My rest day in Ammarnas was spent on my phone in the discotech/nature center/restaurant’s lobby planning my post Kungsleden life using an open wifi network.
Swedish trains are cheaper if bought in advance, and I didn’t want to get stuck in a seat on an overnight train because beds were all sold out. I took care of all that, and made reservations for accommodation afterward in Gothenburg on Sweden’s southwest coast. Because Sweden is so expensive outside of the hiking areas, it’s usually necessary to research the affordable options for accommodation (yes, they do exist in Scandinavia!).
Mats and I realized the weather wasn’t getting any better, and that we maybe shouldn’t have taken that extra day off. I bought enough food to last me to the next town 79km away at the grocery store, which also doubles as the post office and lottery ticket station. We joked about how the woman who runs everything there is probably also the town’s mayor, doctor, and schoolteacher while we drank some off brand Swedish imitation of coke (50 cents a can, half the price of the real thing and just as good!).
It felt good to have the rest of my trip planned out, and I headed out in the rain south along the trail. A bus came up and disgorged tons of hikers. Where did all these people come from?!
Mats said most of the Swedish hikers skip the entire Kvikkjokk to Ammarnas section, taking a bus between the two. I understand, since the terrain wasn’t the most stunning. But I liked the solitude, and I found on the PCT that I usually enjoy the “filler” sections. You meet the weirdest people on those stretches.
In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t try to do this section with a storm coming in. It was hard enough with the rain and wind, and went through some high exposed areas. I only went about 8km, camping just out of sight of the first hut. I set up camp by a river and waited almost an hour to get the courage to collect water from the stream three meters from my tent. It was just too cold! Thankfully I was warm and toasty in my -12C sleeping bag. I wish I’d had this thing on the PCT.
The next morning it was warmer and….sunny! About time. A gaggle of Swedes had set up camp right next to, which was admittedly a little strange considering how much space there was. But I don’t care.
As I climb to the next plateau I see the water is still frozen at almost 10am. I’m glad I stopped where I did at lower elevation, even if it meant reading in my sleeping bag for five hours.
In the emergency hut at the high point I take shelter from the wind and go into my down sleeping bag to stay warm while I eat 400g of chocolate for breakfast.
Descending I have great views, and it warms up surprisingly quickly down the steep incline.
At the next hut I’m told it was -3C (27F) last night at the lower elevations. Now I’m really glad I didn’t keep on going! I take a break here, just enjoying the scenery and talking to an Irish woman who married a local and has lived here for many years.
The views on this section are incredible, and I love crossing the islets on massive footbridges. The clouds above look menacing, but I decide to chance it and keep on going up to the pass.
This turns out to not be the best idea, since soon I’m high, exposed, and the wind and rain are hammering me. The GPS on my phone tells me I’m half an hour from an emergency hut, so I bear it and head there. The rain stops soon after I arrive, and I set up camp since it’s forbidden to sleep inside the emergency huts…except during an emergency. I figure I could get away with it by playing up to the stereotype of the stupid, clueless American (this has helped me before) but I decide not to risk it.
A Swiss guy comes up, and we talk about long distance hiking. He just finished the Appalachian Trail last summer and New Zealand’s 3000km Te Araroa the past winter. He mentions he’s going to hike the Continental Divide Trail northbound starting in late April, which is exactly my plan! I’ll probably see him next spring.
The wind that night is insane. My tent holds up but I can’t sleep because of the noise of all the flapping, so I don’t leave my tent until almost 10am after I got a few hours of sleep and the wind dies down.
It’s so cold that I wrap myself in all my layers and rain gear, which keeps me warm. I get stares because of my neon yellow pants, but I don’t care. After wearing bright pink short shorts through Oregon and Washington on the PCT, I can deal with any judgmental looks.
It rains and it’s cold, so I don’t stop on the 17km to Hemavan. If it were warmer and dry I would hang out and enjoy the views, but I book it to town and finish the hike!