Neither C nor my wife have been hiking in the mountains before. My wife likes daytrips, but aren’t too fond of the camping part. She still joins me and C from time to time though. And this year, with Covid stopping our usual trip to Athens we decided to go on a hiking trip in the mountains together. Our oldest daughter preferred to stay at home, and our son was away on camp. I had scouted different areas that would suit beginners that wasn’t several days of driving away. Fulufjället National park was 8-9h drive from home, and seemed to be a fairly easy hike. As always we do things spontaneously, and we didn’t decide that we would go hiking until a couple of days before going.
Fulufjället national park is a mountain plateau situated in Dalarna in the southern parts of the mountain range, next to the Norwegian border. The park has the highest waterfall in Sweden, the 93m high Njupeskär waterfall. Here you can also find the worlds oldest tree, the 9565 year old spruce tree Old Tjikko.
There are several hiking routes, from 2-24km, but you can mix the different trails to a suiting route. The main entrance is at Njupeskär, where you also find Naturum. The park has different sections with different regulations. In most parts of the park you are allowed to camp, but not in the most frequently visited parts.
We packed the car the day before, and left home at around 04.00 in the morning. Without breaks, it would be an 8-9h drive and we wanted to get there early enough to reach the plateau in the first evening. I had made an own route that would be some 24 km hike, and I expected us to spend three nights in the tent. In the end we only did two nights, since C hiked on in a better pace than we expected. At the end she would be the one with the most energy left.
I didn’t want to start at Njupeskär, since I expected it to be very crowded now that a lot of people where going on Swecations. Instead we would start at entrance at Brottbäcksstugan, south of Njupeskär, hike west to Särnmanskojan, then south to Tangsjöstugan, east to Göljåstugan and then back north, past Klotjärn and back to the car at Brottbäcksstugan. We were not going to use the cabins, but I wanted a route were we would pass cabins and privys every day, to have the option of a little more luxary if we would get tired of camping.
I really looked forward to the trip. I’ve wanted to bring C to the mountains for a long time, and I had really missed them myself. I haven’t been hiking in the mountains since 2017.
We arrived at Brottbäcksstugan around 15.00 and prepared for the hike. There were a few cars on the parking lot, and in the distant I could see the mountains. The first sections went through a forest, but the trail soon turned uphills and the trees became smaller and more scattered. The sides of the mountain plateau is fairly steep, and it didn’t take long for us to get up above the tree line. The views where amazing. It wasn’t the tall sharp snow covered peaks of Jotunheimen or Sarek, but soft and rounded tops. But it was mountains and vast views, and I had really missed that. I felt a rush of joy to be back in the mountains, and I was really happy that I could share it with my family.
It took an hour to reach the plateau, and once we reached it the wind kicked in. I didn’t know how far C would want to hike, so I started to look for potential camps sites pretty soon. The ground was very uneven with lots of wet parts, so finding good spots for a large tent wasn’t easy. But I did find a few spots that I marked on the GPS for potential future trips.
But we kept hiking, as both C and Maria wanted to keep going, and eventually we reached Särnmanskojan. It just an emergency shelter, but there where a few people there. It’s also an intersection for several trails, and as we had our break there a lot more people passed and a few of them stopped to set up camp around the cabin.
We considered setting up camp near the cabin, but Maria wanted to keep going after our break. So after a short rest with snacks and a visit to the privy we turned south and started to hike towards Tangsjöstugan.
Near a few ponds, over a small ridge a bit away from the trail we found a nice flat spot for our tent. There were another couple in a tent across the pond/lake, but we didn’t want to go any further and risk not finding a good spot before nightfall. A mistake I made so many times before.
I gathered rocks to anchor the pegs, since the soil layer was thin and it was hard to get good grip. The pitch was terrible though, but I didn’t see it that night for some reason. The fly flapped like crazy all night. I fixed it in the morning though, just for practice.
When the tent was up we made dinner, and then we just hung out in the tent before going to sleep. I got up once in the middle of the night, and despite not being extremely far north it was still fairly bright outside.
After waking up I saw how bad my pitch was, and tightened everything up just for practice. I had only used the Ultamid 4 a couple of times before, and I thought it would be good to work on my weak spots when it comes to pitching.
I made Krabbelurer for breakfast and then we packed up. We continued hiking south towards Tangsjöstugan, with a few breaks here and there on the way. C would loose her energy every now and then, but as soon as we started to play something while we hiked she went on like she would never stop. At lunchtime we arrived to Tangsjöstugan. No one was there, and we explored the cabins. It was really nice and I can imagine what a welcome sight it must be for someone coming in from a storm.
We made dinner, and several groups came passing by or stopping for breaks. We chatted a bit with a German couple that had hiked for 2 weeks I think, that were heading north.
After the lunch break we turned east towards Göljåstugan, another emergency cabin. We took frequent breaks, and me and Maria was starting to get more tired than C. We thought about stopping sooner, but still wanted to go to the cabin.
The cabin was at a height near a gorge and the view was stunning. There where good places for the tent nearby and we decided to stop. Maria wanted to continue at first, but I thought it was better to camp out there than to try to push our selfs to the limit. We had done calculations on both the map and the GPS, and come to the conclusion that we should be able to reach the car the next day.
I had been starting to feel ill. I’ve had some fluctuating health issues with stomach aches and frequent infections since a year back, and it had started to act up on the drive to Fulufjället. During the second day I was starting to feel worse and it was a bit hard to fully enjoy the trip.
But dropping the backpack and making camp felt wonderful. And this time I got a drum tight pitch of the tent (unfortunately we didn’t have the slightest wind that night).
We made dinner and chillaxed in the tent. The mosquitoes where abundant so having the roomy full inner of the Ultamid 4 was wonderful. We kept the doors of the fly open until it was time to go to sleep, to enjoy the view.
The next morning we packed up and headed out. We had studied the map, and knew that the first section would go through vegetation, and then through a sea of boulders. We would also have a river crossing further on. The sign showed a longer distance back to the car than we had measured on the map and GPS, but with our remeasures we still got the same shorter distance. We hoped it would be okey to hike all the way back to the car without straining our selfs.
After the boulders we came up on the plateau again, before heading back down into another gorge. The river was pretty wide, and split up in two with an island in the middle, so we would have to do two crossings to get over.
C had been a champion this whole trip, but the crossing the river really scared her. There were fairly large waterfalls both above and below us. “I can’t do it! I’ll break! I’ll break like a twig!” But she did it. After spending some time persuading her she would let me help her get over. Unfortunately though the got one boot in the water and filled it. She was scared when we came to the last crossing, even though that crossing was a lot easier. But after a while she came over.
We came up from the gorge and took a break after a while. A German woman came from the opposite direction and stopped for a chat. She asked if we had Compeed, since she was getting blisters. She had left hers in her tent, and was only going for a day hike from her camp. She got a couple from us, and continued south.
The trail started to go downhill for us, and we came down below the tree line. And now we had mosquito paradise. They where out in full force as soon as we stopped. I was getting worse and worse and it really took its toll, and I could barley eat. C was the one who were in the best mood. We regularly measured the distance om the map to the car and understood that we would make it back in a descent time. As we got closer we also got cell reception and I started calling hostels nearby to find a room for us for the night. Neither one of us longed for another night in the tent with a freeze dried meal.
We stopped at Klotjärn for lunch and from there I could find a room in a hostel at Särna Camping after calling around to several other places closer to Fulufjället. In the end I think we hit the jackpot in getting there since the food and the staff was amazing.
After booking the room we hiked the last stretch back to the car. In the car we had a bag of vanilla buns in a cooler. And they tasted better than vanilla buns ever tasted before. The bag didn’t last long.
We sat in the car and drove to Särna and the hostel. We checked in, took showers, changed clothes and went down to the restaurant to eat dinner.
I might have had some prejudges against campings and the kind of food they’ll serve. But this camping really ended that prejudiced. They had all sorts of local specialties, with moose, reindeer, local fish and local beer. When we came down to the restaurant we could hear another couple praise the food and exclaim how it exceeded everything they could have expected. As the burger lovers we are we ordered burgers and the local beer Härjebrygd. The food was amazing, and I don’t think it was solely because we had eaten freeze dried meals the days before. We had a dessert of Kolarbotten. Vanilla ice cream with kolbulle (a sort of fried bread), Messmör caramel sause and fried pork. It sounded so weird we just had to try it. But it tasted so good. The waitress came back after a short while, looked at the empty bowl, smiled and asked C: “Did you get to taste anything, or did your patents just devour everything?”
The hostel was situated next to Klarälven, one of the largest rivers in Sweden, and there was a nice little peninsula with a beach. We had fantastic weather and after dinner we strolled along the beach while C played in the water line.
We were tired, and as it was getting late we wanted to go to bed. C however wasn’t tired despite hiking 24km. “I’m still so full of energy” she exclaimed, so I stayed up with her a little longer so she could play at the play ground.
We aren’t sponsored or anything by Särna Camping, but I really have to give them a shout out. The food was great and the staff really was super friendly and welcoming.
We had decided to skip Old Tjikko, but still visit Njupeskär waterfall on this last day. We’d had wonderful weather our whole hike but this morning we woke up to torrential rain. We had our packed up, left the hostel and drove to the main entrance. Despite the rain there were already a lot of people there.(a couple of weeks later the lines would stretch several kilometers). We did consider turning back, but since we were here we wanted to see the water fall. A long portion of the 3.9km round trail is accessible with a wheel chair.
After a while we reached the water fall, took a few photos and then headed back to the car. On the parking lot we met a group that was on their way to the water fall and they asked us if it was worth hiking there in the rain. We didn’t really know what to answer as we were wondering that our selfs.
My expensive Montane Minimus jacket had kept me mostly dry except for a few wet spots. My cheapo rain pants though had wetted through completely and I felt like I could as well have gone without them. After the trip to the water fall we headed back home, and spent the rest of the day in the car.
I’ll write about the gear we used on the trip in a separate post.