Breaking limits in Vålådalen
Joined a friend's trip to the Vålådalen nature reserve at the last minute so we drove up there and hiked for 3 amazing days.
Unfortunately, due to a foot injury my friends decided to take a shorter hike through the middle of the valley after the first night, while I pushed on alone towards the mountains, managing a whooping 38.58 km on the last day, thus breaking my personal best daily hiking distance record.
Map + stats🔗
- distance: 65.94km
- climb: 858.3m
- descent: 835.15m
Day 1 - August 21st, 2020🔗
- woke up super-refreshed around 6:45
- it is nice to sleep in the silence. Need moar SILENCE!
- massive breakfast, they have cashews (the nut that sneezes)
- found the sauna + jacuzzis
- started the hike with a fair segment of road walking where we got to know each other a bit better by chit-chatting
- reached the shore of lake that had sandy beaches and stopped for a breather, then continued East, keeping the Nulltjärnen lake on our right side
- the trail passed through forest, going down to the water level occasionally, very beautiful!
- had lunch near some big boulders and was nice to chill in the Sun and have coffee. And also to test the chili peppers on my companions.
- after a while we got high enough that forest gave way to a marshy / stony area, with great views of the surrounding peaks and after this we reached the Stensdalstugan STF station
- passed a lonely hiker with crazy blue eyes
- had a chat with the attendant who tipped us about a fire pit in the nearby forest, ready cut fuel available at the station, the weather, etc.
- clouds rolled by with great speed
- "it is better to burn out than fade away!"
- appears on Niel Young's track Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)
- Cobain apparently used the phrase in his suicide note :-(
- Claes' comeback from the station nap, regarding the STF attendant:
- "she said we can get some wood from her!"
- blonde country girl with a funky sweater who smiled the pot-stirring smile
- so we traversed the entire forest to the East looking for a proper camping spot within range of an "official" fire pit (apparently the only places where fires are allowed)
- spotted it, but was way too close to the station, so decided to push on a bit
- almost exited the forest again (thus risking wind exposure) when we found a flat hilltop with access to water and signs of previous fire (albeit without a pit, but with a large boulder shielding on one side)
- called it home, deployed the tents and started looking for fallen branches to Gomboy for fuel. Added way to much fuel in the boot-up phase of the fire, so gusts of wind would result in roaring flames.
- Andrew grew really concerned by this and started pissing water all over the place, including the remaining fuel
- got it under control in the end and cooked and ate all but one pack of sausages
- was cool to summit a hill with the evening Sun
- was nice extending a hand and helping Andrew up the big boulder at the summit
Day 2 - August 22nd, 2020🔗
- woke up pretty refreshed considering the super-windy night spent in the tent
- managed to pack the bag super-fast by changing the strategy a bit:
- food bag and quilt bag now go to the bottom, along with the kitchen
- all remaining clothes go thru the top next
- that leaves the tent bag to be added last after exiting
- decided to go lone wolf because the rest of the group was going for a route that I considered to easy and it was also avoiding all the mountainous region that I really wanted to see
- thus, I started to hike West towards Gåsen
- first people I met along the way were going in the same direction (which they re-confirmed) and were stopped for "picking berries" half way on a steep incline. Eh, we all need to take it easy and rest during difficult segments.
- it was really nice to gain a bit of altitude and see the entire valley open up behind be, including all the forest we've been through yesterday
- talked to a nice Swedish girl, who had impeccable English accent (so much so that she was surprised when I asked here where she was from) when arriving at the first emergency stuga, around noon, and asked her about the situation. She mentioned 3 ladies are inside, but it's OK to share.
- after entering and chatting up the ladies a bit, they suddenly decided to leave (was I really stinky or what?)
- one of them offered to look up the phone number for the Gåsen stuga (which needed to be booked in advance due to the plague), but unfortunately it wasn't on the reservation papers she had
- while lunching, a bunch of nice people with dog entered the stuga, that I have now added on facebook and will be good candidates for trekking meet-ups around Stockholm
- cracked some jokes, laughed about an instant coffee incident they had, and even donated some of the chili's I had brought along (way too many for a single person)
- ended up making the cabin reservation from behind a rock where there was luckily 1 or 2 bars of reception and enough Internet to get the payment to go through
- going against the wind for 12 straight kilometers was hellish but I persevered
- arrived at Gåsen around 15:15 and there was no-one at the reception, just a message (in Swedish, which I had to google translate) that people who arrive early should just pick any cabin in the big house, which I did
- after boiling the remaining wursts and having them with crackers, free senap from the kitchen, ketchup and fried onion flakes I took to napping in an eerily-empty cabin
- and woke up to a double rainbow 🌈
- the STF attendant looked like a character from Tolkien
- bought a bunch of little chocolates + the STF badge and checked myself in officially (turns out she had allocated the rest of the rooms, so I ended up being alone in my cabin)
- spent the evening reading a lot of The Long Earth and wondering why people have to trample when they walk, when the effort to cat-walk is minimal and produces far less noise
Day 3 - August 23rd, 2020🔗
- woke up with the alarm clock at 5:00 and managed to resist the urge to snooze. Long day ahead!
- fucked up the hike direction from Gåsen and getting very pissed off
- why? I assumed that just because some clouds turned pink in one direction then that must be where the Sun was coming up, and since I was traveling East...
- lesson learned: look up where you're going before going, either by finding an indicator post sign or by using a compass
- returned to Gåsen after 6 useless kilometres sweaty, tired and pissed off and started straight away on the correct trail
- minutes later, encountered a fairly difficult river crossing that could use some boarding up
- scrambling wet rocks in trail runners
- crossing the Vålån river Linnéa style, getting water up to knees, thinking "this is it"
- but then also thanking evolution after making it for giving my feet such nice traction even on wet rock
- making it into a wide, lower valley where trees start to grow again, with great views and a bit of Sun as well. Thanking the Sun God.
- as I was approaching the Vålåstugorna STF station - a bird that spooked the shit out of me by flying from a nearby bush
- lunch at the station while the dirty socks and soles were "drying" out in the wind
- talked with a granny from Finland who was at her 70th hike (!)
- cloudberry advise + eating cloudberries
- annoying marshy portion on the winter trail right after leaving Vålåstugorna. Could use with some boarding
- great views over the eastern peaks from the western ridge
- met another granny who said I was the first human she saw that day
- lots of reindeer. Clopity-clop
- made it to the forest
- at some point stopped and looked to the right to incidentally find a giant flat boulder perfect for a Snickers break + a bit of lying down
- MRE dinner near the last bridge over the Vålån. Finished all the spring onion and ate a bunch of chili's too
- rushed the last 6km to Vålådalan to make it just in time for dinner at about 19:20
- saw a deer-deer in a crop of woods while switching from the trail back to the asphalt road, very close to the human settlements. It ran like hell.
- dinner was nice and varied but I had to cut it short after eating to go have that long awaited shower and crash to sleep