Troms Border Trail

Start: Innset, Bardu, Norway. End: Kilpisjarvi, Finland Eight day walk (nine including a rest day) on the borders of Norway: One day includes a bit of Sweden, and the walk ends in Finland. Entirely within the Arctic Circle, so for most of summer this means 24 hours of daylight. The trail has great variety;including forest, mountain, rock-field, bogs and numerous rivers and streams. Most days are not too strenuous, although there are a couple of steep climbs and one difficult river crossing. This is not a challenging trail in summer weather, and I did it with my daughter and her partner, neither of whom are experienced walkers. By way of training (especially so they could get a hang a compass navigation) we did several hikes Dartmoor in England, and some 12 to 15 miles stretches of the South West Coastal path, to prepare them for rocky ascents and descents. A distinct advantage of (relatively) easy going, combined with constant daylight, was the chances to sit and rest, eat treats and look at the beautiful scenery. Note about weather: If spring is late or the summer cold there could be ice or snow to cross. There was plenty around on our trip, but not so extensive that it couldn't be navigated around. On the other hand the unusually warm summer meant that the heat built up during the day and resulted in several very heavy downpours and a couple of thunder storms. On one afternoon on a rocky mountainside, miles form any hut, we had to take to our storm shelter to avoid getting totally drenched, and sit it out while lightning crashed around us: Had we have not been prepared this would have been a wretched experience, so if contemplating this walk make sure you have suitable gear.

Hike data

  • Where
    Troms, Norway
  • When July 2014 till August 2014
  • Distance walked 150 km (~93.2 miles)
  • Days walked 9 days

Photo Album

Report

The Route : overview

Map and compass are essential

This walk is based on the Troms Boder Trail walk in the Cicerone 'Walking in Norway' guide (http://www.cicerone.co.uk/product/detail.cfm/book/230/title/walking-in-norway#.VPgC8vmsW3g).

The route in the book is from Kilpisjarvi in Finland to Innsett in Norway. Due to logistics of planes/busses etc. the walk described here starts at Innset and finishes in Kilpisjarvi. Apart from a slight deviation on the last day (Kilpisjarvi), and  the fact that it would read backwards (as it were) the details of the route are identical to those in the book.

Getting There-Getting Back

Husky in the Husky Farm

GETTING THERE

The walks starts in Innset, whichm is a small village in Bardu Conty.  It is over 1500 km north of Oslo, which is where the majority of flights into Norway will land. 

The nearest sizable towns to use as points of departure for Innset, are Narvik (125 km south-west) and Tromso (190 km north): A journey by Coach or Train to either of these towns from Oslo, would be either take a long time, or be complex, or both. I found it easiest to fly from Oslo to Narvik. But flying to Tromso would do just as well.

The nearest town to Innset is called Setermoen, which is some 35 KM north-west of innset. You can get to Setermoen on the number 100 bus,operated by tromskortet, which goes between Tromso and Narvik. Their website is http://www.tromskortet.no/

There is a bus from Setermoen to Innset which only runs once a day or so. I could find very little details about this. It is possible to get a taxi (about 80 euros).

A nice alternative  is to stay at the Husky Farm in Innset. (www.husky-adventure.com ): They will pick you up from the Supermarket in Setremoen (where you can get last minute supplies) for a little less than the taxi fare. An added bonus is a nice comfortable night before starting the walk, some delightful company and the chance to play with lots of really cute huskies.

GETTING BACK

From Kilpisjarvi there is a bus operated by Eskelisen which leaves once a day to Tromso. 

Equipment, huts etc

Gappohytta (The Huts at Gappo)

The trail does not pass through any villages or settlements, so everything needed for the trip must be carried, this includes food. Water is plentiful, except over some of the high rock-fields, but these will be crossed in a matter of hours. There are lots of mosquitoes in the low areas, so bug-nets and cream are necessary. Below is a minimum list of equipment in no particular order:

  • Maps (see below) and compass
  • Matches 
  • Food for 9 or 10 days
  • washing gear
  • Good rain gear, including trousers
  • Good walking boots
  • Clothing for wear in the huts or in your tent 
  • Trekking poles and crocks
  • Bug head nets 
  • First aid kit
  • Rucksack
  • Sleeping bag liner (if you are using huts)
  • Toilet paper

 

If you are camping the also you will needs camping and cooking equipment.

THE HUTS

The huts are all owned by the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT), and are classed as 'no service' which means there are no food served and no food or supplies to purchase, and are unstaffed-but they are clean and warm (once you've lit the wood burner), and you can dry your wet clothes on the racks. They have bunks, with blankets and pillows, and plentiful cooking gear, with butane gas stoves, and wood supplies for the fire (you may need to chop it yourself). The toilets are just field latrines in small huts nearby, and can be unpleasant, but this can't be helped.

To access the huts you will need to join DNT and get a key. The huts charge around 15 euros per night once you have the key, and payment is on trust: But remember the money goes to maintaining the huts and the trail for other walkers.

You can join DNT via http://english.turistforeningen.no/

MAPS

Map and compass are essential even though the trail is clearly way marked (with red paint markers), with only a few places sparsely marked. 

The maps needed are Norge-serien with a 1:50,000 scale:

  • 10149: Skibotndalen 
  • 10144: Dividalen
  •  

These are also available from DNT, and were a lot cheaper (at least in England) than buying them locally. As for the hut-keys DNT can send them to your home (at least in Europe)

Day 1: Innset to Gaska

Day 1: The Start of the walk. Ahead is Lifjellet.

The official trail passes north of the houses and summer huts of Innset, in an arc that takes in some marsh and views of the Altevatnet, which is a long deep lake that stretches into the distance, edge by snowy mountains. The trail leads down to near the lake and also to the end of the metalled road. No more roads will be seen until trail leads into Finland on the last day. 

Facing north-east, which is the direction the trail takes, you can see the flat topped Lifjellet, and slight lower Loutnavaru, sloping down to the south-east. The lower slopes are wooded. Most of the walk on the first day is south-easterly on the lower slopes of these hills, before crossing the valley of the Luotnajohka, to Gaskashytta, the first hut (hytta is 'hut' in Norwegian).

Between the foot of these hills and the current position is a wet marshland, which fortunately has boardwalks following the trails across it-so there is no need to get wet feet at the start of the walk.

Beyond the marsh a river runs along southwards at the foot of these hills, and about half a kilometre before it flows into the Altevatnet there is a plank bridge. After crossing the bridge the trail follows along the base of the hills. It passes into woods of ash and birch as it climbs. There are numerous mosquitos, and if it rains, as it did on us, the ground quickly becomes soggy. But the views are beautiful: especially the Rohkubnborri in the distance on the other side of the lake, with its head in the clouds on the day we were there.

After a while the path descends through the woods to another bridge and after a short climb are the two huts of Gaskas. There were no other people in these huts on our journey.

The water source is from a river down a steep slope to the east of the huts. So there is a fair amount of bucket-carrying before you can get comfortable for the night. The huts had sink-basins which could empty out: I think these were the only huts with this facility. In all the others you have to throw you basin of wash water into a specially set aside area called 'Solevann' 

I could not sleep on this first night due to the lack of darkness and a mosquito that eventually stung me on the eyelid before I dispatched it. The huts have curtains and shutters, but light still gets in. Although we had passed the time of mid-night sun, it still never got dark at all.

Day 2: Gaska to Vuama

Day 2: Typical waymarker for the TBT
  • The second day is an easy walk of about 8 miles (13 km).

    The distance covered on the second day is about 11 miles, or 18 km. The trail passes over a high rock strewn pass between some high peaks and down into a wet lake-land area. 

    Each hut site has a signpost showing the direction and approximate distance to the next nearest huts. The direction from Gaskas to Vuoma is initially north-east.

    A short walk brings you down to a river (Gaskasvaggi) crossed by a plank bridge. Crossing this the river is followed (a few hundred metres to the left) upstream. Initially the terrain is the same as the end of the previous day: Woods of small trees and boggy areas.

    After a few kilometres this gives way to rockier ground as you climb the river valley, and the trail turns eastward away from the river, and crosses a rocky pass between the heights of Coalbmoavi and Gaskkasnjunni.

    For several kilometres there is rough going over broken rock. But this is compensated by the feeling that you are beginning to gain some high country. On the day that we climbed up here, the weather changed from warm sunshine to sleety, cold rain and back to sunshine in rapid succession.

    Eventually the rock-field ends and a wide view opens eastward of a long, broad valley with numerous lakes: they are surrounded by green, and though it is clear even from this distance that this is marshy, it is welcoming after the slow going on the boulders and slabs of the pass. This was a good place for lunch and we sat in the lea of a large outcrop and looked at the peaks in the far horizon.

    The trail descends into this valley, and very soon is hugging the bottom of small hills at the side of the lakes. It was quiet and peaceful away from the wind that had whistled through the pass. There were birds calling plaintively in the reeds around the water, but few were visible. Somewhere in this stretch the path enters Ovre Dividal National Park. The park is called 'Home of the Wolverine'. Fortunately they were absent as our only plan if we met one was to throw it a tube of meat paste and then run.

    Finally the trail opens onto a large lake than it has passed so far. At the north-west end of this lake are the two huts of Vuoma. Thus far we had seen no other people since leaving Innset, and there was no one else at the huts. After a couple of hours a backpacker arrived, going in the other direction.

    Water is available from a stream that empties into the lake. It is quite a walk, but there is a yolk hanging in the entrance to one of the huts. It was fun to practice getting the water up to the hut with the buckets dangling from the chains of the yolk without getting wet legs.

 
 

Day 3: Vuoma to Dividal

Day 3: Vuomohytta (the huts at Vuoma)
    • The distance for this days walk is pretty much the same as yesterday: 12 miles, or 18 km approximately-It is generally easy going but harder going, due a fair amount of bog, followed by a stiff ascent at the end. The scenery is very pretty. The trail essentially follows the right bank of the Anjavasselva until the river takes and abrupt turn north in a spectacular sheer sided gorge. A tributary is crossed and the walk is finished by the climb through pine woods to the hut at Dividal.

     

    There is a boggy and mosquito infested area where the trail first gets close to the river, but it was soon passed and the rest of the day consisted in following a clear path through woods and occasional wide glades. 

    Eventually the high slopes of Blafjellet peter out and the walk comes to a wide valley where it crosses the Vuomajohka, which has flowed around the other side of Blafjellet to become a tributary of the Anjavasselva. There is a rope and plank bridge to cross. There were lots of signs that hunters used the area including a bag of rusty shotgun cartridges by the bridge. Both sides of the river are clear of trees and grassy. This turned out to be an excellent spot for lunch. There are places to sit next to the banks and we took our boots off and dangled or feet in the (cold) water.

    After this the trail continues through the same wood-bog-wood landscape, but the valley below get narrower and the river more turbulent and the water whiter. Soon the river bends in a sharp turn northwards into a sheer sided shadowed gorge. We could not see far down there, but we could he the waters churning and roaring. 

    The path carries on eastward, down through some woods with (at last) large pine trees and the scent of resin to cross a tributary of the Anjavasselva, although a wide enough river in its self. The side down to the bridge are very steep. There are wooden steps on the current side, going down in three stages to a rope and wood bridge. But the stairs had fallen down when we were there, I guess from a rock fall: This provided one of the only two scary episodes of the entire walk, as we had to carefully pick our way down the crumbling rocks with all our gear on. There was a steep drop into the fast flowing rock-strewn river.

    Once across the bridge there is a choice of trails. There is a trail north, which is a one of the bail-out points, and south, which is our trail.

    If you have gaiters this is a good time to put them on as the next mile or so is through very wet forested bog.  Eventually the path again turns east and starts to climb the lower wooded sides of Little Jerta. The track gets steeper as it nears the huts, and is not always very clearly signed over some of the rockier stretches. AT the end of a long day this was a tiring slog, but the view became increasing majestic as we looked back along the Anjavasselva valley, with the lowering sun making the river sparkle among the trees.

    There are three huts a Dividal (although one was under repair and locked at the time). The main hut has a balcony that look down the mountain side and back along the trail into the horizon. It was such a beautiful sight that we decided to make the next day our rest day and stay in the hut a second night. The water for the huts is from a well. If you are camping and so don't have a key to open the shed for the well, then there is a stream south of the huts which is a good source of water. 

    There was again no one at the huts, although the visitor book said several people had been through in the previous few days. The next day an English couple arrived, then a group of Norwegian women hikers, and then two men from DNT who were repairing the closed hut (and who had carried a roll of insulation material 14 km from the nearest access road). The day after that timber for the repairs was going to be helicoptered in. It was a shame that we couldn't stay around another day to watch.

  • The track initially heads north over a saddle of Blafjellet that separates the Voumajohka valley from that of the Anjavasselva. The path undulates over many small streams through a moorland landscape, passing into some woodland on its descent (turning eastwards) to the river. The woods consisted of small trees: Mostly birch and to a lesser extent ash (for some reason we had been expecting forests of giant fir trees). Emerging from the woods gives a spectacular view down the wide valley. The far bank of the river is covered in forest as far as the eye can see, and the near bank also becomes wooded further downstream. In the far eastern horizon there is a range of hills ranged in a north-south line. The most prominent one that can be seen is Little Jerta. Its lower sides are wooded and the day’s destination is the top of the woods just under the tree line. Westward the forest sits in a wider valley under a mountain with a great glaciated coombe near the top.  

 

Day 4: Dividal to Daerta

Day 4: Starts with a steep walk-The Dividal huts are in the background

This is the longest day 15 or 16 miles, starting with a steep ascent. The track passes over a high rocky saddle between Little Jerta and Jerta, then descends through a landscape of small hills, marsh and lakes. The day includes the only non-trivial river crossing: But the huts at the end are the newest and most comfortable of all the huts on the trail.

The path away from the hut leads through a boggy area, but there a boards laid down to help cross this. Very soon it starts to climb through the woods and get increasingly steep. This part of the walk is a bit of a slog, but it would be harder coming down, as the stones are often loose and the ground sandy without a lot of grip. Eventually the trees end and the path becomes less steep and you can look back at the huts far below.

After this the trail passes over moorland as it rises, which finally, gives way to a large rock field. The weather on the day we did this was overcast and oppressive. At the top of the saddle we were in cloud, but fortunately the path was marked by frequent cairns (with red painted 'T's) so there was no chance of losing our way

The trail descends into the wet plains, and gaiters are a good idea for this. After a few kilometres the oath crosses the Skaktarelva. It is wide here and rocky and probably a only a couple of feet deep at its slowest parts. It took a while to plan a route across, using  the fast flowing rocky stretches: And when we thought we were across it turned out we were only half way, as what had looked like the far bank was only a low island of slippery rocks and some nasty thorny plant. Walking sticks are required and no boots. The path on the far side moves east on the lower slopes of a large round topped hill called Nanna, so where you cross the river hardly matters, as the track can be picked up again quite easily on the other side.

After this is pretty much the same: marsh, small hills, lakes. The path is clear and the going is easy.

The weather on the day we did this got warner and warmer, and finally when we were only about two miles from the Daerta huts, there was a terrific thunderstorm and the rain poured down form black clouds that seemed to come quickly out of nowhere. We made the silly decision to slog it out, and as a consequence got thoroughly drenched, despite or waterproof.

The new hut is large, and airy with a big kitchen table. There were already some walkers there: A couple of Italians and a Finnish woman. We felt fairly wretched steaming and dripping over the kitchen floor, but they made us feel welcome. Naturally the rain stopped and the clouds cleared the very moment we arrived. Once dry and fed we sat on the balcony watching the mist evaporate and the sun shine. A large herd of reindeer were roaming the riverside about a kilometre away.

Day 5 : Daerta to Rosta

Day 5: A day of rock-fields
  • The distance for this stage is about 11 miles. Rosta is (almost) due north of Daerta, but the days traill initailly bends in a wetsterlt arc around the bottom of amounatin called Buossir, before heading north.
 
  • The first kilometer or so is along a moorland type valley, wide but steep sided, with litle waterfall cascading down form the rock above. It was a warm day, and pleasent going along this stretch.
 
Eventually the valley ends and there is a steep, rocky climb to higher ground. Once up the trail spend s tha rest of the day traversong rockfields and lake sides.It is probably the toughest day in terms of energy epended, but the path is easy to follow.
 
Some of the higher lakes are inahited by birds that make a noise a bit like soeone calling pathetically from the distance. It took a while to work out that it was not a person in distress.
 
The day grew warmer by the afternoon was feeling oppresive. We were on the last stages of the rockfield and the ground was begining to descend. Ee began to hear thunder rolling through the hill behind us-and soon began to feel the first drops of rain. Not wanting a second drenching we found a ridge of rock on the lea side of the hill and got in our storm shelter. This was not a moment too soon, as within minutes the sky had turned dark, the wind had become ferocious, the rain pelted down and thunder crahsed around us. One bolt of lighning landed very close (hundred yards away?) with a great crack and a light that lit up the orangeinsides of the storm shelters. 
 
Fortunately hte storm lasted for no more than 20 minutes, before it had passed and the wind and rain subsided, and the thunder called be heard rolling away in from of us. Once we emerged from our shelters we could see the storm clouds, below us now, andthe air was clear and fresh.
 
From here we descend into a river valley (the Rostaelva). Trees began to appear and finally over a bridge were the huts. 
 
Incidently, this was the first time that we got phone signals since leaving Innset-But the signal was elusive, and we found that we had to stand on particular rocks at funny angles to ensure receiving it.
 
 

day 6 : Rosta to Gappo

Day 6: Huts at Rosta

Distance for the day: 12 miles. The first half of the day is mostly over rocks and streams. The second half is through a wet land of rivers, lakes and marsh. The path passes through a few miles of Sweden. The hut at Gappo is just on the Norwegian side of the border.

On leaving the hut at Rosta in an almost easterly direction, the path soon turns north-east heading along the western side of a wide, steep sided valley. The valley floor is grassy, with some marshy patches marked by cotton grass. Waterfalls cascade down the sides of the cliffs form large patches of snow still lying higher up. It is a very easy and pleasant walk.

Eventually the valley ends with a steep climb. The grass gives way to boulders. The rest of the first half of the day is now spent in a rocky environment. Snow was still lying in most of the shady areas when we were there. Reindeer could be seen occasionally sitting patiently on the snow: They seemed to enjoy it. 

Several large peaks are skirted around, and one horseshoe shaped mountain (Isdalsfjella), with a large lake in its coombe marks the start of the descent from the rocky areas. The trail here is frequently marked with large sticks. 

As the trail enters a greener area lower down it passes into Sweden. The only indication of this is a yellow painted cairn on the hillside.

The rest of the day is taken up by river crossings and marsh. Fortunately good time can be made across this, as we could hear a storm rumbling in the mountains we had just come down from, but managed (just) to keep ahead of it.

The huts at Gappo sit on a rocky platform with beautiful view in all directions. The huts are on the crossing of several trails and seem also to be popular with anglers, so they were very busy and there was only just space for us.

Day 7 : Gappo to Golda

The huts at Gappo
A day of about eight miles.

This is the easiest day. The trail follows a clear eastward path, never more than a mile away from the Swedish border, arcing slightly to the north to avoid the higher slopes of Gahppoaivi (the summit of which is in Sweden). It twists and turns more than is apparent from the map, to scout around the many small lakes, but at no time is are the trail markers difficult to locate.

There is a marshy area about five miles into the walk and another just before getting to the Golda huts.

The walk is at a low altitude, so there was lots more wildlife to see, especially moorland birds. There was a beautiful view backwards of the range that we have spent several days crossing.

Day 8 Golda to Kilpisjarvi

day 8 : Treriksroset-where Norway, Finland and Sweden meet
  • The last day. Distance is about ten miles. Easy walking for the most part-And there is well earned coffee/beer/dinner at the end.

    The walk here differs from the route described in the Cicerone book, and in other places. The book walk stays on the Norway side of the border and heads north-east and ends on the E8 (The main road in this part of the world), where a bus can be caught, but where there isn't much else.

    The route we took passes goes into Finland, and also ends up on the E8, but this time at a village (or near to it) called Kipisjarvi, where among other things, are several hotels and campsites. Since roughing over the hills meant that we would not have much chance to sample local foods, and since we felt (correctly) that we would need a good shower before getting on a bus, we opted to stay a night in Kilpisjarvi.

    The route follows a waymarked path and is drawn on the map.

    Leave the huts at Golda following the sign to Treriksroset in a south easterly direction. The path soon brings you to the edge of the woods, with Golddajarvi, edged with wetlands, to your right.

    After about 3 kilometres you come to the place where Norway, Sweden and Finland meet. This is Treriksroset. It is marked by a yellow concrete marker in the middle of a lake. There are boardwalks to it and around it. It is of course irresistible to go to the marker and walk round it, just to say you have been in three different countries in less than a minute. There is a border fence, on which oddly some bits of ragged cloth serve as a gateway.

    From here the path turn north east and follows the Norway/Finnish border (you need to be on the Finnish side). There is a steady climb up. After a while you head east and eventually leave the woods and the hill levels out onto a moorland landscape.

    It was here that we saw our first and only large herd of reindeer. Every one we had met so far had said how there were lots of herds around, but I guess we were just unlucky.

    The path then skirts around a large steep, rocky hill called Gihcbakti. There is a fine waterfall, which you can climb up and stand under, but be careful the rocks are loose and very sharp.

    After this the trail leads downwards and into some woods. Here we started to meet people who were clearly out for a days’ walking, with children and picnic baskets. Crossing a bridge the trail end in a car-park and the E8 will take you into Kilpisjarvi,

A welcome pint of Finnish beer