After a restful night we set off early to avoid the worst of the heat. According to the description in the cabin, the tour to the Cáihnavággi cabin should take four hours. It is about 12.5 kilometers and the time actually sounds realistic, but after yesterday’s experience the first doubts mix into our good mood.
Rather wade through a river or walk a detour?
But we also discovered on the map that we have to cross another Norwegian bridge and that another wading place is marked. The latter can be bypassed by a detour of about one kilometer, where there is a bridge. Despite the fact that we do not know whether we can cross the bridge with Lando, we decide even before we set off at the cabin to take the detour because of the high water levels.
This tour is not only physically demanding – the uncertainty of what lies ahead troubles me
This morning I find it psychologically difficult to deal with the uncertainty of what lies ahead. I wonder if we will arrive at the Cáihnavággi cabin that day as planned and if we can even make this tour at all. The last few days have clearly shown me my own limits, but also the limits of hiking with a dog. And ahead of us lies the supposedly harder part of our tour.
Did I say yesterday that the bridge was rickety? The one today is much worse!
We soon walked to the first bridge. From a distance it looks even better than the bridge from the day before, since the ladders on the side are not so high. On closer inspection, however, the bridge is in pretty bad shape. In Germany, such a bridge could never be in operation. The railing is missing in large parts or is broken and the bridge is alarmingly twisted in itself.
Manuel crosses first with his backpack. While watching him I realise that it would be much too dangerous to send Lando across this bridge. So Manuel comes back without his backpack and I go to the other side with my backpack. After the first third, I start singing to keep my anxiety in line and focus on something else. While I’m belting out verse after verse of Rolf Zuckowski’s “ich schaff das schon“ (engl. “I can do it”) in my head, the rushing waters of the river roar below me. If I were to fall into it, the vacation would take a nasty turn. Quickly aside with these thoughts. Everything goes well, but my legs tremble when I have solid ground under my feet again.
Good thing Lando is such a brave swimmer
The next step is to find a suitable swimming spot for Lando. A bit upstream the river widens and the current is not quite so rapid, but still quite strong. The distance is far, I can hardly be heard all the way to the other side, although I call out loudly. I didn’t want to swim there and also Lando needs a bit of persuasion and loud motivational shouts from my side until he dares to swim. He gets drifted a bit by the current, but in the end he fights his way to me. I take a deep breath when he finally gets out of the water and am glad that we have mastered this river as well.
Sun and the vastness of Lapland, what more can you ask for?
The path leads us through the wide valley through which the Cunojohka flows. We have beautiful sunshine and the clouds disappear completely from the sky. From underneath it is often swampy and wet and about an hour later we are in front of the next river without a bridge. We had not expected that. But in the meantime we have an eye for where it is best to get through a river. So again pants and socks off and through the knee-deep river. On the other side everything back on and on we go.
We don’t find the turnoff to the wading place described above, apparently most hikers take the detour over the bridge. To our pleasant surprise, this bridge is much more solidly built than the other bridges we have encountered in Norway so far: There is a bridge portal on each side and the floor is stable and considerably wider. In addition, it is also in a much better shape and we dare to take Lando on the bridge. This is also possible because we don’t have to climb the bridge with a ladder first. In the middle a piece of the ground is missing, about 30 centimeters, there Manuel has to help and lift Lando over it. But he walked the rest on his own, although on wobbly paws! We needed about 5 minutes for this bridge crossing. No comparison to up to an hour when Lando has to swim.
We will become scouts – losing the trail once again
After the bridge we do not find the path anymore. On our map it is marked quite far down the slope, in fact it runs quite a bit further up. We struggle for a while through a chest-high and very dense boggy willow forest until we see oncoming hikers, through which we find the actual path again.
Navigation in Norway
In Norway, the trails are much harder to find and even navigation with GPS does not always lead to the right place, because the map material is often not correct. Trails sometimes change from season to season. Therefore, always pay attention and possibly go back a few meters and look again for the right trail.
For about an hour we continue through dense willow forest with constantly wet ground. This tugs at our strength and we are glad when we reach the tree line. The trail now leads steadily uphill in the searing heat and of course we have already needed longer than the predicted four hours.
This weather is crazy!
Soon we fight primarily against the sunburn, therefore have long-sleeved sweaters on despite temperatures beyond 20 degrees and quite an effort. Our way to the Cáihnavággi cabin runs above the Cáihnajohka and we enjoy the great view down to the river. Shortly before the cabin we walk just a little higher than a lake. Here you can find many great campsites with the insanely great view over the valley.
At the Cáihnavággi cabin it is simply stunningly beautiful
After about 8.5 hours we reach the beautifully situated Cáihnavággihytta. We quickly decide to treat ourselves to another night in the cabin instead of the tent! We cannot believe how great the Norwegian cabins are located and what luxury they offer. All are absolutely individual and totally cozy.
We also meet a German group that evening, consisting of father, son and a friend of the son. The three have made a rest day at the Cáihnavággi cabin, having previously walked there on an adventurous route across a glacier. We talk for a while and discover that they want to continue walking the same way as us in the next few days.
DNT Cabin Cáihnavággi
The cabin is absolutely beautiful located at the end of a valley overlooking an unnamed lake. A rowing boat lying there can be used. Day trips to the surrounding mountains of the Cáihnavárri massif are easily doable and should be worthwhile according to the other hut visitors.
Beds: 6 in three cabins according to DNT homepage, but in my opinion there were more (min. 8-10)
Payment: afterwards by Paypal or bank transfer
Key: DNT key
More information: ut.no (Norwegian only)
Wir treffen einen Wanderer, der bereits die vor uns liegende Strecke gelaufen ist
Another hiker pauses briefly at the Cáihnavággi cabin this evening before looking for a campsite a little below the cabin. He is walking in the opposite direction to us and, coming from Ritsem, has walked exactly the route that we still have ahead of us. He tells us that all the rivers ahead are easily crossable and the bridges are not a problem. However, in wide parts of the way to Røysvatn we can expect a closed snow cover. He also warns us about the descent between Skoaddejávri and Sitas. This is very steep and he is not sure if we can get down there with Lando.
He has perceived the Gränsleden as exhausting, as he has lost the way several times and once got lost in dense willow bushes. On the one hand, we are reassured by his assessment of the rivers, but on the other hand we gain a lot of respect for what lies ahead of us. I also get the feeling that the guy doesn’t believe we can do the hike and is skeptical about Lando’s off-road qualities. I guess the next few days will show.
Cunojávri cabin is beautifully situated overlooking the Norwegian lake of the same name. The smaller cabin is well furnished, pleasantly bright and relatively new. It is not serviced and you need the DNT’s key.
Day 5: Cunojávri - Cáihnavággi
The fifth day: from Cunojávri to Cáihnavággihytta.
At a length of 13.5 km the trail from the Cunojávrihytta to the Cáihnavággihytta is extremely diverse: we cross several rivers either by ford or by bridges of different quality and construction (as of 2019). The trail runs through both dry and very wet meadows, swampy willow bushes and finally well above the tree line. We find the last climb to the cabin feels quite tiring in the burning sun.
Cáihnavággihytta is located at a lake as well and is locked with the DNT key. However, it is situated at an elevation of slightly more than 1000 m which is higher than the Cunojávrihytta. The view into the mountains still covered by some snow was great.