Fjällräven Classic Day 1: Nikkaluokta to Kebnekaise

June 4, 2024
Kungsleden to Kebnekaise

TODAY IS THE DAY

We headed down for our breakfast and loaded up on eggs, cheese and lots of salami and ham. I love Swedish breakfasts! I had marmalade on my crisp bread along with cottage cheese and pickles. Then we ordered a taxi to take us back to Högalidskolan because we didn’t want to drag our bags up the hill. Walking there would have been easy if we had less luggage.

Sarah having breakfast before leaving the hotel

Enjoying breakfast at Arctic Eden hotel in Kiruna, Sweden

All of our non-hiking belongings fit into a suitcase (with a broken wheel) and a duffle bag. We dropped it off with Fjällräven before we got on the bus and also grabbed our tent rental and weighed our packs. My Osprey Renn 65L backpack was 45 pounds and Paul’s Fjällräven Kajka 85 was 50. Oh boy did we over-pack. I tried to remind myself it should hopefully get lighter as we eat the food.

2 backpacks weighing nearly 50 pounds each

Left: Paul’s backpack 50 lbs – Right: Sarah’s backpack 45 lbs

STARTING LINE

We hurried over to get onto the bus to Nikkaluokta. Our start time was 10:30am and we were ready to go! We sat back and enjoyed the view as we were driven to the starting line. I noticed a lot of huge mushrooms growing at the base of the trees along the road. I hoped we would see many more on the trail.

The view on the bus to the starting point

On the bus to Nikkaluokta

Once off the bus we gathered our bags, took some photos and I definitely felt a little flustered. I couldn’t believe we were finally doing this and the nerves started to kick in. We headed over to the blue Fjällräven tent, got our passports stamped and took a nice photo while the sun was still shining because it looked like rain was on the way.

The view at Nikkaluokta. Flag pole and people getting ready to start the Classic.

Nikkaluokta, Sweden

Blue tents where we get our passports stamp before we start

On our way to get our passports stamped before we head out!

Sarah and Paul at the starting line of the Fjällräven Classic Sweden

Let the adventure begin!

Off we went into the unknown!

AUGUST 12 – NIKKALUOKTA TO KEBNEKAISE 19 KM

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The first part of the trail started with gravel and a few rocks. I was getting used to carrying my Fujifilm mirrorless camera and adjusting the straps of my pack. I purchased a camera clip from Peak Design to attach to my belt. In case we encountered wildlife, I could have quick access to my camera. I also wore my Fjällräven fanny pack to store my phone and lens.

The various types of trail at the start. Gravel, boardwalks and bridges.

The various types of trail we encountered

We started to feel some drops of rain and I immediately thought it might be wise to throw on my rain gear. Wasn’t hoping to use it so quickly but glad I put on my rain pants and covered my pack with a rain cover. We made sure we had everything to stay dry. Paul isn’t a fan of wearing pants so he carried on in shorts and his rain jacket from Outdoor Research kept him super dry. Great jacket!

Paul wearing his rain gear next to a stream

Paul wearing his rain gear next to a stream

We stopped several times to photograph mushrooms and the mountains in the distance. Yay mushrooms! I loved hiking through the trees and thought this part was a breeze.

A variety of mushrooms along the trail

A variety of mushrooms along the trail

We really took our time and paused for snacks every now and then before we reached the famous Lap Danald’s. I think they were trying go for a Nordic version of McDonald’s. It’s a nice rest stop where you can buy some food and drinks, use the restrooms and hang out with everyone who started that day. My opinion on the reindeer burger was that it was just alright. I almost craved a regular burger at the time but the experience of trying reindeer was unique and couldn’t be missed.

A reindeer burger at Lap Danalds

We tried a reindeer burger at Lap Danalds

Paul met one of the Fjällräven volunteers who was walking along the hike for support and guidance. His name was Magnus, a local Swede and was incredibly friendly and helpful. We felt like we had someone cheering us on out there and could count on him for help.

Paul talking to Magnus, a Fjällräven volunteer with a beautiful of the lake and mountains behind them

Paul talking to Magnus, a wonderful Fjällräven volunteer

At this rest stop we could decide to pay for a boat ride and shave off about 6km or more. I don’t know exactly how much it saved people but we opted to hike the first part all on our own. Those who took the boat got to the Kebnekaise checkpoint so much faster. That would have been nice but I felt like it was almost cheating a little. So we continued on.

Sarah ready to keep hiking with mountains in the distance

Kebnekaise here we come!

With the sun hiding behind the clouds, we noticed tiny flies appearing while walking among the trees and they started biting Paul’s bare legs. I suggested he put on pants but he decided it wasn’t bad enough for pants yet. There were several metal bridges over rivers and tiny little planks over streams that we crossed. Soon there weren’t any bridges except stones that were peaking up out of the water. The first water crossing was pretty small when I think back now. I was trembling with nerves and my body was tense as I stepped from stone to stone trying not to slip and fall into the rocky water. This is when I learned how important trekking poles were. I’d never knew how much I needed them until this moment and they’re now my most important piece of gear.

Paul walking along a board walk

Paul braving the elements in shorts

We bought a Grayle for filtering our drinking water. My research uncovered that most people advised that filtering was not necessary. But there was an issue with the stomach flu along the Kungsleden (King’s Trail) before the Classic began and it closed all of the mountain huts. We did encounter one participant who was quite sick along the trail. We can’t confirm if it was from drinking the water or from overexertion. Good thing we had our Grayle to filter the water either way. Another good decision!

Paul standing in front of a mountain

Paul was quite happy with his rain jacket

We were getting tired and wondering how much longer until Kebnekaise checkpoint. The rain came pouring down and we stopped to get our heads in the game. To pass the time we started imagining faces in the mountains and took a creativity break to sketch the faces. It’s little things like this that got us through some rough stretches. Can you see the faces too?

Sketches of faces we saw in the mountains

Can you see the faces? Were we losing our minds?

We arrived at the Kebnekaise checkpoint around 9:30pm. Yay! This is where we would setup camp for the first night. Our first time assembling our Fjällräven 3 person dome tent. Fingers crossed all the poles were in there because we didn’t check before we left. It took a little while to find a spot without rocks and almost felt impossible. We settled for a spot almost on the trail with only a few rocks underneath but our sleeping mattresses from Big Agnes were so thick we didn’t feel them! A little heavy to carry but so worth it. Definitely a luxury item but getting a good sleep was worth every penny.

Sarah at Kebnekaise checkpoint

Made it to Kebnekaise checkpoint!

Day 1 took us from Nikkaluokta to Kebnekaise. Covering almost 20km, we tried reindeer burgers, put our rain gear to the test and set up camp for the first time. Successful day. We fell asleep instantly.

Fjällräven dome tent camped at Kebnekaise checkpoint

Our first campsite with our Fjällräven dome tent

Stay tuned for our second day of the Fjällräven Classic Sweden. Will the rain continue? Will we finally see a reindeer?! Find out in the next post!

The Forest Fairy

Written by The Forest Fairy

The Forest Fairy is all about exploring nature, going on adventures and crafting memories.

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