Things have gone up and down in the past few days. And this in various respects. For the first time on my tour I had to bite. After the hot stage I was looking forward to a rest day in the Swedish ski resort Riksgränsen. Since there is no snow there, everything is closed except the grocery store for shopping tourism. Therefore I aimed at the Katterat Fjellstue on the Norwegian side. I had to learn there that it has been closed in the meantime. Thus I spend my rest day in the waiting room of the railroad station there and make a short excursion for shopping to Narvik. Likewise I revise the route of the coming stage through the Narvikfjell and the very remote Rago national park. I started fully motivated and loaded with food for 9 days into this probably longest stage of my trip.
The landscape is breathtaking! Real mountains from a Swiss perspective, glaciers, untouched valleys, wild passes, waterfalls or huge alluvial plains. But I quickly realize that there is still a lot of snow. Most of the snowfields are still bearing well, but due to the steep topography, a slip usually ends up in debris or a partially frozen lake.
It became clear to me that another rescheduling of the route was likely in the offing. On the 5th day I reached Røysvatnhytta, beautifully situated on a lake-filled plateau. The lakes were hardly to be recognized under the mighty compact snow cover. The intended route from here on runs at a similar altitude, but with at least 2 nights in tent. This area can actually be walked without problems only in August and September. I realized that I can’t just string sights together from north to south. So with a heavy heart I decided to forgo the Rago National Park, but also the crossing of Norway at its shortest point (about 6.5 km as the crow flies).
The following day I descended east into the Swedish Padjelanta National Park. This is known as relatively little frequented, because very remote, but nevertheless offering a very good tourist infrastructure with well-maintained trails and huts. Up to there, however, the path was difficult to walk. I am definitely a mountain guy and not made for weedy, stone-lined swampy birch forest trails! Cursing, I stumbled for hours with the mosquito net over my head through the area. But finally I was rewarded by high summer postcard weather, a varied landscape with wide plains, large lakes, steep ascents and descents. Everywhere where the hiking trails lead only rudimentarily through wetlands, footbridges have been built. Almost effortless hiking is possible here. I met about 50 people in just one day! So many I probably had not met altogether on my first 1000 km hiked so far. The view towards west in the snow-covered Norwegian mountains confirmed my route choice. The final confirmation I got back in Norway: snowfields, rain and dense fog. Under such conditions a tour quickly becomes a survival trip. Actually, I am quite happy that I still have good reasons for further trips to Norway.
Besides the moral, topographical and weather ups and downs, I remember four encounters in particular. The first was with Marie. She is on the same mission as I am, just in the opposite direction. She started end of March and has probably experienced and gone through just about everything that one can happily do without. Somehow funny when you suddenly see far up the slope between block and snow fields this person, which I only know from Instagram and then about half an hour later you meet on a table-sized boulder in the steep slope. For both of us it went the same. Both, we were looking forward to this meeting already for a long time. In inclement weather, we talked about everything possible, but unfortunately then had to move on again.
A short time later on the same day I reached a reservoir. From far away construction noise could be heard. Before crossing the dam I made a short rest at the construction road. There a pickup drove up. The driver asked me to get in because it’s too dangerous to walk through the construction site. It turned out that it was the chief construction manager. When I asked him what was being built and he realized that I was familiar with construction sites, he explained the project to me in detail in Norwegian. I couldn’t follow everywhere, but the main wall had to be reinforced on both sides and the drainage structures and tunnels had to be redimensioned. There was an enormous amount of heavy equipment on the large construction site. Finally, the time window in summer is very narrow.
No sooner had I got off the car and was heading for my destination for the day than the next encounter occurred. This time, however, it was more of the unpleasant kind. Apparently two terns felt disturbed by me. They scolded loudly and pursued me during several minutes. They flew over me again and again and each time a little deeper until one of them touched my backpack. Only after I defended myself with the hiking poles, they moved off.
I was taking a break after hiking on snow through rain and fog and wading through ice cold rivers. With clammy fingers I just tried to open the ziplock of the bag with the cashew nuts when a young, heavily loaded Norwegian couple flew up the trail. She greeted me with “aren’t you the one who does Norge på langs and met up with Marie?”. So quickly one can become a celebrity in a small community of interest.
And to finish this post, here some pictures from geological and geomorphologic features to the amazement.