Tours › 2005 › Around Kebnekaise › Day 3

Sunday 11/9

Stage map 3

Unna Reaiddávággi – Nallo

Horizontal distance:16 km
Vertical distance:+700 m, -360 m
Time:6 h 15 min
Lunch break: 45 min
Dinner:Spaghetti bolognese
Night accommodation:Cottage
Stage classification:Medium/Hard
Map points:Unna Räita, Nallo

This night was colder than the last one, and so I woke up even earlier and donned some clothes. I then lay swept up in the sleeping bag (quite snug, I should add) until 06:45, when I put on several more layers of clothing and went out. The air was chilly and the moss on the ground had frozen – and so had the dampness on the outside of my boots, for that matter. The sky was overcast, but the cloud base was very high, so visibility was excellent, and there was no wind either.

I made breakfast in the vestibule of the tent, partly due to the cold, but also because there was again a fair degree of condensation on the inside of the ceiling of the inner tent; I thought that the spill heat from the stove might alleviate some of that. I was soon almost uncomfortably warm, so I had to remove a bit of my apparel when working inside the tent in preparation for departure. That was when I made a disheartening discovery: there was a rift in the tent! I then saw that also the tent's packing bag had punctures and fissures, and I have since found several more rifts in the floor of the inner tent. I am at a complete loss to explain how any of this came to pass, but I have been in contact with the manufacturer, who prompted me to return the tent to them for investigation. Let's see how that goes...

UPDATE: Fjällräven replaced the tent, free of charge. Hats off.

Damage issues aside, there was still the matter of the internal moisture, which had not dissipated. Seeing as how I would be carrying it with me in any case, I mopped it up with the towel – better to store it there than inside the tent. At 09:15, I was ready to leave.

Visttasvággi 16
Morning in Visttasvággi, ...
Camp site 2 revisited the tent...
Autumn 5
...and revitalizing the colors

In the bleak light of a heavily veiled sun, I walked back out on the heath before turning towards Unna Reaiddávággi, but I still had to pass through a thicket band before getting to the bare higher ground. I found a faint path leading upwards, but it soon dwindled. I then walked towards the ravine of the stream, where I came upon a few cairns leading into the valley. There was no perceivable path, though, and there were just a few cairns. Going was very easy anyway, and after a while I did discover a clear path with old traces of shoes.

Some kilometers later, when the human traces had given way to much more prominent reindeer prints, I reached the first significant tributary stream crossing the path. It has a twin source of both a lake and a glacier higher up, so the water was both rapid and deep enough to preclude a simple passage. There was a ford marked with cairns, but I was unable to get across with the boots; perhaps there was a better location somewhere else, but not within eyesight. So, since the weather was favorable, I decided to switch to the sandals again and cross at the designated place. Once again, the water was not as cold as expected, especially considering that it came directly from a glacier.

Visttasvággi 17
Looking back...
Unna Reaiddávággi 4
...and ahead
Stream 1
The stream down at the valley bottom
Waterfall 1
Waterfall in the glacier stream

After the ford, I lost the path. There were faint traces of what might have been old paths here and there, but it was quite some time before I came across what was probably the path. It was much less defined here than before the ford, though, and I would often be hard pressed to say whether I was actually on it or not. I crossed the central stream earlier than the map's recommendation, since it was little more than water-covered rocks at the place in question. On the other side, there were a few small cairns and another faint path, but both vanished before long.

I now had a clear view of the wall that divides the valley into an upper and a lower part: a vertical cliff face about 150 m high. Upon seeing it for the first time, one asks oneself, "how the heck am I going to get up there!?". Then, when one gets closer, one sees the steep passage on the south side of the wall, where the "suggested path" on the map goes, and still asks oneself, "how the heck am I going to get up there!?". But I knew that it is possible to get by, and that people have done it over and over, and when I had almost reached the foot of the slope (refer to the last image in the batch below) it didn't look so bad.

Unna Reaiddávággi 5
Once again looking back...
Unna Reaiddávággi 6
...and then ahead
Stream 2
Literally icy stream
Pyramiden 1
Passing Pyramiden (Pyramid)
Unna Reaiddávággi 7
The wall...
Lower lake 1
...and the lower lake
Knivkammen 1
Knivkammen (Knife Ridge)

I looked around for anything that could be contrued as trail markings but found none, so I started climbing on my own. A little bit up I saw a few curious stone heaps on some of the largers rocks; they may have been small cairns once upon a time, but it wasn't enough to go on. Getting ahead wasn't too tricky, however, and there were patches of snow which made things easier. When I got closer to the actual pass between Pyramiden and Knivkammen, I was assaulted by a cold, strong wind coming from the south, and it could just as well have been winter. After I had crossed the large snowfield at the higher part of the slope (see image below), I noticed a cairn to the right of me, and then another one higher up; the route they traced was significantly more inclined and precarious than the one I had chosen. Then, finally, I stood on the crest, having a magnificent view of both halves of the valley.

I had planned on eating in the Unna Räita cabin, which sits right on the crest (it can be seen in the image of the lower lake above), and I had managed to hold out – but it required quite a bit of chocolate. At 12:45, I entered the cabin, which is a small building of the regular shelter model, but has been equipped with blankets, pillows, basic kitchen utensils and firewood; it is owned and maintained by STF and can be used for overnight accommodation, even though it has seen better days. There is also a privy, but it lacks doors. I had lunch inside the cabin, and meanwhile the sun was breaking through and the wind continued.

Lower lake 2
The lower lake from up the slope
Glacier 1
Passing by a glacier...
Snow 1
...on a large snowfield
Unna Reaiddávággi 8
The snow-covered upper part of the valley...
Unna Reaiddávággi 9
...contrasting with the bare lower part
Tent site 1
One of the cleared tent sites near...
Unna Räita 1
...the Unna Räita cabin
Unna Räita 2
Inside, looking inwards...
Unna Räita 3
...and outwards

After lunch I followed a few cairns to the northern end of the upper lake, but there I lost them, if indeed there were more; that region consists of a rocky slope which was covered in snow, so it was hard to make out anything. After having climbed the steepest part, however, I came across footprints in the snow. I presumed that they had been made by persons who had entered their names in the cabin's guest book the day before, and they had come from Nallo, so I started following them. There was snow everywhere, but of a somewhat treacherous kind – not everything was covered, and places that were could have a depth of anything from under a centimeter up to a meter. Still, things went smoothly most of the time and I made good speed.

When I was approaching the watershed, there was a sudden hard wind from the north; it whipped up what snow there was as it howled relentlessly for a few hundred meters and I had to hold the hat for it not to fly off. I soon became aware of cairns on the ground, which the tracks more or less followed. I stayed with the footprints, but ultimately abandoned them in favor of the markings, which were then quite distinct, when the two routes grew too widely apart. By then there was only a light breeze, which was again coming from the south.

Glacier 2
A part of the upper lake and the small glacier again...
Reaiddá glacier 1
...and then the much larger Reaiddá glacier
Čeakčačohkka 1
The Čeakčačohkka massif
Snow 2
What season is it again...?
Vaktposten 1
Sun over Vaktposten (Sentinel)
Unna Reaiddávággi 10
Back into Unna Reaiddávággi
Čeakčabákti & Čeakčačohkka 1
Čeakčabákti and Čeakčačohkka
Reaiddájávri 1
Panorama 2
Panorama over the southwestern arm of Stuor Reaiddávággi with Čeakčačohkka as the centerpiece

I zigzagged my way down to the northward-running stream from Reaiddájávri, hoping to cross it to get onto the marked unmarked trail on the other side. However, that once again proved troublesome, and I had no desire to do the sandal trick yet another time. As a consequence, I walked down into the northeastern part of Stuor Reaiddávággi on the (south)eastern side of the water, and finally forded it at a cairn-marked location right in front of the Nallo cottage. That ford was of about the same difficulty as the one I passed when I came from Vistas before, but that ford, on the other hand, seemed much easier now as there was considerably less water in that stream. I arrived at the cottage at 15:30.

There were three Germans inside the cottage, and a tent beside it; the warden was on tour. I went in and wound down, feeling a bit worn, and had a makeshift wash. About an hour later, as the sky was growing cloudier, the warden returned together with the two occupants of the tent, having been to the peak of Nállu. He recognized me straight away; he said that he had been waiting to see if I would indeed return, but as the Saturday had passed without my arriving, he assumed that I wouldn't. So, surprise, surprise.

The couple with the tent, who had been camping outside the cottage for several nights, had decided to spend the last night inside. That turned out to be a rather good idea, since it soon started to snow and the wind increased. Two more guys also arrived; they had spent a night or two in the cottage already, and had slept in the Unna Räita cabin the night before – I recognized their names from the guest book, and had missed them by a few hours. As the clock struck 17, I sat down to dinner.

Nállu 1
The sharp Nállu peak coming into view
Nállu 2
Nállu in its entirety, with the cottage below
Stuor Reaiddávággi 1
Looking down the northeastern arm of Stuor Reaiddávággi

While the Germans all went to bed early, the rest of us spent the evening conversing and collaborating in finishing the guys' candy box. Yet again my getting under 20 kg in packing weight made an impression; the male half of the couple had carried 30 kg when they started. He also talked about a new venture of his: the selling of a piece of jewelry symbolizing all the world by way of containing water from all seven oceans. The merchandise is developed in cooperation with WWF, who also are to benefit from the revenue, and will be offered shortly. Fascinating.

Since this was the very last night of the season that the cottage would be manned and fully operational, the warden had a bit of cleaning up to do. Amongst other things, we got to move the ample collection of books in the half that we occupied to the other half, which was for all intents and purposes already closed – the reason for this being that otherwise they would be used to light fires in the stoves by off-season visitors, who evidently lack the ability to carve sticks.

While rummaging, he also found a package of biscuits for which he had no use, so we took care of that as well. The couple also distributed biscuits, and later on peanuts too. More informal talk in the candlelight between us guests followed, before it drew near to sleeping time. I had a light evening snack, put some more logs on the stove fire, and then climbed into my soft, warm bunk at 21:45.



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