When I was researching in preparation for my Kungsleden hiking trip, I found there was limited information in English. So here’s my trip report about hiking Kungsleden from Abisko to Kebnekaise, including the summit, and onwards to Nikkaluokta, July 16 – 25, 2010.
I started my journey by overnight train from Linköping, changing trains in Stockholm before reaching Abisko tourist station, a 22 hour journey. The train experience was wonderful, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my trip. The train is far more comfortable than a bus, particularly if you book a berth/bed, and less guilt inducing than taking a plane. But the journey itself is an experience. It was my second time on the overnight train, but this time, with the long summer daylight hours, I could actually enjoy the scenery. There were 4 other women in my 6-bed berth, all on their way to their vacations in the north. One pair of girls in their 20’s was also on their way to Kebnekaise fjällstation (mountain station) for some day hikes. I had a blast playing “Go Fish” in Swedish with my berth-mates, and talking about our vacation plans.
They seemed to be impressed that I was walking Kungsleden alone, though I was a little nervous myself. Nervous, but ready!
We turned into bed fairly early, slept well (the blankets provided are plenty warm), and the next morning we found the train was a little behind schedule (of course). As soon as I arrived in Abisko, I went to the tourist station to check the weather report and weigh my bag: 16 kg including 1 kg of water. A bit heavy, due to the amount of food I was carrying, but I would manage for a day.
I heard that the mosquitos are really bad in northern Sweden. And I can verify that it’s true. For me, my mosquito hat, repellant, and goretex pants and jacket (they can’t bite through goretex) were a godsend. On the upside, as long as you were moving, they didn’t bite you. But as soon as you stop for a photo or a short break, they suddenly swarm you. I had rain for most of the way between Abisko and Abiskojaure, and the strange thing was, the mosquitos didn’t disappear!
After a leisurely 6 hour walk, arrived at Abiskojaure STF hut. The mountain hostels are amazing! Water is pumped up from the river to the hut. At the designated bathing place STF built wooden steps down into the river (I made an attempt at bathing – it was 12C in the air – but after getting my feet wet in the nearly ice cold water, I quickly aborted). Inside the hut the kitchen has gas burners for cooking, pots and pans, utensils, dishes (real ones made of porcelain), and even garbage and recycling disposal! What a luxury, after hiking in Canada and having to carry out every piece of garbage. Also a drying room, and a small shop with lots of things for sale (freeze dried meals, some “ordinary” food like canned meatballs and soup, chocolate, some hiking supplies, and even light beer). For 220 SEK (100 SEK discount after purchasing an STF membership for 300 SEK – completely worth the price) it was a pretty good deal, though it was the last day before the high season prices kicked in.
I looked at the guestbook as I was curious what nationalities hiked Kungsleden. Most of the hikers are Swedish, and the international hikers come most often from Germany, followed by Dutch, French, Belgian and Swiss. Not as many Danish, Norwegian or Finnish as I would expect. I was only the second Canadian to arrive at Abiskojaure that summer! At dinner, I chatted with 69 year old Japanese man who came all the way from Tokyo in order to walk by himself! He planned to do the same itinerary as me, plus 4 more days to walk to Nallo and Vistas as well. Impressive. He gave the quote of the day:
“Mountains here are like mother. Sometimes angry, but mostly accepting me.”
To be continued…