Day 73. Sivertgarden to Hemavan

Posted by: James on March 14, 2009

Distance 38km | Time 10hrs | Ascent 330m | Descent 400m

Day 73. Snow showers crossing Raudvatnet lake into SwedenAfter a sleep disturbed by painful cramps in my inner thighs each time I moved my legs I eventually go up at 0730. I went down to the farm house to use the toilet and was invited in for coffee and given more bread and marmalade for breakfast.

It was snowing lightly and a very grey day. I was tired and thought about a day off but then decided to continue to Hemavan. After a bit of faffing and packing I did not get going until 0930, much to late for a long day. It was snowing heavily now.

I skied across the steep field down to the lake and then picked up the scooter tracks again. Since starting to follow this scooter track or path just after Hattfjelldal yesterday barely a scooter has passed me. The tracks today are still visible under 10 cm of new snow.

I quickly reach the end of Famnvatnet lake and then started through the undulating birch forest. As my skis were so slippery and the wax was not providing enough grip I decided to put on the short skins. It is extremely tiring skiing with skis which do not provide any friction for the uphill sections, especially on ones arms, which have to work the poles more.

The snow showers died away as I went through the forest before Raudvatnet lake but it remained grey. This section of birch wood seemed thick with ptarmigan. Perhaps because it was near the border.

Raudvatnet lake seemed very peaceful. It was a long narrow lake surrounded by birch forest. Despite being on a marked scooter trail to Sweden there were no scooters. I almost wished for one to consolidate the the new snow. Near the end of the lake was a curious sign the customs had put up about contraband goods. It seemed very incongruous here.

From Raudvatnet lake the scooter trail was now unmarked as Sweden has much less strict laws on snow scooters, and they can pretty much go where they want. There are general thoroughfares from which hunter, fisherman and joyriders come and go as they please. Many of the joyriders are Norwegians over for a few days enjoying the lack of regulations which Norway sensibly adopted a couple of decades ago.

I climbed the gentle slope up to Raurejaure lakes and skied across this for a couple of km to an idyllic cabin. I did not know where to go now as my map ran out but knew I had to head over the ridge to Tangvattnet lake. The scooter thoroughfare now seemed to traverse up the south side of Ruffie hill. On the way up I met another skier and she explained the best route.

Day 73. Looking down on the farms beside east Tangvattnet lake from RufflesI continued up the south side of Ruffie feeling hot and a bit unwell. My legs were tired and I was thirsty. I had not had the opportunity to recover after yesterday. At the top of the slope I crossed a saddle and then saw Tangvattnet lake below me.

On the far side was a string of farms. Their farm buildings all clustered round a farmyard in the middle of white sunny fields. It looked good farming country but I am sure most of it was sheep and dairy. Behind the farms were the inevitable birch woods leading up to the bare white mountains beyond.

The descent from the saddle to the lake was quite steep. Luckily I still had the skins on and this slowed me up a lot but I still had to traverse through the woods occasionally. It was great snow here with a firm base under a couple of centimetres of loose snow on top. The snow conditions in the forests were at last consolidating. I reached the lake just to the west of a peninsular.

Rounding this peninsular I looked down the long stretch of Tangvattnet lake and way beyond it I could just make out the downhill ski slopes cut into the forest on the hill above Hemavan. My heart sank as it seemed a good 20 km away, and it was. The time was already 1500 so another head torch finish was on the agenda.

I followed the general scooter thoroughfare down the lake passing to the north of a large island. There seemed to me a lot of leisure cabins along this stretch of shore on each side of the small road. Eventually I reached the lakes outlet after some 8 km near a small community called Stabbfors.

Here the scooter thoroughfare entered the forest. The route was extremely bumpy as scooters tend to make divots in the snow in forest. After a hard 2 km of this the track crossed the road just below the Stabbfors village. I decided to abandon the track and follow the road so some other muscles could work while my skiing muscles rested. Apparently it was only for 6 km until the scooter thoroughfare recrossed the road for the final stretch to Hemavan.

The walk down the road was a relief from the scooter track. Very few cars passed me and I met a lady on a large Icelandic pony. Before I knew it I had done the 6 km and was at the bridge over the fledgling Umea river, one of Sweden’s main rivers. It was 1900 now and time for the head torch.

Just to the east of the bridge was a flat scooter thoroughfare which went down the east side of the river to the northern end of the town. It was a large town perhaps the biggest I had seen this year with a considerable downhill ski center which seemed to be its reason to exist. It was also a long town.

I walked down a pavement for 2 km to the center where there was a shop still open. I went in and brought some treats. I had drunk a litre of fizzy drink before I even got to the checkout. At the shop they told me the youth hostel was just 500 metres down the road. And it was luckily because it was 20.30 and I was knackered. I had done nearly 100 km in two days on a loaf of very good bread.

He youth hostel was a large collection of some 15 big wooden huts. It reminded me of an army camp. In the central hut they were clearing away a buffet I quickly jumped in for a plain greedy serving before I went to my bunk in a outlying hut. After a shower I did not even bother to write but crashed out.

I would have to write up two days of the diary tomorrow. This would take all morning. It was then 3 hours to the first cabin on Kungsleden called Viterskalstugan. I would probably rest in the afternoon instead.

It had been a very tiring day. Right from the start I had thought about the finish and the food and drink waiting for me there. This rather overshadowed the appreciation of the nature I was skiing through. However, when I finally crawled into bed with a full stomach I was contented.

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