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.
There was also the Naturum Abisko (an information centre for mountain nature and culture) next to the STF Turiststation where we asked for advice on where we should go packrafting.
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.
This one was a nice rapid where we got some speed.
However, the next one we decided to skip and walked around it.
It’s also good to have a break sometimes.
This rapid would have been probably manageable but we were not sure how the rapid continued.
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.
Interested how it continues? Here you can read about day 2 of our adventure …