Thursday 3 July 2014

Arctic Trail

My next hike is in less than 30 days (1st Aug) and is to a new area for me. Northern Scandinavia and the Arctic Circle. I will be following the Nordkalottleden Trail, or Arctic Trail as it’s often called. This starts in Kautokeino (Norway) and threads it’s way south through the Arctic Wilderness, crossing between Finland, Sweden and Norway 15 times before finishing at Kvikkjokk (Sweden). This trail is rarely thru-hiked and there’s little information available in English. 

Arctic route includes the Nordkalottleden and Kungsleded trails

From there I pick up the southern section of the Kungsleden trail and hike down to its terminus at Hemavan (Sweden). The northern section can be very busy but I’m only hiking the quieter southern portion before then taking my own route to the town of Trofors (Norway), where I can leave by train. Total length of my hike will be 1113km and I expect it to take around 35 days. The Arctic has most of Europe's only remaining true wilderness and I’m really looking forward to discovering this new area. It’s not only wild and exposed but very wet underfoot. Looking at any map you see the trail threads its way between countless lakes, big and small, and is more often than not open and treeless. Many of these lakes/rivers will need crossing by ferries or rowing boats (I’ve never rowed in my life!) and others by bridges and fords. I’m expecting it to be similar to the Monadhliath Mountains in Scotland but with more lakes, wetter underfoot, and without all the wind farms! I could be completely wrong though.

Lots of water to be crossed by ferries, row boats, bridges and fords
Weather can be nasty this far north and it could be very wet and windy with some fresh snow, given that I’m hiking in the latter part of the season. I chose to hike it so late because the mosquitoes can be unbearable any earlier and as a bug magnet I really didn't fancy it! I’m hopeful that there will still be some good weather but I’m going prepared for the worst. Resupply can be an issue and there’s one section of 384km with no resupply options so that means a very heavy pack of around 12 days food. In other sections mountain huts do sell basic supplies but you never know what they have and given my late start their supplies could be low. I will have to make do and expect the worse. Having 3 different currencies to deal with will also be confusing! I’ve wanted to visit Scandinavia for many years and have family in Oslo so will fit in a visit to them. I will also visit the lovely Helen and Thomas who get married in 3 weeks! Congratulations guys and don’t forget to save me a piece of cake :-)