On this morning, Alie and I were the first ones ready to hike out and left with Jorgen. He is a bit regimented in his hiking and stops for a 10 minute break every hour. This drives me nuts in the morning, but not so much in the afternoon. Slapping along on a road walk is a bit monotonous. That being said, it was an easy day. As usual, mostly road walks - some paved, mostly dirt and gravel – with very few short section of real trail. We did pass several lakes though and even climbed some 'hills' (20 feet?). Some of it was sort of bushwhacking across fresh clear cut areas.
Timber is probably the biggest agriculture crop here. I noticed this from the plane flying in to Stockholm, you can see from the air large swaths of clear cutting. Even after reading and understanding how efficiently the forestry program is in Sweden, I just cringe when I see clear cutting. I see devastation; they see heritage, money and tradition. It takes 60 – 100 years to grow the trees to maturity. It takes less than 60 seconds to cut one down, strip the branches and drop it in a pile for a truck. I got to watch some of these monster machines in action. The forest floor is very bumpy from the stumps left from previous cuttings. It seems like they manage the forest by thinning some of the growth somewhere in between planting and harvesting. We walked through areas where lots of young trees had been freshly cut and left lying on the ground. Mostly (not really, - there is ONLY) Norway Spruce, Scots Pine and Silver Birch.
Boxes and boxes of thousands of baby trees waiting to be re-planted sitting on the side of the road in the woods
We’ve walked through numerous farms and 'hamlets' (2 or 3 houses on a corner). At one of these, the family had allowed the group to get water last year, this year we were invited in for Fika (Coffee break).
Wonderful Swedish hospitality
Tonight we are camped just outside a soccer field and we were invited to use the showers, bathrooms and they bar-b-q'd for us. They even had veggie hotdogs for the two of us that are vegetarians. I’m carrying all this food and I'm not eating it! And tomorrow, we have a cafe a few miles ahead for breakfast. I was able to get a teeny tiny plastic spoon from the bar-b-q tonight which I can stir my coffee in the morning with, but I’m not sure it’s really big enough to eat with! People chit chat a lot and I'm in overdrive, so I left the group at the bar-b-q and am getting some down time in my tent. I don't normally hike with a big group of people.
Enjoying some alone time from my tent
It really is an interesting walk. Jorgen knows all the history of the area and we walked through a section today that has traditionally been very poor farmland. This apparently is where most of the immigrants to the USA came from.
Day 3 C2C -17 miles
A Room with a view. Morning mist rising from the lake and a little drizzle of rain at 4:30 am
I woke as usual at 4:30am to bright daylight but went back to bed till 5:30am when I got up and made coffee. I felt very lazy by not immediately eating breakfast and packing up, but the guys from the bar-b-q last night were bringing us coffee at 7am. We finally got on our way at 8am and got to camp about 5pm. First thing was a 5km hike to the town of Boda where we went to a little cafe (are you getting the picture of this? Café’s, fika, etc).
They were expecting us and had brunch for 50 SEK (about $5.00). Scones, OJ, coffee, fried eggs etc. It was quite lovely in a tiny old teahouse. Then the hike got long and mostly boring. We had one tiny creek to ford but it was easy to rock hop. Most of the day was on gravel roads, most very hard packed which is very hard to walk on.
Hobbit Holes (or storage sheds) along the way.
As I mentioned, most of the trail was through forest where small sections are clear-cut and lumber stacked waiting to go to wherever it goes! Forests are replanted immediately upon cutting, and I was told it’s usually Polish immigrants that do the back-breaking work of planting the trees as apparently the Swedes don’t want to do that sort of labor anymore. Some forest sections were very old with tall mature trees and mossy understory. Some have new baby trees, and the rest is somewhere in between growth. Somewhere in the middle of a nowhere forest service road we passed a guy that was weed whacking along the side of the road. I didn’t notice a difference from what he had and hadn't done! (From what I learned later, this must have been his privately owned section of forest and people are very proud of their portions of the forest so tend them with loving care).
We also passed hundreds of hunting blinds - one every 100 feet or so throughout the forest. Moose hunting is big business and over 90,000 moose are hunted and killed each year. I did not see any moose on the hike, but others in the group saw several of them.
The cuckoo birds are singing, and still driving me cuckoo. At first I thought they were cute – I’d never heard one before and they sound just like the clock – but after a while it really gets on your nerves! Nonetheless, Cuckoo birds are an interesting species as they don’t build nests or raise their young. Instead, they kick other bird’s eggs out of their nests and lay their own to be raised by foster parents.
That night we camped on a lake on private property where the owner has let us stay. He has a barn where everyone charged their phones and a very nice clean outhouse. It was a chilly day, and tomorrow it’s supposed to rain all day. We have a very long day tomorrow, but again, brunch and town stop after the first few km. I need to pick up some snacks and a spoon.
It’s a bit chilly at dinner