Although I try to live my life in such a way that I do not need holidays to escape … well, sometimes I just need holidays to escape. What I really liked about my summer 2018 holiday planning is that I first had taken a week to fully disconnect from the world, both mentally and physically, by solo hiking the Iceland Laugavegur trail before spending time with my family in Hof van Saksen in The Netherlands. This post is on my preparations for my Kungsleden solo hike.
So for 2019, I was looking for a similar structure: disconnect with a hike before heading off with the family. In my search, I considered Tour de Mont Blanc, West Highland Way (both serious options) or even Annapurna Circuit in Nepal (serious option, but that would stretch my summer holidays for too long), and seriously considered the Kungsleden trail, before settling on the Arctic Circle Trail. As I already started forming my ideas around the Kungsleden trail, I added them below.
For readability, I chopped my post up in different stages:
- Settle on the idea
- Settle on a date
- Lock-in the trip
- Create a rough day planning
- Creating a packing list
Before we start: Kungswhat?!
Kungsleden (King’s Trail) is a hiking trail in northern Sweden, 440 kilometers long, between Abisko in the north and Hemavan in the south. In contrast to popular belief or what the name would suggest, there is no fancy story about a Swedish king connected to the trail. Initially, the trail was not marked or named at all. Only in 1920 the trail appeared under the name Alesvaggeleden (so not even Kungsleden). Later, only, in 1928, without any ceremony or inauguration, the name Kungsleden appeared for the first time, with the opening of the Kvikkjokk station (the end station of the Northern part of the Kungsleden).
It passes through, near the southern end, the Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in Europe, which makes it pretty awesome.
It inspired the legend outdoor brand Fjallraven to do their Fjallraven classic in August of each year, where participants trek 110 kilometers of the Kungsleden with Fjallraven as a celebration of outdoor life (and a very smart event promotion of the brand). Large part of the idea behind it is in the allemansrätten, as Fjallraven puts it:
A big part of Swedish culture is having access to nature. In fact, it’s built into law as a public right. Known in Swedish as “allemansrätten” it basically gives people, including visitors to Sweden, the right to spend time in the great Swedish outdoors. Yes, you may say this exists to some extent where you’re from too. But in Sweden, the right goes even further. You can cross and even stay, for a short period of time, on private property without prior permission.
But with this right comes responsibility. A responsibility to nature, to preserve and protect it. To leave the area as you found it – or as we at Fjällräven like to do, to leave it in even better condition. This responsibility to nature includes all flora and fauna as well as water, stones and anything else not man-made.
*No, this is not an open application for the Fjallraven classic nor a Fjallraven promotion. I currently have not even one piece of Fjallraven hiking gear and would rather hike the Kungsleden solo than joining hundreds of others.
Step 1: settle on the idea for your Kungsleden solo hike.
The Kungsleden is a 440 kilometer hike in total, which is quite a lot.
- What exactly to hike. I really really hate only doing parts of a trail. But 440 kilometers will take me at least 10 days, 12 days including travel to and from the trail. So I probably either hike only the Northern part of the trail or have some tough 10 days ahead (for those wondering, FKT is currently 4 days and 21 hours).
- Day planning. There are some hurdles that make planning somewhat more challenging. There are several rivers that have to be crossed either by rowing boat or by private firm as well as a piece of road that has to be covered by bus. This makes planning somewhat more challenging and asks for some alternative plans in case I don’t make the boat/bus times.
- How to get there. As the Kungsleden is in the Northern (remote) part of Sweden, within the Arctic Circle, merely getting there is an adventure by itself. It will probably be something like Amsterdam > Stockholm > Kiruna > trail. In other words, something to figure out in the next few months.
In forming my idea on my Kungsleden solo hike, I found quite some useful information:
- Distant North has some really good information/background on the trail and how to get there.
Step 2: validate your ideas for your Kungsleden solo hike
Step 3: settle on a date for your Kungsleden solo hike.
Step 4: lock-in the trip.
Step 5: create a rough day planning for your Kungsleden solo hike.
Especially since my experience at the Iceland Laugavegur trail and it’s fast-changing weather, I promised myself to make a back-up planning 🙂
Considering the rowing boat / bus situations I really need it with the Kungsleden.
Step 6: creating a packing list for your Kungsleden solo hike.
I have created a first packing list for my Kungsleden solo hike in a separate post.
Budget for your Kungsleden solo hike
Total cost estimate –