For a while, we’ve wanted to explore the skiing/hiking tracks in Indre Troms, the area near the border with Sweden. There are several huts there, linked by marked paths – ideal as we didn’t fancy hiking with a tent and cooking gear. My parents were visiting us the week before we planned to do a hiking trip, and they offered to drive us to wherever we wanted to start, so we could leave our car where we wanted to finish. This was a great offer as public transport is sparse in this area. We decided to start in Signaldalen and hike to Dividalen. The total length of the walk was 72 km! Below is a map of our route, and the height profile, with the huts that we slept in indicated.
Day 1: Rognli (Signaldalen) to Gappohytta (11 km, 4 hrs)
It took us a day to park our car in Dividalen and drive to Signaldalen with my parents (and I managed to add some more time by realising I left my waterproof jacket in the car – we had to drive back for 20 minutes to get it… oops 🙁 )
Finally, at 18:00 we were ready to go. After lots of rain, that day it had finally cleared up and it was sunny!
We followed a track up the valley, first through the forest and later through a more rocky landscape.
After a while, we found the disadvantage of the beautiful still weather – mosquitoes! And lots of them… Fortunately our repellent seemed to work – as in we didn’t get bitten – but it’s hard to enjoy the scenery with a cloud of mosquitoes around your head!
At about 22:00, we reached Gappohytta, which looked idyllic in the evening sun, reflected in the lake. There were 2 huts, one of them empty, so we had the luxury of a whole hut to ourselves. The huts from DNT (the Norwegian Trekking Association) in this part of the country are all unmanned and you need to buy a key to open them. They have no electricity or running water, but are always near a water source. They have gas for cooking (and everything else you need, like plates and pans and cutlery), wood for the stove, beds with bedding (but you need to bring a liner or a sleeping bag), and usually a separate building with a toilet of the hole-in-a-plank variety.
We enjoyed a good dinner that we brought from Tromsø, and then it was time for bed.
Day 2: Gappohytta to Rostahytta (20 km, 9 hrs)
The following morning it was still sunny, but with some pretty clouds and a nice breeze to blow away the mosquitoes.
We walked through Sweden for a couple of hours. We crossed a lot of small rivers, before stopping for a break at a waterfall.
We crossed the border back into Norway, and soon reached our halfway point, which means: lunch!
We walked through Isdalen, a pass between two valleys, strewn with huge boulders and surrounded by steep mountains.
At the end of Isdalen, there is a steep descend down towards Rostadalen. The view is quite spectacular! But walking down over small rocks was rather tedious.
At the bottom we had our first serious river crossing – one that required taking our boots off and wading through. I had brought flip flops for this purpose – so I wouldn’t fall over or hurt my feet – so I thought I’d be fine. What I didn’t realise is how COLD these rivers are…. It was really painful, within seconds my feet were numb with cold and I cried when I got to the other side. It took a while before my feet stopped hurting! Not quite the nicest experience… but at least now I’d know what to expect next time.
At some point we heard a funny noise nearby, something between the noise of a duck and a pig, and we looked up to see what made that noise. Not very far from us, a herd of I think around 100 reindeers was walking past. What a sight!
The final stretch was tough as the mosquitoes came back in full force, this time biting me all over my face. Such a relief to finally see the hut! It was quite busy and we only just about found 2 free beds. A quick dinner, and off to sleep.
Day 3: Rostahytta to Dærtahytta (17 km, 9 hrs)
We woke up to another sunny day. We washed ourselves in a pool at the side of the river before having breakfast at the hut. The hut is very nice and modern, it’s been built in 2007!
To start out hike, we crossed the river using a suspension bridge – cool!
After that, we climbed up rather steeply – not easy when it’s warm! We then walked along a plateau for a while.
At some point the landscape became very rocky and it’s tiring to walk from rock to rock like that. We climbed up to 1045 m. At that point it started to cloudy over and with the wind that made it feel quite cold. Soon however, the hut came into view!
It wasn’t long until we reached the hut. Again, there were two buildings and we chose the one that was empty. This was the oldest of the two, and very cosy – with the added luxury of an indoors “toilet”!
We arrived very tired, sunburnt, and all muscles aching from three days of hiking (nearly 50 km). The next day was going to be a very long one (24-28 km depending on the route). It was quickly decided that a day of rest would be the best idea for tomorrow.
Day 4: Rest day in Dærtahytta
We slept for a long time and enjoyed a lazy day in the hut. Outside the clouds were low and it was raining continuously, so we chose a good day to rest! We read the guestbook, which always has some amusing entries 😀 People also leave all sorts of books and magazines, so we had plenty to read. At some point in the afternoon, we got company from a German guy who had walked from Rostahytta that day. Later on, we were joined by a Norwegian couple from Stavanger – they got lost during the previous day and had spent the whole night walking!
Day 5: Dærtahytta to the car (25 km, 9 hrs)
The next day the clouds were still low and it was drizzling. We had 2 options: our original plan was to walk to Dividalshytta and spend another night there, before walking back to the car the next day, or we could walk straight back to the car. The drizzle stopped soon after we set off, and it stayed dry for the rest of the day, but there was no wind and we were bothered by mosquitos the whole time. They bit me everywhere, even through 2 layers of clothes. We got so fed up of the mosquitoes, that we decided to walk to the car and go home that evening. I later counted 30 bites just one one arm, and they were getting into our noses, mouths and ears… they literally drove us out of Dividalen!
The path was quite good at first, so we made good progress. Later we had to go through a swampy area which was tough as we sank in over our boots and got wet feet. In this valley, we found a lot of antlers though! They were lying around everywhere, and we even found a matching pair. We took the best ones home, we’re planning to do something creative with them. Either a lamp, inspired by one we saw in a log cabin, or a coat hanger perhaps.
We had one major river to cross. It was too deep to walk through and very wide. Paul tried hopping from rock to rock, while I took my boots off and walked across on flip flops. We both ended with wet boots though! Paul stepped on a rock which flipped over, and I tripped and fell forwards while my boots (hanging around my neck) dipped into the water. Oh well 😉 The last part of the hike went through the forest, along a beautiful gorge created by the river we had just crossed. The river was now narrow and wild…
We got back to the carpark at about 19:00 and were quite relieved to see our Caddy appearing when we came out of the forest 😀 We were wet, dirty and smelly – just longing for a warm bath at home and a good bed to sleep in 🙂 Some people who were just starting their hike asked if we had been on a long tour – wonder if we just looked that tired, or if they could smell us 😛
It was a beautiful hike through very nice landscape, but if we do it again, it won’t be in summer when there are so many mosquitoes and so much of the ground is swampy! Autumn is probably a better season. People had warned us about the mosquitoes but I thought they were exaggerating. They told me to buy a mosquito-net-hat, but I thought they look uncomfortable and silly. Next time, I’ll leave my pride at home 😉
We’re only home for one day, we’re leaving for the Lofoten tomorrow! We’ve rented a small house near the beach there for a week. I’m really looking forward to it! We’ll take the boat and are keeping our fingers crossed for some sunshine 🙂