Fjällräven Classic: the hike

I started my hike in the very last start group on Sunday, at 1 pm. I didn’t plan my stops beforehand, but I knew I wanted to arrive in Abisko on Thursday. It seemed appropriate to finish on my birthday, arriving seemed like a great way to celebrate. Plus in Abisko I could get a beer, or two, to toast with.

More on this event: Summer hike: Fjällräven ClassicFjällräven Classic: getting ready & packing list and Fjällräven Classic: looking back, moving forward

I left Kiruna for Nikkaluokta on Saturday. The atmosphere at the start was great and exciting. I sat in the station with a beer and a piece of carrot cake watching everyone get ready to set off on their hike. After a couple of hours sitting there, I’m feeling more and more queasy. Thinking it was just nerves I had another beer, but boy was that a mistake. I didn’t get to finish that beer and spent the rest of the day sitting next to the toilet. I was sick as a dog. Panic was starting to set in, if I wasn’t feeling better by morning I would not be able to hike. Luckily I met some other hikers who were happy to help me out and gave me all kinds of advice. After a nervous night and a bit of a shaky morning I deemed myself good enough to start the hike. Worst-case scenario I would hike back to the start the next day. I’m happy to report that I managed to get through the first day without any issues.

Day 1: Nikkaluokta – Kebnekaise

On day one I hiked from the start to Kebnekaise. I was hoping to hike past the check point to camp in the valley, but by the time I got there we were no longer allowed to hike any further. The weather forecast didn’t look good, a storm was coming in and the strong wind worried the Fjällräven staff. Once you pass the Kebnekaise station you are ‘stuck’ in a big wind tunnel. Not a good idea to camp there given the circumstances. I didn’t mind spending the night there and since I got there pretty early I had a good camping spot. For once I was happy with my small tent, wind just blows over it. I didn’t notice much of the storm at night.

Day 2: Kebnekaise – Sälka

The next day I started hiking pretty early. It was still very windy and it was raining on and off the whole morning.  At some moments the wind was so strong I could hardly move forward. I took a wrong turn just outside Kebnekaise and ended up hiking in the wrong direction for more than half an hour. That is what you get for walking with your head down.

The trail between Kebnekaise and Sälka is quite tricky with lots of rocks and uneven terrain. I reached Singi by lunchtime and was surprised to see two volunteers in flapping poncho’s instead of a checkpoint. The strong winds had forced them to put down their tents. I had lunch and made myself sit down for at least an hour and a half, quite the challenge for me. I kept an eye out for any of the hikers I met the night before, but didn’t recognize anybody. It didn’t take long to meet other people, though.

The evening in Sälka was cold and wet, but nothing a good sauna couldn’t fix. I was there early, so I pitched my tent and went directly to the sauna. After that I had my dinner, walked around camp for a bit and headed back to the sauna. A perfect way to spend an evening if you ask me.

Day 3: Sälka – Alesjaure

By day three I was fully back in my hiking rhythm and right on time, because the hike between Sälka and Alesjaure was a challenging one. It was also absolutely stunning. The climb around Tjäkta wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be the days before, but I was happy to be at the top looking down. I took my lunch break at Tjäkta and was so happy we got a cup of coffee and a snack there. Coffee always tastes better on the trail.

The hike between Tjäkta and Alesjaure wasn’t too long, but all the loose stones kept me on my toes. I have to admit I was very happy to see the checkpoint that day. I made myself a second lunch and enjoyed the view for a while. It was great seeing all other hikers arrive that day. I met up with my neighbor from the day before and we set up tents together again.

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This station had a sauna too, but it was so crowded I didn’t go in. Instead I spent the night having a few beers in great company, I’m not complaining.

Day 4: Alesjaure – Kieron

From Alesjaure to Kieron is an easy hike, compared to the previous days, but challenging in its own way.  It was a great day with sunshine, beautiful scenery and lots of wildlife. I paused for lunch right before the descent to Kieron and met up with my neighbor again. In Kieron I had the best pancakes I ever had, or maybe it was the fact I ate them after three days of hiking, sitting up against a tree and out of my coffee cup. The sun was shining and I was feeling as happy as can be.

That evening was everything you can want from a night of camping. We set up our tents early, the sun was shining and we had plenty of time to lounge and mess with our gear. By the time it got colder we met up with some other hikers we met along the way and made a campfire. We spent the night sharing stories and whiskey.

Day 5: Kieron – Abisko

The last day was a slow day filled with mixed feelings. I didn’t hike alone that day but happily shared the track with my camping buddy from the last two nights. It was a beautiful last day and we decided to stretch the hike as long as possible. I don’t think I ever took that many breaks while hiking, but I just wasn’t ready for it to be over yet. It was great sharing this last part of the trail.

When we arrived in Abisko I was happy to have made it, but was feeling lost at the same time. There were so many people and everyone was so excited. I got my medal, patch and pin, and then I got some beers. We met up with some other people we met along the way and had a blast. I was planning to go to the party at night and did actually make it to the tent, only to turn around after two minutes. It might sound silly, but I wasn’t ready for so many people. Everyone seemed so happy to have finished the hike, while I was still a bit dazed and sad it was over. Instead I called home.  I consider myself lucky to have someone at home who knows me and who knows what I feel at that moment.

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