Archive for June 24th, 2012

June 24, 2012

Fjallkartan – BD6 Abisko – Kebnekaise – Narvik

by backpackingbongos

For me one of the best things about planning a trip is spreading out a map and virtually walking my route.  I trace the line that I will walk, envisioning the landscape that I will be passing through.  The printed page becomes 3D with the folds of valleys, crashing streams and towering peaks.

I recently received a map for the section of the Kungsleden trail that I will be walking later in the summer.  Opening it up is like learning to read all over again, completely different from the Ordnance Survey maps which have become so familiar.  The scale will take some getting used to, you can’t cram a huge amount of detail in at 1:100,000 and the contours are every 20 metres.  There are new map features to learn, although thankfully the legend also includes English.

The last time that I attempted to navigate via a foreign map was whilst doing the Helambu trek in Nepal several years ago.  It was still early in the season and we were close to reaching a lodge on the highest part of the trek.  Without warning an electrical snow storm blew in and within minutes our path was covered in inches of the white stuff.  Out came the map but it soon became evident that it would be impossible to navigate using 100 metre contour lines!  With darkness fast approaching and thunder and lightning booming and crashing all around us, it was not the best time to be stranded on an isolated mountain ridge.  It was decision time, attempt to retrace our steps for four hours back through the forest, or continue onwards to try to locate our lodge for the night.  We decided to continue onwards for 10 minutes, just in case, before turning back.  I’m not embarrassed to say we both shed a tear of relief when we spotted a light in the darkness a few hundred metres away.

Thankfully the Swedish maps are much better, and to be honest to actually walk this section of the Kungsleden they may not be totally necessary.  The trail is heavily used and well signposted.  However I have plans to make a couple of diversions off the main path for a quiet wild camp or to climb an easy peak, weather permitting.  I look forward to sitting with map on lap and guide book in hand, planning these diversions.

The Kungsleden has now changed from a dream into reality.  My flights are booked along with a sleeper train and a hotel for the night in Stockholm.  Whenever I think of the trek my feelings could best be summed up as ‘nervous excitement’!

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