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Sarek National Park—Day Five August 30, 2014

Posted by Jenny in camping, hiking, nature.
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One of Sarek's two bridges. We were glad it was there.

One of Sarek’s two bridges. We were glad it was there.

Day Five began with the novelty of walking a short distance without our heavy packs. Just downstream of where we had camped, the river flowed through a deep narrow gorge, and Christian took us to see it. We crossed the bridge pictured above and walked beside the river.

No backpacks!

No backpacks!

The gorge was so deep and narrow that it was hard to get a picture of the water running through it. Christian warned us to stay away from the edge, telling us about two Polish hikers who had come here in the winter. One stood on a block of snow at the gorge that turned out to be an overhanging cornice. It collapsed beneath him—and he was gone forever.

In this picture, what looks like a block of white rock or snow is actually milky-colored water.

In this picture, what looks like a block of white rock or snow toward the top is actually milky-colored water.

Swirls of mist rose from the gorge, and the water raced onward.

Churning water.

Churning water.

Today’s outing would be a short one. Rather than continuing south into what eventually becomes the great Rapadalen valley, we turned east toward a large lake, the Bierikjavrre.  We would arrive early enough to relax and maybe have a bath in one of the smaller lakes in the vicinity. Then the next day we would do a day trip to climb the mountain Låddebakte and return.  From that peak, we’d have views down into the Rapadalen, which has been described as one of the most beautiful river valleys in Europe.

Our route turned east-southeast.

Our route turned east-southeast.

The day before we’d met a group of hikers coming the opposite way, and Christian asked them about the current condition of the stream crossings. They said we’d have one slightly difficult crossing, but they had put up a stone cairn to mark a good place to get over.

I looked at the map and saw two crossings. The streams were drawn with very narrow blue lines. I couldn’t see how they could pose any problem. I still hadn’t figured out something pretty obvious: it all depends on the size of the glacier at the top of the stream.

Before long we came to the first stream. A cairn had been placed beside it. Oddly enough, it had not been placed at what was clearly a better spot to get across. We went to the easier place and got across with no trouble. Perhaps those other hikers had found it difficult because they’d picked the wrong crossing spot?

Maria crosses the stream.

Maria crosses the stream.

At any rate, I felt smug. I had clearly mastered the art of these crossings. No problem at all!

The folks who changed to water shoes regroup on the far bank. I, of course, left on my Merrells.

The folks who changed to water shoes regroup on the far bank. I, of course, left on my Merrells, as explained in the last post.

The mountains were lovely even with their tops shrouded in clouds.

The mountains were lovely even with their tops shrouded in clouds.

Before too long we came to the second stream. And suddenly I realized, with fear in the pit of my stomach, that this was the difficult crossing.  I could see that the way wasn’t bad as far as an island in the middle. But the side past the island looked deep. It foamed with fast-moving current.

A few people crossed before me. I watched where they put their feet and decided, “Okay, let’s get this over with.” I got about halfway across the hard section and started to wobble. My heavy pack was once again trying to pull me over backward. Christian came across to me and offered a helping hand. With his steadying, I made it across. Whew!

Jonas wades knee deep, while Jarl waits for his turn  . Anders stands by in case assistance is needed.

Jonas wades thigh deep, while Jarl waits for his turn. Anders stands by in case assistance is needed.


Anders again offers assistance.

We crossed a boggy area and left a well-used track to get up to the chain of lakes that was our destination. Sometimes we picked up game paths, other times human paths. They braided in and out between bits of bog.

Looking up the valley.

Looking up the valley.

We arrived at our campsite with a few hours to relax however we chose. Some went for a swim in the closest lake, but it was too chilly for me to do that. I wandered about taking pictures of plants.

Fluorescent green moss.

Fluorescent green moss.

The flower seemed to grow right out of the rock.

This flower seemed to grow right out of the rock.

Luxuriant ferns.

Luxuriant ferns.

This plant is known as "polar wool."

This plant is known as “polar wool.”

It was Day Five that we had our evening meal of quinoa. As mentioned earlier, this is supposed to be a high-protein “super-food” with a number of unusual nutritional benefits. It is considered a great thing by agriculturists on the lookout for plants with high nutritional value that can tolerate poor soil and cold, dry climates. It is not a cereal-type grain but what nutritionists call a “pseudo-cereal.”

Well, the trouble with the quinoa was that it took forever to cook. We boiled it for about 15 minutes, and it tasted crunchy. As in, it tasted as though it hadn’t even been cooked. So we boiled it. And boiled it. And it was still crunchy. Finally we  gave up and ate it with whatever sauce was supposed to go with it—I forget what that was. Afterward Christian went around to our tents and said, “I’m going to tell them [the folks at STF in Abisko] not to give us that again! Uses up too much fuel!”  “And it doesn’t taste good either,” Jarl and I agreed.

I applaud the “super-food” concept, but this wasn’t good for a backpacking trip. Perhaps if it was pre-cooked and then freeze-dried? And served with something truly delicious?

I looked forward to the next day. Finally, we were going to reach the summit of a mountain!

Rugged peaks all around.

Rugged peaks all around.




1. Dana Koogler - August 31, 2014

Enjoying your trip reports! Interesting and beautiful photos and write up! Sounds like a tough trip. Boy, the creek crossings there make ours look candy ass! 🙂

Jenny - August 31, 2014

Thanks for reading! Yes, these were definitely the hardest crossings I’ve encountered—with the possible exception of Raven Fork Gorge!

2. MIKE DESIMONE - September 1, 2014

Whenever I eat a slice of my sliced quinoa bread I’ll remember never to bring it backpacking lol.

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