It´s that time of year again. Summer is fading away and autumn colors is coming. September is big mountain month. The last five or six years i´ve been heading up to the mountains of Swedish Lapland with friends for proper all mountain adventures. We usually go to Björkliden, far above the the arctic circle, rent a cabin and go for day rides in the area. But this year we decided to do something else. Me and my buddy Sven been talking of do some bike packing in the area. This year we come through.
We made plans and wanted to do something we never did before. There is a hiking trail that goes along the the Norwegian border from Katterjåkk to Abisko. No one has ridden it with bikes before and that makes it twice the fun. It is a 70 km ride but through very rough terrain and we where planning for three nights in tent. The drive from the coast up to this part of northern Sweden is about 5-6 hours. We took off early on Thursday morning and was planning to do a couple of kilometers on on the trail Thursday afternoon.
We arrived at Katterjåkk mountain station and had a few hours left until sunset. The weather forecast predicted lovely weather but in the mountains it´s always hard to tell and we got some rain for starters.
First kilometers was easy as pie and we made it to the lake to set camp in a couple of hours. Heading up in the mountains is always stunning. I´ve been up here so many times but it keep blowing my mind each time. We even got a lovely rainbow and as we got to our campsite the weather was just swell.
We were in for a stunning sunset and had a good night sleep. It would prove it self very needful since we did not really know what was waiting i the coming days.
I´ve been brushing my teeth in worse places…
The following day was greeting us with dead calm lake and a warm autumn sun. We were planning to go about 25 km up hill and through a pass to the Norwegian border and head south to Unna Allakas mountain hut. A ride that would prove it self quite hard…
At first we followed the lake around before starting the climb. And what a climb. I had my fair part of hike a bike when i ride in the mountains but this was the next level. The trail went almost straight up through an area that looked more like a quarrel then a trail.
This day was the hardest I’ve ever done on two wheels. We made about 15 km in 10 hours. Mostly hike a bike, perhaps 10% was rideable, still one of my best days in the saddle. After leaving our first campsite we went in to no mans land with total radio silence or phone signal. It´s lovey to go off the grid but you really need to be careful especially in terrain like this.
After 10 hours we had enough and set camp by a crossing. We were following a river and the best thing with riding up here is unlimited access to fresh water. All i carried was a 700 ml Klean Canteen bottle. Just refill when it´s empty free of charge from mother nature.
We were tired but stoked. This place was stunning. Our tent site just after the crossing on a little plateau with a lovely view. The weather gods were still kind to us but we had frost this night. Probably because we were at 1 200 meters above sea level.
After another good nights sleep it was back on track again. The original plan was to make it to Unna Allakats mountain hut the day before. We had about 10 km left to there so we had to re-plan our next stop. We had to be at our goal at Abisko on Sunday and we were behind schedule so we decided to just ride and see how far we get.
The terrain was still rough but better the Friday when we hiked about 90%. A few climbs left and the all down hill to Unna.
To start a decent after a long climb is a bliss. Flowy single track and stunning landscape does not make it worse… One crash and one puncture was all the incidents, both me off course. Going fast with the bike all packed up is a bit of a hassle.
We were coming down in lower terrain and the rocks changed in to heath and mountain birch that also can be quite challenging. I´ve ran out of battery and Saturdays campsite were among trees. The benefit of low grounds is wood and we had our first campfire of the trip.
Last day and easy trails. We knew we had the easiest part a head of us. From here we enter the Abisko National park and join the Kings Trail (Kungsleden). All of a sudden lots of traffic on the trails. Hikers from all over the world and all of them gazing at our fat tires and loaded bikes.
70 kilometer is a distance that sometimes take one day and sometimes four. To say what is more satisfying is all about the effort you put in to it. These 70 km was the hardest i´ve done in my life and we did understand why no one has ridden it before. It´s just not possible. We pulled it off due to perfect conditions. To be able to ride in 20 degrees celsius this far north in early september is very rare.
We are very grateful to mother nature for having us and we´re sure coming back again. we´ll take another trial tho. Still would be kind of cool to do this one in the winter. Just saying…
Here’s the link to the ride on Strava