Day 79. Baverholm to Jakkvik

Posted by: James on March 20, 2009

Distance 28km | Time 8hrs | Ascent 550m | Descent 600m

Day 79. The birch woods of Pieljekaise are the reason it received National Park statusWhen I woke at 0500 I was shocked to see the roofs dripping profusely. I opened the window and it was warm outside with a very strong wind and some drizzle. A warm front must have been passing causing havoc with the winter wonderland. It was a short day ahead so I returned to bed hoping it would improve and got up at 0730. It had improved as the drizzle had stopped and it was colder at zero.

I left at 0900. I was partially blown and partially skied down the rest of the delta channels until I reached the Iraft lake itself. From here it was about 4 km to Adolfstrom. I hardly moved a muscle for these 4 km as the wind blew me along the lake in about 20 minutes. It is very seldom one has such good luck.

I stopped at the shop in Adolfstrom. It was like a stage set for a 1920s period drama. Old scales and a hand operated cash register were on the thick wooden counters. Ornaments adorned the roof and everything was on wooden shelves or pigeon holes. The couple who ran the shop explained the best way to ski to Jakkvik over Pieljekaise mountain.

Initially my route took me up through the pine forest to the north of the village. After some km the pine vanished and I was in birch woods until I reached Lutjaure lake. There were a few friendly scooters which passed me. I occasionally ventured off the scooter track into the forest snow. It was impossibly deep and loose. Well above the knees. Perhaps when this short thaw refreezes it will support a skiers weight.

There was a route marked with branches across the lake and scooters were not permitted here as it led into the Pieljekaise National park. An old scooter track made by park authorities 2 weeks ago was barely visible and although covered in new and blown snow it was firm under the 10 cm of cover. It seemed no other skiers had been for a while.

The route then went through the birch forest for 6 km over a small ridge and across a shallow valley. The birch woods in this area are the reason this small, somewhat unglamorous, National Park was created in 1909. This area of mountain birch was as good as undisturbed 100 years ago so it was decided to preserve it. As I passed it today it was dormant in its winter hibernation. In mid summer however this would be a transformed environment.

The birch trees would host a huge amount of insects. Millions of migratory birds arrive from warmer climes to take advantage of this feast. The forest floor is covered in wild flowers and grasses hosting further insects. A far cry from today’s frozen winter wilderness.

One species of insect which inhabits these birch woods is a moth. Sometimes the lavae of these moths reach epidemic proportions, as last happened in 1957, when the lavae devestate the trees, sometimes irreparably. In addition to a rich bird life there are other mammals here too like hare, fox and even wolverine and bear occasionally.

Day 79. The small cabin in Pieljekaise National ParkI stopped at Pieljekaisestugan cabin. It was open so I went in. It was simpily furnished with a kitchen, stove and 4 beds. It would have been comfortable to stay here. But I had to continue.

Day 79. The modest mountain of Pieljekaise is the only part of the park above the treelineIt was a short trip through the remainder of the birch forest. Again I was lucky and there were some old scooter track to follow. Soon I was on the bare mountain side skirting round the side of the modest Pieljekaise mountain In an increasing wind I reached the highest point and started the barren descent.

As I descended the rounded ridge the valley which I was heading for appeared. Initialy the dark birch woods on the far side appeared then the west end of the vast Hornavan lake, and then finally the village of Jakkvik in a forest clearing. It was still a long way down.

Day 79. Looking down to Jakkvik and the west end of the vast Hornavan lakeThe descent however was absolutely fantastic. It was not that steep, but steep enough to keep moving. I covered the 4 km in an exciting quarter of an hour. First through the birch woods and then the comforting pine forest again to arrive in Jakkvik.

The youth hostel was booked by a single group and was full, so I went to the shop. They phoned a cabin owner who had just one free. It was expensive but very comfortable. I had no choice other than camping. I bought food in the shop and returned to the cabin.

I had a comfortable evening with a inside shower and full kitchen. I ate a good meal, wrote the blog and poured over the map for the route to Kvikkjokk. Tomorrow I would have an easy day to Vuonatjviken, then a massive 60 km day to Kvikkjokk or which I could break in simple shelter some 15 km from Kvikkjokk.

Despite the wet warm start the day returned to winter. I felt tired today but enjoyed it, especially the wind assisted ski to the quaint Adolfstrom. The rest of the day was quite interesting but Jakkvik was a bit of a disappointment. It seemed to have a very strong snow scooter culture and there were many spoilt Norwegians here to take advantage of the cheaper alcohol and lax scooter laws.

One Response to “Day 79. Baverholm to Jakkvik”

  1. Camilla Wikström Says:

    Congratulations James! You are proceeding very quickly now. Half a “Vasalopp” nearly every day, wit the rucksack on and no good tracks.
    Soon you are coming to Sarek, where you don’t even find scootertracks.
    I am going to Riksgränsen tonight and will not meet you at the Blogg for one week. Thereafter I am going to Jotunheimen for another week of skiing. I wish you and me good weather. promises good for next week in Riksgränsen.
    Good luck for the coming two weeks!