Sunday, October 3, 2021

Ammarnäs to the South Pt 1.

There has been some radio silence in the blog lately, mainly because starting the home computer after a day of working from home hasn't been very appealing. I've still done stuff, like the usual kayaking, cycling, sailing and packrafting, though. Now there is some content from the Swedish mountains.

I saved a week of summer vacation for going to Cornwall for some kayaking in September, but it turned out that there were too few participants, due to Covid-19 uncertainty, to be able to have an assistant guide and thus I couldn't come. I started to look at options for a bike tour in the Swedish mountains, but for some reason none of the usual suspects were able to join me. I thus planned a trip of a week and two weekends to justify driving the car alone for almost 1500 km and came up with a nice route. In the beginning of September, however, Jarkko came by when I was out on an overnighter and we had a long breakfast. It turned out that he was interested, but was not willing to do something as physically demanding as out previous trips, where we've pretty much been pushing our limits, in addition to the fatbikes. I quickly came up with a suitable route and a spare day, meaning we wouldn't have to push ourselves this time. Bike pushing was guaranteed, though. About half of the route was unknown to us and the world, meaning I found no usable information on the internet. Part of it was in all likelihood impossible to ride, so we got an adventure aspect into it as well.

On Thursday 23rd September at eight in the morning we drove on the the new ship Aurora Botnia of Wasa Line in Vasa/Vaasa and the trip started.

After 3,5 h on the boat as well as one hour extra waiting on each side, we started driving towards Ammarnäs, around 360 km away.

We arrived there at a little over four in the afternoon and got going a little over a half hour later. The aim was to get to somewhere around the tree line for the evening. With less that two hours to sunset and a little under 400 m altitude to climb that seemed enough. The weather was cloudy, but it didn't really rain.

We took the first suitable spot after around two hours. Not much else to do than make dinner (vegetables and a nice beef) and go to sleep.

It soon soon started to rain, but luckily stopped just as we got up at six in the morning (which was seven o'clock in Finnish time, so not that early). The night had actually been quite cold. For this morning we had fresh bread and ham, so the breakfast was easy and tasty.

We got going again at eight. The weather was quite grey, but it didn't rain. The upcoming section  went mostly above treeline and based on that and that it wasn't used much (since there was no info on the net), we expected this to be rideable. This turned out to be true, though some climbs were too steep or too long to ride.

Yours truly, picture by Jarkko Holopainen.

Uphill section.

We did take time to enjoy the landscape. Picture by Jarkko Holopainen.

The trail was for the most part easy to follow, even though it wasn't much used. The map still helped, though.

A very lonely spruce.

The trail reached about 950 m of altitude, after which the downhill started.

Back at the tree line, going down.

The last section was steep enough that we were not sure if it could be ridden, based on the map. In practice we could ride almost all of it, though with a break halfways to allow my brakes to cool down. A 160 mm disc in the rear was not enough here.

Coming down in altitude, there were again more fall colors.

Arriving at Àjvàk, containing an open hut for overnighting. There used to live people here, but the place was abandoned about fifty years ago, but it is still kept in shape.

At the Överst-Juktan lake.

Lunch break. Though we did have quite nice food, we used freeze dried outdoor meals for lunch, for simplicity's sake.

The following section, Àjvàk-Biellojaure, didn't look good on the map. There was a discernible trail, and it was possible to ride it in some places...

... but also a lot of bike pushing, even though the word pushing doesn't describe it well. It ws more like dragging, lifting, pushing, etc.

The last hour or so it started to rain. Luckily we found a reasonable tent spot where we hoped. The terrain otherwise wasn't good for a tent.

We made dinner and after that went out to see if we could get a fire started. Everything was quite wet after the rain, and Jarkko's knife (we only brought one bigger knife) disintegrated after only two strokes of batoning wood. I wasn't too hopeful, but there was quite a lot of  (wet) dead wood and birch bark and we got a fire going.

Pancakes are better on a real fire.

The night wasn't cold, but it rained for most of the night. Porridge for breakfast is something one can do now and then, but it's not my favorite.

Packing down everything and start in the rain isn't really very inspriring, but what can you do?

My trusty Surly Icecream Truck. I've reverted back to a small front rack, after having used a handlebar bag for almost ten years. The rack definitely is better. The 27.5x4.5 tires work very well in this kind of terrain.

The fog started to clear up a bit, revealing the landscape.

The rain also eased up a bit.

A bit of downhill again.

The trail we rode on was an official route, and they even used quite some time and money on it some 5 - 10 years ago, since there were duckboards here and there. The mire duckboards where in good shape, but in many other places you couldn't really even see the duckboards under the vegetation.

After Vatjosjön the trail again became worse and snacks were needed.

Still some late bloomers.

The last part near Biellojaure got better.

Biellojaure. We were now back on familiar trails. The section Biellojaure-Kungsleden is, with the exception of the initial climb, the best fell cycling trail I've encountered.

Lunch at a spot I remembered from before. The sun came out and we erected the tent to let it dry.

The trail was now mostly on drier ground and in excellent shape.

Less water sources on this section.

The landscape opened up.

Picture by Jarkko Holopainen.

Picture by Jarkko Holopainen.

The blueberries looked good, but had no taste anymore.

The Syterskalet u-valley is a distinct landmark here.

A picture...

... and the making of it. Picture by Jarkko Holopainen.

Down and up. Picture by Jarkko Holopainen.

The up part.

And down again.

You do need to look at the map a few hours before making camp, to see what possibilities there are. Water is to some extent a scarce resource in September.  The place we planned to camp on was fortunately quite nice.

This night we had falafels with couscous and harissa sauce for dinner. Quite good actually.

The moon was a little bigger than half, but did give some light to the landscape.

Continued here.

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