The second night of our kungsleden adventure was a cold crisp night with an incredibly bright full moon rising from low on the horizon. Ice was still hanging on to the tent's rain fly while I was crawling out of the sleeping bag to a cold arctic morning. The area around Singi was covered in brilliant fall colors of orange and gold. No trees at all but plenty of color in the low growing shrubs. Was a nice morning to photograph with clouds floating over the distant mountain peaks. We had a nice relaxing morning and chatted with a few trekkers before heading out mourned 10:00 am or so. What would today's adventure bring?
We would have clouds the whole day but the temperatures warmed up around 12pm and we had a relaxing pace over the gently rolling but very rocky terrain. Now we were hiking due North in the rugged and wide Tjäkktjavagge, Kungsleden proper from here to the Northern end point of Abisko. Our destination today would be the STF mountain huts at Sälka. The huts at Sälka are described as being located in some of the most beautiful landscapes of the entire cabin system in Sweden. We would find that out first hand later in the afternoon. Along the way we would be greeted by several friends in the animal kingdom. First we encountered a group of ptarmigan around the huts at Singi. They were about half way between their darker colors in late fall and their stark white winter feathers. Not far outside of Singi we ran into a couple of Ermines. These are members of the Weasel family and were quite curious to learn more about us as they darted in and around the rocky terrain about 3 meters away. And a bit later down the trail I had hiked ahead for a bit and was waiting for my trekking partners, Gunnar and Simona, to join me. So I dropped my backpack and took it easy and enjoyed a light snack and a drink. I saw some movement coming toward me from the left and immediately looked up. It was a reindeer and her calf that looked to have been born earlier this year. Apparently I was sitting in the path that they were planning to travel. The mother circled around but the calf was curious about me and began to slowly approach. Eventually to calf came to within a meter or two and decided to stretch out on the tundra just a few steps away from me. I was amazed and really had no idea what to think about it. So funny to have a reindeer want to hang out for a bit. Cool experience for me and a definite highlight of the trip that I won't soon forget!
Eventually Gunnar and Simona arrived and we headed farther North up the trail to Sälka. We finally caught sight of the huts there and it became readily apparent that the setting for these cabins was extraordinary. There were lakes, a wide valley and dramatic mountain peaks surrounding the cabins. Just an ideal place. And the cabins had a sauna and also kiosk to buy some food and even a beer or two. All the trekkers were very excited since the beer was on sale for the end of season at half price. I set up camp below the cabins and enjoyed a nice night under a cloudy arctic sky but with calm winds. Here we again met our new friend Rob from Ireland who was mountain biking along the same route. We also enjoyed talking to other trekkers from all across Europe and even Canada. Fun times at Sälka. As I think about the different cabins we visited, I think that the location in Sälka would be hard to beat. So many side valleys and mountain peaks to explore there. Sälka and the area surrounding the cabins would be among my favorite locations of the entire trip. Hated to leave but more adventure awaited up the trail.
Distance covered from Singi to Sälka: 12k
Finish time: 4:00pm