(Originally posted on /int/ - archiving here as per request)
I went to Lapland at the end of August/beginning of September to walk the northern part of Kungsleden ("The King's trial" - see pic2).
I went by train all the way from Copenhagen, catching the night train from Stockholm (see pic1).
I also decided to take all the pictures on film (Kodak Ektar 100; see also pic3 - the camera/lens I used), so it has taken ages for me to have everything ready for an IWO.
There are many details, so I will post them as I go. If you want a higher res version of any of the pics, just say so.
Please enjoy. :3
The train journey up was in itself a big part of the trip, since it lasted so long and we ended up in a cabin with some friendly guys. There's not much to say between Copenhagen and Stockholm, since that's just on SJ's high-speed tilting train. Kinda cool but I have done it a thousand times.
So we start in Stockholm Centralstation, and in pic1 the night train is pulling in. I've never been on a night train before, so I didn't really know what to expect.
2 - A view of the platform. The wagons to the right were the kind I would be spending the journey in. The side facing the platform is a hallway kind of thing, and the rooms have their windows on the other side of the train. There were quite a few other people with huge backpacks as well. I think particularly at this time of year, most of the people using the train have a similar purpose.
3 - View from the cabin, towards the platform. The cabins had slide-open doors which were very nice. We kept them open for the duration of the journey, except at night. It's cool to see other people walking by as well. There were many young people.
I should add at this point that quite a lot of the pictures are only from the train. I was a bit stupid and thought I had brought 3 rolls of film with me on top of the roll I had loaded in the camera, while in fact it was just 2 + the loaded roll. In the end I think this was kind of a good thing because I tried to take really nice photos on the actual hike.
I want to talk about the process of getting the pictures from film to Krautchan too. I have been shooting film for quite a while, but I decided that I wanted to get a modern 35mm film scanner so that I could also digitize the stuff on top of printing it. I did think about just paying the guy at the lab to do it, but the prices were really astronomical. Rightly so, as I found out, because the whole process does take an awfully long time.
So I bought a Konica Minolta DiMage Scan Elite II (pic1) from some guy on DBA (Danish eBay/craigslist basically). To get this machine to work was already a fucking mission. Konica Minolta dropped out of the film scanner market and stopped supporting all their models beyond Windows XP. On top of that I use Linux, so I had to do all kinds of bullshit with VirtualBox and shitty Windows XP drivers. Eventually I got it to work.
2 - Here you can see what the scanning process looks like. The raw scans at maximum resolution come out as >200MiB TIFF files. So I have an external hard disk hooked up as well. The actual scanning is not as tedious as I thought it would be. A lot of people online complain about it, but the scanner I have is one of the best you can get without spending thousands of dollars so it's pretty good at automated work.
4 - I scanned all the images with only dust-removal settings on the scanner software. This is what the shitty software from Konica Minolta looks like. I didn't have it in this mode most of the time though. After a while you can just set up a scanning profile and click a button. The software then describes the entire scanning process in the form of just a progress bar and some info text. The output is NEGATIVES.
3 - Then I loaded it up into Photoshop and used this fantastic plugin called ColorPerfect. Long story short, it's written by some autismal applied mathematician who was annoyed that no computer image processing software knew how to handle colour properly. The results are incredible though, as you will see. It says trial version, but I ended up buying the full software (for real - I couldn't find a serial/crack online anywhere) for 70euro.
OK, back to the actual IWO! Sorry if you do not care about the film stuff, but it was a big part of this process so it is therapeutic to describe it in the process.
1 - Another view into the hallway window. The arm you see is that of one of the guys we were sharing our cabin with. When we (I was with another friend) boarded there were just two other guys sitting around. They were from France, but their English was superb so we immediately started talking and getting to know each other. I was really happy that it ended up this way, since on such a long journey it would be so boring if the people aren't talkative!
2 - Here's a view from the cabin window. It was really nice to watch the world go by and see how things change as the train goes north.
3/4 - Just some stupid pictures of railway power lines. Most track is electrified in Sweden. (For example, Inlandsbanan is not.)
>that feel when these carriages are from the 70s. I get the same feeling when I see the huge locomotives pulling them saying "ASEA" on the side. Built to last, and it won't brake for no fucking snowstorm.
Right!? I really admire SJ. Their rolling stock is incredible, as is the whole service. It's also remarkably cheap if you consider price per km. :3
You'll notice most of the photos are kind of shitty so far. I was using ISO 100 film, which is really not good for the kind of low-light or fast-moving shots I was making on/from the train. Still, they will suffice until we get to Abisko. Oh, more on the route a bit later too.
1 - At Gävle, another guy boarded the train and joined our cabin. He was a Swedish guy going up to Björkliden to volunteer at the station there for a few months. He's the one on the left with blonde hair. The guy whose face is a white box is my friend I was with. I don't think he wants me to post his face online, since he is camera shy as it is. The other two are the French cabin-mates. We didn't have anybody take up the 6th space.
2 - After not so long you really become in a way best friends with the people you are sharing the cabin with! It got dark outside but we talked until late, played cards and drank beer. There was a detailed map in an on-board magazine on which we tracked our progress. Sweden is fucking massive! :DDDD
3 - One of the French guys had this classic as well.
4 - A common view from the train. Some of the views were much more fantastic though. I don't think I was good at getting pictures from the train window at all.
>It is very interesting, but why don't you use a digital camera? Sure, it looks like you like it, but a digital camera would be much more simpler and cheaper.
It's kind of a hobby I suppose. But I think you will agree later that some of the results are great :3
In any case my friend brought his digital camera, so I wasn't worried. I would have reconsidered if it was just me, since film can be unreliable and I may have ended up with no photos had something gone wrong.
Yeah, the delays on the night train were crazy. But I figured this was mostly down to it being single-track from Boden onwards, more or less.
Yes, it would not survive. Does Sweden still make locomotives?
>yeah, but they have a lot of problems with delays because of poor maintenance of the tracks, but it's mainly in the more heavily trafficked part south of Gävle. also they don't run the pussyfied high-speed trains further north than sundsvall. it's french-made so it probably wouldn't run in temperatures below -20 °C.
Yup. What you have is really special though. I really admire how clean the nature is in Sweden, and not just in really remote places.
1 - I like this shot.
2/3 - There are countless cabins and houses like this all the way along the line. I think it would be really cosy. I used to live very close to a railway line, but still not that close, so maybe it would just be annoying. I guess they aren't always in use either. I would very much like one, though.
4 - To me it seemed like the train made very many stops for such a long-haul journey. I think that's great too, though. Total opposite doctrine to most railway companies, I think.
1 - same station
2 - nice pic too :3
3/4 - just some more railway pictures... fug, it gets better I promise :DDDDDD
1 - I'm not sure where we are anymore on the line, but almost there I think. I seem to remember this being close to Kiruna.
2 - The line weaves through/past tons of beautiful lakes as well. You can kind of see one of them here, through the trees.
3/4 - nothing special
>Why are the colors so.. weird?
I am new to the whole deal of processing film scans, so a lot of it was learning by trial and error. I did it in order intentionally, so hopefully the results are a bit better towards the end. Most of these early pics are low-light photos though, so the colours probably got a bit fucked up by me in an attempt to bring out more detail. Particularly on some of these early pics I was fucking up the saturation a lot.
Of course everything will look different to digital stuff though. I think it's hard for it not to look like it's from the 70s.
1/2 - At this point on the line - as I mentioned already - it's single track. So there was a lot of stopping and starting so that freight trains could get past, or vice versa.
3 - Of course, the Swedish guy likes his snus.
4 - Another lake.
1 - another lake
2 - power lines and deforestation
3 - more power lines. end of the first roll of film - shit!
4 - I think we're close to Kiruna here, because this looks like civilisation.
4 = this
1 - very cosy :33333
2 - blah
3 - oh no, we weren't as far as Kiruna yet.
4 - a view of the platform at Gällivare
I'm glad you guys like it so far. It really means a lot to me.
>Judging from this guy's tribal tattoos I guess he's about my age, which would be late 20s.
Yes you are right, although I don't remember the exact age myself.
>I don't think trains are made here any longer. ASEA merger and became ABB and then they moved headquarters to Switzerland. I think they do some engineering here still but most of the production is probably abroad.
ribs in peas
1 - a nice shot of the hallway in our wagon, plus my French cabin-mate
2/3/4 - finally some better shots of the lakes! they are so much more breathtaking in real life though. I think even the finest choice of film and the best eye for post-processing would not do them justice.
>Sweden >fucking adopt me
>Jesus Christ, that first pic. I've seen a lot of houses in Sweden that look like that. Jesus Christ, I wish I lived there.
This was the predominant feeling I experienced during the whole trip.
4 - one more remark. You can see from this picture that the train starts to climb up here, which produced some really brilliant views. I think building such a railway line must be a real privilige. On one hand you must be careful not to disturb nature, but on the other hand you get to select the most exquisite views that will be enjoyed by travellers for literally hundreds of years to come.
Anyway, onto this set.
1 - things also start to get mountainous!
2 - stupid trees blocking a nice view
3/4 - no comment
1 - mirror mirror on the wall :DDDD
2 - the water in this part of the world is mesmerisingly blue.
3 - AND WE ARE HERE (Abisko turiststation)! notice many other people got off here too with their hiking equipment.
OK so, the route. Look at this map again (I also posted it at the top). I walked from Abisko - way at the top - down to Singi. I then went eastwards to Kebnekaise and finished at Nikkaluokta. In total it was about 110km I suppose, and it took 5 days of walking.
Background: Kungsleden is a famous hiking trail that extends across the valleys of the mountains to the north of the Sweden-Norway border. The route I chose is the most popular one, so there were quite a few other people along the way as well. At first I thought that this would kind of suck, but really I think it was the perfect amount of busy. Of course, some people end up having the same pace, and so I ended up talking with some of the same people every (other) evening.
2 - it was really satisfying to see this sign for some reason. No, the rest of the trail is not really signposted in this way.
3 - goodbye train (it terminates at Narvik)
4 - boom - first proper shot of Lapland! now things get more interesting.
>Noice, reminds me of Scotland
Yes, the landscape has many similarities with what I have seen of Scotland! (I've only hiked through parts of Skye and West Highlands though, the rest I just drove through)
1 - more bedazzlingly blue water. Since we are high up at this point, it's possible to drink pretty much any water - even from lakes! Not only that, but it's really tasty. I just walked around with a sort of sports water bottle and filled it up as I went. There was never a point where I couldn't find water quickly when I wanted it.
2/3 - two things to say here. Firstly, notice that there's trees. The trail gets higher in altitude pretty quickly and one emerges above the tree line for 90% of the rest of the way.
Also, I think this picture is close to the first "mountain station" judging by the little hut. Along the trail you have marked these places which look like towns on the map, but they are just small outposts. All of them are really spartan, but they have the necessities. Some even have little stores with supplies. All but two of them along the way had sauna as well, so this is why nights were spent in their vicinity. They usually also have beds for the night, but they cost an incredible amount of money and we had tents anyway.
>why dont they have trains like that with the seperate cabins here anymore
Well, only the night train wagons are like this. The regular sitting wagons are just the same as in the UK.
Well, in principle anyway. UK trains are awful in every way (at least FGW, Southwest trains, Chiltern railways are).
1 - I think you can call this a mountain
2 - nice view
OK, a bit about the first night. It was a long day because of the train ride and then 15km of walking, so it was nice to set up camp and unwind. The station had a sauna, so I sat there for a good 1-1.5 hours talking to various people as they came in and out. In particular I was talking with this guy from Göteborg who was explaining to me how to have the perfect sauna experience. So after a while of melting, he suggested we go outside and jump into the freezing cold lake next to the sauna and swim around for a few minutes. That sounded great, so we went and did that.
I have never been in a sauna before this point by the way, but I was really pleasantly surprised. It was awesome to jump in the water and splash around for a bit. We then went back in for another half hour or so, and then once more back in the lake to clean off. And let me tell you - I have never felt so clean in my life. It's like being a fresh newborn baby or something. (In a figurative way anyway - newborn babies are covered in blood and uterus fluids and shit.)
3 - sometimes there are these very charming metal suspension bridges when there is a big river crossing. They are marked on the mountain maps
4 - oh, mountain maps! here, this is what they look like. I only used the one on the right.
1 - while still below the tree line, Lapland is a bit jungly in a sense. it's not humid, but there's a lot of undergrowth.
2 - onwards!
3 - delicious (glacial?) water
4 - this is looking back from where we came. You can see it's quite a climb up. This day was quite tough, because the ascent is seemingly endless. It's so satisfying at the end, though, and then you realise after all that work, that there are no trees left!
ah, another remark
1 - yeah, there are these stupid birds everywhere. They are really cute and they absolutely love rolling around in dust. They aren't very afraid of humans so you can get quite close.
1 - looks quite cloudy, but we were really blessed with the weather. there was not a single drop of rain during the entire trip. I spoke to a guy somewhere further down the trail who said he had 30 years of experience hiking here, and I asked him about our luck with the weather. He said that in all his time hiking, it had never been this good at this time of year. That was extra impressive because earlier in the year there are shitloads of mosquitoes which make the experience much less pleasant.
2 - I think I have a habit of putting too much sky in my shots. It's especially bad because I think film is more sensitive to blue than other colours. (Might just be black and white film though, not sure...)
3 - this shot turned out nice though
4 - yes, you see right. That's two girls on BIKES! These two German girls did the whole trip with their bikes. I spoke with them quite often along the trip, particularly in the evenings. At the end I asked them what % they spent actually riding versus just pushing, and they guessed about 5%... :DD
Yes man, go outside. This was one of the best things I ever did in my life. I came back reinvigorated in every faculty of both body and mind.
1 - these metal posts with red X:s on are the markers for the winter trail, when the whole place is covered with snow. Sometimes they deviate from the "summer" trail. The summer trail is mostly marked with stones just slapped with a bit of red paint, but really it is so well trodden that it's impossible to get lost for most of it.
2 - these bushes are everywhere. I think they are evergreen because they are really hard and tough. would not eat/10 if I was some herbivore creature living up there.
3 - kind of a shitty pic due to composition, but you can see there's some kind of fence here. It's marked on the mountain maps too. I think it's to keep reindeer in a certain area. I believe some of them belong to sami people in some way.
4 - no comment
1/2/3 - no comment
4 - first reindeer we saw! They are not timid at all. Ended up seeing very many actually.
>You don't know how jelly i am. Fuck you, fuck my poorness.
In the grand scheme of things the trip was very cheap. Transport there and back was about 210EUR. If you have hiking gear already (you don't really need much - tent, stove, boots, that's it), then the only necessary extra cost is food. You can feed yourself along the way for really cheap too, if you plan ahead.
1 - cute :3
2 - majestic!
3 - this was an amazing camping spot. Thirsty? Just walk 5 meters to the water and refill!
4 - morning. The focus on this picture is pretty stupid - I think I thought it would look cool or something. You can see what my tent was like as well, and a blurry image of my backpack. The backpack is very special to me as well actually - it is from my mother's father who died in 2003. He used this backpack for many years when hiking in the mountains of Yugoslavia. Now I use it! It's very good, so no replacement is needed.
>- Did you have to book the huts beforehand or could you just go there and get a room/place to sleep? Did you have a tent?
I had my own tent, yes. In this case you don't have to pay, or maybe you have to pay 100SEK, to camp on a nice spot next to the station and use their facilities (namely sauna - there's not much else). As for the beds, I never slept in them but I talked to a lot of people that did. From my understanding, at that time of year there was not really much problem just rocking up and booking a room. But earlier in the year (around June/July) I think it might be necessary to book ahead.
>- Was the trail crowded or did you have long periods of time without other people? When you do a tour through the Alps you quite often meet people for example
It was by no means crowded. When I got to each station I kind of wondered "oh, where did all of these people come from?". But it's not dead either. I guess I passed about 5-15 people a day. Like I said above, I don't think it's bad. I quite liked it - the balance was just right IMO.
>- Did you bring your own food or could you order and resupply at the huts?
Yes I did, but I underestimated a bit because I was really hungry from all the walking. Some (but not all!) stations have little stores where you can buy all the supplies you might need (dry meals you add hot water to, gas, chocolate, bandages, etc.). Understandably they are very expensive though. I think only one of the "proper" stations (i.e. ones that weren't at the start/end of the trail) served food along with the bed for the night. But they have really spartan kitchens which consist of some buckets of water, a gas stove and a few plates.
Frankly I think the luxury offered by the stations is minimal. It's just nice if you don't like camping, but you kind of have to do everything else the campers do. Like prepare your own food, shit in the disgusting outhouses, and so on.
1 - same lake as above. Nice beach here.
2 - this is a Sami village I believe. Somebody told me that they only live there during the winter, so in this photo nobody is living there.
3 - this is Alesjaure mountain station. I didn't stay at it, but I spent an hour or so there relaxing and it by far seemed to be the best equipped. I could even pay for something with my card. I think next time I will try and camp in its vicinity so I can try out their sauna.
4 - we're heading for Tjäktja!
>Do reindeers sometimes attack you?
They didn't attack me, but I think they can. Probably I was a bit stupid to get as close as I did at some times.
1 - since the stations formed a kind of checkpoint in the journey, I kind of think about each part in its own way. For me, the trip to Tjäktja was quite gloomy (in a nice way) and kind of rocky. A bit like Mordor too. You'll see what I mean.
2 - nice rocks
3 - the orientation of this picture is a bit of a mindfuck. The water is flowing from bottom to top. Fuck me, I'm thirsty. Gonna get some more water.
4 - no comment
1 - I remember this being at Sälka station, but from its position on the roll of film this can't possibly be the case. Anyway, charming i think.
2 - big and empty
3 - some parts of the trail are paved with these wooden paths, mainly when the terrain is prone to getting wet I think. Oh yeah, and often when you take a step on one then a lemming or two run away from underneath and scuttle about. They're kinda cute. Speaking of lemmings, on the first night I saw them running over my tent which was a bit freaky. They ate part of my friend's tent.
4 - what are these?
1 - Mordor
2 - and here we are. There was a very muddy ascent to this station! The station is in the background, and there's a great big gorge thingy in the way. You have to go over a bridge like the ones I have photographed above, but it was really long and flimsy and part of it was supported by planks of wood which did not fill me with confidence. There was a warning sign saying that only one person should cross at a time.
3/4 - leaving Tjäkta, there was another bouldery ascent for a short period of time. Once you get over it, you end up at the tip of a valley. From here to Sälka was the best part of the trip, and by far the most beautiful place I have been in my life. I hope the pictures do it some justice.
another remark on 4 - you can see to the left some kind of sign post. This is one of many "meditation spots" along the way, and they are clearly picked carefully. I wish I was into meditation so I could sit there and get the full experience. Maybe next time. (I am definitely going again!)
1 - it's incredible how flat it becomes here, so high up in the mountains
2 - I like this picture
3 - oh yeah, this picture is definitely at Sälka! You see, I also celebrated my birthday up there in the mountains. We left Tjäktja quite early and arrived in Sälka early afternoonish. I bought a bunch beers at the station boutique (of course "necessities" includes beer - they had a lot of beer). The rest of the day I spent just relaxing in the beating sun (it was so sunny and bright and perfect), talking with my friend and then later some other people that came by. Of course my beers were served at the perfect temperature, chilled by the river at my feet.
I had a shitload of Marabou chocolate as well, because it's my birthday. Then in the early evening I went to the sauna with this German guy I had met at the very beginning of the trail. We sat in there and talked for a good hour and a bit, then jumped into the river nearby to cleanse ourselves. I mentioned in passing to him that my sleeping bag wasn't good enough for this trip and that every night was too cold for me. As it happened, he was treating himself to a bed for that evening and so he INSISTED that I borrow his sleeping bag and slip it over mine when I go to bed. Of course, his was made with feathers and down and therefore the comfiest sleeping bag ever. He was really pushy about it, and consequently I had the best night's sleep of the trip. What a great birthday present, huh? Anyway, after the sauna I went back to my tent and then played cards and talked shit with these two German biker girls for an hour or so did they want the d?.
All in all, probably one of (if not THE) best birthdays I have ever had. I didn't have a worry in the world, because I was up in the middle of Lapland and all my troubles couldn't get to me :3
Moving on, I went to Singi - which was a really shit station and nobody was there - and then east towards Kebnekaise. Kebnekaise is the tallest mountain in Sweden.
1 - this mountain is right next to Kebnekaise I think
2 - no comment
3 - standoff :DD
4 - on the right - Kebnekaise
1 - forgot this pic
I didn't really take many photos beyond this point. My camera was kind of annoying me so I kept it in my backpack for this day between Singi and Kebnekaise I believe.
Kebnekaise station is shit. SHIT!! It has none of the charming features of these previous stations. It has running water, high speed internet, central heating, a reception lobby where you have to take shoes off... totally different. The reason was abundantly clear though - the clientele were completely different from those we had seen on Kungsleden. Everyone seemed like some punk city slicker, wearing his freshly pressed never-before-used Fjällräven hiking pants and fleece. Meanwhile us two assholes show up stinking to high hell with our three pairs of underwear each and so on. Kebnekaise is very close to civilisation, so people come to visit it from the other direction.
I sound very holier-than-thou here, but really the attitude of the people at Kebnekaise wasn't nice at all. Everywhere before on the trail, people would say hello when you passed them, strike up conversation, smile, and so on. Here, nobody said hello and people seemed to have their barriers up. Not cosy at all.
Anyway, from Kebnekaise we walked to Nikkaluokta, which is not that far from there. Nikkaluokta is a small Sami village and it has a kind of visitor centre which fulfills the purpose that the mountain stations did before (i.e. somewhere to poop). Of course, at this point we are back in civilisation. I treated myself to a hot cooked meal from some old Sami woman - sauteed smoked reindeer. It was mega salty and mega delicious! We stayed here for two nights because we were ahead of schedule. A nice relaxing end. The last two nights, I saw the northern lights. Truly a perfect end to a perfect trip.
2 - this is my last photo of the trip. The two German girls with their bikes.
That's all! I hope you enjoyed it. I will monitor the thread and answer questions, etc. if you have any.
All the pictures are in here though.
Thanks for all these nice pictures!
noice. Thanks for sharing!
This is awesome.
Quality thread, very much enjoyed it. I'd hit the girls.
Good fred. I have many travelling pictures myself, so I might get around to making an IWO or two soon.
Just wanted to let you know that your postcard has arrived, thank you very much! :3
Sweet! Sorry for being so slow with it. :3
Would like to do some shooting up north or in the Baltics with you one day or another :3
If you're shooting Nigon we can share lenses too (Don't worry they're all FX, so you can use them with film bodies too).
Wow, that would be seriously cool. Listen, I don't check this thread so often but you can always hit me up on [email protected] if you're considering doing something like that. I'm in Copenhagen most of the time, so also if you're in the area I can at least buy you a drink. I also do biking trips on a semi-regular basis when the weather is good - usually loops starting and ending in Copenhagen, with assistance of trains.
Oh, and I have two Nigons - one digital (D40X) with the stock lens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikon_AF-S_DX_Zoom-Nikkor_18-55mm_f/3.5-5.6G II - it's nothing special), and one film (F-600, the one I used in this thread, with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikon_AF_Zoom-Nikkor_35-70_mm_f/3.3-4.5 - also nothing special). I don't have the financial capacity to invest in lenses really, so by extension I don't really know much about selecting them. I also have 3 cool lenses for an old Praktica B100 which I had break not so long ago (that's what I bought the F-600 for). I can dig them out and post them if you're curious. AFAIK they aren't compatible with many other cameras.