A choo-choo to the Arctic Sweden
Coming back from Norway by a night train, I found an unexpected inspiration on a table mat of the restaurant carriage. They were advertising Sweden's, and apparently also one of the world's, most famous trail - Kungsleden, the King's Trail. Embarrassing for someone who claims to love hiking and traveling, I have never heard of it. After coming back home, I kept on looking at the pictures from the trail and told Tadzik we should do it. He was not so thrilled about the idea - he is the one to know better that things that are "one of the most popular ofs" are usually overcrowded, and full of people who are there just for this Insta story that will blow away... most likely no-one. I dropped the topic for a while, but when it turned out that Baba's playschool closes for 2 weeks in the summer and a) we had no real plan what to do with her, b) we didn't want to take a holiday that requires taking a plane and c) we hate heat which pretty much ruled out most of Europe, the idea came back. What if we did take our summer holiday in the Arctic Sweden? It seemed to be a fairly good idea, so I started planning - this time it was all on me.
Kungsleden is a busy trail, so everywhere I read about it, the recommendation was to book the mountain huts ASAP, as they can get quite busy. And having the perspective of carrying a 12kg toddler for more than 10 days didn't leave quite as much capacity to carry additional 8kg of camping equipment.
I looked at the trail and chose a path that seemed to fit what we were capable of doing - a route from Abisko to Kvikkjokk, about 200km that we had to do in about 2 weeks if we were to stop at each hut on the way (which we certainly needed to do given the foreseen weight of the backpacks). As soon as we decided on the route, I booked all the huts. We were so happy that we decided to do this!
But it turned out that our joy was premature - I did book the huts, but what I did not predict is how busy European night trains get in the summer! There was no reasonable way for us to get from Stockholm to Abisko overland - with an 18 month Baba it is unrealistic to even consider taking a shared train compartment, and even more so a seat on a night train or a bus! We were so disappointed, as we already set our hearts on that journey.
Then there came the idea - why don't we do it in September! End of season, so less people, no mosquitos, less busy trains... and the views! Autumn has definitely more magic in it for such vast landscapes with trees and bushes! I wasn't entirely sure if it was the smartest idea (after all it is Arctic, so September can already see temperatures below zero) but I tried to keep my doubts to myself and stay positive - after all, if we don't enjoy it or the weather is horrible, or both - we can always turn back.
So we happily rebooked our huts and bought train tickets (this time as soon as we had the dates figured out) and the excitement came back.
One tricky thing left to do - another thing that I was anxious about - packing! How do you pack 2 adults and a toddler for 2 weeks of hiking in unpredictable weather conditions that require both rain and cold weather gear, with food and nappies on top of that?? Most of which has to fit in one backpack as the other one is the toddler carrier... not to mention it all needs to be of weight that we would be able to carry.
We ended up buying the biggest Deuter backpack we found, and hoped for the best. With Tadzik's unmatched packing skills, we managed to fit everything in... but it was sooo heavy! His backpack containing all our stuff was approaching containing 30kg, and mine (carrier+Baba+water+daily essentials) was almost 20kg. Both of those were at our limit (or slightly beyond). But with a big dose of completely unfounded optimism we were ready to go.
This was going to be another long train journey. This time we opted for getting Interrail tickets and taking only night trains - it seemed an easier way to travel. On the way there we had to take the Nightjet from Zurich to Berlin, then Snälltaget to Stockholm, then another long trip with SJ from Stokholm to Abisko Turiststation. What we underestimated a bit was how tired we will be after night trains to be able to provide a whole day entertainment for a toddler. As we needed to spend the whole day in Berlin, we decided to go to the zoo, which was great fun for Baba, and took half a day. The other part of the day we spent mostly sitting in a park, luckily with a sunny weather!
Skipping the details, the journey went well, and after 3 nights of travelling we reached Abisko tourist station, where we spent the night. We all enjoyed being able to walk around and sleep in a big bed! Baba loves rolling around the bed so she loved it even more than we did. Before setting out for the trip, we did visit a small shop with supplies/gifts that was there and Baba found a new travel companion - a husky dog soft toy - aka Doggie! - which she played with throughout the trip.
Next day we were ready to set out for our hike!