Across Sarek in winter - gear list

English; Turer I have earlier written about my wintry trip through Sarek NP in northern Sweden. In this article I will focus on some of the gear I brought along. In fact, I repeated a trip made 29 years ago, in 1981, but with much less gear, sweat and swearwords. In 1981 I started out with 42 kilos on my back, this time it was 17 kilos and it was not on my back for much of the trip. I dragged it behind me in The Incredible Rulk.
By Jörgen Johansson

Total Gear list (all weights in grams)
(Usually) worn
820 Anorak Paramo Velez blå XL
660 Trousers Paramo Cascada
34 Gloves thin fleece
75 Cap Paramo
110 Boxer shorts BPL merino stl M
185 Boot covers Lillsport
1200 Ski boots Alpina TR 10 size 47
102 Socks Donner merino
246 Undershirt BPL Hoody merino L
120 Mittens Helly Hansen pile
70 2 water bottles Arla Smoothie 330 ml
28 Whistle, metal, police
2800 Skis Fischer E99 Crown
485 Skipoles Komperdell XC Mountain 145 cm
30 Kneewarmers, cut off wool sock
10 Sunglasses Sporteyz
7007 Total worn



Eating
155 Gas canister Primus 230
155 Gas canister Primus 230
100 Gas canister Primus 100
36 Water container Platypus soft 2 l
5 Pot lid; pie plate alu foil
180 Cooking pot Primus EtaPower 1,2 l
45 Cup, plastic 300 ml
210 Burner, Primus Spider hose canister incl bag
100 Burner Primus Micron top mounted canister incl bag
16 "Upsidedown cradle" for canister; micro wave soup bowl
10 Cell foam insulation for canister
8 Spoon titanium
20 Lighter Bic
26 Windscreen BPL titanium foil 22*82 cm



Clothing
366 Primaloft pants Cocoon PRO 60 Endurance Side Zip Pant XL
316 Primaloft jacket Cocoon Pullover L
410 Down jacket WM Flight XL
112 Socks, pile, huge (for sleeping)
210 Long johns, wool Stillongs L
134 Socks Smartwool Mountaineering (for sleeping)
260 Undershirt WoolPower wool/polyester
20 Pack sack for clothing, sil nylon homemade



Sleeping
1288 Tent Black Diamond Firstlight (no pegs, no bags, 3 mm cords)
36 4 Snow anchors, silnylon, homemade
52 Pillow, inflatable, bag-in-box wine bag
400 Pad, closed cell EVA Goodpad 190*60*1,4, slightly trimmed
260 Pad, inflatable, Thermarest Neoair Small
96 Dry bag for sleeping bag 13 l Sea to Summit
640 Quilt Primaloft ripstop/bugnet, homemade 2 cm loft
22 Pack sack quilt silnylon homemade
884 Sleeping bag WM Ultralite Super Long



Safety
66 Firestarting (water proof matches, small candles etc)
42 Blood stopper, heavy bandage
30 Sports tape, for blisters, support and repairs
25 Repair gear
84 Spare glasses and sun visors in hard box
50 Medical (bandaids, pain relief etc)
55 Swiss Army Knife incl scissors and tweezers
40 Map
24 Compass Silva Ranger 27, mirror
88 GPS GPS Garmin Geko 101 inkl batt
22 Dry bag safety gear, Sea to Summit 2 l silnylon

Miscellaneous
10 Tickets
10 Skin ointment Swedish Defense
458 Camera Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28
252 Card reader/hard disc Jobo, storage photos incl bag
144 Tripod for camera, metall and carbon fiber, partly homemade
100 Mobile phone Nokia
30 Dry bag camera 8 l Sea to Summit Silnylon
65 Head lamp Zipka Plus
25 Money, credit card, drivers license in ziploc bag
25 Pencil and note paper
655 Pack ULA Ohm Large 57 l
1268 Pulk, Paris sawed off, 980 mm
140 Belt and cord for towing pulk
115 Snow goggles, for hard wind, Cebe
300 Snowclaw, "shovel"
50 Sun screen pf 30
10 Toothbrush and length of dental floss
25 Thermometer
25 Toilet paper 10 m in zip loc bag

10773 Pack, base weight
17780 Equipment, base weight
6706 Food and fuel

17479 Pack, total weight
24486 Equipment, total weight


'Base weight' is what I always carry in my pack, 'equipment' is a k a skin out weight. Total weight includes food and fuel.

The weight of the three big ones (carry, shelter and sleep) was:
4127 grams (excluding the Rulk).
5536 grams (including the Rulk)

Maybe my rule of thumb for 3-season backpacking, 3 kilos for the three big ones a k a '343' should be replaced by '443' for winter trips?

Comments in Swedish here at Utsidan, in English below. For other articles on this trip, search for "Across Sarek".

Etiketter: ,

2010-04-19   6 kommentarer

Across Sarek in winter - the rulk rebooted

English Turer Another chapter in the epic story of the incredible Rulk was written when I spent a week in March crossing a wintry Sarek. Temperatures were between minus 10-20 C most of the time and my gear was pulled behind me in a combination of pulk and pack most of the time. I started out with 17 kilos, including 7 kilos of food and fuel for 6-7 days. You will find a description of the trip here.
By Jörgen Johansson
For those of you not familiar with The Incredible Rulk you will find an article here about last years trip and an article here, at Backpackinglight.com on how it was made. In brief, a rulk is a combination of rucksack, or pack, and pulk. The construction enables you to switch very rapidly between pulling it behind you and carrying it on your back.

Last years version was a piece of aluminium sheeting, this years version was the real thing. That is a commercially manufactured pulk for a very decent price. A Paris pulk that was cut off to the same lenght as my full pack. The cut off Paris was 960 mm long and weigted 1400 grams including the webbing belt and lines to pull it. This system was exactly the same as last years. There was a weight penalty, the cut off Paris sled weighs about 500 grams more than last years version aluminum version. It was worth every gram...

The pack was a 57 litre ULA Ohm backpack that was slightly roomier than last years Golite Jam2 (52 l). Since last years trip was for only three days and this was twice as long I needed the extra space for more food and fuel.

The closed cell foam pad goes on top of the pack in pulk mode. It's easily strapped in place using waist belt and sternum strap of the pack.
As with the aluminium version I attached the rulk to the pack using plastic hooks (normally used for attaching flags to flagpoles as well as some boating carabiners I came across). These were hooked around the carbon fiber "frame" of the Ohm. Last year they were hooked into the attachments for the compression straps on the frameless Jam2.

The hooks were connected with and short pieces of cord with Prusik knots that allowed me to cinch the pulk very tight to the pack. And also to adapt easily to the fact that the pack shrunk as I filled my belly with all kinds of goodies.

I used the same simple pulling system as last year. A web belt with a buckle and the cord attached. I can honestly say that with the weight I was pulling I felt absolutely no need for any padded belt.


The whole glorious Rulk in action! Here I am on my way through the gateway of the famous Rapa Valley.

The construction worked very well. It tracked very much better than the aluminium flat bottom solution of yesteryear and slid like a dream in my ski tracks. It was in fact often faster than my skis, noticable going downhill. Still, I fell that the simple cord pull is OK even if the pulk sometimes passes you. I prefer not to burden the construction with pulling stakes that make it more difficult to switch into backpack mode. But I might change my mind, and others might make different choices.

Here on a particulary topsy turvy passage a carried the rulk on my back. The foam pad is simply tied on top, using the pulling cord. It takes about 2-3 minutes to switch from one mode to another. This includes blowing my nose and gazing briefly at the horizon.

I only carried the rulk on my back twice. The second time was at the end of the trip, while decending a steep hill with birch forest and soft snow that had me sinking to my knees even with skiis. Here the light pack on my back worked very well, although I didn't do any fancy telemark turns. I was in fact happy to slip slide down the hill with not more than one nose dive.

I love to cook a meal or coffee sitting on my pad, with my legs stretched out and a tree or a rock as backrest. But the rulk can of course be structured into the perfect armchair. Just stick it in the snow at the appropriate angle, lean back and close your eyes and listen to the snow melt on your stove.

Sticking the rulk in the snow and adding the Snow Claw at right angles makes a good wind screen for the stove, when necessary.

Here is an example of how you can use the rulk as a snow anchor, sticking it down or digging it down as much as you deem necessary. You can see that spindrift has collected on the lee side of it during the night.

To sum it up, it is almost too easy to pull such a light weight as I had behind you on a pulk when skiing in most conditions. It is almost as if you were skiing without any gear at all. And when circumstances are against the use of a pulk you simply put it on your back and you are not worse of than you would have been without a rulk for starters. For this reason I'm a bit suspicious against adding a pole system instead of cords for pulling the thing. But considering the fact that I pull it 95% of the time, maybe I have to change my mind on that account. Something collapsible maybee....

Please comment here on Utsidan in Swedish, or below in English.

Etiketter: ,

2010-04-01   3 kommentarer

Skurka - Alaska Yukon expedition is on its way

English, Turer A couple of days ago on March 20 2010 Andrew Skurka caught a plane to Alaska to begin the Alaska-Yukon Expedition (AYE), a 7 500 kilometer and 7-month-long ski/trek/packraft adventure that begins and ends thirty miles north of the Arctic Circle in northwestern Alaska.
Av Jörgen Johansson

We have written about Andy Skurka before and now he has started his great project for this year. There is loads to be read about this trip on his webpage http://www.andrewskurka.com/, but I find his gear list well worth reading and it would be interesting to have some of our readers comment on it.

This is something that could be called a 5-season trip. At least Andrew will bring gear for arctic, winter, spring, summer and fall. So there are different kinds of gear depending on the conditions. But interesting to notice is that his pack baseweight (includes stuff that he always carries, irrespective of food and fuel) for the different seasons are as follows:

Arctic = 8,3 kilograms
Winter = 9,1 kilograms
Spring = 9,0 kilograms
Summer = 8,5 kilograms
Fall = 9,0 kilograms

The weight of all his gear (skin out) is:
Arctic = 15,0 kilograms
Winter = 15,8 kilograms
Spring = 10,9 kilograms
Summer = 10,4 kilograms
Fall = 11,9 kilograms

These are obviously pretty low weights for a trip in the Arctic, well comparable to my Scandinavian mountains but much more desolate. I have just returned from a weeks skiing in Sarek National Park and my gear for that week, which I guess will have to be called Arctic or Winter depending on what you're used to, had the following weight:

Base weight = 10,8 kilos
Skin out weight = 17,5 kilos

I recommend that you visit Andrew's site and look at his gear list, which could be download here:

http://www.andrewskurka.com/assets/advice/gearlists/ak10.pdf

Please comment either on Utsidan (in Swedish) or below, in English.

Etiketter: ,

2010-03-24   2 kommentarer

Packrafting - a beginner in whitewater

Turer A clever person would of course have taken a basic course in packrafting, before going on a trip like mine this summer, between Abisko and Nikkaluokta. For those who have read about that trip here and in Outside Magazine it's pretty obvious I needed it. Well, you can't always be clever, but at least I was really motivated when going to Bozeman, Montana to join the BackpackingLight.com course in September. It was quite an experience.
By Jörgen Johansson

The course convened over muffins and coffee at a pond just outside Bozeman. Half a dozen students and four instructurs where pretty soon inflating the rafts. Andrew Skurka, our head instructor, pretty soon had us easing out onto the pond.
What we practised on the pond was 'wet reentry', which basically meant that we sat down in our packrafts and threw our weights around until it capsized. You then had to get out of the spray skirt, turn the raft the right way up and heave yourself back into it. Not as easy as it sounds (if it does), since the thing had a tendency of flipping you right back into the water again. The trick was to, with a mighty heave, get your center of gravity as far inside the boat as possible. We kept this up for an hour or so, much to the delight of a couple of classes of schoolchildren, whose faith in grown-ups must have taken a beating that morning.
After this we got on our bus and drove up to the Yellowstone River, which was going to be our home for the rest of the course. We started out in the lower parts of the aptly named Paradise Valley, with new practises of wet reentry, now in moving water and with a pack strapped to the foredeck. This turned out to be considerably more difficult, so the practise in the pond was really valuable.

Our instructors where hovering while we tried to offset the current pushing our legs under the raft, while flowing downstream, and do the mighty heave that would get our chest well into the boat.
The rest of the afternoon was spent flowing sedately down the Yellowstone, and getting increasingly familiar with the packraft and other members of the course.

The September weather was really benign, and packrafting with a group in circumstances like this turned out to be a really sociable activity. Lots of time to drift around and talk to various members of the group. The occasional stretch of rippling water where fairly easy to negotiate and when the sun set we made our camp and built a fire on the beach. Due to land restrictions we were only allowed to camp on public land, which had to be below the high water mark. This was reasonably easy this late in the season.

The second day we bussed up to Gardiner, on the border of Yellowstone National Park, and then got on the Yellowstone River again. Since boating of any kind, execept of course for power boats on Yellowstone Lake, is prohibited in the park we didn't enter it. But upstream from yesterday as it was, this was a different river. At least to inexperienced land lubbers like most of us students.

Going up to Gardiner we stopped the bus along the road, which followed the river the whole time, and walked over to watch some of the major rapids in Yankee Jim canyon, like The Boxcar. Looking down at this foaming maelstrom from the road certainly made it's impression. So this is what we would have to go through before nightfall? All of us students were very carefully not saying anything at all.

On this, the second day, we practised paddling in whitewater and rapids getting increasingly more difficult. I got dunked once, inspite of my spinsterish approach, leaving the more aggressive stunts to the young guns. Some of those got dunked more than once, some just breezed through the whole thing.
The main lesson for me in whitewater this day was: Lean forward and bully your way through. A good addition to this was: Once you've committed yourself to a route, go for it with all you've got. I guess this could be a lesson for life as well. Changes in midstride will usually land you on your ass.

As the afternoon progressed we went deeper into the canyon and the rapids became more and more challenging. After going through some particularly white whitewater, we rested in an eddy. Our instructors then said: Congratulations, you've just run the Yankee Jim.

Yes, we had in fact run the rapids we had looked at from the road earlier that day, with some trepidation. For me it was really good psychology not to tell us this beforehand and it felt like a great victory at the end of the day, with arms and shoulders turning into noodles and blood sugar going down.

We camped in good spirits that evening, with an interesting assortment of light shelters. They were pitched on a perfect beach below the high watermark and carefully anchored with stones. However, around 10 pm the Sheriff turned up with an aggravated land owner and evicted us all. Unknown to everybody there was obviously some law stating that even if you were on public land you couldn't camp closer than 500 yards to somebodys house. So we had to move the whole camp. Made me pretty grateful for the Swedish law of common access, which lets you camp on anybodys private land for one night, as long as it's not on their actual lot.

The third day included more pratice with whitewater. We went down the same stretch of the Yellowstone as the day before, but this day was really different. We knew that we had taken Yankee Jim without casualties yesterday, and that made for a more relaxed day.

Above is shown some practise around a 'hole', which is the washing machine thingy between the instructor and the packraft coming over the rock-induced wave. A hole tends to suck you back, and being under water in a hole can be a dangerous thing. The water is so churned up and filled with air that you get no flotation even with a PFD. If you are unlucky you'll be churned around in this until the river freezes, at which time most people would be dead.

Here I am, tightening the straps before heading into Yankee Jim canyon for the second time. The lesson for day three that stayed in my mind was: Finesse your way down.
If the day before in Yankee Jim hade been like going into the jaws of hell, this day was more like a walk in the park. It's seldom after childhood that you will experience going from not being able to do something at all to being able to do it at least moderately well in in only three days. I came away from this course feeling very satisfied and also a bit addicted...

Below you'll find links to some films. The first two show me in some of the practice parts of the Yellowstone River on day two. They're from Andrew Skurka and Backpackinglight.com.

The third film shows Andrew and Ryan Jordan scouting the Yankee Jim a couple of days before the course. It shows some of the tougher passages of this canyon, where everyone was to busy to film during the course.
Comment on this article in Swedish on Utsidan here and in English below.

Etiketter: ,

2009-10-26   2 kommentarer

Packrafting from Abisko to Nikkaluokta

Turer I discovered packrafting, a nice combination of backpacking and paddling this summer. The maiden voyage in the Swedish mountains did not turn out quite the way I expected. Here you will find some photos. The full story was published in the Swedish edition of Outside Magazine September 2009. You can download the article in Swedish here.
by Jörgen Johansson

The packraft is born in Alaska, where forest, mountains and rivers are plentiful - and bridges are scarce. It only weighs a couple of kilos and can be carried inflated or deflated, depending on circumstances. Starting out with an ultralight pack is good, since my packraft including paddle and personal flotation device added 4 kilos to my load.

Practising close to Abisko Mountain station the day before I took off on my hike.


On my way through the birch forest towards Kårsavagge from the Mountain station.


The sun was beating down, so minimising my clothing to my combined merino tights and underwear felt really nice whilst climbing out of Kårsavagge on my way to Håiganvagge.



Crossing the mountains from one valley to another I walked along this shelf with a magnificent view of the land around the northernmost part of Kungsleden (The King's Trail) in the valley below.


My packraft in it's blue bag was not a large packet, especially not compared to my size 45's. The raft was an Alpacka Denali Llama weighing 2,9 kilos. This loaf fitted nicely along the spine of my pack, with the sleeping bag in the bottom and the rest of the gear tucked around it.

Late evening sun floating over my camp in Håiganvagge.

With my raft under my arm, heading from camp in the morning for a place with a decent flow of water some 500 meters downstream.


I fastened the pack with a couple of ordinary packstraps of about 2 meters each. Bungy cords with hooks is another way which makes for faster attachment and detachment.

You can strap the pack in different orientations. This is one, but smarter is to twist it 90 degrees with the hipbelt pointing forward. That way you can just shoulder your pack for a portage and the raft will be attached like in the first photo.


With a NeoAir inflated you insulate your butt from the cold water and keep it reasonably out of reach from water spilling in collecting at the lowest spot. I got some deciliters of water sloshing in every now and then, since the less than professional floating device I used made it difficult to cinch everything completely tight around my waist.

Launching the third morning at Bieggeluoppal, about a kilometer before Alesätno starts for real.

This kind of whitewater was pretty common in Alesätno and was easy as pie to handle even for an amateur like me.

This kind of whitewater I happily left to the pros and did in fact pack up my raft and start the hike towards the alpine regions around Mårma.

On my way towards Mårma I look back towards Alesvagge and Alesätno. An impressive valley, unknown to me and also I believe to many others inspite of the nearness to Kungsleden. Or maybe because of that.


On my way from the alpine Mårma region down to the valley of Vistasvagge and Vistasjåkkå, which does look tempting to a packrafter...
Vistasstugan mountain hut waited in the birchforest, with the valley of Stuor Räitavagge och and the spike of Nallo in the distance.

Ready to go from Vistasstugen, looking forward to an exciting trip downstream to Nikkaluokta and the bus on the following day.

This narrow arm of water with the "sweepers" along the shore ended my rafting. I was dunked and the paddle was swept away in the resulting mess.

Drying out the worst of my gear (everything that needed to be dry was dry) and repacking with Nallo as background. From here on I walked to Nikkaluokta, where I was just in time for a cup of coffee before boarding the bus at 1600 hours the day after.

Discuss at the Utsidan forum (in Swedish)

Etiketter: ,

2009-09-11   7 kommentarer

Along the northern rails with the incredible Rulk

WHY IN ENGLISH?

Turer
The dream was born some 30 years ago. During a midwinter ski trip in Orsa Finnmark a pal and I sunk below our knees, despite skis, in the deep snow. So we rerouted to a nearby railway, and skied on the tracks instead, right between the rails. It worked excellently as long as we remembered to step off the track when the two daily trains, one in each direction, went past. This was the Inland Railway, stretching 1300 kilometers along the wooded spine of Sweden, from Kristinehamn to Gällivare. And the idea was born: To ski the lengt of the Inland rail.

But thirty years have a way of devaluating dreams, and my skitrip this winter was only four days long, albeit in unique company. My Rulk, a pack and pulk combo constructed of thin aluminium sheeting, was the only companion.
By Jörgen Johansson

The sun was shining as I paid the taciturn taxidriver where the railway crossed the road some 20 kilometers north of Jokkmokk. The Arctic Circle could almost be seen to the south and it was time to give the Rulk its first and most important test. Having seen a number of my own bright ideas fail in the bleak light of real life testing, I suspected that the first ten minutes of skiing would tell if the Rulk could be pulled behind me, or carried on my back.


Having avoided pulks since my Army days, an embryo of an idea had been growing in the back of my mind for a couple of years. What if a very light, hard shell could be fastened to the back of my pack, enabling me to shift between carrying and pulling my load in seconds?

In brief, the Rulk is a piece of 1 mm aluminium sheeting, bent in the shape of a pulk, with cording attaching it to a hipbelt. This "pulk" is then strapped tightly onto the back of the pack, riding there as the shell of a tortoise, while in "pack mode". And the name is simply a combination of "rucksack" and "pulk".

More of how the Rulk was constructed and possible areas of improvement will be found in this article on Backpackinglight.com.


The first ten minutes of easy skiing on the railway convinced me that the Rulk was an idea that could survive reality, and it worked very well in these circumstances. The skiing was next to perfect between the rails, with the surface hardened by snowmobiles. This in combination with a temperature about five degrees below freezing and reasonably blue skies made for a great day of skiing. One thing I quickly found out, when you go by train and look out the window you get the impression that the rail is always running across almost flat terrain. When skiing or walking you find that the rails, as can easily be imagined, do indeed slope quite a bit. That this afternoon was all uphill did not take any sharpened senses to deduce.



I stopped to have my usual cup of afternoon coffee, known as the "three-coffee" in Sweden for the brilliant reason that it is usually drunk around three o'clock. Beside the tracks where I stopped the snow was blood stained in a couple of places and some tufts of reindeer hair remained. The animal tracks also following the rails for the last 5-6 km where probably wolverine, though it was a bit hard to tell because they were slightly snowed and frosted over. But the size and the gait could hardly be anything else, even if I'm no expert tracker by any means.


Temperatures were falling as the sun was rapidly declining when I reached the impressive steel bridge across the Great Lule River. On the other side began habitation that would shortly lead through the only village I would pass on my trip, Porjus. So this side of the bridge seemed a good place to stop for the night since I really hadn't come this far to camp in somebodys back yard.

I now found out that the rulk was no great shakes beside the railroad tracks. I was wading through deep snow up to my knees in spite of my skis. The rulk rolled over on it's side all the time and I had to go back and straighten it up. But after a couple of hundred yards of this I found a spot that looked good for camping.

First using my skis to trample a platform for the tent, I then left it to freeze as solid as possible and used the Rulk as a makeshift shovel to dig a hole in the snow for my fire. After collecting some firewood I added a match to the dry and twisted spruce twigs and soon had a small fire going. Time to put up the tent, which was done very rapidly with the Black Diamond Firstlight that In winter for the last couple of years. Skis and and skipoles go in each of the four corners as pegs, and then up goes the roof. All done in less than five minutes even above timberline in hard wind.


Darkness was now creeping closer to my fire and the temperature was -14 Celsius as I sank down beside the fire on my foam mat and fired up the gas stove. Soon I was eating my freeze dried fish stew spoon by spoon while trying to decipher the shapeshifting of the friendly flames.#

Soon after I crawled into the tent and arranged everything for a cold night. Thick cell foam and a Torsolite inflatable on top kept me warm from the ground. I let the BPL wool hoody I had used next to skin during the day trade places with a drier Woolpower shirt and added the Cocoon pyjama, hoody and pants on top of this and my old woolen long johns. Then I crawled into the WM Ultralite Super and pulled my homemade down quilt with it's two inch loft on top of everything. After all that exercise I was practically sweating, but pretty confident that the night would not be too uncomfortable.


The night was not uncomfortable at all. When I woke at dawn the termometer showed -20 Celsius, which was surprisingly cold considering how warm I felt. And I still had my WM Flight jacket as extra insulation for an even colder night. I felt satisfied that my calculations seemed to have been about right. With the down jacket on and the help of a hot water bottle if needed, I felt that I would have, if not exactly slept fitfully, have survived a -40 Celsius night with reasonable margins.

Both my warm jackets, the Cocoon and the Flight, was a pretty nice combination while packing up on this cold morning though, and it was nice to start moving along the tracks again. Soon it became warmer and around lunchtime I trudged through Porjus, still on the tracks. What I saw was mostly the huge outer works of the great hydro electric power plant and the remains of what used to be the railway station. The rest of the small community had obviously turned it's back on the railway, the only exception being an artistically painted wagon, "The Culture Wagon", by the old railway station.

It was a bit overcast as I trudged on in the afternoon and reached the legendary Luspebryggan after a couple of hours. Luspebryggan (Luspebridge) was the place where people going to the mountains in the 30's and 40's had stepped off the train and loaded onto different boats that would take them west on several lakes up in Stora Sjöfallets (Great Falls) National Park. All these lakes are now gone, together with the magnificent falls. Being a national park is not much of a protection when it comes to the crunch, it seems. A sad thing for any country, especially a rich one, to have a national park called Great Falls, but not be able to afford the falls.


I was now leaving the bigger trees behind and moving out into the wet and flat lands of Sjaunja, where the spruces are scraggly and look more like silouettes of fish bones than trees. Often the tracks passed across marshy areas where no trees grew at all. This was the last outpost of the taiga, the last trees before the tundra mountains to the west. This was what I had come for. This was where I stopped for the day, as the light was waning.

I placed my tent beside the tracks and built my evening fire between the rails. This night would not be as cold as the night before, I could feel that. I was a bit overcast and the wind grabbed at the flames and whipped smoke in my eyes. As wind and fire are prone to do to a lone wanderer.



It was the morning of the third day and a bleak sun shone. It was -6 Celsius and a sharp wind was blowing from the west. I made pretty good time going north across the marshland. A couple of times when I passed areas where no stunted spruce gave me shelter, the wind upended the Rulk, leaving it laying on it's side. Another disadvantage of a light pulk, high center of gravity and only ropes and no poles emanating from my hips to hold the pulk on it's right keel.

I say quite a few reindeer this morning and snowmobile tracks no doubt left by the Sami herders keeping an eye on their flock. I took a break, safe from the biting wind, in a tiny cabin right by the tracks that probably belonged to them. Someone with a sense of humor had written a sign on it; Avakadjo Hembygdsgård (Avakadjo Community Center).

After another couple of hours across the windswept marshlands with the battered spruces I came to Kuossakåbbå "station". Many years before I had stepped off a train here with a couple of friends, ready to start a week long ski trip across the giant bog across the tracks. This parcel of wetland looked like a frozen lake and was most likely only passable on skis in the winter. We had taken shelter in a small and newly built cabin that was the "station" building, since a drizzle of rain made having lunch in the snow less than appealing. The station building was now gone, probably taken away to be used someplace else instead of leaving it to decay, since it was relatively new at that time. The station sign was still there, and a flat spot in the snow indicated where the house had stood.

Stopping for lunch and to cook a real meal, as I always do, I hastily rigged my tent as a shelter on the realtively hard surface of the railroad itself. Since the sun was shining I took the opportunity to hang my sleeping bag and quilt to dry from some stunted birch trees. In a few mountainous regions of the world the birch trees make up the timberline. Scandinavia is one, and so is Kamtjakta I'm told.


Enjoying the lee in my tent and looking out the open door at my sleeping gear twirling in the wind, I spent the next hour or so eating my freeze dried lunch and melting snow for drinking water. I'm careful to drink at least one pint every hour on any trip like this, and in winter it usually means I have to carry the water. Scandinavia is a wet country and normally there is plenty of water and never any need to carry it around. Unless you enjoy the extra exercise that a heavier load gives, of course. So I melted water for two pintsize waterbottles that I carry in the pockets of pants or anorak to keep it handy and fluid. Another couple of pints in a bottle wrapped in my Cocoon pullover went into the top of my pack.


Skiing along a railway has it's advantages, and disadvantages. After lunch I spent a couple of hours on a stretch that had not a single bend in 6-7 kilometers. Yeah, a bit booring.

Stopping for afternoon coffee I noted that the single gas container I had brought felt a bit light, not to say ultralight. When I gave it some serious consideration I realized that I had been sloppy while planning the amount of gas I would use. For three season hiking I use 25 gram per day and person and I had calculated that a full container with 220 grams of Primus Powergas would see me through 3-4 days of winter cooking. Since I new fully well that my needs for winter are 75 grams per person and day I had definitely not done my math.

In some cases this could have been serious, but my sloppiness was partly due to the fact that I was travelling in taiga country and firewood was plentiful. So small safety margins with the gas was just a minor comfort problem, and not a major safety issue.


However, when putting up camp for the last night along the rails I used my fire for cooking and melting snow for water. I was happy that I had made the gesture of trying to dry out my sleeping gear, since this night seemed to be colder than the night before, which had been surprisingly mild compared to the first.

This last night had temperatures around -12 Celsius, and my quilt was now really damp. This night I put on both my warm jackets while sleeping. Dawn came and the gas carefully saved and kept in my sleeping bag during the night was just enough to melt some snow after my hot cocoa, morning coffee and muesli.

I knew from the impressive bulk of the mountain Dundret rising above the trees that the marshland of Sjaunja now lay behind me and the mining town of Gällivare lay ahead. It was a nice and sunny morning as I skied along. It being Saturday and all I half expected sizable numbers of snowmobilers heading out of town, on their way to a fishing lake somewhere or to get their kicks simply from using a combustion engine.

I didn't see many snowmobilers though, and after a couple of hours of enjoyable skiing I passed a sign saying Gällivare and a couple of minutes after that I was in the train yards. I kept to my narrow gauge rails, since I knew that no trains ran on those. When I say the railway station a bit further away I took of my skis, shouldered my Rulk and walked across the tracks and into the town.

Discuss the Rulk and the trip here (in Swedish)

Etiketter: ,

2009-04-29   2 kommentarer