Our last day here, and the last few hours of skiing our favourite runs one more time, before we head back home.

Weekends are the best because the slopes are so empty. And the first few hours of the day are the best because the snow is in better shape.

Kläppen in general has been quite uncrowded, actually – there’s noticeably fewer people on the slopes than in Idre for example. But there are also fewer runs to choose between, so I’m not sure which to prefer.

See that little pink-clad figure going down that large hump in the middle? That’s Ingrid. And this is the main snow park in Kläppen, apparently the best in Sweden. I feel no desire whatsoever to go skiing there myself, but it is quite nice to float past it in a ski lift and watch the pros do their flips and twists and tricks. Plus there’s music.

The snow park is Adrian’s favourite part of the slopes here.

Ingrid and Adrian both attend ski school again, and they are advancing by leaps and bounds. Ingrid is doing parallel turns now, and her group goes down red runs and even some black ones. Adrian has gone from snow ploughing straight down to making proper turns, and just generally skis a lot better. More control, better balance, more confidence.

Eric snowboards, and is struggling with the equipment this year, so he has been staying on the green runs and even took some days off to rest in between.

I started out on greens as well but Kläppen doesn’t have many so I got bored and had to branch out and explore the blue runs. By now, after some practice, I actually like them better than the greens. It’s taken several days for me to rediscover my skiing skills and to remember the helpful tricks. For example: I am a better skier with my goggles on, because I ski faster when I am wearing them. (Either I subconsciously judge speed based on how the air hits my face, or I subconsciously feel safer at higher speeds with the goggles to protect me.) Also: I ski better when I consciously get into an even rhythm for the turns, by counting or simply going “turn, turn, turn, turn” in my head.

Too bad it will be a year before we go skiing again, and by that time my muscle memory will be all gone again.

We go out almost as soon as the lifts open at nine and ski until late afternoon. After an hour’s break around four o’clock, the kids want to ski some more. Most lifts close at half past four, but some ski runs are lit and stay open until six. Those include a nice little stub of a run right next to our cottage. It is literally a minute away. (For future reference: we stayed in one of the cottages at Sjungarbacken.)

This late in the evening there are hardly any skiers here and no queues whatsoever to the platter lift. Up and down, up and down, with no downtime in between. It’s an easy “blue” run, suitable for the whole family – and it has a little snow park! The kids love the snow parks here at Kläppen and could probably spend half of every day going over the humps, over and over again.

Skiing and snowboarding in Kläppen.

The temperature is a few degrees above zero, and clouds come and go. Quite balmy compared to last year’s Arctic weather. The snow is rather mushy as a result, especially on the sunnier slopes. Some green runs that are nice and leisurely in the morning turn into messes of mushy piles of snow later in the day, quite hard to navigate.

After several weekends of wanting to go for a walk but having to do other things, I actually got out today and walked section 5:3, from Hemfosa to Paradiset.

It was a beautiful day for walking – a few degrees below freezing, overcast but still relatively bright. The temperature has been below zero for a while so the ground was all firm rather than muddy. And the ground was covered with a fresh blanket of fluffy snow. I love walking on untouched snow, and that feeling of being alone in the forest.

There was a stretch in the middle where the trail went along roads, which I didn’t much enjoy, but most of it was pleasant walking through the usual fir-pine-bilberry-rock forests. This section of the trail is quite far from major roads and the commuter train lines, plus the snow muffled any remaining noises, so everything was wonderfully quiet.

The fresh snow and the lack footprints meant I could see a lot of paw prints instead. Fox, hare, squirrel, deer, and even moose I believe, plus tiny prints of unidentifiable tiny rodents.

All was great except lunch, which was very cold. My big mittens are warm and weatherproof but impossible to hold a spork with, so I had to switch to gloves, and even though I ate as fast as I possibly could, I felt like my fingers were going to turn into icicles and fall off. It took me a good while to get them warm again afterwards.

The last part of my walk went through the Paradiset nature reserve. I don’t know what it is about that place – it’s the usual pine forest over granite, but somehow it manages to look prettier than other similar forests. The moment I cross the boundary of the nature reserve, it’s like the pines become more elegant and the snow lies extra fluffy on their boughs. I noticed the same effect when section 3 crossed into the Tyresta national park.

The trail passes by Tornberget which is apparently the highest point in the greater Stockholm area. There’s a viewing tower with views of nearly endless flat pine forest in all directions. Uniform and not particularly interesting.

As usual the official distance is one thing and reality is different, what with having to actually get to and from the trail. The section starts where Sörmlandsleden crosses a public road, but it’s a kilometre from the train station to that spot. And the section ends in the middle of the forest, not even near a road of any kind, so there’s one kilometre to get to a road and then another to the nearest bus stop. In total the 15 km trail section became a 18 km walk. Starting at 9, finishing just before 15 – perfect use of daylight hours.

Lunndörren to Vålådalen, 12 km. Today was a short day because I had a bus to catch in the afternoon.

Heading north, mostly through forest and across small bogs. Steadily downhill all the day, which made for an easy walk. Quite soon I left winter behind me and was back in an autumn forest. Pleasant but quite unexciting after the past few days’ dramatic experiences.

Near the end of my hike, where the trail crosses Vålå river, I got to try an experimental ropeway. Normal bridges are expensive to build and risk getting damaged or swept away by ice and high waters. A ropeway hangs higher up and is therefore less likely to be caught in a flood.

It worked well enough but dragging me and my pack and the “basket” across was hard work and took about ten times longer than walking across. Given a choice between this and a normal bridge, I’d rather walk, but if the choice is between this and wading then I’ll take the ropeway.

Ropeway on the left, bridge on the right:

Day trip from Lunndörren to Pyramiderna / Issjön / Grönvallen, 18 km.

The snow caught up with me here today.

I wasn’t planning to be here and didn’t really have a plan for the day. I need to be back at Vålådalen by the end of tomorrow, and there are no huts within reach of a day’s hike of here and Vålådalen. So I did a day trip. The hut host had some day trip proposals and I picked one that did not involve going higher up.

Issjödalen was supposed to be this beautiful valley, the highlight of this route. I saw nearly nothing of it since I had the wind in my face and was keeping my head down and just plodding along. Quite definitely the least enjoyable part of today, and of this entire hike. I was glad when it was over. This is my only photo from this section of the hike and the only way to get it was to turn around and face backwards, away from the wind.

As long as I wasn’t in a wind tunnel, the hiking was good. It was still windy, of course – the photos look quiet but reality was anything but. My clothes were flapping and the wind was whining around my hood all the time.

Today was not at all what I had in mind, but definitely memorable. There is something about hiking in challenging weather conditions that appeals to me in a way I cannot really explain.

The day felt almost unreal. Emptiness and snow all around me; the paths all hidden by snow and no people or even footprints to be seen. I could almost pretend that I was alone in the world.

The world consisted of three colours: white, gray, and the gold of birch leaves.

Vålåstugorna to Lunndörren, 16 km.

This is what I woke up to this morning. Snow everywhere. And although you can’t see it in the photo, there is more snow coming, and it is accompanied by a fierce wind. Knud is apparently staying here a bit longer.

The hut host came in with the weather report: continuing storm winds from the west and more snow all day. My planned route would take me straight west, heading straight into the teeth of that wind, plodding through deepening snow. At best this would be a very unpleasant hike; at worst it could be deadly since I have no winter safety gear with me.

Nope. I’m not going to fight this weather. If the wind is from the west, then I’ll head east, and my plans can go… wherever abandoned plans go. Not only will I have the wind at my back this way, I’ll also be heading down rather than up and get some shelter from the forest.

Whenever I got out of the forest, though, the full force of the wind hit me again. But I had it at my back so it mostly didn’t bother me, as long as I kept moving. (Glad I packed my warm gloves and buff and fleece hat.) It snowed much of the time but I was just below the snow line and heading even further down as time passed, so the path remained clear and easy to walk.

Stopping wasn’t pleasant. My lunch break was brief and took place I came across the one and only rock along this day’s route that was large enough for me to crouch behind. I wasn’t the first one to crouch there; the moss on the ground on the eastern side of the rock had been worn down by many hikers.

This side of the park is criss-crossed by rivers. The bigger ones have bridges. The smaller one I first thought I’d have to wade across, but then I found an almost-bridge of fallen trees so I crossed with dry feet after all.

I arrived at the hut at Lunndörren with plenty of daylight to spare. The hut was beautifully situated on the shore of a little lake. Once I’d gotten warm and had a meal, and spotted a break in the snow, I took a photo walk around the lake.

Day 1 of a four-day circular hike in Jämtland. I’m starting out from Vålådalen like last year, heading to Vålåstugorna and then to Gåsen, Stensdalen and finally back to Vålådalen. Half of my route overlaps with last year’s, but then instead of heading further west after Gåsen I’ll turn back north and stick to the quieter eastern part of the national park, away from the “Jämtland triangle”.

The weather forecast for today promised storm-strength winds from the west, from Knud the Norwegian storm. At Vålådalen there were no signs of the storm; cloudy and just a bit windier than most days, maybe.

The autumn colours are really at their peak this time. Just two weeks later than last year, and what a difference it makes!

When the trail left the forest and got up onto the plateau, Knud was waiting for me. The wind was so hard that I was nearly blown off my feet at times. Mostly I could see the worst gusts coming and braced in time, but at one point I turned towards the east to take a photo and the wind hit me from behind with no warning and actually blew me off balance. For my next photo I hooked my arm around a signpost to stay upright.

There’s no real shelter to be found up on that plateau. My breaks were brief, huddled in the lee of some little hump of grass. Guess I won’t be taking any macro photos this year.

But in the photos it all looks quiet and peaceful.