Sunday, 14 August 2011

Hellemobotn, Padjelanta, Rago: day 1

Below follows a brief tour report from my big hike. More photos here.

Wednesday 4 August

By public transport from Kiruna (Sweden) to Hellemobotn (Tysfjord, Norway). In Narvik I decide to buy a small notebook and a pencil so that I can take notes on the way. This report is largely based on those notes.

After buying a ticket Kjøpsvik–Hellemobotn, I suddenly have awfully many Norwegian coins. I don't want so many coins, I will be carrying them through the wilderness. During a one-hour break in Drag I walk to the local ICA and look for things to get rid of my coins. I decide to buy some strawberries — "only" 40 NOK for 500 g — and a muffin. Good, my coins are gone and I have some fresh fruits before I leave into the wild.

More people get on-board in Drag. Two little blonde girls speaking a mixture of Lulesami and the local dialect of Norwegian. A parcel reading "Ann-Britt, Musken" is carried on-board, as well as more freight and mail for the locals in Musken, a living Sami community halfway to Hellemobotn. The boat proudly carries a Norwegian flag with the symbol of the royal mail. The arrival of the boat must be the event of the day.

Good weather, evening sun. Several people ignore the sign that being on deck is not permitted while
the boat is out. We pass by some farms along the fjord before we descend into the deep shadow casted by the mountains over Musken. Many people are waiting for the boat to arrive. A lot get off, a few get on. A man in a tractor carried reindeer-skins and large wastebaskets into the storage space under the deck. Three Sami teenage boys, their faces reminiscent of Asians, get on board. We proceed to Hellemobotn, a village where many people are but nobody lives.

The innermost part of Hellemofjorden is oriented NW/SE, so that Hellemobotn is placed perfectly for the summer evening sun. Maybe that's why it's a poular place to go. The boat goes here only 2–3 times per week, but it's a perfect place to be in summer. The boat slows down as we arrive on the completely crowded peer. Two others are departing on a hike on this Thursday evening; the first thing they do is covering every single part of their exposed skin with insect repellent, for hundreds of mosquitoes attack us frontally. My strategy is rather to just start walking, a strategy quickly challenged by a dog running barking at me. A woman calls the dog back. I walk three steps and the dog runs at me again. The woman calls louder. The dog confused: chase me away, or obey the woman? She comes out and shouts at me that the dog is sweet. Sure. I somehow manage to pass by and leave civilisation behind me.

I cross through some forest, clearly used for lodging, and quickly depart from the marked trail onto a much smaller path leading to Ruonasvagge, up to the next plateau. Beautiful rivers flowing down granite walls cleanly shaven by glacier ice. Up at the plateau the river Njallajåkgårttje is deep in a canyon, unreachable and thus unsuitable for camping. I cross it with a bridge missing on the map. I proceed to the next, much smaller stream, Riebijåhkå, and end up choosing a campsite where I have neither evening sun nor a view of the fjord. Oh well, I will anyway flee the mosquitoes by crawling into my sleeping bag pretty quickly.

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