How to pack a backpack with a 9 month old baby, a tipi tent, diapers and food for a trek in the wild of Swedish Lapland.

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” M. Theresa

Boooo! That’s long time, no see! But once in a while we throw a log onto the blog fire. We welcomed our son Bosse into the family in the summer of 2018. Whoop whoop!

Today we flashback you into Lotta’s adventure she took in july/august of 2016. At 9 months old she was big and strong enough a baby to sit up straight in a Thule Sapling. We backpacked between Kvikkjokk and Abisko, in, around, up, above the Kungsleden for about 280kms, including all side trips and side explorations into Sarek NP. Most of the time we made a bivaouc in the sturdy, spacious and light Nigor WickiUp4 tipi, other nights we stayed over at the comfortable STF huts, where we could resupply and wash up. We had organised a poste restante with diapers and extra food at SALTOLUOKTA fjallstation.

As explained before, we layered the baby up during the night with as many merino wool layers as necessary and a merino wool sleeping bag, as we did in Patagonia.

We are happy with the merino wool products from Danish Joha and German Reiff.

The baby did not sleep on an inflated sleeping mattres, because of suffocation danger. Her sleeping mat was the Thermarest Z-lite Sol closed-cell mattress. We buttoned a hooded hat to keep her head and body warm during the night. Breast feeding kept her nourished and healthy.

We choosed to use washable diapers with a biodisposable inlay like the G diaper system. It worked very well because on a maximum of 3-4 days in between, we crossed into an STF hut with pit toilets in which we could dump the used inlays and wash the outer protection panties.

We leave you with a video impression and some snapshots:



A bivaouc spot in the woods near Abiskojaure.

A bivaouc spot in the woods near Abiskojaure. Abisko National Park. Swedish Lapland.


Another bivaouc spot in the Abisko National Park. Swedish Lapland.

Another bivaouc spot in the Abisko National Park. Swedish Lapland.


Investigating a reindeer antler on an exploration high above the Torneträsk lake. Abisko. Swedish Lapland.

Investigating a reindeer antler on an exploration high above the Torneträsk lake. Abisko. Swedish Lapland.


Minutes before the thunder storm came in. Kungsleden. Alesjaure. Swedish Lapland.

Minutes before the thunder storm came in. Kungsleden. Alesjaure. Swedish Lapland.


A hot day in the north. Kungsleden. Alesjaure. Swedish Lapland.

A hot day in the north. Kungsleden. Alesjaure. Swedish Lapland.


After a good night's sleep. Kungsleden. Alesjaure. Swedish Lapland.

After a good night’s sleep. Kungsleden. Alesjaure. Swedish Lapland.


Vistasvagge . Swedish Lapland.

Backpacking through the Vistasvagge. Kebnekaise. Swedish Lapland.


Enjoying baby supper, high above the Stuor Reaiddavaggi dalen. Swedish Lapland.

Enjoying baby supper, high above the Stuor Reaiddavaggi dalen. Swedish Lapland.


Enjoying baby supper, but from a higher view angle. Notice the Nigor WickiUp4 tipi high above the Stuor Reaiddavaggi dalen. Swedish Lapland.

Enjoying baby supper, but from a higher view angle. Notice our Nigor WickiUp4 tipi high above the Stuor Reaiddavaggi dalen? Swedish Lapland.


We just left the Nallostugan and Lotta is already on a nap. Kebnekaise. Swedish Lapland.

We just left the Nallostugan and Lotta is already on a nap. Kebnekaise. Swedish Lapland.


Dusk at Nallostugan. Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.

Dusk at Nallostugan . Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.


Food fight at Nallostugan. Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.

Food fight at Nallostugan . Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.




Windy at Singi! Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.

Windy at Singi! Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.


Somewhere on the Kungsleden south of Singi! Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.

Somewhere on the Kungsleden south of Singi! Kebnekaisefjell. Swedish Lapland.


Crossing a high plateau! Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.

Crossing a high plateau. Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.


Oral hygiene. Check! Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.

Oral hygiene. Check! Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.


Da! Da! Daaaaaa! (transl. Gimme that camera now)! Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.

Da! Da! Daaaaaa! (transl. Gimme that camera now)! Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.


No words. Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.

No words. Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Swedish Lapland.


Watch the weather change. Dusk at Sitojaure. Swedish Lapland.

Watch the weather change. Dusk at Sitojaure. Swedish Lapland.


While you we're sleeping. Kungsleden through Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

While you we’re sleeping. Kungsleden through Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 Breast feeding is the healthy baby snack. Kungsleden through Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

Breast feeding is the healthy baby snack. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


Early morningunder the canvas. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

Early morningunder the canvas. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


Laitaure lake with Skierfe towering above. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

Laitaure lake with Skierfe towering above. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


I hate sunscreen. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

I hate sunscreen. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


A girl and her balloon. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

A girl and her balloon. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 In Rapavalley there is a mountain called Nammásj.  Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

In Rapavalley there is a mountain called Nammásj. Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 It's not the beach, but hey, it's sunny and the view is nice! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

It’s not the beach, but hey, it’s sunny and the view is nice! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 It's quite quiet, so let's shout! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

It’s quite quiet, so let’s shout! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 Keekaboo! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

Keekaboo! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 Rainy smiles! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

Rainy smiles! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


 This is what they call a washed out trail! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.

This is what they call a washed out trail! Sarek NP. Laponia. Swedish Lapland.


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Adventuring while expecting?

A grand adventure is about to begin. (Winnie the Pooh)

What a wonderful year it has been! One full of joy and expectation! Just after our guided winter outing we found out that Katrijn was pregnant! That’s a wow for excitement! Would pregnancy be the end of adventurous lifestyle? Let’s find out.

On backcountry skies towards Kebnekaise. A flare of sun through the windy fog. #3monthspregnantinpicture

On backcountry skies towards Kebnekaise. A flare of sun through the windy fog. #3monthspregnantinpicture

Provided you are well and your pregnancy is normal, you can continue to exercise. Staying active during pregnancy will help keep the body stronger and more flexible. Childbirth is physically demanding, requiring huge amounts of energy. This is why it’s a good idea to keep in shape.

Tired, but superhappy almost-mommy. Lofoten archipelago. Norway. #6monthspregnantinpicture #6kgbackpack

Tired, but superhappy almost-mommy. Lofoten archipelago. Norway. #6monthspregnantinpicture #6kgbackpack

Katrijn kept on (trail)running until the 20th week of pregnancy, went swimming twice a week until a week before giving birth and continued cycling to work until the 36th week of pregnancy. In the weekend before our baby girl was born, Katrijn even biked around 100km in indian summer weather.

Ready for an adventure around Sweden's highest mountain? Lappland. Sweden.

Ready for an adventure around Sweden’s highest mountain? Lappland. Sweden.

During pregnancy it’s normal to sweat more than usual. To replace this, it’s important to hydrate even more before, during and after any kind of exercise or sporting activity. As well as exercise, you also need more rest during pregnancy. Despite the need for rest, 2015 was a very active year, with lots of (short) outings during the weekends and on every holiday occasion we could seize.

Excercising is one thing, but setting out for a multi-day backcountry adventure? Is that even possibe? Don’t you lack a good bed and healthy food?

Patches of aurora above Singi STF hut near Kebnekaise. Lappland. Sweden. April 2015.

Patches of aurora above Singi STF hut near Kebnekaise. Lappland. Sweden. April 2015.

The first 3 months of pregnancy are sometimes characterized by food aversions, nausea, mood swing and fatigue. But in the second trimester almost-mommy gains energy and feels more confident. It’s the best pregnancy frame for trips and adventures, just before you become a waddling penguin in the 7th month of pregnancy. That’s why we set out on a 2-week backcountry nordic ski traverse in Lappland in the first 2 weeks of april 2015.

TIme for skins. Uphill ski. Kebnekaise mountains. Lappland. Sweden. #3monthspregnantinpicture

Time for skins. Uphill ski. Kebnekaise mountains. Lappland. Sweden.

The almost-daddy takes all the load for a 2 week trip in a pulka, while almost-mommy can ski with a very light pack, focussing on keeping her balance. Lappland. Narviksfjell. Norway.

The almost-daddy takes all the load for a 2 week trip in a pulka, while almost-mommy can ski with a very light pack, focussing on keeping her balance. Lappland. Narviksfjell. Norway.

It wass an extreme windy, stormy and deepsnowy spring in Lapland. So our initial plan of skiing from Kateratt in Norway to Sweden’s highest mountain Kebnekaise through the Narviksfjell was altered after 1 day for a safer option along the Kungsleden. We did not regret that choice. Bivaoucs were alternated with overnights in cosy cabins along the route.

Bivaouc in -10*C while pregnant? Yes you can! Lappland. Sweden. #3monthspregnantinpicture

Bivaouc in -10*C while pregnant? Yes you can! Lappland. Sweden. #3monthspregnantinpicture

To maintain Katrijn’s demand for healthy nutricients, we had dried even more fruits and vegies and even added fresh carrots and onions in the pulka. The best energy came from handfull of nuts and freshly baked pancakes along the route. The max. distance we covered in a day on the skis was 20km, so Katrijn could recover well and every odd day she had a bed and hot water for a wash.

A flare of blue near windy Abiskojaure. Abisko National Park. Kungsleden. Lappland. Sweden.

A flare of blue near windy Abiskojaure. Abisko National Park. Kungsleden. Lappland. Sweden.

Tjäktja Pass with the Tjäktjavagge opening in a glacial U-shaped valley towards the south. Kungsleden. Lappland. Sweden. #3monthspregnantinpicture

Tjäktja Pass with the Tjäktjavagge opening in a glacial U-shaped valley towards the south. Kungsleden. Lappland. Sweden.

Mushers habitat. Kungsleden. Lappland. Sweden.

Mushers habitat. Kungsleden. Lappland. Sweden.

Ice stalactite dripping from Alesjaure STF hut. Kungsleden. Lappland. Sweden.

Ice stalactite dripping from Alesjaure STF hut. Kungsleden. Lappland. Sweden.

Plowing through fresh snow in white-out conditions. Lappland. Sweden. #3monthspregnantinpicture

Plowing through fresh snow in white-out conditions. Lappland. Sweden.

Sking toward Nikkaluokta, leaving Kebnekaise behind. Lappland. Sweden. #3monthspregnantinpicture

Sking toward Nikkaluokta, leaving Kebnekaise behind. Lappland. Sweden.

Where is the love? All around ya. Kebnekaise. Lappland. Sweden.

Where is the love? All around ya. Kebnekaise. Lappland. Sweden.

On the last night of our ski trip in Abisko, we are treated with some nice aurora above Lapporten. Lappland. Sweden. #pic16april2015

On the last night of our ski trip in Abisko, we are treated with some nice aurora above Lapporten. Lappland. Sweden. #pic16april2015

Logistical support for our Lapland backcountry ski trip was supported by the kind folks at XPlore The North.

Logistical support for our Lapland backcountry ski trip was supported by the kind folks at XPlore The North.

During Ascension weekend, Katrijn was 4 months pregnant. She felt fresh and last-minute we filled our backpacks and set off for a 4 day trek into the Vosges. We covered somewhere 80km and hiked up/down some 4000 altimeters. We camped out every night. She carried around 7kg in her own backpack.

Backpacking for 4 days through Le massif des Vosges. Eastern France. #4monthspregnantinpicture #7kgbackpack

Backpacking for 4 days through Le massif des Vosges. Eastern France. #4monthspregnantinpicture #7kgbackpack

The French Vosges is the closest, real highlands area from where we live near Gent, Belgium. We come here often for short backpacking trips on long weekends.

The French Vosges is the closest, real highlands area from where we live near Gent, Belgium. We come here often for short backpacking trips on long weekends.

Sunset from above Drumont. Le massif des Vosges. Eastern France. #4monthspregnantinpicture

Sunset from above Drumont. Le massif des Vosges. Eastern France.

Baby belly times? Backpacking le massif des Vosges. Eastern France. #4monthspregnantinpicture

Baby belly times? Backpacking le massif des Vosges. Eastern France. #4monthspregnantinpicture

Danger, danger! High voltage! Le massif des Vosges. Eastern France. #4monthspregnantinpicture #7kgbackpack

Danger, danger! High voltage! Le massif des Vosges. Eastern France.

Bivaouc on top of les Ballons. Le massif des Vosges. Eastern France. #4monthspregnantinpicture

Bivaouc on top of les Ballons. Le massif des Vosges. Eastern France.

By the time summer arrived, the baby belly was protruding well, but there were no big pregnancy complaints. We longed for fresh air, so we flew back to Lapland, for the second time in only 3 months. We entered the last trimester of pregnancy so we opted not to force things. We hired a car for 3 weeks in Kiruna and drove to the mind-blowing beautiful Norwegian coast. We hiked, biked and slept under the midnightsun. We did overnight treks in the Narviksfjell, Lofoten, Vesteralen, Senja, Lyngen and around Treriksröset. A selection of pictures tell more than words…

Summer in Lapland! Let's get out! #6monthspregnantinpicture

Summer in Lapland! Let’s get out!

Exploring the Rohkunborri National Park. Lappland. Troms. Norway. #6monthspregnantinpicture

Exploring the Rohkunborri National Park. Lappland. Troms. Norway.

Exploring the Rohkunborri National Park. Lappland. Troms. Norway. #6monthspregnantinpicture

Exploring the Rohkunborri National Park. Lappland. Troms. Norway.

High above Lossivatnet. Narviksfjell. Lappland. Norway #6monthspregnantinpicture

High above Lossivatnet. Narviksfjell. Lappland. Norway

Crossing the Loasejokkha. Narviksfjell. Lappland. Norway. #6monthspregnantinpicture

Crossing the Loasejokkha. Narviksfjell. Lappland. Norway. #6monthspregnantinpicture

Climbing towards a pass in the Fagerådalen. Lofoten archipelago. Norway. #6monthspregnantinpicture

Climbing towards a pass in the Fagerådalen. Lofoten archipelago. Norway.

Rest after a 400m steep climb up. Solbjornvatnet down below. Lofoten archipelago. Norway. #6monthspregnantinpicture

Rest after a 400m steep climb up. Solbjornvatnet down below. Lofoten archipelago. Norway.

Aproaching the wild beach of Horseidvika after a 6-hour hike. Lofoten archipelago. Norway. #6monthspregnantinpicture

Aproaching the wild beach of Horseidvika after a 6-hour hike. Lofoten archipelago. Norway.

Reaching the midnightsun bivaouc spot on an Arctic Beach 68°N. Never ending summer. Lofoten archipelago. Norway. #6monthspregnantinpicture

Reaching the midnightsun bivaouc spot on an Arctic Beach 68°N. Never ending summer. Lofoten archipelago. Norway.

Ready for a night under the stars. Euhm, we mean... arctic sun. Lofoten archipelago. Norway. #midnightsun #68degreesnorth #6monthspregnantinpicture

Ready for a night under the stars. Euhm, we mean… arctic sun. Lofoten archipelago. Norway. #midnightsun #68degreesnorth

A never setting sun at Horseid Beach. 68°N. Midnightsun. Lofoten archipelago. Norway. #midnattsol

A never setting sun at Horseid Beach. 68°N. Midnightsun. Lofoten archipelago. Norway. #midnattsol

A never setting sun at Horseid Beach. 68°N. Midnightsun. Lofoten archipelago. Norway. #midnattsol #6monthspregnantinpicture

A never setting sun at Horseid Beach. 68°N. Midnightsun. Lofoten archipelago. Norway. #midnattsol #6monthspregnantinpicture

Descending into Fagervatnet. Selfjorden. Lofoten archipelago. Norway. #6monthspregnantinpicture #6kgbackpack

Descending into Fagervatnet. Selfjorden. Lofoten archipelago. Norway.

Midnightsun at Ramberg. Lofoten archipelago. Norway.

Midnightsun at Ramberg. Lofoten archipelago. Lofoten archipelago. Norway.

Keep hydrated at all time while pregnant! Lofoten archipelago. Norway.

Keep hydrated at all time while pregnant! Lofoten archipelago. Norway.

Cloudy and windy over Møysalen National Park. Vesterålen. Norway.

Cloudy and windy over Møysalen National Park. Vesterålen. Norway.

Mountain biking on Andøya. Vesterålen. Norway. #6monthspregnantinpicture

Mountain biking on Andøya. Vesterålen. Norway.

Okshornan. Postcard perfect on Senja Island. Troms. Norway. #7monthspregnantinpicture

Okshornan. Postcard perfect on Senja Island. Troms. Norway.

Well deserved rest after steep climb up Steinsethogda (473m). Senja Island. Troms. Norway. #7monthspregnantinpicture

Well deserved rest after steep climb up Steinsethogda (473m). Senja Island. Troms. Norway. #7monthspregnantinpicture

Almost-mommy did it! Climbing up Steinsethogda (473m). Senja Island. Troms. Norway. #7monthspregnantinpicture

Almost-mommy did it! Climbing up Steinsethogda (473m). Senja Island. Troms. Norway. #7monthspregnantinpicture

Almost -daddy going for a midnightsun float on Jaegervatnet . 69°N. Lyngen Alps. Troms. Norway.

Almost -daddy going for a midnightsun float on Jaegervatnet . 69°N. Lyngen Alps. Troms. Norway.

Enjoying the arctic summer sun over Jiehkkevárri (1834m) in the cabin at the end of Lyngsdalen. Troms. Norway. #7monthspregnantinpicture

Enjoying the arctic summer sun over Jiehkkevárri (1834m) in the cabin at the end of Lyngsdalen. Troms. Norway.

Exploring the glaciers of Lyngsdalen. Troms. Norway. #7monthspregnantinpicture

Exploring the glaciers of Lyngsdalen. Troms. Norway. #7monthspregnantinpicture

Bivaouc near the Three-Country Cairn (Treriksröset (in Swedish), Treriksrøysa (in Norwegian), Kolmen valtakunnan rajapyykki (in Finnish)) is the point at which the international borders of Sweden, Norway and Finland meet. Lapland. #7monthspregnantinpicture

Bivaouc near the Three-Country Cairn (Treriksröset (in Swedish), Treriksrøysa (in Norwegian), Kolmen valtakunnan rajapyykki (in Finnish)) is the point at which the international borders of Sweden, Norway and Finland meet. Lapland.

Bivaouc while pregnant can be as comfy as home. Lappland. Midnightsun. #7monthspregnantinpicture

Bivaouc while pregnant can be as comfy as home. Lappland. Midnightsun.

Traversing high above Goldajávvri lake. Lappland. Troms. Norway. #7monthspregnantinpicture #6kgbackpack

Traversing high above Goldajávvri lake. Lappland. Troms. Norway.

Happy when it rains? You bet! Patagonia Alpine Houdini Jacket. 180grams of rain protection. Lappland. Troms. Norway. #7monthspregnantinpicture #6kgbackpack

Happy when it rains? You bet! Patagonia Alpine Houdini Jacket. 180grams of rain protection. Lappland. Troms. Norway. #7monthspregnantinpicture

Leaving the DNT Gappohytte. Lappland. Troms. Norway. #7monthspregnantinpicture #6kgbackpack

Leaving the DNT Gappohytte. Lappland. Troms. Norway.

Midsummer. Lappland. Troms. Norway. #7monthspregnantinpicture #6kgbackpack

Midsummer. Lappland. Troms. Norway.

And then it happened! Our beautiful little girl came around…

Dreaming of her first adventures. #LOTTA #2weeks

Dreaming of her first adventures. #LOTTA #2weeks

Baby hiking over Belgian's High Fens. #LOTTA #7weeks

Baby hiking over Belgian’s High Fens. #LOTTA #7weeks

Lotta

Baby hiking through the dark woods of the High Fens. #LOTTA #7weeks

Scrub off the hiking sweat. #LOTTA #11weeks

Scrub off the hiking sweat.. #LOTTA #11weeks

You guessed it well. 2016 will be briliant! We hope the same for you!

Lappland – a summer’s long ramble through Europe’s last wilderness

“It has been the worst summer in 20 years”, laughs the Sámi when we climb up into the clouds above Tromsø. We’re 350km north of the Arctic circle. Sharp mountains cliff out of the Nordic Sea, overstraining the neck muscles, when scouting for the craggy summits.

The backcountry above the city of Tromso, a wilderness a stone throw away

The backcountry above the city of Tromso, a wilderness a stone throw away

It’s mid summer, but rain pours down. 5°C. A light breeze from the west. On the map, a “route” is drawn in dotted lines. It’s supposed to be a trail right? Must be easy. I’ve been studying maps for weeks and on google earth, behind the save gloam of my laptop. Big plans on foot and packraft. 55 days. We could do easily 1000km, right?

Micro flora, Øvre Dividal National Park, Norway

Micro flora, Øvre Dividal National Park, Norway

After a couple of km the trail peters out in a smelly, squishy marsh. The kind of nice soil we would encounter a million times on our rambles the coming weeks. We wear mesh trailrunners with a thin liner. Within a breath, the water soaks around our toes and ankles. Sulking lips. Quickly a cold shivers up our legs. Lightweight footwear. That’s less tired legs and body. That’s why we choose to walk in them. And they have 1 big advantage over classical boots: they dry quickly. Duh. Especially in bloody marches. Ahum. There would be more nice talks about lightweight backpacking and packrafting in the coming weeks.

A hot, dry summer in the North

A hot, dry summer in the North

Welcome in the Far North. Fjells. Mountains. Marshes. Lakes & fish mashed-up rivers. Neverending virgin forrest, sheltering abundant wildlife. And mosquitos. Altough they are not as abundant as expected. The worst summer in 2 decades. It has its advantages. Still we were happy with our nest under the tarp, protecting us from the scrumptious blood sucking from above and soaked mother earth from beneath.

A lightweight pack? Not with a packraft on top :-S

A lightweight pack? Not with a packraft on top :-S

After 5 days walking in our neoprene socks over tyring marshes, bushwalking through thick undergrown birch forrest in low cloud and continuous drizzle, unable to follow the so called “trails” on the map, we were allready behind “schedule” at the foot of the Lyngen Alps. Morality was disgraceful. We bailed on our initial route of packrafting and hiking through these craggy, fjorded mountains. The weather was depressing, to say the least.

To Lyngen or not to Lyngen

To Lyngen or not to Lyngen

At its southern most point, we left the fresh sea air from the deep fjords in the Lyngen and treaded on south in direction of the Swedish border. We had a new goal: packrafting our first Laponian river: the Kummaeno. Further from the coast, the mountains get bald and more rounded, the valleys widen up, breaking up into the barren, windswept tundra. It was the first week of August, we soaked our first real sun rays as we blew up the packraft for our first float above the Arctic Circle. The Kummaeno, probably Sweden’s most northern stream worth naming a river, becomes wide enough after an impressive waterfall, near the STF Pältsa Fjällstuga. The setting is beautiful, we’re eager to float off, but emerging rocks on the surface betray floating problems. A couple of minutes after setting of, we’re allready stuck on the banks. Low water. Anglers seem photographing our struggle, way more interesting then catching the precious Laponian salmon.

Arctic char, proteins from the wild

Arctic char, proteins from the wild

Halfway the 30-km long river we bail, sick of getting in and out for low water and impossible rock gardens. Two of us plus expedition gear weight in one packraft, will probably only work out on slow flowing, high volume rivers and big open waters. The idea of gettings stuck on a similar river a couple of days hiking south from here, make us decide to reroute our inintial plan and stay closer to the Swedish-Norwegian border, up in the mountains. Emotional rollercoasters reign supreme. The big plan. Tsssss. More changes on the way.

Going for fish. Vuoma lake. Øvre Dividal National Park, Norway.

Going for fish. Vuoma lake. Øvre Dividal National Park, Norway.

We end up hiking through stunning Øvre Dividal National Park, with its wild roaring rivers, ripping open the granite curst of the mountains into deep canyons, covered with thick birch forrests. Canyons give way for rolling plateaus, where we enjoy our first real clear crips day of the ramble so far.

Packrafting the vast Altavatnet, Lappland, Norway

Packrafting the vast Altavatnet, Lappland, Norway

We find an old, used fishing rod in the shed of a DNT mountain cabin near the Vuoma lakes. With some fixed line, a hook and some rain worms, we got from 2 sympathetic Germans, we paddle across to the outlet. We had never fished before, except for the odd-afternoon-out with friends and beers for catching trout in farmers puddles in our Belgian backyard. Arctic char is fighting it’s way up on the second bend after the outlet. She holds the rod, me throwing in the line from the banks. Within an hour we catch 5 nice, neat Laponian fish. We feel like Grizzlies feasting on the runs. That night it was party times.

Arctic sunsets... oe-aaa-addictive

Arctic sunsets… oe-aaa-addictive

By the time we reached Abisko, the popular starting and ending point for the Kungsleden, August was almost half way. The one and only (!) high pressure of the summer settled above the Laponian mountains. It would hold for 5 days, of which we spent 2 days in the city for logistics purposes. Bummmer.

Áhkká, proud garder of Laponia

Áhkká, proud garder of Laponia

We hurried into the heart of Laponia, at the gates of Sarek NP, where the Áhkká-massif still proudly gards Europe’s last remaining wilderness area. Nice to meet you naked and undone from your winter coat this time. Enjoying the mosquito’s? We rambled into the heart of the ever impressive park. We entered by the same valley we did last winter. Instead of the obvious winter white we were awed by wildflowers adorned meadows, carpeted with concentrated stands of polar whool, betraying the boggy areas.

Bivaouc in the Sarek NP, Laponia, Sweden

Bivaouc in the Sarek NP, Laponia, Sweden

Herds of raindeer would compact on summer end’s remaining snow fields and with the flip of a coin they would move from one impossible sheer cliff into another as they were 1 animal. We bivaouc on scenic lookout spots and enjoy the clouds seducing the mountain crests and summits. We packraft ever impressive Bierikjarve lake and explore its surroundings. We are struck by nature’s beauty on this alpine splendeur.

Bieik Jarve, Sarek NP, Laponia, Sweden

Bierik Jarve, Sarek NP, Laponia, Sweden

We cross milky glacial tributaries and regret we did not put on the neoprene socks, tucked away deep in the pack. We try our luck on some summits but are chased down multiple times as cloud and rain swallows our joy and view. Respect the mountains. Sir, yes sir.

Algavagge, Sarek NP, Laponia, Sweden

Algavagge, Sarek NP, Laponia, Sweden

We can spend a lifetime here. A lot of mysterious valleys, rivers and peaks to explore. This corner of the world really know how to bite in one’s spirit.

Arctic stream crossing, I love the feeling

Arctic stream crossing, I love the feeling

An evening bath in Sarek NP, Laponia, Sweden

An evening bath in Sarek NP, Laponia, Sweden

Normally this story should continue with our ramble into Padjelenta and up to the Norwegian coast. We’re almost halfway our packrafthike through Lappland, but my typing and photo-editing time is up.

We’re in Kathmandu, Nepal right now. We’re finishing up logisitics for the first leg of a 3-month trek in the Nepal Himalaya. First up is a 45-day trek which we start tomorrow. It will takes us roughly along the Great Himalaya Trail and take us through Humla, Mugu and Jumla and through Dolpo.

To end, some pics from the second half of this trip report, coming up later this year. Or next year… Probably going to spend too much time outdoors the next 10 months. We’ll see. I have +1000 Lappland pics to edit and I have a lot of footage for a time-lapse movie of our 8 week Lappland packrafthike. I promise I will release it through here…

The provisional photo album is found here.

You can still follow us real time up here.

It’s time for another adventure. It’s time to hit the trail. Again.

Peace out.

Steve and Katrijn

Bivaouc on the Skierfe-ridge, Sarek NP in full autumn glory

Bivaouc on the Skierfe-ridge, Sarek NP in full autumn glory

Packrafting in Rapadalen Delta, Sarek NP, Sweden

Packrafting in Rapadalen Delta, Sarek NP, Sweden

Packrafthike Gap Year – Part 1/The Subarctic

[Update Tuesdag 11 July 2012 – MAJOR UPDATE on the first Sarek part, where we choose to cut through in western direction in direction of the Norwegian coast, right through Padjalenta National Park, packrafting the anciant glacial lakes of Virihaure, Vastenhaure, Sallahaure. 2 more days added on Lofoten. 2weeks till kick-off. First we’ll have a 10-day family retreat on Tenerife (Canary Islands). Download the full google earth map below]

Seamsealing the MLD eVent rain mitts, a monastic work.

Seamsealing the MLD eVent rain mitts, a monastic work.

We would like to present Part 1 of the Gap Year. A 1102 km packrafthike in Norhern Sweden and Norway. All above the Arctic Circle, wider known as Lapland or Sápmi . 745km hiking. 357km packrafting. 55 days. Kick-off 25th July. Finale 17th September.

The first part includes passing through known and less known areas like Tromsdalen, the Lyngen Alps, Kitdalen, Breiddalen, packrafting Kummaeno, Taavaeno and Lainio in remote Northern Sweden, smashed in between Finland and Norway. A second part will bring us to the famous Kebnekaisefjällen in the Swedish fjells along the Kungsleden, packrafting south, passing a first time through Sarek, westwards through Padjalenta. There we will ferry towards Versteralen and Lofoten. Those islands sparked us with so much eager last year, that we had to come back for some packraft-floating in between the needle-like granite peaks emerging from the sea. We will ferry back towards mainland, from where we will traverse the Svartissen and Salfjellet National Parks in coastal Norway. We will cross back to Sweden in eastwards direction towards wildlife-cladden Taradalen, from where the ruska (autumn) coulours will daze us. From here we will enter a second time into Sarek with an intention on packrafting Rapadalen.

We expect subarctic, summer-autumn climate conditions : ****-loads of misty rain, snow, cold, low clouds on the windswept tundra, arctic mountains and a mosquito-laden taiga. Hopefully some sun too. Would be nice. Thank you.

Please click here for a google earth download file from the 55-day plan. We embed the map in google maps below, but google maps crops everything in 3 different pages, so you don’t have the full picture here.

We would appreciate it a lot, if people known to and from the area, and especially on packrafting some of the rivers, fjords or seas, if they could give us some feedback through the comments. Maybe we overexagerate on some (packrafting) parts of the plan. Or maybe we should reconsider alternatives, on which we did not set our eyes on. A gear list will appear here soon too.

Packrafthike Planning Lapland 2012

Packrafthike Planning Lapland 2012

50 Days Food Rations Preperation

50 Days Food Rations Preperation

We known the area only from winter trips. We were on the Lofoten last year. Loads of pics will follow. We hope.

Utakleiv Beach - Lofoten Islands (from our april 2011 visit)

Utakleiv Beach – Lofoten Islands (from our april 2011 visit)

Reine, probably the world's most photoscenic village. Southern Lofoten Islands (from our april 2011 visit)

Reine, probably the world’s most photoscenic village. Southern Lofoten Islands (from our april 2011 visit)

Snow Flapping through Sarek

Springtime. Daylight starts to win over dark. Trees turn into green. The morning air is filled with aromas. People get out, smile and look happy. Jogging and cycling seem like a plague again. It’s the time of the year that the house get scattered with winter outdoor gear, tiny plastic food ratio bags and folded open maps from remote wilderness areas far north. The food drying machine is running overtime, filling the house with strange odors.

We pack up and fill the Pulka with down jackets and sleeping bags, a 4-season tent, merino wool socks and heaps of enthusiasm. The carry-on luggage is exploding. We need some kind of plan to bypass the strict lady at the check-in counters. Luckikly i have big teeth and lips which can stretch from ear-to-ear.

Sorting out gear at the STF-"Butik" in Ritsem after 24-hour travel from Belgium. Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Sweden

Sorting out gear at the STF-"Butik" in Ritsem after 24-hour travel from Belgium. Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Sweden

A 2-hour flight, a 45-min time gap for the Stockholm-white-gas-quest, 17 hours of railroading and 4 hours of bus-speeding over glassy roads trough never-ending boreal forests. Suddenly the majestic, white mountains fill the bus window again. Every time again, it shivers down our spine. Adventure is approaching.

The ice stalactites are dripping in the sun at the small shop in Ritsem. A Saami comes by and wishes us good luck. “It has been very nasty the last couple of weeks. It’s the first day in weeks since I saw this kind of blue”.

Crossing Akkajaure with Áhkká mountain massif behind. Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Sweden

Crossing Akkajaure with Áhkká mountain massif behind. Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Sweden

We buckle the rods around our waist and shoulders and leave for a 2-week traverse into Laponia. We cross the solid frozen Akkajaure while the sun sets ahead. We meet Markus Heim, who flatly proclaims his 86th days on skis. The grin on his face, the length and colour of his beard blabs out an epic adventure. His girl is awaiting him at the other side of the lake. I urge him to stop spending his time on me. His compass designates north, ours south-east.

Entering the Sarek under the watchful eye of Niják (1922m)

Entering the Sarek under the watchful eye of Niják (1922m)

We cross into Sarek National Park. There are no traces from previous passer-bies. It’s so virgin here. We continue in base layer. A small breeze reminds us that it’s still -8°C and not summer. I always forget how fast my fingers congeal with such blows from nowhere. Mr. Bolt can learn something from the speed I reach for the primaloft-layer. Perfect conditions. Me like.

Leaving the warm nest in the tent for snapping 2AM norhtern lights pics in a breezy -25°C, is something on which some people would point with their finger to the sides of their head. But man, I am willing to make some shaking sacrifices for this spectacle.

Northern lights over the Ruohtesvagge-valley.

Northern lights above Skarja. Sarek NP

Deep cut valleys make it childishly easy for navigation. Leaves us loads of time to swallow the landscape. Ouch. Topsy-turvy. This can satisfy my hunger. Some of them rock faces are way too steep from this side. Snow is playing with gravity-rules there (if Newton would have known!). The Ruohtesvagge-valley does not fail to dissapoint. Even in bad weather this must be beautiful.

The lack of shelter combined with the shifting weather and rough terrain require hikers to have considerable experience to safely explore the area. Very few bridges are available inside the park and crossing streams (jokk in Sami) and rivers (ätno in Sami) can be very dangerous for the ill equipped or inexperienced. – writes Wikipedia. Luckikly everything is silently frozen white. Makes its easy to float by on snow flappers.

Ähpár massif and Skarki-massif scatter the horizon

Ähpár massif and Skarki-massif scatter the horizon

Skarja could count as a wilderness intersection. Here we meet the first human being in days. Otto, a pleasant Swedish fellow, is here to ski down the forementioned gravity-defying faces. He is a nice companion while gazing in the sun. We agree on “Awesome” as the appropiate term for this heavenly place on earth. While the temperature drops below what we could measure, stories from our adventures in the Karakorum mountains in Pakistan, nourish Otto’s dreams on this far-away-destination of which Sarek reminds us.

Sarektjahkka-massif, the highest (2089m) summits of Sarek NP

Sarektjahkka-massif, the highest (2089m) summits of Sarek NP

We tried to capture our small adventure in Sarek in the following shortfilm:

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Bloody Mary, a new lightweight girlfriend for the coming exciting year

Bloody Mary, a new lightweight girlfriend for the coming exciting year

We have underestimated the night temps in this clear weather. Our fresh from the shelf 3-season Bloody Mary promises us that she will be a trustfull girlfriend, willing to go over her boundaries if necessary, altough we have to beef her up with a downjacket in this temperatures. It has been an nice acquaintance Mary. You deserve your own blogpost. That’s right!

Following Rahpajahka along Laddebakte (1537m)

Following Rahpajahka along Laddebakte (1537m)

The second morning at Skarja we wake up with noizes from outside. It’s like somebody is talking. When cleaning out the morning ear-and eyewax, it becomes clear that Mr. High Pressure had changed chairs with Mr. Cold Front. Snow is drifting trough the valley from all sides. It’s like all dust has to be collected at this intersection. We break up camp and leave in the white-out. Destination Rovdjurstorget, the place where Rapadalen is born. This place is more popular called Predator Square. I wonder why? It’s so Bambi quiet in here.

ET's life would have been lot more easier with this SPOT GPS Satellite Messenger

ET's life would have been lot more easier with this SPOT GPS Satellite Messenger

When we taught Sarek had offered us all we had came for, we needed to traverse one more valley. A new high pressure sets in. Why did nobody warned us on Rapadalen? That’s not a valley. That’s extravaganza. How can we absorb all this? Pfffff. In a couple of months we’ll come back here. A packraft will be necessary,….

Ok, I can’t continue describing all this… so let’s end with some more stills.

Now I hear you talking.

Oooo, before I forget, this was the last time we came in snow shoes. We have enough of the eyebrow frowning born-with-skis-on-their-feet-Scandinavians. Yeah yeah, we’ll join your club of slats-addicts.

Speak soon. Peace out!

Rapadalen. Nature extravaganza.

Rapadalen. Nature extravaganza.

Skierfe, Nammasj and Tjahkelij proudly guard the eastern entrance of Sarek

Skierfe, Nammasj and Tjahkelij proudly guard the eastern entrance of Sarek

SKierfe (1179m), a sheer 700m cliff... pride guard of Sarek

SKierfe (1179m), a sheer 700m cliff... pride guard of Sarek

Skierfe and Nammasj, guarders of Rapadalen

Skierfe and Nammasj, guarders of Rapadalen

Two dreamers at 67°N

Two dreamers at 67°N

Destination Kvikkjokk... lonely on the Kungsleden.

Destination Kvikkjokk... lonely on the Kungsleden.

Northern lights... need to say more?

Northern lights... need to say more?

Please visit my online album from this trip…

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