This summer we decided to participate at the Fjällräven Classic – a hiking event in Sweden. However, since we both had time we added a few more days in advance to go packrafting on our own. The idea was to store our luggage at the finish line of the Fjällräven Classic and go for a 3-days packrafting trip nearby the Abisko National Park. As camping in the Abisko National Park is only permitted at dedicated areas we decided to stay outside of the park which was at the end a good decision as we only met 1 person with a kayak during the 3 days which we were paddling on the river Njuoreatnu (Swedish: Njuoroaätno, Sami: Njuoraeatnu) towards the lake Torneträsk – with 168 m the second deepest lake in Sweden.
We decided to meet in Stockholm to take the 18 hours train up to the North. Konstantin was flying from Poznan (Poland) but actually just returned from his hiking and packrafting trip in Japan. Patrick came by ferry (Viking Line) from Turku which also took around 10 hours. The trains are actually quite comfortable even so they are not very new.
It’s possible for 6 people to sleep in one compartment and there are also power sockets to charge your phone. Unfortunately, there is no WiFi on the trains so you have to use your cellular data which is not always the best solution in this train and especially when you get more North there are areas where you have no signal at all.
One thing we have learned on the trip with the trains in Sweden is that you can pay for one cup of tea and then you take as much tea as you want. This is especially nice on such a long trip where you can relax in the restaurant compartment, read a book and enjoy endless amount of tea. There are also free tetra packs with water in the sleeping compartments.
Kiruna was one of the stops where most of the travellers left the train as many travellers participated in the Fjällräven Classic event (more about this hiking event later on our blog).
However, since we planned to come a bit earlier to do a bit packrafting we decided to continue our trip up to Abisko, which is actually the finish line of the Fjällräven Classic.
The idea was to leave our packrafts after our packrafting trip in Abisko, take the train back to Kiruna and collect the packraft once we have completed the Fjällräven Classic. Kiruna is a mining city and has also a beautiful wooden church. More about that in a different blog post.
There are two Abisko stations. This one we skipped but went further to the Abisko Turiststation station. The train continued to Norway but was essentially empty as the last hiking crews left the train here at the Abisko Tourist Station as well. The station is a simple red wooden house. And there was an information leaflet about the Fjällräven Classic which had 2300 participants this year.
Here you have also plenty of choices for hiking activities like the Kungsleden or the Nordkalottleden. However, we continued walking to the STF Turiststation Abisko, which is essentially a hotel and a youth hostel.
Once we arrived at the STF Turiststation Abisko we decided to empty our backpacks and lock the gear which was not needed here in the Turiststation. There was also a big Tentipi tent which later on served as Trekkers Inn for the Fjällräven Classic event.
Konstantin presenting some of the gear we decided to take on our packrafting trip. For example we didn’t take our hiking boots with us but just our rubber socks and sandals. Later on while packrafting we realized however that hiking boots would have been a good idea.
We were told that there is a nice rapid – the Njuoreatnu – which flows directly into the Torneträsk lake which is just in front of the STF Turiststation and we were also able to get a ride to Vassijaure – where we started our packrafting trip – from the person who advised us after his shift ended to the point where we inflated our packrafts, jumped into our drysuites and started our packrafting adventures.
One of the advantages of the dry suite is actually that they are quite useful against mosquitos. However, since it also started to rain there was another reason just to get into the dry suite as quickly as possible. Depending on the river we are also wearing helmets just to be on the safe side.
When you find such berries then you know that you know for sure that you are in the North. Those berries are rather small but provide a lot of Vitamin C. So if you see them – eat them!
The first part was quite easy relaxed padding and enjoying the mountains which were still covered with snow.
Then we encountered the first rapids and we had to get off the packrafts to scout if we were able to manage it. If you plan to do the same trip as we did make sure that you scout a lot (and you have to scout a lot). There are plenty of rapids where we had doubts that they can be managed even by the most skillful packrafter. It’s better to walk around them as safety goes first.
So once we had a clear view what lies in front of us we decided to get our packrafts back to the water. It’s probably also a good idea to have somebody with you who knows the river.
The last part was again relaxed paddling when we reached the lake Inngajávri. As it was already quite late (around midnight) we decided to look for a camping spot. After some more paddling we came across a nice island where we pitched our Hubba Hubba NX tent, had a short swim in the freezing cold water and prepared some food with our Windboiler stove.
And then it was time to say good night and jump into our sleeping bags. At around 1 am we finally fell asleep. In general, it was a great first day paddling on the Njuoreatnu river. There could have been more sunshine but then camping on an island is fun too.
Here you can find the GPS data of day 1 from our packrafting trip on the Njuoreatnu river.
After we packed our backpacks and enjoyed our breakfast we continued our paddling trip along the Inngajárvi lake.
Then it was time to switch from lake Inngajárvi to the lake Vuolip Njuorajávri which are connected by a rapid. Unfortunately, there were some rocks in the rapid which would not allow us to get smoothly through the rapid. So we decided to walk with our packrafts around it and set our packrafts back into the water once we reached lake Vuolip Njuorajávri. However, since we didn’t go through the rapid we decided to playboat a bit at the end of the rapid. There were a couple of bridges on our way. Some looked a bit old and it felt a bit scary to walk on them.
Around lunch time we decided to stop on a nice sandy shore and to prepare some lunch. Patrick is not such a fan of those ready made dehydrated lunch packages which can be bought in many camping stores. Luckily Konstantin still had some bread in his backpack which he bought before our trip. After having had a proper lunch we enjoyed a warm cup of tea. Tea always helps us to regenerate when we feel cold or exhausted.
Then it was time to scout again. There was another bridge which made a more solid impression to us. The rapid looked like lots of fun and we decided to paddle it and also made sure to wear our helmets to be on the safe side.
The rapid became a bit unpredictable and at some spots quite dangerous to paddle. So we decided to start hiking and scout for a new spot where it would be suitable to get back into the river.
After we walked for a while we figured out that it still might take a while until we could start packrafting again so we packed our packrafts and attached them on our backpacks. At this moment we realised that hiking boots would have been a better solutions rather than walking with our sandals. We had to climb up steep hills and it was rather slippery. And then there were also those hungry mosquitoes …
Finally, we found a spot where we were able to packraft again. However, after a while we had to pack our packrafts again and start walking through dense shrubbs and climbing hills. After we have walked for a while we were able to see the last bridge on this river. At this spot the Njuoreatnu river became more calm as it flows into the Torneträsk lake. From the bridge we had a nice view towards the Torneträsk lake (the second deepest and the sixth largest lake in Sweden).
It was slowly getting dark but we continued paddling until we reached another island where we pitched our tent. We felt quite cold and exhausted after this day. We just prepared a quick dinner and then we called it a day.
Here you can find our GPS data from day 2.
After a chilly night in our tent which we pitched on a small island we woke up still a little bit exhausted from the previous day and prepared some breakfast. While the fog was gone there were still a few clouds in the sky but the weather looked promising.
After crawling out of the tent we explored our little island covered with small bushes and mushrooms.
It was time to pack our backpacks and to leave the island. Our goal was to reach our starting point – the STF Turiststation Abisko – by noon.
Since Patrick lost his PFD the previous day he decided to paddle along the shore while Konstantin explored some rocks which poked out in the middle of the Torneträsk lake. It would have been quite a long swim to the shore if Konstantin would have faced any issues with his packraft. The landscape was just fantastic. I think the clouds made the whole area look even more impressive than a completly blue sky.
After a few hours of paddling we decided to get out of our packrafts and to continue our trip on the land. During our hike we also met a few hikers which also indicated that we were already close to our starting point. The trail was quite good and the area around the Torneträsk lake seems to be also a popular place for bird watching.
At 2 pm we arrived at the STF Turiststation Abisko and we went straight to the Restaurant. On the picture Patrick is pointing to the location where we were paddling.
The food was actually quite good and affordable (dinner however was quite expensive and we decided to skip it). There was a small shop in the hostel where we bought some snacks. I am not sure why the dinner is that pricey there … probably they are focusing more on quality tourists rather than the average backpacker. However, if you don’t want to camp there is a possibility to get an affordable shared room or a more pricey “hotel” room. We decided to stay one night in the shared room since Patrick got a flu on the last day of the trip.
The finish line of the Fjällräven Classic. In a way we could say that we have been the first who arrived at the finish line of the Fjällräven Classic 2015 🙂 The Trekkers Inn where you could get drinks and snacks after finishing the Fjällräven Classic. There was also the Ultra Run at the same time for those who prefer to run the 110 km.
After having had our lunch we unpacked our backpacks to have our gear dried. Konstantin on the finish line of the Fjällräven Classic with his ultralight backpack. The next day we went to Kiruna with the train – where Fjällräven had his registration point for the Fjällräven Classic participants. More about Fjällräven Classic 2015 soon on our blog. You can find the GPS data of Day 3 here.