Abisko to Kårsavagge is a popular trek to make. Kårsavagge means Kårsa-valley. Hiking in a valley makes it a easy hike and it’s possible to walk the 11km (+450m), sleep in a cabin at the end and walk back next day.
Abisko is a beautiful place to drive to from Kiruna and a easy way to get out on marked trails in beautiful surroundings. The geography gives the area better weather than the surroundings, especially during winter it is rarely overcast – this fact has made the little village a northern lights mecca.
I felt happy as soon as I started the hike. The sun was shining, the birds singing and I had a chance to enjoy the outdoors. Now and again you hear a chopper going by. They carry both tourists but also locals that check on their reindeer or travel to remote cabins. I was feeling the weight of my pack, but having a good pack that transfers the weight down to my legs, at least I don’t get backpain.
The low alpine doesn’t inspire me as much as the high alpin. With its shrubs, stumbling through at least 20 cm vegetation if you don’t follow a path,and especially not with the mosquitoes. It’s been a good year for the mosquitoes. In the high alpine there is a different feeling of freedom and I wanted get up above the valley. I’m in love with the high alpine environment, loving the rubble and plain earth and 5cm vegetation. The freedom to see and move above most of the world. The route I took was challenging but the view was magnificent.
First I ended up going all the way to the Kårsavagge cabin. I didn’t get to where I was thinking I would end up for the night. I didn’t see where I was supposed to turn so I missed it. My thought was that I would get up towards lake Latnjajaure but the terrain from where I was made that impossible. I decided to still get up to the next level of the mountain, the one you don’t see from below, but it had to be to another spot. I went up as fast as the mountain allowed and ended up a few kilometers closer to Abisko.
Up at ~1100m you could see down to Abisko. I set up my tent and when I came out of it I got scared by a reindeer walking close to me. I’m not used to reindeer getting this close and I guess they were young males not used to humans getting this close either.
Walking around a little before I went to sleep I got to realise that we have just a little bit of pink in the sky now as the sun is going down just under the horizon. Makes a nice silhouette with a reindeer standing on the edge of the mountain with big horns and you see the much taller white mountains (Norwegian I think) far behind. It took some time to fall asleep since my legs and feet were killing me, had been a long and tiring hike and it was cold.
This doesn’t happen a lot, but the next day I woke up from it being too warm in my tent. Wow! The muscle stiffness was awful. So I stumbled out of my tent and sat on a ledge and had my morning tea and enjoyed the view. Sitting in a spot like this makes it so worth the effort to get outside.
I still had almost a full day left of hiking to get back to Abisko. I took the scenic route and it took many breaks – tea and a good view is my excuse, but I was really tired and terrain here over 1000m is rough. The treeline is around 600m here. Over 1000m it is high alpine and lots of rock, rubble, moss or miniature plant life. Like the arctic birch at 5 cm tall climbing horizontally to be able to hold on. Depending on wind exposure, frost and thaw and the soil being shallow, nothing that requires much of a root system can live above certain altitudes. Depending on latitude and climate the treeline is at various altitudes. The thaw shoots through the ground every year and the landscape becomes patchy from this. It creates so much life and diversity to have these extreme pressures act on the landscape.
I had a full day walking and looking at the mountain and thinking about what could be a good route for next time. I didn’t follow any marked track but just navigated freely back towards Abisko. In good weather it’s very easy to navigate by comparing the map to the landscape, but it would be an entirely different story in thick fog. I didn’t meet anyone until I got to the top of Noulja, close to Abisko tourist station. I had the top of (this part) of the world all to myself!
I drive back to Kiruna and couldn’t help going into the local shop to buy some candy. I got stuck behind an old lady walking slowly with a shopping cart and people might have thought I was being courteous not running around her but I really couldn’t move any faster. After two days hiking and then sitting still for 90min driving I was incredibly sore.
During this hike I forgot my phone in the car. That was stupid since I hadn’t told anyone where I was going to be and when I should be home. You don’t get reception in all areas but often if you go up high you can get it. I always take many pictures but not that many this time as my my battery ran out. I learned to bring an extra battery for next time. In conclusion I made some mistakes this time and I may be getting too used to just going out for a while. Overconfidence is never good – I do my best to learn from my mistakes and not forget the mountains are unforgiving.
The area around lake Torneträsk is magical, wouldn’t you want to live here?