The morning in Jokkmokk was clear, calm and warm. I stuffed the last things into the rucksack, took my leave of granny, and boarded the 11:30 bus to Kvikkjokk. As it proceeded in a westward direction the landscape grew more dramatic by the mile, and cumuli had started amassing ahead. The bus was a bit late in arriving at Kvikkjokk, so there wasn't much time before the 13:30 boat run to Bobäcken which I needed to catch. Originally, I had planned on going up to the Kvikkjokk fjeld station to get another discount card – for this tour and future use – but I had no time for that. I had some slots left from my spring tour, though, so the harm wasn't that great.
The boatman, too, was under a good deal of stress, and quickly ushered me, a father-with-son wanting a tour of the delta, a group intending to do a short day trip, and a young Austrian couple heading for Padjelanta into his boat, and then he had to borrow some fuel from his colleague. The 3-km journey up Darrhaädno, however, was nice and tranquil; the weather had not changed and the towering mountains in the direction of the prow felt inviting.
The delta tourists stayed in the boat, and a group of people heading back to Kvikkjokk joined them, but all the others went off along the trail pretty much straight away. Myself, I had some packing adjustments left to do, due to the earlier time contraints, and I started the trek after 14:15. It was quite warm, but the forest, which was generally thick and lush at times, gave some shade. The path was very easy to walk on, well-trodden as it was, and my gait soon settled at a quick pace – partly because of the ample presence of mosquitos among the trees.
I caught up with the Austrians at the large bridge over Vállebäcken, a construction that under the circumstances looked like an outburst of megalomania – the weather had been so dry for so long that the wide rocky course of the would-be stream held only a trickle (relatively speaking) of water. After that the forest changed character, with pine trees dominating a drier terrain, and after a while the trail reestablished contact with Darrhaädno where the river makes a sharp bend. At this place the day group had make food camp, and with the proximity to the water the birches and other leafy things returned. I passed two middle-aged women, whom I thought did not quite have the appearance of experienced hikers, and a small dog, and then there were pines and sprigs again.
A longer portion of forest only seldom broken by a few mires followed, before the trail drew near to Darrhaädno again. This time the stream was of a different nature – it flowed through a rocky groove under much noise and foam, and actually getting down to the water was out of the question. Further ahead there were some old camp sites, and at one of them I spotted a pair of campers. I also observed a helicopter flying west at about that time. The landscape opened up momentarily as I passed the old settlement Bäcken, and then the forest closed in on itself again, but not long thereafter clearings began to appear anew, with flowers in droves on the meadows of old.
This was because I was approaching Njunjes – another, larger settlement. While it is no longer used for agriculture, a descendant of the original inhabitants employs the main homestead as a summer cottage. It just so happens that right before leaving home, I had chanced upon a documentary on TV telling the story of the settlement, so seeing it in person felt somewhat special. I could see a man and a dog at the main building, which is separated from the trail by an open field. There was also a fellow with a tent just before the clearing.
Where the meadows ended a jungle took over; huge ferns and various shrubs and greenery grew all over the place, over my head at times. This only lasted for a short distance, though, and it was soon an easy walk again. I passed a mire, and then the trees disappeared, giving way to bare rock and heathland, and in this area, not far from Darrhaädno, the Njunjes cottage is located. I arrived there before 17:15, a time which impressed the warden somewhat; she had just begun her term, having relieved the first caretaker a short time earlier. There were some people present, and I talked a bit with them and walked around the open space for a while.
This cottage site has a natural bathing cove down in the stream, a since it was still very warm I decided to try it out. I heartily recommend it to all who visit the site. After lying on the flat rocks for some time, letting the sun dry me, I returned to the cottage, where a group of three was just departing for Kvikkjokk. Upon learning that I was headed for Vaimok and Pieskehaure, the warden entrusted me with a bit of mail to each cottage, which I was happy to accept. I then went for another walk, enjoying the beautiful weather and clear views, before a cloud caught up with the sun. I saw this as a good time to prepare dinner, which I then ate outside.
The obscuring cloud seemed to be growing lengthwise, but there was only this one conglomeration of condensed water vapor worthy of note in the sky, and it did not have the appearance of one bringing rain. With this in mind, I decided to tent beside the cottage. There were some other campers on the other side of Darrhaädno (there is a bridge next to the cottage), but the warden tipped me off about a small patch of grass among the rocks on the northern side, where I pitched my tent. There were a few glimpses of the sun during this, and later in the evening the cloud started to break up and move off, and it was calm and fair. I read for a bit inside, and at 20:30 two hikers came and paused for a while before going across the bridge to camp there.
I went out to the tent to relax, playing some solitaire and solving crosswords, before going back inside the cottage to prepare a light evening snack. By then the two women with the little dog I had passed (much) earlier had finally arrived at the cottage; it turned out that they were acquainted with the warden from before. I bade them goodnight and returned to the tent. The evening sky was clear with a bank of clouds in the east, and the air was comfortably cool as I lay down to sleep after a first day which promised a good continuation.