Initially continuing through the birch forest, the trail then opens out after you leave the nature reserve. Just after the toilet and campsite, you cross a wide river by bridge and begin the first of many climbs on Kungsleden. Once above the tree line, you walk with scrub bushes before descending somewhat to walk along the lakeside.
Initially continuing through the birch forest, the trail then opens out after you leave the nature reserve. Just after the toilet and campsite, you cross a wide river by bridge and begin the first of many climbs on Kungsleden. Once above the tree line, you walk with scrub bushes before descending somewhat to walk along the lakeside. Approximately six kilometres from the STF Cabin you reach a shelter and pontoon where you can take an optional boat tour along the lake ending at STF Alesjaure. If you choose not to, the walk is straight forward and along some pebble and sand beaches. In good weather, it would be a lovely place to pause for a swim.
Transport: Boat (Optional)
Resupply: Abiskojaurestugorna is an average SFT shop, so offers all the basics you'll need and a few luxuries you may want.
The first (or last) of the trail cabins, Abiskojaure is a welcoming introduction to what to expect. Set a kilometre off the trail, across the roaring river on a metal bridge entwined with Nepalese prayer flags, the cabin is in a clearing in the forest and a short distance from the lake. On a good day, a vast water reservoir is available to fill from, on any other day, the lake is your source of drinking water.
The shop is a reasonable size, with soft drinks, candy and the various foods for the trail. It is an excellent place to pick up anything you've realized you've forgotten, but don't expect more than the travel basics.
Full recycling is found at the camp, though you're unlikely to have much this close to the trails start.
Officially, all the shops were shut from about 10am till 4pm, but what I found on the trail is most will open for a traveller if they're not doing something else.
Perhaps two and a half kilometres past Abiskojaure, directly on the trail, is a campground with a single drop toilet. Plenty of semi-isolated camping spots with well-constructed fire pits circle the bathroom, and there is a lot of random wood to be found, though if there has been rain, it will be wet wood, there is not a store. Slightly further is a river for freshwater. There are quite a few mosquitoes here as its woody and sheltered from the wind.
The late that Alesjaure fronts up to is amazing with an almost green tint that reflects the surrounding terrain beautifully. You walk along a section of its shore to reach Alesjaure.
You can, from about 6km before Alesjaure, take a boat tour to the cabins, or directly from the STF Station in a circle. It's not something I tried, but the lake is an impressive one.
Sitting with a Whole Earth Cola (No mainstream brands on the STF menu), I had my first realization of the journey. I had set my daily goals and was unwilling to stay at this campsite, because it is a matter of getting the most in, hitting my goals, doing all I can in the time I have. Its a familiar refrain for myself, whether, chocolate, beer or travel, I try and get as much as I can. It was the first time I really saw the red thread connecting these quite different things.
It was a short hike through relatively empty land to reach the campsite. You leave the Abisko Nature Reserve and so can camp anywhere about 1km after Abiskojaure. Once I set up camp, I found a large flat rock overlooking the water to try and meditate. It was good, the roaring of the river a nice white noise to focus on, my ears full of the sounds of rushing water, though the biting of the mosquitoes was a potent distraction.
It was an excellent first day, the morning went by extremely fast, three hours gone in what seemed like minutes. The afternoon was slower as the weight of the bag began to tell, but I also was trying to take it slow and see more of the terrain I was passing.
Camera capacity was worrying me, even at this early stage, and I quickly discovered, in the cold of my tent, how warming the butane cooker was. Briefly, my tent was full of warmth, as the sudden rain that had come down as I started to build a fire was cold with arctic promise.
I was on the trail by 9:05, the path crossed a metal bridge next to last nights water source and then it was a consistent uphill hike for a few hours, past many low spiked bushes. I didn't know it at the time, but these bushes would be the cause of several tears in my waterproof jacket and trousers later in the hike. The uphill section had a lot of mud to wade through, thanks to the rain.
Despite the cold weather of perhaps 5 degrees and the chill of the wind, I was hiking comfortably in a t-shirt.
Once you reach the top of the hills, you walk along a plateau of plains, and it was eerily quiet, even birdsong was absent, and the scenery was breathtaking.
You pass small ponds and lakes, but towards the end of this section, you reach a huge one, though it takes some hiking before you approach its edges.
The lake is almost green in colour, reflecting the single mountain opposite in a strange, haunting way.
This close to civilization, you still pass or are passed by cyclists and the occasional trail runner. One guy on a six-wheeled ATV was heading back towards Abisko.
Around lunchtime, I reached the 'ferry' point—a small hut with a teepee frame and jetty that is served by an occasional boat from Alesjaure. The price is high to take the ferry the six kilometres to the STF, though it is offered as a tour rather than shortcut like the later boat options. For a lesser sum, they'll take just your bag to the cabins, making the hike that much easier. One challenge is the boat comes at specific times of the day, as long as you've raised the flag, and so you may be waiting some time to be collected in a spot that was heavily frequented by the mosquito population.
As a natural stopping point, a few others were also having lunch when I arrived, so it was an excellent chance to meet some new people and take about the trail.
From there, you mostly walk the lake edge to reach Alesjaure. After the first hour, the walk is straightforward, though muddle and slippery. The rain started again after lunch, but gently, so walking in it was not too unpleasant. It gave me a chance to bring out my new jacket for its first real test since its purchase. It was perfect, waterproof, but not so heavy you overheated.
The Alesjaure cabin is deceptive. It seems close, but you actually loop around rather than going directly, and so it takes longer than you expect. On the far side of the late are a collection of houses, the first you'll have seen since Abisko and the last you'll see for a few days.