Sarek national park is rightfully cherished by Swedes as Sweden’s ‘pearl’ and ‘treasure’. Located far north in the Arctic mountains, between Padjelanta and Stora Sjöfället national parks, it contains Sweden’s most dramatic Alpine territory. Since the park has no well-developed trails, a mere 2 bridges to help you accross the many glacial rivers running into Rapa Valley, and no services it is some of the most inaccessible terrain found in Sweden.
If your perfect holiday idea is to enjoy nature and disappear in it for two weeks, this is most definitely your place to go. I always thought you needed to travel to far-away destinations to find places as remote and as wild as Sarek. I had been looking forward to it for over a year and in many ways the park still exceeded my expectations. After I arrived home, took a good hot shower and energized up, I actually couldn’t wait to go back and see more.
Beforehand some friends asked why I chose to go to Sarek, instead of a comfortable trail where huts provide shelter for cold and wetdays and where trails help you along the way. I think the answer is simply because it is not as challenging. I go out there to get somewhere where I can challenge myself, where I can feel excited every morning because I don’t know what to expect.
We chose not to follow the most common route along northern Rapadalen but set out along its challenging southern side and hiked into some of the more remote valleys of the park. From half a day after we left Kungsleden until we made it to the Skárja emergency shelter, we didnot meet anyone. For two consecutive days we walked right behind a bear and a moose, but (fortunately or unfortunately) never got to see them.
On a nice day, Sarek can be such an idyllic, almost romantic place to be. Turquoise blue rivers run in the valleys, surrounded by mountains capped with shining glaciers. It just makes you want to have an eternal lunch break to enjoy the scenery. On other moments however, Sarek showed its teeth and confirmed its reputation as a harsh and dangerous place.At some times I wondered if we had not slightly overestimated ourselves. Progress could fall under one kilometer/hour, making for long days of walking over loose rocks, through swamps and dense forests, passing powerful rivers that asked for long detours to be crossed.
But as we walked from one scenic valley to the other, stumbled upon yet another reindeer herd, saw the evening sun color the grass on the hills gold and pitched our tent in a new panoramic place every evening, the pain was more than worth the gain. On some moments our surroundings were so unbelievably beautiful that it was almost surreal. And as we walked out of the park and laughed about the forests we got stuck in, the rock fields and ridges that terrified us or the driver I got dragged down in, a feeling of great satisfaction set in. And in the end, that is what you do it for. To feel satisfied after challenging and pushing yourself beyond your comfort limits, after pulling something off you doubted you would be capable off.