Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Journey To Fjällen, The Wilderness of Sweden

On Friday afternoon, 9th of July, my hubby decided to travel at the spur of the moment, and so we set out on a journey to the northwestern part of Sweden. We started here from the east coast of northern Sweden and proceeded to travel westward to the northern inland of the country.  We traversed an unbelievable expanse of lands covered all over with evergreen trees (spruces and pines)  and other seasonal vegetation.  We passed by some communities that broke the monotony of vast forests. From Umeå to Vännäs to Bjurnholm to Åsele to Dorotea, then down to Stromsund, then up again to Gäddede. We kept on traveling for hours through dense forests and hundreds of lakes and rivers. It was late at night when we reached Gäddede where we took lodging in a cabin by a lake.

The following day, we moved on to the fjällen (mountains), a series of mountains where trees cannot thrive (just a few surviving ones). The  parts of the mountain ranges that we visited started from Stora Blåsjön to Ankarrede, Stekenjokk, Saxnäs and Stalon. This is only a section of the long tract of the wilderness in the northwestern Sweden where adventurers love to hike and set up camps  and enjoy this kind of overwhelming isolation that is remote from the cacophony of urban life. Here, the spring comes late, so we experienced a second spring  since summer hasn’t arrived yet in this part of the country.

But before we proceeded to the fjällen, my hubby wanted to show me a part of Norway that he had seen before and had charmed him. And so we crossed the border between Sweden and Norway, and dropped by that Norwegian community called Röyrvik, which also hosts  a section of the fjällen.  True enough, it was a wonderful place with colorful landscapes and beautiful rolling mountains! Wow, I felt so fortunate to set foot on a another country even for just a few minutes. The memory of that lovely place has been etched in my mind.

Time to go back to Sweden and to the fjällen. The weather had been  bad all the way and even when we got there, being cloudy and windy. Nevertheless, the wonderful mountainscapes along the way made up for the uncooperative weather.  We  dropped by a few waterfalls, cascades and rivers, and took some photos. We also visited a place where the people of the mountains called Sami (highlanders) live.

At last, we reached the wilderness where only grasses and mosses covered the mountains and valleys. The mountains were still dotted with snows.  As our car meandered through the lengthy asphalted roadway that snaked across the valleys, we spotted some trailers and cars stationed near some little lakes or rivers,or alongside the road, and met other vehicles on our way. There were also daring backpackers starting out on their ascent to the mountains despite the bad weather.  

We’d been traveling for quite a time and it seemed like we hadn’t moved farther at all. A scary feeling crept over me as I stared at those seemingly threatening mountains and as strange thoughts of never being able to get out of that wilderness nudged at me. We kept on driving and yet, it seemed like we were not getting any farther. And to think that my hubby had planned to set up our tent right here in the middle of nowhere! But the bad weather prevented us.

Finally, we came out of the wilderness. What a relief! Yet in some way, I did enjoy being there, feeling the thrill of real adventure. And I want to visit the place again, hopefully in good weather. So we’re back on the regular road again, going past marvelous landscapes, lakes, mountains and forests. This time, we took another route in the north, taking us down to Vilhelmina, a little community that also attracts tourists because of their comfortable camping sites along the lakes. Here we put up our tent, in a camping site called Kolgårdens Camping, where many campers (they had trailers and housecars) also stopped by for a night or more.

This facility fascinated me because there’s no reception room or counter or receptionist. Just take up the phone at the veranda and a voice tells you to wait for a moment and he would come. Tell him what you want and then he shows you where you could set up your tent. Then pay him, and you’re free to do whatever you want there. Simple and neat. There’s a main building with kitchen, dining rooms, toilet, laundry, shower and everything you need. Feel free to use them all. You can cook in their kitchen, get some soft drinks from the ref, but you must pay for the drinks by dropping  an amount in a can beside the drinks. You can also get ice cream, popsicles or ice cones of your choice from the freezer and drop the payment in a box.  Same goes with the souvenirs and books sold there. You can also use their computer. The building is open for 24 hours and everything  there is at your disposal.  The owner really trusts all the customers. I was impressed!

We spent the night there in our little tent a few steps from the lake. It was a calm and bright night, no need for any lighting at all. Before we went to sleep, we strolled down the lake shore to enjoy the serenity of the place. Then we walked around, looking at and admiring the luxurious cottages hired by some well-to-do vacationers. But I was happy to sleep in our lowly tent because that gave me a sense of adventure.

The next day, we started out to go back home. It’s been a brief journey, and yet packed with new experiences and adventures, which drew me closer to nature and to God, the Creator of all these wonderful things.