1-3/Aug/2012 Sarek National Park, Sweden

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fettster
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1-3/Aug/2012 Sarek National Park, Sweden

Post by fettster » August 19th, 2012, 8:41 am

It has been a long long time since I've posted to PH. Sadly a big reason is I haven't done a lot of hiking in the area for a while. However, I recently took a trip to Sweden and thought I'd share a little on the three day backpack I was fortunate to go on while there.

My trip to Sweden has a bit of a Portland connection. I took my friend's father-in-law Eskil* hiking to Dog Mountain last year when he and his wife came this way for the birth of their second grandchild. Out of the time I shared with my friend's extended family I received an open invitation to visit them in Sweden. Not too bad, I just had to get myself over there!

*Eskil: A good and proper viking name

Things came together for me to go this summer, and after three flights and about 18 hours I landed in Luleå (loo-lee-oh) airport in northern Sweden on July 29. I had a few days to get used to the time zone and see the area near their hometown of Sävast before Eskil and I ventured on August 1 on the three hour drive to Sarek National Park. Our drive took us above the Arctic Circle, the first time I'd been that far north. I got a good feel for the extensive forests of northern Sweden as our route followed along the Luleå River. Eskil pointed out several of the dams he helps manage and operate as part of his work.


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Along the way we stopped in the village of Jokkmokk (pronouced like "yoke-mock") to visit the Sami people museum. A good reference point for the Sami in Scandinavia are the Native Americans here in the states. There were lots of displays on their life in the past and present. I thought it was especially cool to see the differences in their ceremonial clothing depending on the region of Scandinavia they resided.


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Jokkmokk Dam with Sami-design paintings


I had a strong sense of being in Europe with the variety of cars parked at the trailhead.

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We actually started our backpack by bike, tackling the first 10 km (6.2 mile) on mountain bike along a dirt road leading through the forest.


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Iron man Eskil

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At road’s end there's an option to ride by boat, but keeping it real (and to save on the money) we opted to backpack the next 6 km. But wow, we still paid a full price of admission taking this way. I learned from Eskil that it has been a wet and cool summer in northern Sweden. On each step Eskil took ahead of me a cloud of menace swarmed up behind. It’s not a good thing when you can no longer gauge if that’s a real mosquito buzzing your right ear or if your mind is losing touch with reality as you swipe at the unseen pest. Not much else to do but buckle down and get it done.

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Break on the dock

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No boat for us this day...on to Aktse!

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Bugs!

In a bit over an hour and a half we came to Aktse, an established camp with cabins, camp store, and showers. If you were smart (or not cheap) to take the boat this is also where the drop off is. Eskil prepared a tasty meal of fresh boiled pasta with minced meat sauce. Good stuff! As the bugs were still tenderizing our skin we opted to push up the trail another half hour to get above tree line in search of some redeeming wind.


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Aktse arrival

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Master chef Eskil

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Aktse's Midsommarstång (Midsummer Maypole still standing from the June festival)

Our campsite had great views, with the Rapa Valley below us and Skerfe summit awaiting us the next day off to the west.


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Skerfe awaits

I must say sunsets in the Arctic Circle really messed with my mind. I would see the sun nearing the horizon and intuitively deem it would set within a half hour. Two hours later, the sun would still be going strong, just a bit lower, but shifting more and more to the right. It never did get completely dark at night. I keenly understood the silly question I'd asked before coming if I'd need a headlamp for the trip or not!


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Well, I'll start letting the pictures tell the rest of the story. The mountains to the west seem to hold off most of the weather coming in from Norway and the Norwegian Sea, leaving us with sometimes cloudy, sometimes sunny conditions. In the expansive and sparse landscape of the north varied patterns of shadow and light voyaged around us. We made it to the summit of Skerfe soon before a couple from Germany, and later a pair from the Stockholm area.


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Porridge breakfast prep

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Butterfly or fly?

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Rapa Valley

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Peaks Gådoktjåhkkå and Bielloriehppe come into view again

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Summit shot

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Rapa Valley Delta

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Eskil descending

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Eskil summits Offerplats (Suffering Rock or Place)

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It was very cool to see many new flowers I'd never seen before.

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Smörboll (butter ball)

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Midsommarblomster (Midsummer flower)

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Lapp Spira

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Snusblomma (Snuff Flower, from the similarity in coloring to tobacco snuff)

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Ängsull (Cottongrass)

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Skogsstjärna (Chickweed)

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Rödblära (Red campion)

What also struck me on this trip were the lack of birds and bird noise, or of mammals. Eskil told me many of the birds would have already have started their way south for the winter months ahead. With few mammals we didn't have to bother with hanging our food. And it was a nice convenience to collect water straight from the stream. I know many also do with backcountry water sources in the Pacific Northwest, but I've always been a bit paranoid about doing that myself.

I did get to see both a mother cow moose and baby calf, as well as a reindeer, but actually not at the park but on the drive to and from. What I never figured out is why an “elk” and “moose” is the same thing in Sweden. Eskil referenced elk several times on a drive before hand. It wasn’t until I saw a road warning sign with a moose on it that I understood he meant a moose. Even at a historical park in Stockholm the same refence was there so it just seems to be a different usage of the word.

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The drive back back to Sävast was pleasant, with blue skies and lakes guiding our way as we passed the extensive forests of Sweden.

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Bugs or no it was well worth the trip there. The memories and friends I will hold as special for the rest of my life.

-Fettster
Last edited by fettster on August 19th, 2012, 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Chase
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Re: 1-3/Aug/2012 Sarek National Park, Sweden

Post by Chase » August 19th, 2012, 9:01 am

Great TR! Looks like a unique place and you captured the spirit of it with your words and photos!

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Waffle Stomper
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Re: 1-3/Aug/2012 Sarek National Park, Sweden

Post by Waffle Stomper » August 19th, 2012, 9:27 am

Wonderful trip report. Thank you for making that connection and sharing the results with us.
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." - John Muir

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Swede
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Re: 1-3/Aug/2012 Sarek National Park, Sweden

Post by Swede » August 19th, 2012, 9:49 am

Thanks for this fine trip report and really great photos. I am envious!

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Peder
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Re: 1-3/Aug/2012 Sarek National Park, Sweden

Post by Peder » August 19th, 2012, 6:11 pm

Great report Fettster! I wished to go there 30 years ago when living in Denmark but never went. Given all the mosquitoes (and that is seasonal!) I don't mind too much.
What I never figured out is why an “elk” and “moose” is the same thing in Sweden.
That is just poor translation between Swedish and English: In Sweden (as well as Norway and Denmark) a moose is named an elg. So when translating the elg to English, the Swede will tend to select "elk" as that sounds like the same thing. The American elk (wapiti) would be a kronhjort (basically a "king deer") in Swedish.

Beware that Swedes (and Norwegians) use mil (=miles) as a unit of measurement: The Swedish mile is 10 kilometers or six (American) miles. Other Europeans, just like non-metric Americans, take a "mile" to be around 1.6 kilometers. So when your destination is "3 miles away" according to a Swede, that translates to 30 km or about 20 miles! :shock:

There are many problems like that: If you ask for a "glass" in Norway or Denmark, you will receive a "glass" (for drinking). Children will love Sweden, where the "glass" is an ice cream!
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

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fettster
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Re: 1-3/Aug/2012 Sarek National Park, Sweden

Post by fettster » August 19th, 2012, 8:17 pm

Peder wrote:That is just poor translation between Swedish and English: In Sweden (as well as Norway and Denmark) a moose is named an elg. So when translating the elg to English, the Swede will tend to select "elk" as that sounds like the same thing. The American elk (wapiti) would be a kronhjort (basically a "king deer") in Swedish.
Thanks Peder for that clarification! Since a moose is a type of deer I suppose elk is not too far off anyways. I heard the Swedish mile referenced several times, especially when Eskil was converting his car's petrol efficiency for me to km. I didn't realize it was so much larger of a unit.

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drm
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Re: 1-3/Aug/2012 Sarek National Park, Sweden

Post by drm » August 20th, 2012, 7:20 am

On my trips to Alaska, I've always made sure to go before or after the bugs, like May or mid-August or later. On only one of those trips did I actually get north or the Arctic Circle. But that thing about the sun doing a loop around the horizon instead of going up and down is kind of weird.

As to the language, it is interesting to me that wapiti means elk, because I've read that Lake Wapiki in Indian Heaven also refers to elk in the language of the local Indians, the Klickitat band I suppose. So is Swedish connected to Native American languages? I think not, but a coincidence?

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bobcat
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Re: 1-3/Aug/2012 Sarek National Park, Sweden

Post by bobcat » August 20th, 2012, 10:50 am

Coincidentally, I also know people in Luleå although I have never visited them on their home turf (I've taken advantage of their second home in Switzerland). Now you've inspired me to consider a trip to the North! I am impressed by the photos of the delta and love the broad, sweeping landscapes.

In Britain, of course, our "elk" are called "red deer" (as in New Zealand, where they are farmed for venison). The North American wapiti, or elk (Cervus canadensis) used to be lumped with the red or king deer of Eurasia (Cervus elaphus), but phylogenetic analysis has determined they are distinct species, although very close.

@drm: "Wapiti", according to my etymological search, is a Shawnee word describing the elk's pale rump. The Klickitat and Shawnee languages are not related, however, so the similarity with "wapiki" may be incidental.

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Re: 1-3/Aug/2012 Sarek National Park, Sweden

Post by hlee » August 22nd, 2012, 4:55 pm

What a very special TR! Those photos of the Delta are so amazing! Like a painting, or almost like a super macro of something. I loved getting a snippet of hiking on another continent! In some ways familiar, but so different too.

Peder, my family is Danish too! My grandma is the secretary of the Danish Sisterhood in Portland, in fact.

Hannah

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.
-- T.S. Eliot

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Re: 1-3/Aug/2012 Sarek National Park, Sweden

Post by Get Out Backpacking » August 24th, 2012, 1:30 pm

Great report!

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