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11 lessons learned - Skiing the Kings Trail, Sweden

In winter, it doesn't get much better than Sweden's magical Lapland. The Kings Trail (also known as Kungsleden) is a 400km route that weaves i... Read more
11 lessons learned - Skiing the Kings Trail, Sweden

In winter, it doesn't get much better than Sweden's magical Lapland.

The Kings Trail (also known as Kungsleden) is a 400km route that weaves its way from Abisko in the far north to Hemavan further south.  It boasts intriguing scenery and stunning mountain landscapes, along with beautifully situated, cosy hosted mountain huts which provide for a fantastic skiing (or walking) adventure. We asked Tav Kelly (KE Marketing Manager) who recently skied the trail, what lessons she learned along the way.

PLEASE NOTE: From 2019 onwards we use snowmobiles for the transfers instead of dog sleds. 

"When I joined this KE holiday, I wasn't really sure what to expect. But it really was a trip of a lifetime. Everything about it far surpassed my expectations. In fact I'd say it's probably one of the best KE trips I have ever been on. I loved the fact that although I was in a group with some lovely people, sometimes it felt like it was just me, the sound of crunching snow and the remote wilderness.  I found I could lose myself in my own thoughts and enjoy a pleasant (occasionally challenging) week of total digital detox. Here are some lessons I learned along the way". 



You're only in Abisko for two nights at the beginning, so don't forget to look up. It's one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights and I was blessed with an amazing light show one evening when walking back to my lodge from dinner. If you keep an eye out you can also see them while staying in some of the huts along the way. In March they are maybe not as active as at other times of year, but I was mesmerised. Trust me, it's worth a nighttime visit to the outdoor loo and the effort to carry a good camera. 



The Swedish huts were far cosier and more equipped than I had imagined. Some of them even have amazing little saunas with small washrooms. You may not feel like stripping off after you’ve got cosy in your hut after skiing all day, but it’s worth the effort to feel warm, relaxed and clean.... and of course, be ache free the next day. Don't forget to take a small towel with you - although, you are in Sweden!



One of the most magical and fun parts of this holiday is that you have dog sleds and there is nothing more mesmerising than watching the mushers drive their teams of Siberian and Alaskan husky dogs so peacefully through the mountains. These gorgeous, fluffy, yet incredibly hardy creatures love a good cuddle after a hard day pulling the sleds and there is plenty of time after skiing to go and give them some attention. They really make the trip special.




It is nice when you have a hut to yourself, but the Swedish tourist board who manage all of the 48 huts in the National Park have a policy that they will never turn anyone away, and quite rightly so when it can be as low as -30 outside in the winter. So it is possible that you will be sleeping in a hut with other groups or individual travellers and occasionally share the same dormitory. Therefore you will need to be as considerate as you can. It helps to find out when other groups plan to make breakfast or plan to leave the next day, plus it's fun to share the hut chores with them like fetching water and chopping wood. 




I'm not talking about when you take away your leftover pizza, I mean the small lightweight bags that go on the dog sleds. Not only do the dogs have to tow all the weight, but you will also find that you’ll use a lot less than you need. You really do need just one spare top, a few undies & socks, some PJs, hut slippers, your toothbrush, camera, medical supplies and a book. We say you can take 7kg in your dog bag, but you could get this down to 4-5kg.  




There is only one thing that could dampen this holiday and that is if you get a blister. Although the Crispi leather hire boots are great, really comfortable and warm, they are at the end of the day not moulded to your own feet and not everyone is going to get a perfect fit. It pays to be prepared and take Compeed plasters, KP tape, bandages and Elastoplast tape. It’s possible you will be one of the unlucky ones (like I was) who may suffer from blisters with the consistent upward motion of your boot. Come prepared with plenty of stuff to wrap your feet and you’ll be absolutely fine. I was. Just remember to wrap your feet BEFORE you get a blister. 




Some of us practically have a heart murmur at the thought of being without text messages, Facebook and the internet. If I have one bit of essential advice, it would be to embrace this. Prepare everyone at home that they won't hear from you for 6 days and relish in the peace and quiet. No beep from texts, no annoying ringtones, just pure silence and the opportunity to enjoy your group's company. However much I missed my partner while I was away, I was disappointed to see the telephone mast at Kebnekaise Mountain Station and the feeling of heading back to reality.




It's on the equipment list but do remember to take ski goggles - ideally ones with a clear or persimmon lens and not ones with polarised ones. You’ll definitely need these if the weather turns bad and for the super exciting snowmobile ride from Kebnekaise to Nickaloukta on the last day. What a way to finish... 




Remember, you are in one of the most unique and beautiful places on the planet, Swedish Lapland, filled with frozen waterfalls, icy lakes, sparkling snow-covered mountains, Northern Light shows and remote Sami villages. It's easy to keep your head down and look at your skiis, but remember to stop, take a breath and admire the magnificent scenery all around you. One of my favourites was the valley following the downhill section after you have left Tjakja hut en-route to Singi. It was truly mindblowing.




The confusion of what gets packed in what bag can be a little daunting. Don't worry - we have all the information clearly listed on our equipment lists. But these are my suggestions. Take 3 bags. Bag 1, your main bag, should be a large wheely suitcase or KE trek bag. This is what you will pack everything into and leave stuff in when you head off on the tour. Bag 2 is your small bag (or dog bag) and should just a few personal items for the tour only, weighing no more than 7kg. Bag 3 is your rucksack which you will carry on your backs every day. In this, you'll carry a sleeping bag, thermos flask, roll mat, medical kit, down jacket, warm top, lunch, water and a share of the group’s safety equipment. A 60l rucksack is ideal. 




Go for a little sledge at Singi or have a snowball fight at Salka, laugh at each other as you fall over on the downhills or end up knee-deep in powder snow. This holiday has a lot of fun opportunities when you have finished for the day, as well as enjoyable skiing. 

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