Saltfjellet-Svartisen

Saltfjellet-Svartisen

5-day backpacking trip from Svartisvatnet to Blakkådalen

In the early afternoon, we land at Oslo Gardermoen, where we will have to kill the time. Our night train leaves at 11:40 PM. During the first part of our train ride, we take a sleeping cabin, seven hours later we arrive in Trondheim. Here we change to a normal train, seven hours later we arrive in Mo I Rana.

Here I walk to the XXL outdoor store, located ten minutes walk from the station. We still have to buy our gas cans, as this is not possible at the airport. When I get back to the station, we call a taxi that takes us to the private road near the Svartisvatnet lake. This is the fastest and easiest way to get there, but also the most expensive, we have to pay about 80 euros for the ride.

Day 1: Svartisvatnet – Auserdalsvatnet

Walking hours:2h30
Photo moments: 1h
Distance: 9km
Altitude: 230m ascent, 120m descent

We follow the private road to Svartisvatnet, we are here all alone. The ferry service is not available anymore. So we start immediately, because it is already late. And we would like to camp between Svartisvatnet and Austerdalsvatnet. We follow the right bank, the path is quite swampy after the rain showers of the past days. We are therefore happy when we reach the other side of the lake. We swap the swampy ground for slippery rocks. It is already starting to dawn when we approach Austerdalsvatnet, so we start looking for a suitable bivouac place. Not as simple as we had hoped. But in the end we find a place, it is just dark when we are ready with the tent. 

In the tent we check the route that we had in mind, it seems less doable than we thought. We are afraid that the river between Austerdalsvatnet and Glomdalsvatnet will not be safe to ford. After checking the weather forecast, it seems better to return to the beginning of the trip.

Day 2: Auserdalsvatnet – Blakkådalen

Walking hours:4h15
Photo moments: 2h45
Distance: 17km
Altitude: 400m ascent, 385m descent

In the morning we load our backpack and walk to the glacier tongue Austerdalsisen, here we have breakfast in the shelter. We also look at our possible options on the map. We choose to return. And then to walk to the Blakkådalen valley. We have to follow the same route back to the private road. From the private road, we follow a tarmac road for six kilometres until the start of the Blakkådalen hike. In this valley, there are not many options to camp, so at the first suitable place we set up the tent.

Day 3: Blakkådalen

Walking hours:1h45
Photo moments: 1h45
Distance: 5,5km
Altitude: 210m ascent, 85m descent

After a rainy night, it still rains when we get up, we just wait in the tent. Around noon it clears up and we get ready to leave. We have found a suitable bivouac place on the map. We start with the climb, the first part goes very smoothly. Later we have to pass some slippery and steep parts. So we take our time. The route is beautiful, regularly we have a wide view over the valley. After a few hours we arrive at the bivouac area that we had in mind. And yes it is the ideal place, there was someone here before us. There are traces of a campfire. We pitch the tent and enjoy the beautiful view before it is completely dark.

Day 4: Blakkådalen -Blakkådalshytta

Walking hours: 2h30
Photo moments: 1h
Distance: 8,5km
Altitude: 450m ascent, 230m descent

At night the hell breaks loose, the wind suddenly begins to pound hard on the tent. Sleeping is not possible, we are both worried whether the tent will save it. We were not able to set it up properly because of the rocky bottom. The gusts of wind only get worse, and after a while, the two main pegs come loose. I begin to search for two heavy boulders to anchor the tent again. We stay awake for a while, but after a while, we are confident that the tent is now stable. Not much later the wind suddenly falls back completely.

After a short night we get up at sunrise, so we can start early. The weather is fairly stable and we hope to reach the DNT hut Blakkådalshytta before the weather changes again. First, we descend to the roaring river Blakkåga. The river raised so much that breaks out of the river banks. The terrain along the river is pretty messy, so we are relieved when we start to rise again. It starts to rain slightly, the wind also comes up a little. But fortunately, we have the wind in the back. 🙂 Not much later we have to wade through a rather difficult river. The slippery rocks make it tricky. But we get safely on the other side. A little later we have to wade through a few more rivers. During the descent to the hut, we have a beautiful view of the valley and the glacier.

When we arrive at the cabin, we try to make fire as fast as possible. After a few attempts, it finally succeeds. Outside, the weather has totally changed, the wind is blowing again. The weather report predicted these changes.  Around the nightfall, 4 Norwegians arrive in the hut, they come here to hunt on mountain grouses. We have a chat about our plans and they advise us not to proceed to Bogvatnet. The river is already difficult to wade under normal conditions. But because of the rain of the past few days, it seems to be a very risky business. We decide to go over our options tomorrow.

Day 5: Blakkådalshytta

In the morning we are offered a lift back to Mo I Rana. So we do not have to take the expensive taxi. Then we have to stay an extra night in the cabin. But since it is so cozy, that is not a problem for us. They are going to hunt today, we are going to enjoy the beautiful view. When the Norwegians arrive back in the late afternoon, they have shot 12 mountain grouses. They ask if we might want to eat with them. Of course we want that. 🙂 

Day 6: Blakkådalshytta – Blakkådalen

Walking hours:4h
Photo moments: 1h
Distance: 13km
Altitude: 275m ascent, 600m descent

In the morning we get up early, the weather looks pretty good. We follow the same route back, the rivers look slightly less swollen than last time. But we have no regrets that we are returning because it will continue to rain for two weeks. When we are back near the start of the hike, we set up our tent. We wait here until tomorrow afternoon when the Norwegians are also returning to their car. The main reason why we walked back a day earlier is that we knew that there was cellphone reception overhere. There was no reception at all at the cabin. Now we can search for our options. But it soon turns out, that making last-minute arrangements are expensive, a plane ticket back to Belgium seems to us the best option.

 

Day 7: Blakkådalen

The next morning we prepare our backpack. So that we are almost ready when the Norwegians pass by. First they have to drive to Mo I Rana to get an extra car. We spend the night in Mo I Rana before we are flying back via Mo I Rana to Trondheim, to continue flying to Oslo and from here we fly to Brussels.

So you see we had to quickly switch from plan A to plan B, and then we had to conclude that we had to cancel the complete trip. The weather forecasts were so bad that it only became more dangerous. We could forget to ford any river in these conditions, and then you got a problem in this national park. But we definitely return to Saltfjellet – Svartisen National Park.

Here you can download the gps track.

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