How do I describe a trip like the Southern kings trail? I have been thinking about this now for over two weeks since I’ve been back and one term keeps coming back to me “magnificent shithole”. I know it’s not very descriptive, but it is literally the only phrase I could think of. Southern kings trail this time of the year in late September was by far one of the most challenging trails I have ever hiked. In fact I honestly can’t remember the last time I just wanted to throw in the towel and go home in the middle of a trail. However after two straight days of just hiking in freezing cold muddy marshes, losing my shoes in the mud and at time knee deep swamp, I was ready to go home.
The start of Southern kingstrail by Sälen högfjällshotellet
With that said, the trail and the view was magnificent and my own pigheadedness kept me trudging on, and in the end I can say that this trail was one of the most rewarding for me to do as well. The view wasn’t as breath taking as places like in northern Sweden or Norway or even in the California mountain ranges. But that it was most certainly unique and incredible in it’s own way.
The first part of southern kingstrail before reaching the forest
You can read my preparation article before I took off for this trip here. Everything was basically exactly as described with regards to temperature, expected weather and train/bus route. I can say that my last day was a bit different than planned as there are no busses from the town Mörkret, which meant I hitch hiked from there to the town of Särna which is about 25 kilometers from Mörket.
Day one and two – Transtrands fjällen:
I started this journey in the ski village of Sälen högfjällhotelet – this after a 7-hour bus and train ride. So my first day of hiking started around 14.00 in the afternoon. I just wanted to walk, as it were the bus actually stops right at the start of the trail. I was more than happy to just get moving. The first 3 kilometers is all asphalt, this worried me as I was literally afraid that it would be days of asphalt hiking. Little did I realize that I would be begging for that asphalt just a few hours later. Where the well groomed and cute asphalt trail ends, hell begins.
These little houses of refuge were absolutely amazing. A little bit of dryness on such a wet trail.
There is no soft start, no 500 meters of dry dirt trail, just mud, deep mud and it didn’t end for almost the entire 5-day hike. The first two days was spent in the forest region of Transtrands fjällen. This region can be summoned up with one word “wet”. While this region was mainly forest I remember approaching a proper mountain after two days of hiking and all of a sudden I’m above tree line and thanking god for giving me a view further than 50 meters in front of me and a somewhat dry trail.
Southern kingstrail is a particularly ascent and decent intensive trail, with quite a few 800meter plus ascents and straight back down to sea level than back into hours upon hours of forestry. In that manner it’s a very interesting trail, but I can only imagine how terrible this would have been with a 20kilo pack on my back and a pair of wet boots on the entire time.
Anyway, the first day I camped out right by a small creek on very wet ground. I simply couldn’t find any place less wet. The night was long and cold with temperatures reaching around -3 Celcius in the tent. I slept well and was most definitely warm the night through.
My camp on the first night
The next day started where the first one ended. Wet and forest and after hiking through a particularly miserable wet valley that I was ready to go home.
The valley through hell.. well, not really, but it was much more intense than it looks.
After two hours of hiking in quite literally 3 feet deep marshes, I finally came atop the mountain summit and made my way towards a small group of day hikers huddled outside of a small cottage enjoying the beautiful sun rays.
This cottage saved my trip. I was tired and sick of the wetness. The coffee and cinnamon buns put me back on track.
They must have seen my frustration because they offered me coffee and cinnamon buns: it was all I needed, my morale was back on top and I could see that my trail would be dry for a while. I put my wet socks back on and put my wet feet back into my wet shoes and made my way towards my next stop for the day 12 kilometers away which would be a small little windshield right on the river bank by Görälven.
This is the last part of the trail out of Transtrand fjällen..
The beauty can’t be denied.
The view as I made my camp for the night by Görälven
As the sunset by Görälven the moon light shone bright