WILDERNESS ACTIVITY. We present a report from a three-day mountain hike to Skierfe mountain in Sarek National Park in northern Sweden. Incredible images below!
The first day began with the comrades gathering in a restaurant in Jokkmokk to eat lunch together and fill their bellies ahead of the long hike. The prospective hiking party consisted of sympathisers, activists and members.
The goal for the excursion was Skierfe’s mountain peak, which stands on the edge of southeastern Sarek. The plan was to give the inexperienced mountain hikers in the group a taster of a Sarek hike, as Skierfe is a rather simple route, compared to many others in the area.
After the party had eaten their fill, they jumped in their cars again and headed to Sitoälvsbron bridge, which marks the starting point of the hike. As they neared the bridge, the breathtaking snow-capped peaks of the mountains began towering on the horizon, stirring the wanderlust within the troop of National Socialists.
After parking the cars, it was just a matter of strapping on heavy backpacks and trudging onwards at a brisk pace, as a long hike awaited before it was time to make camp. The first stage consisted of a cycle path (actually a narrow quad bike trail), the surface of which was easy and comfortable underfoot. The path winds for 10km through dense forest, making it quite monotonous, with the only views being of the surrounding trees and the comrades ahead.
A big advantage of the hike occurring at the start of June was that the mosquito season had still not yet arrived. This was much to the delight of the party, as the area is said to be a veritable hell on earth in the middle of mosquito season. They also had incredibly good luck with the weather, which provided bright sunshine and pleasant winds. This was a relief to some, who had been concerned about the capricious and merciless climate of the mountains.
After a couple of hours, the path suddenly stopped and the Resistance men came to a pier. During the hiking season, tourists can take a paid boat ride from here to the old mountain homestead of Aktse. However, as the season had not yet started, the pier instead served as a resting place, where the party got their first overview of the area across the water, with Skierfe’s summit rising high in the distance.
After the group had partaken in a little fika, it was time to strap on the packs again and continue the hike. This stage consisted of a 6km-long forest trail towards Aktse, which is passed by the King’s Trail (Kungsleden) and is regarded as a gateway to Sarek. The path quickly turned out to be significantly more difficult than the first stage. With many ups and downs, its winding course was covered in rocks and treacherous roots waiting to trap unwary hikers. Although this stretch was shorter than the previous one, several participants thought it felt longer and more tiring. At a couple of spots, flowing streams provided opportunities for refilling the bottles with fresh mountain water and taking short breaks to boost morale before trudging on.
After quite a long time, the walking party reached Aktse. By this point, most of them were noticeably worn out from the trip. They were now faced with a choice: either find a place in the vicinity to make camp and rest until tomorrow, or continue to hike a few more kilometres along the steep uphill slopes of Kungsleden to set up camp above the tree line and simplify tomorrow’s hike. There were different opinions about the right course of action, which led to some discussion. All this concluded with the Nest Chief Daniel Byström persuading the majority of the group it would be best to immediately continue the hike. So with heavy sighs, the last leg of the journey along Kungsleden began.
This final stage proved to be more demanding than expected. For some in the party, it was so tough to stagger up the slopes with heavy backpacks that there was some uncertainty as to whether they would make it all the way. But comradely encouragement had a good effect and ultimately led to the whole party making it up to the open mountain. Here, exhausted, they pitched their tents then sat down to supper, admiring the fantastic view, all while being cooled by a pleasant mountain breeze, before lying down to sleep.
The comrades awoke well-rested around 8 o’clock on Saturday and were once again greeted by fantastic weather. After having some food, they packed themselves some light snacks and started the day’s hike, which would lead to the top of Skierfe. While Friday’s hike was characterised by exertion and a certain monotony, this was the exact opposite, as the initial path went along a mountain ridge and provided unparalleled views from the outset. This made everyone quickly forget about their aching feet and sore shoulders and just enjoy the journey.
The distance from the campsite to the top of Skierfe is 6km, but the path winds up and down over mountains before finally reaching the last slope. This stage provided constant striking visual impressions, and the party were also afforded the chance to see a lot of interesting local fauna. At one point they encountered a strange sight in the form of a ptarmigan limping along the path nearby. This caused some concern, until a knowledgeable member of the group pointed out that the bird was pretending to be injured to lure the men away from its young, which, sure enough, were just a stone’s throw away. The comrades also saw quite a few reindeer and a fearless dotterel – the latter of which was completely unfazed when the group’s photographer sat down next to it and started snapping away with his camera.
After criss-crossing up and down slopes, the men finally reached the start of the climb to Skierfe’s summit. Here, a couple of streams flowed by, providing a convenient last chance to refill the water flasks before embarking on the final ascent, which was rather steep and rocky.
After fighting their way up the final stretch and reaching Skierfe’s summit, the comrades were immediately met by its mighty cliff that drops 700 metres straight down to Rapa Valley. There was likely no one in the group who did not regard it as one of the most magnificent views they had ever experienced. Many suffered from vertigo at first and found it quite uncomfortable to be near the edge. Gradually this feeling subsided for some, who could finally sit and dangle their legs over the enormous cliff and properly take in the majestic panorama, while others continued to keep a safe distance.
After enjoying taking in the views for a good while, the hike back to the camp commenced. There, the comrades sat and talked for a long time before going to bed and recharging their batteries for tomorrow’s trip back to the cars.
After the men awoke on Sunday, they ate a hearty breakfast before everything was packed up and they started hiking down towards Aktse. The weather was glorious on this day too. On the steep descent, one of the party had trouble with an old knee injury that came back to haunt him, so it was a slow and painful trek down. Finally, they regained the cabins of Aktse and once again set off on the forest trail, which this time was even harder going than on the outward journey.
Back at the pier, the party took an extended break and ate to recharge before the final stretch, which would be attempted in one go without breaks. This was accomplished, apart from the occasional stop for “toilet visits” in nature. The last kilometres were very tough for everyone and appeared to have no end. When they finally reached Sitoälvsbron bridge, many breathed a sigh of relief. Then, as they piled into the cars, it suddenly started raining, after near-constant clear blue skies throughout the duration of the hike.
Finally, everyone gathered in Jokkmokk again for a joint meal that did not consist of freeze-dried food. It must have been a funny sight to see the exhausted, mountain-ravaged party stagger in on wobbly legs and sit down. Despite the exhaustion, everyone was very happy and soon started talking about doing an even longer mountain hike in the future.