Another wilderness trip through European Alaska

Today almost exactly 2 years ago I finished another long autumn trip through and around Sarek national park in Swedish Lapland after my trip from 2008 and a ski crossing during the preceding winter. This time I took my packraft with me and tried to follow a route with as much as packrafting sections as possible. Eventually I floated pieces of the rivers Guhkesvakkjåhkå, Sijddoädno, Miellädno, Smajllajåhkkå, Rahpajåhkå and Rahpaädno and crossed several lakes. Sarek is a real packraft paradise and can make you think you’re somewhere wilderness paddling in remote Alaska instead of Europe.

And as the rivers here invite you to inflate your inflatable boat, so do the mountains invite you during the clear weather windows to visit their summit for a wide mountain vista. I even spent three nights on a mountain and saw quite active northern light displays during each.

Just like with my first trip through Sarek I wrote a very long trip report about this trip, however unfortunately it is only available as a trip report in Dutch. But those really willing to read it will definitely find an appropriate online translator to struggle through it. Even though I have almost visited every corner of the park, I’m sure this last visit will not be my very last.

Packlist
All the gear and food for the trip except from worn clothing.

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Backpack ready for a new day hiking.

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Searching a route through the many rocks and small lakes on the Gassalahko mountain plateau.

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Suottasjjåhkå mountain stream under the glacial tongue of Suottasjjiegna, easy to ford with these low water levels. The mountain above the glacier is Såltatjåhkkå (1928m).

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Packrafting Guhkesvakkjåhkå river with often shallow water.

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Taking a break on the Sijddoädno river which was difficult to packraft due to many impassable boulder gardens.

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View northward from Namadis (818m) with the Sijddoädno river meandering through the valley, the mountain Guravarasj (1050m) on the left.

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Looking back towards the saddle (1066m) in the Bastavagge valley under Basstavarasj (1492m).

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Morning in the Basstavagge valley after a tarp bivouac on the snow.

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The mountains Unna Stuollo (1766m) and Skajdetjåhkkå (1933m) at dusk.

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First northern lights seen from the bivouac spot at lake Dielmajavrasj (1175m).

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View into the Sarvesvagge valley with at the opposite side the north face of Nåite (1620m) which dominates the whole east half of the valley.

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Prints of a wolverine in the snow while climbing Dielmatjåhkkå (1659m).

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View over a part of the Jågåsjgaskajiegna glacier with a glacial lake under Axel Hambergs topp (1821m), seen while climbing Kanalberget (1937m).

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The wild morainic debris in the Ridanjunjesvagge.

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Wet weather while reaching the outlet of the Sarvesvagge valley towards Padjelanta.

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The falls of Ahkkajåhkå river and the mountain Guohperskajdde (1644m).

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Ahkkatjåhkå (1974m) and the renvaktarstuga cabin under Algganjalmme.

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View into Padjelanta and onto Gasskatjåhkkå (1517m) in Norway from the summit of Låvdaktjåhkkå (1445m).

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Northern lights above Padjelanta seen from the summit of Låvdaktjåhkkå (1445m).

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The mountain Låvdaktjåhkkå (1445m) with its glacier remnants.

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Taking a midday break along the Sierggajåhkå mountain stream.

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The Ruohtesvagge valley and the mountains of the Sarektjåhkkå mountain massif seen from Gisuris (1664m).

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The Ahkka massif from Gisuris (1664m) around sunset.

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Lake Vastenjaure (547m) in Padjelanta National Park with the mountains surrounding Sorfjord in Norway at the horizon, seen from Gisuris (1664m) just after sunset.

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Making a mountain bivouac under the tarp on Gisuris (1664m).

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Aurora Borealis reflecting in lake Allohaure (545m) as seen from Gisuris (1664m).

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View over Padjelanta with the Sulitjelma mountains at the horizon seen from Gisuris (1664m).

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View to the north from Ahkka Borgtoppen (1963m) with the vast lake Akkajaure (423-453m) deep below.

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The lake plateau Gassalahko seen from Ahkka Borgtoppen (1963m).

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The mountain massifs of Lavdak, Ruohtes, Lanjek en Alkatj in Sarek seen from Ahkka Borgtoppen (1963m).

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Northern lights behind Ahkka Stortoppen (2015m), seen from Borgtoppen (1963m).

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Ahkka Stortoppen (2015m) during the late morning.

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A tundra vole liked my food cache. All the pecan nuts had disappeared from the desserts.

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Bivouac in the Ruohtesvagge valley under mountain Gavelberget (1819m).

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View over Mihkajiegna glacier to Sarektjåhkkå Stortoppen (2089m), Sydtoppen (2023m) and Bucht-toppen (2010m) from Mihkatjåhkkå (1735m).

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The braided Smajllajåhkå river down the Ruohtesvagge valley.

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The falls in the Smajllajåhkå river near Mikkastugan cabin with Sarektjåhkkå Stortoppen (2089m), Sydtoppen (2023m) and Bucht-toppen (2010m) in the background.

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The braided Rahpajåhkå river on the valley bottom of upper Rapadalen.

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Mouth of the mountain stream Tjågnårisjågåsj in Rahpajåhkå river with mountain Bierikbakte (1789m) in the background.

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Braided Rahpajåhkå river in Rapadalen with mountain Låddebakte (1537m) to the left.

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Looking back to the Rahpaädno river while hiking through the birch forest.

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An old Sami shelter in Rapadalen which can still be used today.

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A winding birch.

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Rapaselet with Låddebakte (1537m) in the background from a river island.

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My home made woodgas stove burning on birch bark.

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A moose with young in Rapadalen.

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A young male moose in the forest in Rapadalen.

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Rapadalen with Nammasj (823m) and Tjahkkelij (1214m) seen from Lulep Spadnek (816m).

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Part of the Laitaure delta and Nammasj (823m) seen from Skierffe (1179m).

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Packraft ready to float through the Laitaure delta, table mountain Tjahkkelij (1214m) on the background.

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View back to Nammasj from within the Laitaure delta.

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Morning at lake Sitojaure (630m) along the Kungsleden trail.

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A wide view back to lake Sitojaure from the Kungsleden trail.

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Last night of the trip in the Autsutjvagge shelter on the Kungsleden trail.

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Spot messenger at work.

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Continuing over the Kungsleden trail to Saltoluokta.

A ramble from summer into autumn

In August and September 2008 I went to Sarek national park for the first time. Sarek is a small and beautiful mountain wilderness area in Swedish Lapland which seems to reassemble very well the Brooks Range in Alaska and is therefore sometimes called European Alaska. For me personally, it is my favorite area in Europe for wilderness backpacking so far.

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Upper Rapadalen from Spökstenen.

During the years I have developed a rather unusual way of making wilderness backpacking trips. When looking at the maps while planning at home, I can almost never choose a straight line through a certain mountain area. There are always too much places on the map which look so interesting that it would be regrettable to skip those places. Therefore I developed myself the habit to plan rather complex looking criss-cross routes through each area on which I’ve put my mind for a long wilderness backpacking trip, trying to see as much as I can by following such a complex route. When I was planning my first trip in Sarek, I couldn’t change that habit either.

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Moose with calf in the forest of Rapadalen.

Eventually I made a trip of 27 days with only one small resupply at the mountain hut of Aktse just outside the park. My pack weighted 32kg at the start. Today I start to dislike such heavy weights to begin such a long trip, but back than I was still in perfect shape and strong and didn’t mind walking with weeks of food in my pack. Back home I spend one month writing my story about the trip based on field notes and my valuable memories. This trip report looks at the end more like a book than just a report. Unfortunately it was written in Dutch but those really interested can try to use a Dutch to your language translator and read the story here.

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View over Rapaselet in Rapadalen valley from the mountain Låddebakte (1537m). Is this not like a packraft paradise?

Honestly, I’m a person who doesn’t really like to meet other people on a wilderness trip (but I’m not going to run away if someone appears). I like solitude, even for weeks in a row. I came across different opinions concerning whether you can experience a feeling of solitude on a trip through Sarek or not when I was preparing my first trip. In my experiences you can experience both solitude here as well as meet several people each or almost each day during the summer months. It just depends on which route you choose to take. There are eroded trails in the valleys which are frequented rather regularly, lets say daily during the summer months. But once you stroll away from these popular routes you can be alone for days or even more than a week. While walking during the day I have the habit to count the number of people I meet and happen to see from a distance each day, as well as the amount of wildlife I see. In the table below I have listed the number of people I saw each day on the trip. With the routemap you can have a better idea which part of the area has more frequented routes. Note that I walked on the very popular Kungsleden trail for two days just past halfway on the trip. The number of people you can meet here is certainly out of proportion compared to the popular routes in Sarek itself.

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Northern lights above Tjuoldavagge.

Date Number of people met
20 Aug 8
21 Aug 7
22 Aug 0
23 Aug 5
24 Aug 4
25 Aug 8
26 Aug 0
27 Aug 3
28 Aug 1
29 Aug 8
30 Aug 2
31 Aug 5
01 Sep 0
02 Sep 3
03 Sep 47 (all of them on Kungleden)
04 Sep 38 (all of them on Kungleden)
05 Sep 0
06 Sep 0
07 Sep 0
08 Sep 0
09 Sep 0
10 Sep 1
11 Sep 0
12 Sep 0
13 Sep 0
14 Sep 13 (all in Kvikkjokk)
15 Sep 1 (in Kvikkjokk)