The most common way to experience King’s Trail (Kungsleden) is walking or skiing in a comfortable pace. But there are other ways – come along on an up-tempo journey through the scenic mountains of Swedish Lapland when Krissy, Luke and Fredrik takes on the challenge of spending a week running along this famous trail.
Krissy Moehl, Luke Nelson and Fredrik Marmsater are on a mission to document their trail running experience for the magazine Trail Runner and for the outdoor clothing and travel gear company Patagonia. They will run from Vakkotavare to Abisko via Kebnekaise Mountain Station. Fredrik is a Swedish photographer based in Boulder, USA, Krissy and Luke are two of the world’s most elite trail runners. Here’s their story.
Krissy’s first report from the trail
Two spectacular days on the trail leading up to our warm welcome at Kebnekaise. Swedish Lapland’s Göran kindly hosted our arrival in Kiruna and transported us to our start in Vakkotavare. We were in a bit of disbelief as we took off on our first couple of strides along the King’s Trail. So much anticipation up to this point, and now we were finally running in Sweden! At every turn we are filled with awe and amazement in the beauty that surrounds and swallows us. The landscape is immense with the mountaintops softened by the ancient glaciers that carved through thousands of years ago.
The hearty bushes of blueberry, moss and scrubby “ris” line the trail and cover the landscape as far as the eye can see adding color, texture and depth. The trail underfoot is surprisingly and continuously rocky making it crucial to watch your step while hopping rock to rock or on the precious dirt filling the gaps. It is easy to be drawn in for a break by the red leaves of the Blueberry plants illuminated in any light. We stain our fingers as we stop to indulge in the perfect blue orbs. The local, but unfamiliar to us lingonberries also dot the landscape and offer a simple flavor emphasized with sugar when made in the jams we sampled back in Stockholm.
The landscape is immense with the mountaintops softened by the ancient glaciers that carved through thousands of years ago.
Trail running is an amazing way to experience the King’s trail. With minimal packs our lighter loads and quick movement allow us to cover ground quickly, give time for pause and opportunity to take in the expanse. Everything in our packs has a specific use and there is nothing extra adding weight. It is possible to stay light with good gear but also having the ability to frequently resupply with the ample food options at the STF huts. These frequent huts also offer a kitchen to cook and bunks to sleep, only requiring a sleeping bag liner to supplement the provided blanket and pillow. A well fed and well rested runner starts each day excited for the next adventure.
In addition to the option of running the King’s trail point to point there are countless side adventures to explore. On our second day we departed the main valley for the option to explore Mt Kebnekaise and summit, the highest mountain in Swede, which will occupy tomorrow morning inspire of the ensuing weather. Looking ahead at the detailed map we are definitely in for a few more side trips.