Tours › 2007 › Sarek › Day 4

Saturday 28/7

Stage map 4

Skrj – Spkstenen shelf

Horizontal distance:10 km
Vertical distance:+40 m, -80 m, +120 m
Time:5 h
Lunch break:1 h 15 min
Dinner:Beef with mashed potatoes
Night accommodation:Tent
Stage classification:Medium
Map point:Mikka

The night started out warm but the nocturnal chill ultimately set in, even though it was still well on the mild side. I slept very well until I was awoken by muffled sounds around 04:30 – it was soon clear that the source of these was a fairly large herd of reindeer that had gathered all around the tent. Some of the individual animals were intrusive indeed, sticking their muzzles into the ventilation openings and tripping over the guylines. Eventually the herd moved off, however, and I could relax without having to worry whether a 200-kg reindeer would fall into my lap. Towards 06:45 the sun had started warming the tent appreciably, and I went outside to check on the weather. It turned out to be only partially clear with large amounts of creeping clouds and a light wind, and after snapping a few shots I returned inside.

Morning 1
Morning 2
Morning 3
Morning 4

It didn't take long before I could hear the familiar sounds of reindeer kicking the ground, and presently another, smaller herd approached. When they had passed around 07:30 I got out to make breakfast, and as though that were a cue the animals turned around and closed in again; in the usual reindeer fashion they went on with their business seemingly oblivious to my presence as long as I didn't make any sudden moves, so I had close company during the meal. The sky was still cloudy but there was also quite a lot of blue, and off to the southeast – which was where I would be going – it was fair. The wind came and went, and I decided to wear both the thermal underwear and the wind dress.

Bielatjhkk 2
Bielatjhkk/Skoarkki
Reindeer 5
Reindeer just outside
Gvabkte 3
Pointy Gvabkte
Sarektjhkk 6
Clouds around Sarektjhkk
Skrvatjhkk 3
Skrvatjhkk closeup

When I left before 10 more clouds had started approaching out of the southeast, but there was no sign of rain yet. I started by going to the privy, and then I spoke with another lone man who had just come to the Mikka cabin from the Bielavallda direction. He had also taken "my" route, and he warned me about the stream from Skjdsjvgge in Basstavgge – it is a known fact that that stream can cause considerable problems under the right (or wrong) conditions, and when he had passed it it had apparently been very difficult. He himself had only barely made it across, with gushing water reaching to his hips the last few steps, and a lone girl who had come right after him had actually fallen, and although she herself had made it safely ashore again her backpack had been lost. He also told me that he had taken a very pleasant detour to the shelf above Spkstenen (Ghost Rock) where the path to Snvvvgge passes, and this added to my already existing but growing wish to do the same.

On the other side of the bridge the other two campers were up and about, and after the man had located his misplaced walking stick we parted ways. It felt warm but I decided against stripping down, foretelling that I would see rain within an hour or so. The path was rather wet already, and very quickly I noted rainfall in and around Basstavgge, but to the north things looked better. When I reached Mhtujgsj I spotted a snow bridge which appeared much too weakened and depressed for safety, so I searched around for a suitable ford instead. I started out upstream, but soon I went in the other direction, passing the snow and a series of waterfalls below it, and just after those falls there was a region of calmer water where I managed to get across in my boots after some advance route planning and a few leaps.

Once on the other side it was tough getting back up to the path, and when I eventually reached it it was even wetter than before. The osier thickets also grew more frequent and dense, and I soon found myself wondering where the path had gone. Whenever that occurred I walked upwards until I came upon a path, and where I could see multiple lines stretching across the landscape I consistently chose the higher one. Around there I felt the first droplets from the rain ahead, and I put on the rucksack's rain cover. I arrived at Tjgŋrisjgsj just below the snow bridge which is usually there, and a quick inspection yielded a decision to utilize it for passage; I thought it still looked reasonably secure. Under other conditions this glacier stream, which comes from Tjgŋrisjiegŋa, has a reputation of being tough, and from what I could see it would have been; the water gushes down with great force and the silt obscures the bottom and thereby also the true depth.

Smjlljhk 7
Passing...
Smjlljhk 8
...over...
Smjlljhk 9
...a roaring...
Smjlljhk 10
...Smjlljhk
Mikka cabin 5
The Mikka cabin and the bridge
(and the other hiker)
Ruohtesvgge 10
Up Ruohtesvgge
Guohpervgge 2
Up Guohpervgge
Bielatjhkk 3
Rain upon Bielatjhkk
Rhpajhk 1
The start of Rhpajhk/Rhpadno
Guohpervgge 3
Guohpervgge disappearing from view
Snvvvgge 2
Rainy ahead
Tjgŋrisjgsj 1
The snow bridge over Tjgŋrisjgsj

Having defeated this hurdle without really trying I reversed my earlier strategy and aimed for the lowest path, as I had now resolved to go towards Snvvvgge rather than Bielavallda directly. The terrain in this region is rather stony and uneven – it actually reminded me a bit of the last portion between Kurajaure and Vaimok – and the rain finally reached me in gradually increasing intensity. I jogged to a large boulder with a protruding section under which I could find shelter, and remained there until it had died down to a light drizzle. Then I made the somewhat silly mistake of setting out immediately, and naturally the rain came back with a vengeance after only a few hundred meters. This necessitated a cumbersome change into rain clothes in the middle of an open area instead of under the protection of the rock, and just as naturally the rain stopped again minutes later.

This was only temporary, however, for from then on it was raining on and off in short bursts. Upon reaching Bielajhk I found it too deep for boot-crossing, and under the circumstances I didn't want to switch to sandals if it could be avoided, so I started off upstream. I ended up walking quite far before I finally spotted a place where the distribution of stones was such that crossing was feasible, and with some care I managed the passage without getting wet(ter). After this I aimed for the prominent hill called Bielavrsj, going in an arc to avoid some boggy regions that were in the way.

Bierikbkte 1
Bierikbkte not quite appearing
Bielavrsj 1
Approaching...
Bielavrsj 2
...Bielavrsj

I climbed the hill and on its top I stood still in a chilling wind waiting for the current shower to subside. Bielavrsj is an excellent observation point, as its location right at the edge of upper Rapadalen gives its visitors a fine view of said valley in both directions as well as of Bielavallda and hpr. Under my watchful gaze the clouds started to lift in all the mentioned directions, and as the time had raced ahead to 12:45 I thought that I might just as well have lunch.

I also exchanged the camera's batteries which had been signalling low voltage for some time and had now given up – just in time to catch a few glimpses of the sun upon assorted mountainsides. With my binoculars I also detected a couple of tents in the vicinity of the path south of Bielajvrtja and another tent just before the shelf to the south. I had only just finished eating when another rain hit, but this was only a short shower and afterwards things started to clear for real. I remained on the hilltop for quite some time following the progress; it was very nice indeed.

Rapadalen 2
Rain upstream...
Rapadalen 3
...and downstream
Bielavallda 1
Bielavallda
Rapadalen 4
Clouds lifting upstream...
Rapadalen 5
...and downstream
Bierikjvrre 1
Bierikjvrre
Tjgŋrisoalgge & Tjgŋris 1
Tjgŋrisoalgge and Tjgŋris
Lulep Stuollo & Alep Stuollo 1
Lulep Stuollo and Alep Stuollo
Oalgsj 1
Oalgsj
Rapadalen 6
Clearing to the south

At long last I began walking again, following the path through dense osier thickets where the ground was very muddy, and now it was both still and warm. I passed a little bit above the tent I had seen earlier, which occupied a minimal, slanting, bare-ish patch that seemed scarcely large enough for comfort. I proceeded onto the shelf proper, going out towards the edge to look for a campsite; there were several right by the path, but that would involve going through the mud to reach fresh water. I left my pack in a dry area and walked around exploring every bit of conceivably suitable ground, and ultimately I found a good, level patch in the northwestern "corner" from where a short slope lead to a small brook, so I brought my stuff over at around 15. While I was working with the tent I caught sight of two individuals upon the path from Snvvvgge, and their lack of sizeable packs indicated to me that they might be the owners of the other tent – which also turned out to be the case.

hpr 1
Bierikbkte and the hpr massif
Sarek 3
Select peaks of the Sarek massif
Rapadalen 7
Clearing to the north as well
Panorama 6
Panorama over upper Rapadalen and the Sarek group from the shelf
Rhpadno 1
Rhpadno downstream...
Rhpadno 2
...some 150 m right below...
Rhpadno 3
...and upstream

The weather had now cleared almost entirely and it was unbelievably beautiful, with Rapadalen and most of the Sarek mountain group whence the Park gets its name fully visible in the warm afternoon sun. There was, however, a substantial north(east)erly wind blowing, and the position at the edge of the shelf was very exposed, but that I could gladly take when presented with a view such as the one it offered; this was by far my best campsite ever. I took advantage of both the wind and the sun in order to dry the wet stuff, and while this took care of itself I sat on a rock watching the awesome panorama, nibbling some reindeer meat. Finally, though, a new set of clouds came in from the southeast, and soon rain started falling in the direction of Sarvesvgge, so I gathered up the items which were sprawled about outside and entered the tent.

Before long the rain reached my location – it was light at first, but after a very short intermission it developed into a downpour, and the wind switched to southerly for a short while before restoring itself, all the while being quite strong. When I looked out I saw a pair of wanderers going south on the path, and during a time marked by the absence of rain I went outside to have a look around, seeing the newcomers having a break at the southern end of the shelf. I also took the opportunity to adjust the guylines for optimal stabilization – the wind had shifted somewhat and no longer struck the tent at the desired angle. Luckily I had taken extra care with the anchoring stones when pitching, so the tent was in no danger of lifting from the ground – or, really, luck had nothing to do with it as one should always make sure that a tent is firmly attached to the surface on which it stands, no matter what the current weather conditions are, but the present situation reaffirmed the point.

It now seemed about to clear a bit even though it was still very cloudy, and the wind persisted with powerful gusts. On another outside run I observed a group of reindeer swimming across Rhpadno (the map actually makes it difficult to determine exactly where the stream changes its name from Rhpajhk, but I believe that its extent below the shelf merits the use of the element dno rather than the simpler jhk), and also that the two people who had recently passed were halfway up the steep slope to Snvvvgge. It was now calm and pretty nice again for a while, and after a short bout of light rain it seemed as though it would stay that way.

Lddebkte 1
Lddebkte in the clear
Rhpadno 4
The sun glittering...
Rhpadno 5
...in the water of Rhpadno...
Sarek 4
...and shining upon the Sarek peaks
Panorama 7
Another north-looking panorama, but with the sun bringing out the colors this time
Panorama 8
Zoomed-in panorama of the Sarek group
Rhpadno 6
Sparkling Rhpadno with Dielmm and Jgsjgaskatjhkk above
Rhpadno 7
Rhpadno underneath my feet
Campsite 4
Matchless campsite
Rain 1
Approaching rain
Reindeer 6
Reindeer down at the river

Consequently I started preparing dinner outside, but towards the end of this a new rain closed quickly on my position. The ensuing hustle almost had a disastrous outcome as I came very near to spilling both the hot water and the freeze-dried powder into the pouch of which it was supposed to go, and I did get somewhat wet before everything was in order, but it worked out all right in the end. I ate inside while the rain kept falling at a steady pace; visibility was rather good, however. After the meal I solved crosswords and even though the rainfall went on the wind abated and conditions to the north improved, until precipitation ceased through a much prolonged process of petering-out. By that time it was quite light outside despite the heavy clouds, and I decided to remove the compress as the mild injury underneath it felt healed. No more had I finished this task than I saw a couple of figures on the Snvvvgge crest, and shortly thereafter another three appeared on the path at the southern edge of the shelf.

The northerly wind was returning and the weather was getting worse in the far north, but the southern sector was still light. I returned to my crosswords while the wind intensified, and eventually the people I had seen on the crest – who turned out to be two women – passed towards the north. I had an evening snack and read in my book, and the southern improvement continued while the wind died down again. The bad-weather clouds had moved on and things were looking up, and I stood outside looking about – I could also make out someone doing the same atop Bielavrsj. I entered the sleeping bag at 22 to read, and about half an hour later I was presented with a marvelous sunset that set fire to the northern sky.

Sarek 5
Dusk claiming Sarek...
Alep Stuollo 1
...and Alep Stuollo
Evening 1
Evening 2
Evening 3
Evening 4
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