hike… my stubbornness (pannben) really comes to good use. Seems as if I can power through almost anything!