Fulufjället national park – 3 day hike

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.

Info

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.

Trip report

Day 1

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.

Going up
Coming up above the tree line

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.

C:s teddy – Ninja Nalle
Our camp on the first night

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.

Day 2

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.

Ready to head out
A well deserved break

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.

Tangsjöstugorna

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.

Leaving Tangsjöstugorna

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.

Closing in on the gorge for our second camp

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).

View from our camp
The Ultamid 4 is a roomy temporary home
A beautiful sunset with the Ultamid 4

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.

Day 3

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.

Time for breakfast

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.

The second gorge

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.

The first crossing. It was deeper and wider than it looks

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.

Our last stretch above the tree line

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.

Mosquito paradise below the tree line

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?”

This felt like a wee deserved meal

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.

Freshly showered and fed

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.

Day 4

Njupeskär water fall

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.

Torrential rain on this hike
Njupeskär water fall

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.

C:s first thru hike

Ok, so the term thru hike is probably more or less reserved for longer trails, but this was the first time C hiked the entire length of a trail, so I’m calling it a thru hike for her.

My oldest daughter got a gift card for a spa on her 16th birthday, and was going to Kosta Boda Art Hotel with her mother in late June. At the same time my son was staying a couple of days on “Kortis” (a sort of relief home for families with disabled children). This was a perfect time for me and C to go hiking.

I had found a circle trail just outside of Kosta in the nature reserve Visjön. It’s an 8km trail, and I thought it would be a good trail for two days of hiking with C.

We dropped off my wife and oldest daughter at the hotel, and drove north towards Visjön. We parked the car in the west side of the lake, just north of a shooting range. It had started to rain when we arrived, and the forecast showed rain for the next two days. But C was in a good mood. After a short hike along the borders of the shooting range we arrived at the lake. We turned north and hiked along the esker that borders most of the west side of the lake.

After a while we saw the ground sort of moving. With a closer look we saw that the ground was littered with small 1-2cm long frogs. They where everywhere for a long part of the trail. We tried to watch our steps so we wouldn’t step on them. Every now and then we stopped to pick blueberries.

We came to the north side of the lake, and turned down south on the east shore before making dinner. We had noodles with beef jerkey and cheese. So far we hadn’t seen a single suitable place to set up the tent. Eventually we came down to the parking and info sign marked on the map. On a small peninsula nearby we found a perfect spot for our tent, and room for many more too.

The rain had stopped earlier, but we set up the tent right away, and put up the hammock. This time I had brought the half inner, to be able to get in and out of the tent without having rain falling into the inner. On 2/3 of the vestibule I had a polycro groundsheet for the gear. This was actually a perfect setup for me and C. The half inner was large enough for us, without feeling cramped, and we had a large area for the gear.

I made dinner for us, and then we just hung out in the hammock and eat snacks. It didn’t take long before we both fell asleep.

When we woke up it started to rain slightly, so we took down the hammock and retreated to the tent. C watched Vaiana on my phone while I was reading a book writter by a reporter and a photographer who got kidnapped in Syria a few years ago.

After the movie it was time for C to go to sleep. The rain had started to pour down, and once again I had water seeping through, and dropping down on my face. I was pissed. I had carefully taped the insides where the midway corner guylines attatches and where the plastic struts for the vents are, but still water came through. But this time I saw the source. Water kept seeping through the seams on the top hat, and ran down on the inside of the tent before dropping down on my face. I sent a mail to HMG again, and this time I got the $58 i paid for the shipping back. Since then I’ve taped up those seams too, so I think it will be ok now. But then and there I regretted selling my heavier Hillebergs for this. Hilleberg fans can almost be a bit cultist from time to time, but in the end there’s a reason for it. I’ve had three Hillebergs (and a lot of other tents too) and their quality do stand out.

I was a bit annoyed that the super expensive tent didn’t hold up as expected, but I managed to let it go and go to sleep.

The next morning we had chocolate banana oatmeal for breakfast, before packing up. It was raining heavy this morning. C jumped in water pools as we hiked along.

On the southern section of the trail we came to a large open area that probably serves as a pasture from time to time. There weren’t any animals there at that time, so it could have been a nice place for a tent. The place had an abundance of wild strawberries. We ate a lot, and I could barely get C to continue hiking with me.

After that we had a section of road hiking before turning back north on the esker we started with. C was starting to get a bit tired, but it was only a short hike left to the car. When we got to the car we took of our wet rain gear. C was dry as a bone, but my cheapo rainpants had leaked through, and I might as well have skipped them all together.

This was C:s first hike of an entire trail. We’ve done a lot of paddling, camping and off trail hiking but this was the first time she hiked an entire trail. It went really good, even though her favourite part is hanging out in camp. (It’s actually my favourite part too, when I’m not solo hiking)

Freezing overnighter on a new place

In late November C and I got out on our second camp this fall. I don’t know why really, but we just didn’t get out a lot on camps this fall.

I wanted to try another place this time and decided that we should explore Lundens nature reserve, some 20km from home.

General information

Lunden became a nature reserve as late as 2011, and consists of 492ha of pastures, forests, lakes, waterways and mire. There are old oak trees, lindens, elms, ashes and aspens and a rich bird life. There are bird watching towers near the waters. You are allowed to camp here, except in the fenced off area where the fire rings and benches are at the rest area.

Trip report

At first my plan was to go there on Saturday to Sunday, and spend most of the day there. But the forecast showed rain and frankly quite boring weather on Saturday and Sunday, while it would be clear skies and sub freezing temperatures on Friday.

I decided to reschedule and do the trip on Friday after work instead. It was a last minute decision, and as sun sets early this time of year I had to pack up quickly. I’d never been there before, so I didn’t knew what to expect.

I asked Siri to show me a route to Lundens nature reserve and got a route that would take me 75 min to drive. Something felt really off, considering how close it is, and it happens there’s another nature reserve with the same name in a bordering region.

I found my way though, and drove to the northern entrance that I had looked up on the map.

We parked the car by the northern entrance and started walking across an oak tree meadow that looked like it would be a pasture during the summer. There we found a perfect spot for our tent. But since sunset would be upon us soon we didn’t set up the camp right away but decided to got and explore.

We walked through a small forested area and came back to the trail that lead us down to the lake. Värendsleden, the canoe route that passes our “secret” spot, goes though here too.

We passed the enclosed resting area and came down to the lake. There the trails got narrower, and then split in two. C got to decide where to go, which meant following the right trail.

We got to a small bird watching “tower” that was only elevated ~50cm. Ice had formed on parts of the lake and it was beautiful in the late afternoon sun. We stayed there for a short time before heading back.

Back at the trail intersection we took the other route, that took us to a larger tower. We climbed it, and looked out over the lake as the sun was beginning to set. C wanted us to set up the tent on the platform, but I preferred to set up the tipi on the ground instead. C wanted to stay a bit longer, but other people where approaching the tower, and in these Corona times it’s best to keep distance and not share the platform.

We left the platform and headed back towards our planned campsite. On our way back we passed the resting area, which was now occupied with a group of people.

Back among the large old oak trees we set up the tipi and started to prepare for dinner. Since our getaway was a bit rushed I had only brought freeze dried meals for us. My plan was to try to use a twig stove, since fires aren’t allowed in the reserve. I have previously asked authorities for different areas with fire bans about the use of twig stoves, and got the info that they’re ok to use. I did use a ground cover made of aluminum foil to protect the ground even more.

We gathered twigs, but it had rained a lot lately, and the twigs from the dead trees where all soaked. Despite by best efforts (or half hearted attempts) the fire kept dying. Eventually I decided to cook on the alcohol stove instead. It wasn’t an efficient burn, since I didn’t bring a wind shield, but I managed to get the water to a boil.

We dug in on the snacks while we waited for the meal to re-hydrate, had dinner and then got back to the snacks.

C wanted to play pirate hunter so we did that in the dark, with our head lamps on. Hiding behind the ancient looking trees, sneaking around and fencing with the small twig swords C had picked out for us.

When it was time to sleep we crawled into our sleeping pads and I read the rest of “Det stora tältäventyret” for C. In the book the characters “fuldansar” (ugly dancing) to get warm before getting into their sleeping bags. C decided that we needed to leave our warm sleeping bags to “fuldansa” so we’d get even warmer. Reluctantly I agreed, dreading the freezing cold outside of the sleeping bags.

We jumped and danced around in the dark in the light of our headlamps, under the roof of billions of stars. It was cold, but it really was a beautiful evening.

C eventually fell asleep once we got back inside, but I laid under my quilt and watched Apocalypse Now Reduxe on my phone.

C had a restless night and woke up a lot. The sleeping bag bothered her, she rolled off her sleeping pad and lost her hat while twisting and turning in her sleeping bag. None of us woke up particularly well rested the next morning.

Both tired, but in good mood, a decision was made to skip breakfast. We only boiled water for coffee and hot coco to drink while we took down the camp, and decided stop by a store on our way home and buy breakfast.

We packed the car, said goodbye to Lunden and headed back home where we had a luxury breakfast.

Gear used

(Disclaimer: Below list contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission for purchases made through the links. The gear is bought with my own money for full price though)

On this trip I used the following gear:

The constant chase for the perfect tent

I have an addiction. My great poison is tents, and I’ve bought and sold numerous tents over the years in search of the perfect one. But I don’t think it’s just the chase for a prefect tent that drives me, but also the fact that I really like tents and want to try a lot of different ones. I guess I should have been a tent salesman.

But lately it’s been stressing me with the different tents I have and what to use on which occasion. When I started the search for a 3-4 person tent to have something that both me, C and my wife could share now that C is getting older, I realized that I wanted to clear out the gear shed and minimize my options.

I had a Hilleberg Staika, that I bought to use together with C and my wife, naïvely not counting in how fast kids grows and how tight it would actually be inside when the kids get a bit older. I also bought it because I planned to do ski touring trips in the mountains, but it looks like that’s in a far away future. I decided to sell this one. I’ve discovered the option the rent tents recently, and if I’ll get away on a ski trip where a tent like the Staika is needed, I rent it.

I also had a Hilleberg Niak that barely got used. I bought it before I bought the Staika. I never had a freestanding tent before and wanted to try it out. I thought of it as a solo tent, but wanted to use it with C too. She was used to large tipis and mids though, and thought it was way too small for us. And to be honest, so did I. It was very roomy for one though, but it doesn’t look like I’ll get out on a lot of solo trips. C accompanies me on all my trips lately, and despite not being as calming as the solo trips I love to bring her out and share my love of the outdoors with her. But not getting used, the Niak acted as a bad conscience every time I looked at it. It felt like better use of the tent to sell it, than to have it laying on the shelf.

The previously owned Tentipi Olivin BP that I bought on a whim is put up on sale too (still there if anyone’s interested). I wanted to have it as a small canoe camping or bushcraft tent that’s more portable that its large siblings. I love sleeping in a canvas tent, but since I already have the Safir 5, it felt like an unnecessary purchase to have both of them. I really like it though, but I want to minimize the number of tents in the gear shed.

With the need for tents that are light enough to be used solo, mostly will be used for trips with me and C, but are suitable to use with both my wife and one or two of my kids I decided to have just two tents. I’ll keep the Tentipi Safir 5 as a great tent for car-, canoe- and hot tent camping. I’ve also looked into using the money from the tent sales to buy a HMG Ultamid 4 with an inner if they’ll come out with a discount (missed Black Friday). If it was only meant for me and C I would probably settle with just the floorless bugnet. But since I’m trying to persuade my wife to come with us more often, and she’ll definitely prefer at bathtub floor, I’ll get that one instead.

Hopefully I’ll never look at another tent again after this. It’ll be nice to get back to a lighter option too. I’ve had heavier tents for a few years now, and I’ve missed having a really lightweight backpacking tent.

I’ve also looked in to the option of setting up a UL cookset suitable for family use. Right now it’s leaning towards a Toaks 1600ml pot, a Storminstove cone, base and burner and my Evernew titanium frying pan. It’ll be an estimated weight of sub 450g, which is half of what my Trangia 25 weighs (though I really love the Trangias). I think this will be a nice, stable and fuel efficient set suitable for more outdoor cooking than just freezer bag meals. For solo use (and previous trips with C) I’ve used the Storminstove setup with a Toaks 700ml pot, and it’s a really great setup.

Merry Christmas in advance everyone. I hope everyone is safe, and that we’ll see an end to Corona soon. Until then I hope everyone has the option to get out in nature, at least for short periods, to recharge and disconnect from all the negative aspects we’ve seen this year.