- Simon Michalowicz, Anna-Maria Wilhelm
The train rolls steadily out of Narvik station. Slowly it goes along the fjord, the locomotive struggles to pull the wagons of the Ofoten railway uphill. We are gaining height and enjoy the view from the train window of the spectacular Hålogalandsbrua, currently under construction, which spans the fjord and is visible from afar thanks to its high pillars. We are looking forward to the four days ahead of us, because we want to go on a relaxed autumn trek through Narvikfjell. We, that's my girlfriend Anni and me, Simon, both from Germany and highly enthusiastic about exploring the Norwegian Fjell together.
Gradually, it's time to get ready for the exit. Even if the train’s destination is still far away, our ride is only short because we want to start the hike from Katterat at 373 meters altitude. The backpacks are heavy, we have a lot of fresh food with us, we really want to enjoy and indulge on our little tour.
Shortly after, we stand at the train station, the train rolls on, and soon we only see its taillights. In the waiting room of the station building, we finish packing the backpacks and set off, the fjell decorated with autumnal colors is waiting for us and we cannot wait to dive into it.
We are greeted by low birch trees, already wearing their autumnal dress, lining the narrow driveway, which we still want to follow for about twelve kilometers to Hunddalshytta at 700 meters. The entrance to the Narvikfjell is therefore quite comfortable, you can get in well and it saves us a long approach with many altimeters - all in all, the perfect start for us.
The environment welcomes us with rather cool weather, but it does not rain, every now and then the sun shows up. It's just autumn, you have to be prepared for any weather and take it as it comes. Thanks to the track, we make rapid progress, soon we are in the fjell, the landscape is rougher and barren. We follow the Hunddalen and are soon at the hut, which is located in beautiful surroundings. Wow, what a location! It cannot get any better, we were so looking forward to it.
In the large main hut we are the only guests and we make ourselves comfortable. Soon the stove is roaring and the scent of fresh coffee spreads in the living room. Dawn sets in soon and it gets really cozy in the hut. The dinner is lush, there are fish rissoles and potato gratin. Full and satisfied we go to bed, the anticipation of tomorrow is great!
The new day welcomes us with low clouds hanging over the valley. While we have breakfast and take a lot of time, the weather is improving. As we clean up the hut and do the dishes, some sunbeams find their way through the clouds, very good, that's the way it should be! We take another picture in front of the hut and leave. Today we want to hike to Čunojávrihytta, that is our destination for the day. That should be well feasible and the way there should be really spectacular, so let's go for it. First, we cross the stream in front of the hut and then make our way to the Nordbergryggen. Via this ridge we want to reach the Oallavaggi valley, which will then bring us straight to the hut.
The ascent is done immediately and without problems. The small streams that cross our path do not carry much water in autumn, but they are always good for a quick refreshment.
At the top of the ridge, the view back to Hunddalen and the surrounding mountains is really spectacular, that's what we love about Norway! Now it gets rugged and rocky, the path slowly winds down again into the Oallavaggi Valley. We are slowly losing altitude, but we are making very smooth progress, the trail provides nice walking. Shortly before the Oallavaggi refuge we meet the path that leads from Katterat directly to Čunojávrihytta.
At the little hut we take a break to eat some snacks. Suddenly the door of the hut opens and the surprise is great when we see the face of a friend we have not met in a long time. Sometimes the world is pretty small in the fjell, too. After a short chat, we say goodbye and follow the valley. Numerous smaller and larger streams accompany us, the clear autumn air makes the hike a pleasure. Soon after, the valley opens and the rocky wasteland turns into a valley of low shrubbery and grasses. Here it is much wetter and way muddier, but the view into the adjacent valleys is better now.
Lake Čunojávri is slowly emerging on the horizon, the surrounding mountains are already covered with the first snow of the year - what a sight. We are completely captivated by the environment, even if the trail drags on and on and the muddy path takes its toll.
Shortly before we reach the cabin by the lake, we have to cross a rickety suspension bridge that leads over the stream. And then at late afternoon, we stand in front of the cabin. We decide on the new, modern hut, which has just been constructed. The tools and building materials of the craftsmen are still in front of the cabin. They will probably be picked up soon by helicopter.
In no time we made ourselves comfortable in the cozy living room, we have the cabin all to ourselves again. The large window offers a wonderful view over the lake - Friluftsliv fan, what more do you want!
With breakfast we take a lot of time again, we are in no hurry. Today we want to camp and just see how far we will come. And so this new day welcomes us with an incredible autumn mood, as we have hardly ever experienced it before. The colors are strong, almost glaring and cast a spell over us.
The view of the map this morning was unfortunately a bit too hasty, because we hit the wrong trail. Unfortunately, we only notice that when we can barely find any signs of the DNT, we seem to have an outdated map with us. The new route to Unna Allakas is not plotted yet. So we struggle, only troublesome and with slow progress. But the view of the lake to our feet on the bottom of the valley is excellent, again and again we stop and absorb the mood!
At some point we find the right way again and shortly after cross the border, continuing our tour on the Swedish side. Shortly before Unna Allakas cabin, the fall is in full regalia, the colors are just great. Once at the cabin, we settle down for a long break and have a chat with the cabin ward. There are no other hikers here, we enjoy the peaceful moment.
The start is hard for us, the cabin sits here too picturesque with these beautiful views. But it’s no use, we say goodbye and start climbing up to Skangalanjavri Lake. The path ascends slowly but persistently, it costs us some drops of sweat to overcome the altitude in the afternoon sun. But hey, what a view back to the valley! It can hardly get any better!
After the lake, we walk up a short steep hill, but shortly thereafter, we have overcome the pass. The weather is now a bit unpleasant, it adapts itself to the rugged environment, so now it is not as lovely as around the Unna Allakas cabin. We take a short break, clown around a bit, shoot some photos.
Now it goes up and down again, we approach the refuge at Vålffojavritt lake. But it is still too early for us to set up camp. So we follow the path that always runs parallel to the border, which here forms a ridge west of us. We are still making good progress, the paths lead here partly over wooden planks and improve the progress enormously.
Suddenly a big river ford is waiting for us. The water rushes out of the lake, we hold our breath for a moment. But it’s no use, we have to get over there, so we better handle it. Said and done, it works just fine, looked worse than it actually is. That is the last major obstacle for today. For about an hour we follow the path through some very wide fields of large boulders. Again, the Swedes have done a great job and created some spectacular trails with lots of wood.
Unfortunately, here are not many good spots to camp and it takes a while to find a good spot for the night in the Dossagemvaggi valley. It's almost dawn when we make ourselves comfortable in the tent. Soon after, the pot of water is on the stove, and a short time later it smells of coffee and solbærtoddy in the tent. What a day, it could hardly have been more beautiful!
The night was quiet, it stayed dry. However, it is cloudy when we take a careful look out of the tent for the first time in the morning. So no hurry for us, we just cuddle up in the sleeping bag. Slowly the spirits come back as we get into gear. The stove is roaring, steam is rising and there is fresh coffee - what more could you want? We have a relaxed breakfast, take our time, take it easy. The weather is slowly improving as we clear the tent and leave, the last day of our short trip is due today, we want to make it to our final destination Riksgränsen today. We quickly find our rhythm, the path winds along small lakes and it goes up and down. On the map it looked a bit easier than it actually is, the path always moves between the contour lines of the map, the small ascents and descents were not visible there. But nevermind, it is incredibly fun to hike through this landscape.
Soon there is a small cabin in sight, in which one can stay overnight if necessary. The shelter is called Stuor Kärpel and there is, as so often in Sweden, an emergency phone here. We lay down in front of the hut, take an extended break, indulge in some snacks.
After the break, we continue, the border to Norway is getting closer. Shortly afterwards we walk a bit on the Norwegian side, only a small yellow sign indicates that we are now in the Kingdom of Norway.
A short, steep climb takes us up a ridge, the view over the Gátterjávri lake and its surroundings is gigantic! Unfortunately, the clouds are now hanging deeper, they announce rain, the mountains disappear shortly afterwards in the gray of the clouds. Down we go again towards the lake. Here it happens: it starts to rain cats and dogs, in a hurry we slip into our rain gear. Too bad that the end of the wonderful hike now drowns in the dreary rain. After the strong autumn colors yesterday, the contrast is great, a little sadness comes up.
We circle the lake, then follow the trail downhill to Riksgränsen. Soon we are above the railway between Narvik and Luleå, which runs over the fjell parallel to the E10, cars and trucks can be seen from afar.
One last time we stop and enjoy the wide view despite the drizzle. The past days have taken us through an incredible autumn landscape, just as we had imagined. The Narvikfjell has offered us everything we love so much in the north. We will definitely come back and spend more time here, that's for sure. There is so much to discover and to experience here. Bye for now!