By Konstantin Gridnevskiy
This August Patrick and I went to Swedish Lapland. We wanted to participate in Fjällraven Classic and spend the extra days before and after it packrafting. But Patrick had to go back home earlier than planned and I was left alone for the race (which I completed within three days instead of the planned five) as well as after it. This is a story about one of my micro-adventures where I was packrafting the cleanest lake in Sweden called Trollsjön.
When we arrived to Abisko and asked around about things that might be interesting to do there, several people mentioned to us that only a short distance away off the road to Norway, there was a Troll’s Lake (Trollsjön), a small lake which was said to be the cleanest lake in the whole of Sweden.
Apparently, the water in it is so clean – they said – that on a sunny day you can see its bottom, even though it is over 40 meters deep. The scenery around the lake was said to be less like the gentler landscape of the Swedish fjells, but bear more resemblance with the rough and tough Norwegian terrain. With all the scattered rocks and boulders, one of the people we talked to referred to it as ‘Mordor’.
So after Patrick falling ill and me completing the Fjällraven Classic Race on my own in less time than planned, I had some time to kill. Which is why I decided to give it a try and see if I could get to the lake and paddle it.
The weather forecast was not favourable (unlike the previous several days which were sunny and dry, they actually promised much colder weather and rain), but I was a bit tired of hanging around the Abisko Tourist Station, and, as I reasoned, it would not make much difference where I would get wet and cold as I slept in a tent anyways…
So, having repacked my gear (I was able to leave it in the care of Fjällraven people who were staying there for a couple of days more until the end of the race), I went onto the main road and started to hitchhike.
It didn’t take me a lot of time to get a lift. After only 10 minutes a big SUV with Norwegian number plates stopped and the driver asked me if I was going to Narvik as it was where he was from.
Even though I was still toying with the idea of going to Norway for a couple of days, I told him that I wanted to visit the lake first. It was not a problem for him as he knew exactly where it was and only after 30 minutes in the car I was there. It was already the second time for me to take this road.
Just over a week before that, Patrick and I paddled from the lake that can be seen in the picture to Abisko, which took us about two full days.
The track to the lake is well indicated and it is easy to follow it. From the road where most people park their cars, I walked a short distance over rather flat area towards the train station, behind which the climb towards the lake started. And that’s where I met Thomas.
Thomas is a 69-year-old gentleman from Stockholm, who is a keen hiker but has recently started to experience problems with his knees. He asked me a question about the inReach device I had on me and we started to talk.
He seemed to be an interesting person who didn’t mind a company, I was not in a hurry with plenty of time to spare, so I decided to walk with him to the lake and partially keep an eye on him just to make sure that he was all right. Later Thomas said to me that he really appreciated that.
With his white beard and his joyful attitude, Thomas resembled Santa, who decided to take a break from whatever he does in summer. The was he was dressed and the gear he had with him were also remarkable.
From his gore-tex jacket by a company whose brand I could not recognise (I think it might not exist any more), to his external frame Fjällraven backpack or his old Hilleberg tent, all his gear was old but at the same time clearly well-taken care of and loved by the owner.
His Lundhags boots especially drew my attention because of their unusual shape (I even asked if I could take a picture of them). Thomas explained to me that they were custom made for him so that he could also use them with skis in winter.
That day, unlike the previous week, it was cold, cloudy with only some instances when the sunlight would brake through for a moment, just to disappear again. What’s more, it was raining – well, the rain came and went but the discomfort it brought stayed.
Even though the path was not difficult, it took some tine for Thomas to walk it as, due to his weak knees, he had to measure and calculate almost every step. When I offered him my walking sticks – he refused saying that he preferred to use his trusty staff as he knew exactly how to walk with it.
We slowly made progress through the valley towards the lake… And the clouds.
Even though the weather was not that great, we were not the only ones on the trail. Besides several of women hikers, we also met a couple of bikers. Whoever was on the track, Thomas would stop and spend a few minutes talking to them. After rushing through the Fjällraven Classic in three days, it felt really different and refreshing.
We slowly made our way to the head of the valley. The further we went, the more rocks and boulders we found on our way. Finally, behind all this debris, we saw the deep blue of this glacial lake.
We had to climb the last hill before we could see the lake in all its glory. Whereas it was my first time there, Thomas had been there before. He told me that last year, which was really warm, the lake was crowded with people who came there to swim and relax – some of them even hiked those 6 km from the road wearing not much more than their bikinis and swimming trunks. Unlike last year, this time it was cold and rainy and we were the only ones at the lake. Fully dressed…
Having seen the lake, Thomas decided to go back a bit to pitch his tent. It was very windy and he hoped to find a flat sheltered spot big enough for his Hilleberg tent. I decided to stay close to the lake and fortify my tent instead.
As it was cloudy there was not enough light to reach all the way to the bottom. But that was not a problem because it was really special to paddle on the water that #blue. It was as if I got into a picture drawn by a child who used the bluest blue he could find for that water.
Once on the water, I decided to pay Thomas a visit (he took this picture of my with his old but trusty camera). He set his camp next to a small bay and I was able to step out almost next to his tent.
The wind was strong enough for me to use my windpaddle. What I had to take care of was not to be blown away to the other side of the lake. It wouldn’t be a problem but I didn’t feel like paddling hard that day. (This picture was also taken by Thomas.)
Want to read more about our trips in Scandinavia? Have a look on our packrafting trip in the Swedish mountains.