For Katharina, the third day is almost always the day when she doesn’t really get going in the morning. This year as well. We also know that the weather will worsen during the day. Our plan is to walk to the foot of the Barturtte massif and then decide if we want to go any further. From there the Kungsleden leads over several kilometers uphill and over a long plateau. After a detailed study of the map, there seem to be no protected camping sites there. This is also confirmed by an oncoming hiker.
On foot we cross the Arctic Circle on the Kungsleden
Already after half an hour on today’s stage of Kungsleden we reach the first small obstacle: a collapsed bridge. It was partly dragged along and is half in the water. Fortunately, the river that it once spanned is quite small, so that thanks to our walking sticks and some large stones we get to the other side with dry feet.
In cloudy weather we hike through quite flat landscape with the typical birch forests of Lapland. It is remarkably dry. Again and again we come across almost or even completely dry ponds and lakes. A sign of climate change? The positive effect of the dryness is that there are almost no mosquitoes. We also noticed this early on. So far we have hardly used our mosquito repellent at all.
A highlight is the sign with the inscription “Polcirkeln” hanging inconspicuously from a birch tree, which reminds us that from now on we are travelling north of the Arctic Circle. There is no difference, but somehow it’s a great feeling to have crossed this imaginary line on your own feet.
Why do hikers leave trash along the Kungsleden?
Shortly before we go uphill to the back of the Barturtte, we find several good camping sites at a small river, where we have a lunch break. Unfortunately some ruthless hikers have left behind the half burnt aluminium packaging of their dinners. I really have no understanding for such a thing and so this sight annoys me very much. Still during our break the announced rain begins and we consider briefly to set up our tent directly. But since it is only about two o’clock, we decide against it, because we feel little desire to spend the whole afternoon in the tent.
In wind and rain we hike over the back of the Barturtte
Instead, we unpack our rain gear and pack ourselves somewhat waterproof. Then it goes uphill. Despite the bad weather, we are in a really good mood. Wind and rain let us feel how lively we are. Through the effort we are not cold.
When we managed the ascent, two Germans meet us on the plateau. Meanwhile it has become late afternoon. To our great surprise they both wear sandals: he with soaking wet socks and she completely without socks. The two are clearly exhausted and wear their hiking boots on their backs as they have not shrunk and their feet are full of blisters. They ask us about the walking time to the next hut and are not thrilled that they have many more hours ahead of them. The next good campsite for them is also several hours away. It’s where we had our lunch break. To be honest, I don’t think they made it to Vuonatjviken in their condition and with the weather getting worse.
Several hours the Kungsleden leads us over the back of the more than 1000 meter high Barturtte massif. Finally we start the descent again. We slowly realize that our strength is dwindling. Cold, wind, rain and the many kilometres that we are now walking on this day are noticable. I realize that I am less sure-footed and slide away several times on the muddy ground. Katharina feels the same way.
As we descend, our energy dwindles
Now it’s really uncomfortable. The rain is now joined by an unpleasant sleet and an icy and sharp wind is blowing on the northern side of the mountain. We have another night in the tent ahead of us. On the map there is an abandoned reindeer keeper’ s hut called Tjäurakåtan marked and we want to go there to see if it offers some protection against the weather. It was recommended to us by another hiker and he also told us that we would find good campsites there. On the way there we already see that at the first good tent site after the mountain or at the last before the mountain, if you walk the other way around, a real tent village has grown for the night.
Staying overnight in a reindeer keeper hut – how cool is that?
A little further we actually find the hut marked on the map. It offers a little wind protection, but is not waterproof. A completely soaked Brit, who is also walking on Kungsleden and trembles from the cold, has already found shelter here. We sit down with him and have something to eat. Thereby we learn that the Brit has renounced many things due to weight optimization. As long as he is in motion, the system works, but during breaks and in the evening he freezes. We feel a little sorry for him, because he seems to have reached the end of his strength this evening. After some time he packs up his things and starts looking for a suitable place to stay the night.
Only a few meters away from the hut I also find a fabulous and protected place with a view to a small lake. Today this lake also serves as a source of drinking water. Katharina sets up her small tent in the hut and sleeps there together with Lando protected from the worst wind.