As the month of August was nearing it’s end, the air got cooler and the leaves slowly started to turn we headed north and into the mountains. It was time for the yearly hike with Dans work. It’s a weekend where it’s all about bonding before the school year starts – especially for all the new teachers that have arrived and to show them the wonderful Swedish nature.
This year we were off to go hiking in Vålådalen, located in the southern mountains of Åre. The STF Mountain Station is located at the base of Ottfjället and has been around since 1923 to welcome guests with a warm sauna, comfortable beds and a rustic restaurant. There are also communal kitchens, showers and a camp site on these grounds.
STF Vålådalen – Kyrkstensfjället, 26km
We set out from the Mountain Station and start following the signs towards Nulltjärn. The first part of the hike goes through a forest and it’s fairly easy terrain. The sky was grey and it was a nice temperature in the air. Not having to hike in blasting heat was wonderful. Everyone kept a good pace, stopping only to taste cloudberries or silently look at passing reindeer.
The last 500 meters before reaching our landmark Kyrkstenen (church stone) we emerge from the forest and break the tree line. From there on the landscape changes to a wide and barren one with mountains towering everywhere around us. The arctic cotton sways in the wind and we find fresh streams of mountain water and it is cold and delicious.
We sit down to restore some energy with snacks before continuing along, this is where it starts to ascend even more and the trek get’s a little harder.
All of a sudden this rock appears out of nowhere, emerging out from the mountain. It’s sharp and jagged and looks unlike anything else in the landscape around us.
The legend tells about a Sami couple who went there to meet a military priest in order for him to baptize their son. This way both the child, this rock and the mountain got their names.
After taking in the views by Kyrkstenen for a bit, being in awe of the landscape and the history here, it was time to continue up and across the mountain to loop back to where we came from. Once we got a bit higher we stopped for lunch, coffee and some rest before the back trek to camp begun.
At the end of the hike we came down from the mountain, passed the tree line again and headed back into the forest. As we came around a corner this beautiful river stretched out infront of us and we decided to pause and dip our feet in the water. It was freezing cold but so nice for our tired feet!
When we got back we made som dinner, showered and then went to the mountain station to enjoy some nice, local beers. Just like with most things, a cold beer tastes a thousand times better after a long hike!
I felt very pleased with myself for doing such a long hike in one day, especially with the incline we covered. I loved the mix of forest and mountain landscape, seeing all the different plants and teaching the Canadians about what’s edible and what’s not. Drinking cold water from the streams and watching reindeer pass us by is an amazing experience.
I am just madly in love with Jämtland and the mountains – I keep coming back!