Day 77. Servestugan to Ammarnas

Posted by: James on March 18, 2009

Distance 22km | Time 4hrs | Ascent 50m | Descent 380m

Day 77. Looking down to Tjultrasket lakes from near ServestuganI had a pretty easy day ahead but was up at 0700. It had all the promise of a great day weatherwise and there was a bright glow in the sky where the sun would soon be rising.

Breakfast was a tin of stew and some rice which I bought last night for supper but ate something else instead. I was ready to go at 0800 but paying the bill, fetching wood and saying goodbye to the warden, Sigvard, took a good half hour.

The first part of today’s ski was a near continuous 5 km descent down the valley to the Tjultrasket lakes. It was a very nice start and at times quite exhilarating as it was rather icy and very bumpy in the scooter tracks. Occasionally they descended quite steeply through the birch forest.

This area was still part of the Vindelfjallens naturreservat. This was a 5500 square kilometre nature reserve, the largest area of protected nature in Europe. The rules are not as strict as in a national park but there are restrictions. For example snow scooters can only go on dedicated routes and fishing and hunting are restricted. Vindelfjallens naturreservat is best known for its Arctic foxes and there are over 100 multi-chambered dens in this region but only about 10 percent are occupied.

Once on the lakes it was a very pleasant and easy ski down the first and smaller lake. To the south two buttresses rose steeply from the lake. While to the north the birch forest rose up the more gentle hillside.

Day 77. The old buildings of Geunja homesteadAt the end of the smaller lake was a very traditional homestead called Geunja. It had a collection of about 8 small houses. The larder, or stabbur, was a much smaller more simple version of the grand stabburs I had seen earlier in Norway. This small stabbur was raised up on 4 stilts. Obviously there was not as much food to store here due to different farming methods.

The second larger lake was 6 km long and took about an hour to traverse. The weather was very pleasant but there was one short snow shower just to remind me what it could be like. At the end of this lake the quiet scooter track climbed slightly. Three scooters went past towing little mini caravans about 1.5 metres high and as long as a man. They were obviously more serious ice fishermen.

Day 77. Entering the conifer forest again after the Tjultrasket lakesThe last 5 km down to Ammarnas were quite idyllic. Partly because I was back into the conifer forest and partly because the sun was out. The trail was also very easy to ski along. There were a number of glades in the forest with old well ventilated log sheds so grass could be stored and dried. This practice had certainly now ceased but the sheds and occasional horse drawn hay gathering implement remained.

Day 77. The river Tjulan flowed over some rapids before AmmarnasThe trail passed close to the river where there was a long stretch of small rapids. As I approached the river bank 3 mallard ducks took off. There was very little water in the river as most of it was frozen in the mountains waiting for the spring thaw in a month before it rushed down transforming this quiet river.

After the rapids the scooter track descended to the river and followed its frozen surface for the final 2 km to Ammarnas. Indeed the river surface had become something of a scooter road here with signs for scooter tracks to other destinations some 70 km away. I soon reached the road bridge over the river and headed up to the shop and hostel which lay nearby. It was just 1230 and glourious weather.

The hostel was pragmatic but not that nice. It was full of kids. However it had a kitchen and washing machine. And the shop had fruit, veg, meat and chocolate so I could cook a good meal.

I went to the small nature centre which had a very good compact display of the flora and fauna of Vindelfjallens naturreservat. There was a small shop in the centre also. It was run by a very nice biologist who explained more of the area to me. The shop had all the maps I needed to Kvikkjokk.

I returned to the hostel to write the blog. Ammarnas had a very nice vibe to it. Every person I passed nodded or waved and everybody was very helpful. There were only 120 people who spent the winter here. The kids at the secondary school had to go the 90 km to Sorsele every morning and then return each evening.

I had a hearty supper as tomorrow I had a long ski to Baverholm. It was about 40 km and much of it above the treeline. The very sparse settlements I would be passing now en route to Kvikkjokk would all have a “frontier” feel to them, and most were either wholy Lapp or partly Lapp.

It had been a very good day. Perhaps a bit too easy but if I continued from here I would have had to have camped before Baverholm. I managed to use the spare time to see the nature visitor centre and to wash clothes.

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