I have talked about walking alone for some time now… Actually, since I first started hiking the Swedish mountains. But I never got around to it. Until now.
Since this would be my first time up alone, and also because I was on a bit of a budget, I decided to go back to Grövelsjön again. Easy to get to cheaply and also familiar, which felt safe and comfortable.
I had a bit of equipment upgrade for this trip.
- Therm-A-Rest Z Lite mattress. An instant hit. Light, compact, not very expensive, and warm. Apparently some people have had problems with condensation in the small “egg shell holes”, but so far I haven’t seen it.
- Primus EtaExpress stove. All thumbs up here. Fast, light and… and… just good, OK?
I also decided to make it a fairly short trip. Going up to Grövelsjön over a day, staying at STF (hostel) there over the night, hike around Töfingen (lake) and its wild life preserve, and then back. Day by day:
- To Grövelsjön, stay the night at STF
- Grövelsjön -> Hävlingstugorna -> Slagufjället
- Slagufjället -> Spångkojan -> Nedersthån
- Nedersthån -> Grövelsjön -> Home
Sound easy huh? Well, it was and it wasn’t.
Day one; Travel on
So… Train to Borlänge, another train to Mora and then 4 hours of bus 170 to Grövelsjön. Total travel time, aprox. 8 hours. Whee!
But in reality, it’s not that hard. I’m getting quite good zoning out and just passing time when traveling. At least as long as I have earplugs or head phones to shut out conversations around me.
The trains where uneventful. The bus…interesting. This was after all a Thursday evening, which meant that there weren’t many people on the bus to start with and they just dropped off. From Idre and onwards there was me and… the driver 🙂
I’ve stayed at STF before. A nice place. Helpful and friendly people. However, this time I was only slightly disappointed by the dinner. A hamburger which left a lot to wish for. Dry, tasteless and rather sad. But I did have a Belgian very dark, very nice beer (Bernard?) to it so that’s alright 🙂
Update: If I whine about the ‘burger, I absolutely must mention the breakfast: It’s excellent! Really, really nice. 5 out of 5 on my personal scale.
Most other guests seemed to be day trippers. This was a bit off season of course. But surprisingly many guests there, which is nice.
I slept very well thank you.
Day two; Overcast and warming up
I followed the trail east of Jacobshöjden up to Hävlingstugorna. Or rather, I went off track immediately slightly west of the real track towards Jacobshöjden. Could have been a bad idea as the terrain there is rocky.
Oh yes, I learned that, and no one is going to be surprised by this, Grövelsjöns name probably comes from the Norwegian word gravel which means stone or rock. You can just image someone looking at the place thinking “oh dear, this is a rocky place indeed, what shall I call it?”
I hit the track again north of Jacobshöjden and continued. The tracks leading out half a day from STF are all well walked “highways” making for good speed.
I lunched at the lean to north of the bridge between Hävlingen and Särsjön. The day was overcast, but now the sun decided to honor me with a visit making the quiet little meal a treat.
I had opted for bought dry food for this trip for convenience. Worked well.
The part from Särsjön east to Slagufjället looks like its going to be easy, but be warned, you’re now outside the day-tripper area. Also, this is a wild life preserve. It was very beautiful, but also rather hard to walk. And I now started a game which lasted for well over 24 hours called “spot the path” 🙂
“Spot the path” reached its peak late afternoon when I decided to take the small track down to Töfingen and have a look. Oh dear, you wouldn’t want to try to hurry about that path.
In the end I struck tent behind the east-most lean to. And started to relax.
Two things to note at this part of the tale: It’s getting dark early. It’s getting cold over the nights. Which meant getting into the tent at 2000 or so. I had bought a small lantern for the tent time which was very comforting. Also I had Douglas Adams as an ebook. Which also was nice.
The night was cold with the tent covered in frost in the morning. It was very nice, but I was slightly unprepared, and problem is: When you wake up at 0400 in the morning realizing you’re slightly under-dressed, you still really don’t want to get out of you sleeping bag to fix the problem. It’s much easier to just lie still and hope for morning 🙂
Day three; Hard to come by
Nice weather. The path up east through the birch forest towards Spånhkojan was lovely in the morning light. Here the calm of the mountains reached me, I figured I’d been slightly nervous the first day, but having survived the first night with flying color I started to relax.
Through the forest to Spångkojan the path was again rough. Not hard to spot, just… fairly rough walked. But nice and varying.
For some reason I had figured that going up from Spångkojan following Storån would be a little bit easier. I… was wrong. Dead wrong 🙂 The first 3 kilometers or so of that particular bit was surprisingly hard. The path was occasionally hard to spot (the game continues), climbing over boulders, under stocks, getting across moors. You got the whole package there.
In fact, I met passed an older guy at the end who seemed almost chocked. He had very much *not* counted on the toughness of that last bit.
After Töfingån came down the path got a lot better and I started to make up lost time (remember, it get’s dark early, you don’t want to be caught without your camp setup after nightfall).
I planned to make camp at approx. the same place as two years back. I found the place although I couldn’t pinpoint the exact place we had had the tents. But I remember to surroundings well. In fact, I think I must have been very close indeed, the stone in the brook where I washed up looked decidedly familiar 🙂
As it went I found a very nice spot among the birches. A spot which didn’t get frost for some reason, in the morning a could see frost all around, but not in my little copse.
The evening was spent with La Boheme -69 (Pavarotti, Wixell) and sundown over Slagufjälet.
Day four; Homerun
Since you tend to wake with the sun when you also go to bed with the sun, I have now witnessed my first sunrise in… Er.. A long time apparently 🙂
Blazing sun and clear skies. Also, again within day tripper range of STF which meant nice paths again.
I passed on the path cutting north west of Storvätteshågna and straight home. In fact, since I really didn’t want to cut it to close to my bus departure, I made sure I had plenty of time and arrived 2 hours early at Blåkläppen just above STF. So, I stopped, had lunch and promptly laid my self down for a bit of a siesta in the sunshine. Lovely stuff!
The bus down to Mora was packed. This was Sunday after all, and every student and their dog needs to get out of the woods back to civilization. It went alright though.
The calm of the mountains stayed with me for the train trip as well. I didn’t mind it being late. Or packed. I had my head phones and my peace.
Aftermath and after thoughs
So, how was it, doing it alone? It was very nice. Although… I had hoped for some sort of… I don’t know, revelation? Nothing big mind you, but I know how the lonely wolf inside me can feel when the large vistas opens up before him. Exaltation. Freedom. You get the picture. But I figure that didn’t happen, and perhaps for a very simple reason: I’m a fairly high-controlled guy, I like thinking before doing. I like knowing what and how to do things. And exaltation and revelation is more, in my experience, of *not* tightly controlling things. And perhaps alone in the mountains isn’t the best time for me to let it all go with the wind eh?
But don’t get me wrong, the second and third day had some truly lovely moments. Also, going alone puts a very real edge on every step you take, it’s for real and no messing up my boy, or there will be trouble of a kind sheltered city-people like me aren’t really prepared for. I like that edge. I like it a lot.
There’s a small problem with my tent as well. When you’re out this late, condensation is always going to be with you and in a small tent (in proportion to you size) you absolutely cannot get always in the mornings without touching the inner tent when dressing. Meaning you’ll get wet. Also, a small tent (again in proportion) makes it hard to relax in the evenings and/or rainy days. My next late autumn solo walk I’ll consider carrying a two person tent despite the extra kilos.
The whiskey for the trip was Morrison’s Islay Legend, a blend of Islay whiskeys based on Bowmore. Quite good, I’m sipping it now as well 🙂
Yes, we have pretty pictures!
The aftermath? Well I came back late Sunday, emptied my back pack in my living room (this includes the tent, separated, which needed to dry out). Worked 12 hours a day for two days and then disappeared to Fano for the choir tour with St Jacobs CC. I still have camping gear all over my living room 😀
Will I do it again? Oh hell yes!