Distance 40km | Time 10.5hrs | Ascent 620m | Descent 680m
It had been snowing all night in Storlien and the streets were deep in snow I skied back to the east end of town, and then where the road crossed the train line I headed north on a ski and scooter trail. Within a km the benign weather at Storlien was replaced by a bitter north wind which picked up the loose snow.
It skied up this deserted trail for a good 4 km until I came to a small shelter. It was open so I went in to get out of the strong wind and spindrift so I could put another wool vest on. I then continued east on the scooter trail, rather than cut across the windswept plateau covered in deep snow with navigation problems due to the poor sight.
The descent down to the isthmus which separated the north and south Rensjon lakes was wonderful. The wind died down and the sun came out. The stark bare plateau soon gave way to a taiga type forest of thin spruce trees of sharp appearance. These forests cover vast tracts of north west Sweden.
Turning north I headed up Rensjon lake with only the occasional scooter bothering me. It was very quiet and peaceful. As I approached the north end an apparition I had been told about appeared. Here in the barren wilds of Sweden was a old hunting lodge built over 100 years ago. Most remarkable was the whole thing was painted pink!
I passed the lodge and met three locals on scooters. They told me the place I was heading, Holmsjostugan was private and locked. However they phoned Skalstugan and arranged a place for me to stay there. It was another 20 km and the time was 1430 already. It was a beautiful day and I would have their tracks and the crosses to follow if it got dark.
I set off up the hill of Ugglan. A sustained climb of 3 km to a junction. By now the sun had disappeared and the wind had begun anew. Indeed the scooter tracks were already filling with spindrift. By the time I reached the hill top 4 km north of Ugglan the wind was up to a force 6, it was snowing heavily and spindrift was everywhere. The scooter track had vanished and the going was difficult and deep.
As I descended being buffeted by the wind I thought the going would get easier. Far from it. The wind increased to a force 7 and the spindrift was everywhere. I could not ski but trudged through the deep snow. Eventually I came to a sign Holsjostugan Privat. So it was locked after all I thought. I didn’t go the half km to find out.
I decided to continue down to Skalstugan which I little hope of reaching but thought if I get down into the forest I could put up the tent more easily, especially if I made the spruce forest. Luckily there were the crosses to follow as the scooter marks had long vanished.
The next 4 km was perhaps the hardest of the trip so far. It was a force 8 now, spindrift was everywhere in swirling maelstroms even the hardy stunted birch trees looked like they were creaking. The snow was deep and difficult. Slowly step by step I edged towards the forest in the twilight of dusk. I reached it after a good hour and a half.
Once in the tall thin spruce the wind eased slightly and the scooter tracks although filled in with snow were visible again. The wind was however blowing vast amounts of accumulated snow off the trees so the air was still full of spindrift. I thought about camping here but it was only 5 km to Skalstugan.
The descent through the trees was still quite difficult as it was almost dark at 1800. Still within half an hour I had reached the lake. I now put my head torch on to cross it. Only 3 km to go. A very windy km across the lake. A simple km up a gentle knoll and a difficult to navigate km down to the Skalstugan through the forest without and tracks towards the lights of the lodge.
Eventually I arrived at 1930 and entered looking like a yeti. The guests and staff were surprised to hear I had come from Storlien through what they described as a storm, but was well short. It was not a hotel as such so I was ushered through to the staff quarters.
The staff could not have been more helpful. I was fed, watered, shown a characterful and rickety room, and the shower. I wrote half the blog then crawled into my sleeping bag and slept like a log.
It had been a long hard day. Perhaps the hardest yet since some of the days in the Setersheine in mid January. Still it was exciting to experience some real weather and come through it. Finally the hospitality of the staff at Skalstugan was quite extraordinary. Rural hospitality one could never find in urban places.