Trip report Vålådalen 2016

My trip started from my home in Jönköping, Sweden, on the 9th of September where I drove up to Jon’s cabin in Jämtland about two hours from Vålådalen. It was an easy drive up north and I arrived at the cabin around 11pm. Once there I lit a fire in the fireplace and sat down on the sofa and had a beer before going to sleep.

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I got up the next day at 7am, had some breakfast, packed the last things in my backpack and got in my car. It was so dark when I got there last night so I didn’t realize that fall had actually come a long way up here compared to home. Was excited about this because that would mean that I could expect vivid colors out on the trail. The morning was clear and the air was cold and damp, you could see for miles.

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9/10, 10 am, Vålådalen mountain station, my feet are starting to carry me out on the trail going south. It was quite many people on the parking lot preparing to go out just seconds after I arrived with my car half an hour ago. Fortunately they all went further south towards Lunndörren so just after five minutes I was completely on my own. I didn’t see another person for almost two hours, did however see two mountain bikes leaning towards a tree but didn’t see the owners of them even though I lingered a little at the spot.

Walking alone for the first time like this and knowing I’m to be out on my own for about 7 days is both really exciting and also a little scary. Not knowing what I’ll encounter and what kind of problems that might arise. My biggest fear, gear-wise, is to break on of my trekking poles because then I’ll have some real issues with pitching my tent…

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At lunch time I’ve arrived at Stensdalen mountain hut, alone. Met up fairly quickly with the hut wardens before they set of with their kid out onto the fells. The weather was warm and cloudy, perfect for hiking! After leaving the hut I meet a few groups coming in to stay the night in Stensdalen. They said that the trails up north have been swamped with people over the weekend. Today it’s Saturday and I won’t be coming up on any big huts until lunch Sunday, hopefully by then most of them will be going home, back to work.

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Stäntja with Sylarna in the horizon. Gåsen mountain on the left and Tjallingklumpen on the right

Around 4pm I reach Stäntja (emergency) hut and just before that I see my first deer in the wild that I’ve ever seen in my life. It was a surreal feeling. Not knowing how many I’d see later on I was really hyped about it. Coming up on Stäntja it was now time to go off trail to my predetermined campsite. The plan is to camp  between the two mountains Gåsen and Tjallingklumpen where there’ll be low ground and easy access to water.

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The climb up to Tjallingtjärnen is quite easy and I meet up with a lot of deers grazing on the hill sides. They’re about as surprised to see me as I them. 1,5 hours later I arrive at my campsite and it’s more beautiful that I could have ever imagined. I haven’t seen another human being for the last four hours and I’m starting to get used to being alone out here.

I setup the tent so I have a nice view over Lill Ulvåfjället and if I go back up the trail a little I can see Sylarna. 8 hours on the trail, 6 of them actively walking resulting in 27.2 kilometers.

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9/11, my brothers birthday. It’s been raining quite heavy since around 11pm and I’ve woken up several times due to the rain hitting the tent so hard. That’s the downside with cuben fiber. When the rain hits it it’s quite loud at times compared to silnylon. It just stopped raining as I woke up and when I looked out the door to the west it looked as it was about to let up completely. I never looked east though, then I would have realized that it wasn’t gonna be the case…

Breaking camp was done in really bad weather, raining really hard and the wind had really picked up. The raindrops hurt when they hit my face due to the windspeed. It was almost coming down horizontally. I think I’ve never broken camp that fast in my life before, haha.

Walking towards Storulvån mountain station was quite tedious not only because of the rain. The trails were completely soaked in mud and because of the mountain bikers they were also at times destroyed to the point where you couldn’t really use the trail itself. After the first river crossing I made a poor decision to go up on Lill Ulvåfjället where I thought that I could scratch off a few kilometers of walking compared to going on a car road but that was not the case. Due to the rain that mountain side was completely filled with water. It was a no-go and after a few kilometers I felt it to be too dangerous to stay up there as the winds were picking up and also if I fall over and hurt myself I would be hard to find. I decided to go back down again and use the road.

I lost a few hours here and I was quite disappointed at myself making a “big” mistake like that. After walking on that road for about a kilometer or two I took a break and rested my feet. Hello there my first two blisters! I could also feel some pain in my left ankle but nothing too bad at the time.

I reached Storulvån at around 1 pm and the rain had almost stopped. I went inside and it was filled with people coming in from the trails around the area. Everyone being just as wet as me. Most of them were going home after a weekend hiking the Jämtland Triangle. I stayed here for about 1 hour drying up and resting my feet. Blister-control. As soon as the rain had stopped and the sun had come back up again I got back out on the trail. I grabbed a power bar and some nuts and pushed on north up the southern side of Getryggen with my goal set for Snasahögarna where my plan was to make camp for the night.

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The view down south towards Storulvån mountain station.

But, yet again I had made a bad decision. This “trail” was really hard to walk due to the rain so instead of getting there faster I never made Snasahögarna. I found my way back to the trail in the west just due north of Snasahögarna hut where I took cover and had dinner as another rainstorm came in. I was really beat at this time and really thought about what the heck am I doing out here… After the dinner was ready and I gained new energy all those negative thoughts were gone just like the rain. Note to self, eat!

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I set up camp just south of that hut on a small “island” just next to the trail and I went to sleep at around 7pm. The night was calm and quiet but cold. I slept like a baby.

32km, 10 hours and 6.45 out on the trail walking.

9/12, waking up to a nice and cold morning, windy. My body feels good and I’m rested. However my left ankle hurts like hell and is a little swollen. Painkillers.

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After I got on the move and my muscles started to warm up the pain got easier to handle. Still feeling every step I take but as the nice views of Sylarna started to show up I soon forget about that. I have a quick stop at Ulvåtjärn hut, drying my feet.

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The trails are really muddy. Have sunken down in to a mud hole on my way here, my left leg was covered right up to my knee in mud. I meet the first hikers after a few hours and one of them is walking alone so I ask her to take a picture. The sun sitts really high now and it’s really hot. Probably around 18 degrees celsius at 10pm.

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After a 5 minute chat we set of in different directions again and it takes about an hour before I meet someone else. The trails are not crowded at all, I feel relieved.

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Oh deer.

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Sylarna, just south of the mountain station.

I arrive at Sylarna mountain station around lunch time. The plan was to go up on Sylarna and setup camp there but because I never made Snasahögarna yesterday I’m about half a day ahead of schedule. I talk to one of the staff at the hut and he recommends me going up on one of the ridge lines on Sylarna to get a good view west into Norway and from there go down south and camp somewhere around Ekorrdörren hut.

The wind was picking up again and my left ankle still hurts like hell so I decided that I’d seen what I came here to see at Sylarna and instead try to get a better view to the east and inwards towards Sylarna from a higher angle. There’s this mountain just behind me to the east called Herrklumpen (1 288 m) where I figured I’ll get that view. And oh did I get a good view over the area. Not disappointed at all leaving Sylarna for another time.

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Coming down from Herrklumpen, view south east, Helags in the distance (left).

Pushing on towards Helgs now. The views are really nice but it was hard to find a good campsite. Just like always I walk further than I planned ending up at a good spot for the next day with an awesome views of Helags.

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Campsite for the night, awesome view!

I parked my tent just north of Mieshketjahke (say that one fast) around 5 pm. Having actively walked for about 5 hours, 30.88 km.

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9/13, decided last night that I would have a slow morning and sleep in as I was so much ahead of schedule, 1.5 days right now… More painkillers, my left ankle is really swollen right now, even worse than last night.

The night was calm and quite cold. Around 2am I woke up to a deer close to my tent barking at me. It probably wondered why I was there sleeping in his or her spot. It left after a few minutes but still scared the crap out of me when it started shouting at me so close by.

The morning was warm and calm. Could feel as soon as I woke up that it was gonna be a hot day. I brought everything that was wet or moist out of the tent and pegged my quilt to the ground to dry as there was a light breeze and I was in no mood to run an chase it if the wind picked up.

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As soon as I had breakfast I left. The first river crossing was just 50 meters from the tent, with dry shoes for the first time in two and a half days I did my best and managed to get across without getting my feet wet. Hooray!

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Mieshketjhakies hut

The road to Helags is dominated by vast and open landscapes. I wondered how it would be out here in the winter when the wind is blowing. I guess you can’t really see much.

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“Härjedalen”

The weather was awesome and the views are even better. Arrived at Helags hut without meeting anyone on the way there and it was about lunch time. A few fell runners came in about 20 minutes after I arrived and I was no longer alone. Well, I wasn’t really alone before that either because there was a deer that didn’t show much fear of humans as he was in the middle of the hut complex standing in the shade. Every now and then he set off on some mission to the north and came back in 1o minutes or so and went back to the same spot as before. He just stood there. If you haven’t seen him move earlier you might misstake him for being a stuffed animal.

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I sat there at Helags mountain station enjoying the view of the Helags glacier. The southern most glacier in Sweden. The plan was to go up to it and have a look. That was the one thing that Jon really wanted to do when we planned the trip here. Unfortunately Jon got a really bad cold or something similar and couldn’t make the trip. I had this vision in my head the night before that I would be on top of Helags standing next to the glacier and calling or texting Jon that I was there. Yet again I fear for my foot as it was hurting quite badly and I had increased the amount of painkiller that I was taking. There was a uphill trek towards my next campsite so I figured I might have the same luck again as the day before if I went up there.

The original plan was to climb Helags and then camp just south of the mountain station. But this morning I said to myself, yes literally, being alone makes me talk to myself, and my fellow deer friends that I come across, that if I don’t feel like it I’m just gonna push on and go up another mountain instead. So that’s what I did.

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After going up that hill to the east I got a great view into the “crater” of Helags. I kind of wished that I had gone up there because it revealed that the glacier was much bigger than what you could see from the mountain station. But I was in good spirits and also had a big eagle circling above my head going quite low so I could see all the details on its wings. All this kept me pushing on with a smile on my face.

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The walk was good, I had the sun at my back, a slight breeze was blowing with warm winds and I was completely alone.

As soon as I got down from the high ground it went completely silent. I had to stop several times just to listen because the only thing I could hear was my own footsteps and my trekking poles touching the ground. Otherwise there was nothing. That’s a really weird feeling that can’t really be explained. It has to be experienced.

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My planed and actual campsite for the night was just north of Ljungan hut and on the south-eastern slopes of tomorrows climb, Härjångsfjällen. I made a quick stop at Ljungan hut before trying to get my bearings on a good spot for me and my tent. The walk was tougher than I’d imagined but I came there fairly easy in the end. It was not the best or should I say the flattest ground but I managed to find a good spot in the end. The scenery was spectacular. Helags in the distance with the sun setting is an amazing view, I tell you.

Two days ahead of schedule, 5.5 hours active walking, 33 km.

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harljangsfjallen-map9/14, last day of the trip (not planned to be the last). Woke up fairly early and had breakfast outside of the tent as the sun came up. It was getting warm really fast and I could feel that it would be a really hot day.

I broke camp and had the previous day set a direction to go up on Härjångsfjällen. I went in the “middle” so to say between the two peaks. It was completely still, the air didn’t move an inch and the hillside was totally exposed to the sun, it was a sweaty climb. Even on the first peak I reached there was no wind but as soon as I got to where I wanted to go the wind was really moving and I needed to use my wind jacket not to get too cold. I thought I was alone on that hilltop but no. After a minute or so 5-6 deers came up from the northern side to say hi. I moved down on the north-eastern slope parallel to Tvärhammaren that looks more like a sword rather than a hammer that the name points towards.

dsc00592_16-09-14I followed the river down to Härjångsån which I crossed, quite deep and fast moving. Made my way towards Vålåstugorna and halfway there I met up with an old man who solo-hiked with a big backpack. We both stopped and chatted for 15 minutes or so about the trails and where we both were going and have been. He was headed towards Norway just west of Sylarna.

I reached Vålåstugorna not long there after and made a quick stop. It was around 1pm or so when I reached it. The original plan stated that I should make camp just north from there and go via Lunndörren the next day and home. But there was nothing interesting to go and look at right there so I made the decision to push towards Lunndörren and back to Vålådalen mountain station and home, 2 days ahead of schedule.

So that’s what I did. The trails were quite muddy and damaged from the rain that came down on Saturday. One might think that it would have dried up a little but that wasn’t the case.

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I arrived at Lunndörren mountain station quite late, it was longer than I’d expected. I don’t think the signs was completely right because it said something like 15 kilometers to Lunndörren from Vålåstugorna but it was more like 16-17 kilometers. I don’t recommend the trail between those two places or even up to Vålådalen. A waste of energy. In hindsight I should have gone back up to Stensdalen where I came in. I didn’t do this because I didn’t want to cross the same place twice.

The sun was starting to set when I reached Lunndörren. I grabbed a power bar, more painkillers and two handfuls of nut mix and started walking again. I even tested my head torch before setting off because I was sure that it would be really dark before reaching Vålådalen mountain station.

The sun started to set and the trail was filled with roots and rocks so I didn’t want to get stuck out there in the dark. I picked up the pace and that really hurt my ankle but as it was only like 13 kilometers left I tried to ignore it the best I could.

I reached Vålådalen mountain station about the time it started to get really dark outside. I had made it just in time! I went up to the hut and managed to get a sandwich and a cup of coffee before heading down to Jon’s cabin. Mission complete!

The last day consisted of 9 hours of walking and 43.8 kilometers. Just past 10 hours since I broke camp around 1o am. Tired but really happy. A personal record.

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