Abisko 2012, part 1

We went hiking in the Abisko area this year. A comfortable 24 hour train ride took us from the very south of Sweden to the very north. Abisko is a super-convenient portal to awesome wilderness. The train station is right by the Abisko National Park entrance. The friendly staff at the STF mountain station lets you store supplies in the baggage room. We stashed two big duffel bags with books and games (from the train journey), food, gas, and some backup clothing before we took off in the early afternoon on day 1. A low-hanging cloud cover prevented any views of the surrounding peaks and delivered a constant drizzle. We enjoyed our hike up into Kårsavagge nonetheless. There are so many flowers in the lush undergrowth of the birch forest and also in the open areas!

Orchids grow on open, wet, limestone-rich ground. This one is a Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea; “Brudsporre” in Swedish).

We didn’t put on our rain pants, since our nylon pants dried quickly from the inside, except during the last part of the hike when we moved beyond the tree line and slogged across some wet marshy ground, forded a rain-swollen creek, and wacked through wet brush, which pretty much soaked us. After some 14 km of hiking and a modest 300 m altitude gain, we arrived at the Kårsavagge hut, which provided us with the convenience of an outhouse. Sixteen people were holing up in the 10-man hut, so our intention to camp was viewed favorably by the temporary residents and the warden/host. Then the rain started to really hammer down. We pitched the tent and the tarp in a hurry and got a chance to practice the art of entering the tent/tarp and shedding the wet layers while keeping our sleeping bags dry. This operation is quite easy in the Trailstar with its huge interior, while the Tarptent Double rainbow requires a bit more finesse. Dad served up some hot chocolate or blueberry soup of our choice and then we collapsed in our sleeping bags, warm and happy with today’s achievements.

Look, the sun is coming out over there!

The rain continued through the night and around 2 am the wind picked up too. We worried a bit about the tent pegs that were driven into a rather shallow layer of glacial silt, but they held nicely. Still, we made a note to bring Y-beam stakes, instead of the Easton pegs, next time. The silnylon stretched a bit from the long exposure to rain, but the pitches were still tight enough to resist any flapping in the wind. The next morning the rain stopped and the clouds started to lift from the valley floor. We even caught a few glimpses of the sun, wow!

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