These last 97 km of Nordkalottleden were easy walking, with quite a few people as well on the trail, as some of it is part of the popular Padjelantaleden. The strenuous, but spectacular Narvik mountains, left me with a substantial deficit in my energy balance and I stocked up at Ritsem: Both with food and, also important, podcast downloads.
In 2012 the 19-year Danish hiker Joey Ravn disappeared without a trace in this exact area: While walking on Nordkalottleden, he decided to climb Allak from his campsite 3 km before the Kutjaure cabin, close to a a bridge. An area I passed through and I remember well the bridge. Despite intensive searches by local authorities as well as search expeditions from both Norway and Denmark the following years, he was never found. The area west/north-west of Virihaure is a massive wilderness though. A tragic as well as strange story, especially since the glacier-free Allak looks quite reasonable to summit, as opposed to the nearby Áhkká, where I initially thought he was lost.
While all the DNT cabins in Northern Norway are without supplies (no-service), most of the Swedish cabins are quite well stocked and most, if not all of the Sami-staffed cabins on Padjelantaleden sell supplies in summer, brought up with snow scooter in the winter. The highlight in this regard was Parfa´s Kiosk in Stáloluoka, which quite simply sells everything you may want as a hiker, including freeze-dried meals and camping gas. I think I used more than 100 dollars there. Combined with fresh, baked bread and smoked fish from the STF Stáloluokta cabin, the days on minimum food were over, at least for the moment.
The Swedish STF cabins, as opposed to the Norwegian no- and selv-service DNT cabins are typically staffed, which obviously ensures payment from the guests, higher quality of cleaning etc. The Norwegian no- and self-service DNT cabins operate on an honour-based system: Guests are supposed to register in a logbook and then, obviously, pay (several payment methods are available). In the vast majority of cases this system works well, but I have also stayed in huts with people who clearly do not register. And they are not only foreigners. I heard from locals volunteering in the cabins, that here in the North, where the cabins are more remote, theft of items like firewood may happen. I even heard about one tour company apparently arranging a winter skiing trip with scheduled overnight stays in several DNT cabins, without paying. They were found out by locals associated with DNT, who saw the advertisement for the trip on the internet and then went to visit the cabin on the day the tour company arrived, to catch them red-handed, so to speak. However, as I stated before, the vast majority of people, Norwegian or foreigners, do adhere to the rules.
I have made it a habit every evening to reflect briefly on the most difficult moment of the day that passed. The crux of the day, I´d call it, borrowing a mountaineering term. Every evening I had to pick something, no matter how uncomplicated the day had been. Often it would be a river crossing, a slippery stone field, a steep snowfield or a scary bridge. Here in Padjelanta, with none of those events, and flat, easy terrain, the crux of the day could be something as uneventful as walking 200 m up a hill. Furthermore, immediately after the bigger river crossings I´d take a moment looking back on the place where I crossed, to evaluate what went well/less well and did I indeed chose the optimal place to cross after all.
Arriving in Sulitjelma meant I had completed the 667 km Nordkalottleden section of Norge på Langs.
Future dream trip #5: From Hellmobotn along the trailless western shore of Virihaure to Sulitjelma. With packraft.