Kungsleden Day 1: Abisko and Abiskojaure

Wednesday, September 3rd was a busy day for me.
After a 15 hour overnight train (where I was finally able to master sleeping in the two small seats), I arrived at the Abisko tourist station. My plan was to stay the evening there and head out on the Kungsleden in the morning. I wandered into the info center/restaurant/hotel where I bummed some wifi and ate some lunch. The entire time I was thinking to myself how the first section of the hike wasnt that strenuous, I still had almost the entire afternoon, and I had nothing better to do. So, I started off. The worst that could happen is I had an extra day on the back end and the best thing would be the ability to fit a side trip or stopover on my way back south.
The hike from Abisko tourist station to Abiskojaure was about 15k and I made it in just over three hours. Departing around 2pm, I had some slight rain and overcast skies accompanying me as I trekked through the birch forests of Swedish Lapland. The entire trail was insanely well marked by large, red wooden ‘X’s. Located in a wildlife protection area, the trail ran parallel to a large river. Several suspension bridges were needed to make the route, which varied from hard pack to marsh. For the marshy parts, there were wooden planks to keep feet dry and happy. Some boards were in better shape than others (the bad boards were arguably more hazardous than the marsh they were supposedly protecting you from) and I couldnt help but feel like Frodo on his walk to Mt. Doom. Except I am not a hobbit and instead of Mordor the mountains that surrounded me just led to Norway. Anyways…
The campsite of Abiskojaure was very nice. Very different from the sites I had experienced in Iceland. I found a spot that was relatively sheltered from the wind by one of the huts. Not familiar with how lax the hut hosts were with fees (turns out they were VERY lax) I went to pay and discovered they were having a wonderful special on beer and potato chips! It turns out the hut was extremely overstocked in beer and, this close to the season, they either had to put closeout sale prices on it or pour it into the woods. Two beers for 10 SEK is unheard of. The bag of crisps was just a bonus I suppose. Also, I blame the beard on making the hut host think I am over 25. Without realizing it I was charged an adult fee instead of the youth that I deserved, dammit!
At Abiskojaure they had a separate hut for tenters so I was able to meet a few good lads over dinner. A German father and son, Carston and Lenart, as well as a Swedish teacher, Folke.
After dinner I took full part in the sauna on premises. What a glorious thing, a sauna. In its own building complete with washing area, it was a traditional wood burning sauna that was quite popular among the trekkers. My paths crossed once again with Lenart and Folke as well as a large group of Swedes and Germans who were all traveling together. Extreme heat and beer are a wicked combo after three hours of physical activity. I ran back and forth to the river three times, each time willing myself to put more of my body into the freezing cold water. Plus, I was able to grab an unexpected shower at the end!
Writing in my journal to candlelight, I had to laugh at how quickly I had gone from the comfortable, wifi enabled, civilized world to what was easily the most remote place I had ever been. I laughed even more when I realized how comfortable I was. Maybe this is the life for me. I raided the leftover food cabinet, inherited a small mouthed Nalgene bottle (!!!!!!!), and then headed to bed remarkably clean and refreshed.
See you tomorrow, Alesjaure.

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