part 9: junkerdalen

The route: Sulitjelma-Balvatnet-Junkerdalen-Graddis Fjällstue-Lønsstua. August 13-19, 2019. Day 67-73. 80 km.

Junkerdalen is another of those luscious northern valleys, where waist high vegetation shoots up during the very short summer. The special vegetation here is one of the main reasons this area is a designated national park. Indeed while walking around Balvatnet I met Fjelltjenesten. They were on assignment here to redirect the trail with a wooden plank walkway around an area hosting the endangered arctic plant species palsmyr. I had the honor to inaugurate a section of the planks.

Inaugurating the wooden planks set up to protect palsmyr

Wooden plank walkways in the mountains is a topic often debated among outdoor enthusiasts: Some argue these walkways disturb the untouched nature and previously, when my hiking experience was mainly on Kungsleden, I tended to agree. However, after extensive hiking in the often fragile nature, especially in Northern Norway, I have changed my mind. Often the nature is so fragile, that planks, in fact, do not disturb the nature, as some say, they do indeed protect it. Areas with fragile nature quickly becomes incredibly muddy, especially when also frequented by reindeer, sheep and ATVs, something I learned the hard way when walking Sørøya på Langs earlier in 2020.

Argalad, second only to Pauro among my favourite DNT cabins, is a historic log cabin in Junkerdalen National Park. Staying here is like staying in a museum, and the location right next to a bend in the gently-flowing Skaitielva is perfect.

The Argalad cabin

A specific comment on the rivers in Junkerdalen: They all look small on the map, but they are treacherous. All the river crossings were uncomplicated, when I was there in mid-August. However, I have heard of several people, including people with extensive outdoor experience, having either given up or had great difficulty crossing Hujtekjåhkå right at the end of snowmelt. One solution, I have been told, could be to cross significantly higher up (the source is a lake ~500 altitude meters higher up, but crossing should be possible before that), another to simply cross over to the other side of the valley and carve your own trail downwards. Both tough walks.

Junkerdalen

According to trail gossip the unmarked shortcut at the end of Junkerdalen on a deserted gravel road was impassable due to landslide. Skeptic as I was, I actually completely forgot about this short and took the paved road down to Graddis Fjällstue. Probably a mistake as I later read reports of others walking on it. Yet another reminder of Lesson learnt #1. Graddis Fjällstue, by the way, is another of those places where I´d highly recommend calling ahead (Lesson learnt # 7) if you need something there: Unsurprisingly, the place was empty when I passed by.

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