Day 98-100: Autumn beauty in Ovre Dividalen

During the night I hear the lake gradually gets calmer by the sound of the waves crashing onto the coast of the Roggenjárga peninsula, where I am camping. When I wake up at half past six the huge Torneträsk is flat like a mirror. It is still overcast with low clouds. I quickly pack my stuff and raft 3km across the lake (which has a length of 70km!) towards the northern shore. Alone in my tiny raft, I feel very vulnerable out on this immense lake during this crossing, but the weather is sufficiently stable and I reach the other side without any problems 40 minutes later. I pack my raft and start bushwhacking up the steep slope.

Putting out of Torneträsk

Putting out of Torneträsk

Today will be a long day out. Based on the weather forecasts I have seen in Abisko, it will be the only short time window with little wind before the weather will start to deteriorate again next night. I thus decide to try to push on all the way towards the Altevatnet lake (a 28km off-trail section) in order to also cross this large lake today.

When I reach the treeline, a few sunrays set the golden tundra in flames before low clouds and drizzle drown the sky again. The rest of the day will be cold and dull. The vegetation becomes more scarce on the tundra plateaus towards Guollejavri lake. A mean northwesterly breeze has picked up and I take a break out of the wind at a Renvaktarstuga before gradually climbing further up towards the Swedish-Norwegian border. The terrain is fairly easy throughout and I make good progress.

Views back towards Torneträsk during the climb onto the tundra plateaus

Views back towards Torneträsk during the climb onto the tundra plateaus

After a few more hours across endless and deserted tundra plateaus (I wonder how many hikers actually come here every year), and often just below the cloudbase, I finally reach the Jordbruelva river and start descending towards the Altevatnet lake. The mighty Bihppas range (1659m) unfortunately remains in the clouds. I enter the birch forest on the last section towards the lake and encounter a lot of reindeer. It is nearly 5 o’clock in the afternoon when I finally reach the lake. The long off-trail section has been easier than I had feared.

Crossing the plateaus north of Torneträsk

Crossing the plateaus north of Torneträsk

Descending into the Stordalen valley near Altevatnet

Descending into the Stordalen valley near Altevatnet

A 3 beaufort northwesterly wind sweeps across the lake. 3 beaufort is not too much, but as the wind blows along the axis of the lake, the waves have a runup zone of 15km and reach peak-to-through heights of over half a meter. I hesitate a bit at first, but knowing the weather will only get worse I get going in the end anyway. The Altevatnet crossing is also a lot shorter (1,5km) then the one at Torneträsk. Once out on the lake I often have to stop paddling and position my raft perpendicular to the crest of large waves which are about to reach me, and then paddle as hard as I can towards the northeast in the few seconds before stopping again to tackle the next one. It takes some time, but I eventually reach the northern shore, which a follow for a while with a good tailwind until I reach a vacation cabin at Guolásnjárga. It is past 6 o’clock and I put out to camp.

Reindeer in the birch forest near Altevatnet

Reindeer in the birch forest near Altevatnet

Bivouac along the shores of Altevatnet

Bivouac along the shores of Altevatnet

Slight rain falls during the night with temperatures just above freezing. When I wake up, the slopes of the Bihppas mountain are powdered with fresh snow above 700m, with the cloudbase only a little bit higher. Slight rain and sleet falls from time to time and motivation to start hiking is limited. I get going at around half past eight, and soon climb above the treeline while following the Guolásnjárga upstream towards the Guolásjávri lakes on often very wet terrain. In the meantime the cloudbase starts to lift with even some sunshine, and while I hike north on easy tundra terrain along the lakes, the white slopes of Gaibagaisi start to appear in all their splendor. After a short descent and wading across the Geibbajohka, I find connection to the Nordkalottleden trail, which I immediately leave again however to traverse below the steep east slopes of Gaibagaisi and along the Unna Vuomajavrras lake until I end up high above the Anjavassdalen valley.

Climbing away from Altevatnet, with the freshly powdered Bihppas in the clouds

Climbing away from Altevatnet, with the freshly powdered Bihppas in the clouds

Traversing below the east face of Gaibagaisi

Traversing below the east face of Gaibagaisi

The southern slopes of Njunis (1709m) as seen while traversing into Anjavassdalen

The southern slopes of Njunis (1709m) as seen while traversing into Anjavassdalen

This is a section I have been looking forward to a lot, and I am not disappointed. The Anjavasselva river meanders through a maze of ponds, endless peat bogs and yellow and orange birch forest, with the slopes of the mighty Njunis range (1709m), now almost entirely devoid of clouds and with fresh powder on higher ground, as a breathtaking backdrop. The rest of the afternoon, during which I traverse off-trail high above the valley on its southwestern slopes, are pure joy. The weather improves to the best day in over a week. Way too soon I reach the pass separating the Anjavassdalen and Sanddalen valleys, and the splendid autumn walk has come to an end. I camp on the pass. In the late afternoon it gets overcast again, and later in the evening light snow starts to fall.

The Anjavassdalen as seen during the long traverse above the valley

The Anjavassdalen as seen during the long traverse above the valley

Crossing a stream high in Anjavassdalen

Crossing a stream high in Anjavassdalen

By the next morning 1 to 2cm of fresh snow covers my tarp. The clouds start to break, however, and I realize today will be the climax of this splendid fall crossing of the Ovre Dividalen National Park. Nice weather, autumn colors, and freshly powdered mountains: this must be outdoor Nirvana!

Fresh snow during the bivouac on the pass between Anjavassdalen and Sanddalen

Fresh snow during the bivouac on the pass between Anjavassdalen and Sanddalen

I immediately start hiking north towards the Hogskardvatnet. The backdrop is jaw-dropping. This is as good as hiking in Scandinavia gets. I turn round every 5 steps to gaze back towards the steep north face of the Gaibagaisi mountains, the snow glistering in the morning sun. The explosion of autumn colors in the birch forest is about to reach its maximum. What a views!

The Sanddalen valley as seen from near the pass

The Sanddalen valley as seen from near the pass

View back towards the slopes of Gaibagaisi during the walk towards Hogskardvatnet

Fresh snow on the slopes of Beagagaisi

Fresh snow on the slopes of Beagagaisi

More retrospective views towards Gaibagaisi on a splendid autumn morning

More retrospective views towards Gaibagaisi on a splendid autumn morning

A bit before reaching the lake, I stumble upon a Sami quad track, which eases my progress northeast through the Hogskardet valley. I eventually reach the treeline and enjoy the endless views through the forested Dividalen valley before plunging down towards the river myself (with regular blueberry breaks on the way down). I’m out of the mountains, but there is more fun waiting today: once I reach the river, I hike towards the Svalheim bridge and inflate my raft for a 19km ride down the Divielva river towards the tiny town of Holt. Three hours of pure playboating in PR2-3 rapids, regular short breaks to enjoy the silence of shallow canyons, the warm fall sunshine in the golden birch forest and distant views of snow-capped mountains later, I can only conclude one thing: I’m on the trail for exactly 100 days now, but I’m still enjoying things like at the very start… or even more.

Through the Hogskardet valley

Through the Hogskardet valley

Starting the descent into the birch forest of Dividalen

Starting the descent into the birch forest of Dividalen

Ready to packraft the Divielva river!

Ready to packraft the Divielva river!

Stages:
07/09/2012: Roggenjárga – Altevatnet Guolasjohka (34km, +790/-640, 8h30)
08/09/2012: Altevatnet Guolasjohka – E-slopes Riiddagierdu (26km, +570/-360, 6h15)
09/09/2012: E-slopes Riiddagierdu – Holt (37km, +90/-710, 7h30)

Map Abisko- Holt

Map Abisko- Holt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s