A lot harder than expected!
This is by no means a guide or a tour suggestion – for this there are lots of good suggestions in Claes Grundsten’s book “Mountain hiking around Grövelsjön”. He is a much more experienced guide to these areas – this is just a description of a short trip in these areas which at times was much more difficult than I expected.
I bought a one-way trip with SJ and Dalatrafik to Grövelsjön on a Monday in July – without any real thought of where I would end my hike. Tänndalen? Tännäs? I was going to leave it open. It would turn out to be a decision with interesting consequences this summer holiday.
I got off the bus at a crowded lodge in Grövelsjön and loaded the backpack right away for a hike up Jakobshöjden. The forecast this week was 100% rain and up at 1103 meters above sea level it started. The rain. Sideways. The day’s march was unclear but I decided to go to Grötvallsjön – about 15 km from the mountain lodge. Between Jakobshöjden and the intended night accommodation there is a smooth and rolling mountain heath with stones of smaller size. Open expanses and free lease for the wind. No clear path, but I had a hunch about the direction. And map and compass of course. I had both heard and read about the abundance of rocks and stones in this area, but if this was it, the hike would be an easy one. However, my attitude towards the difficulty of the hike would change as early as the next day.
At Grötvallsjön I camped and enjoyed the first night on the mountain. Freeze-dried food, mountain water and gently snoozed to sleep by the wind. After breakfast with an incomparable view of the lake and Grøthogna, the journey continued towards Hävlingen – a lake at a lower altitude with accommodation if the famous rocks were too much. But the hike was very enjoyable on ridges over cloudberry and meadow wool-filled bogs and slightly downhill to the headland between Hävlingen and Sörsjön. Heavy-duty hiking boots, fairly well-trained and with a heavy solo pack. Everything felt good! After lunch, I decided to continue on towards Slagusjön instead of stopping halfway at Hävlingen. From the southern end of Hävlingen, the path winds up through sparse pine forest at the edge of Töfsingen’s nature reserve and the ground becomes increasingly rocky. The trail here, up Olåsen, is walked very slowly – sometimes I think I do less than 1 km per hour. These are stones from hell. It slopes slowly upwards, for a long time, and it becomes so difficult that I have to laugh at the misery. Sometimes the path consists of only rocks and stones and there is no trail left – just your own ability to navigate these monstrous obstacles in the easiest way. I give a thought of gratitude to my choice of really sturdy hiking boots and a pair of hiking poles.
Finally, I am in a mountain birch forest and can sense the bare mountain in the distance. The last bit up towards Slagusjön it rains “cats and dogs” again but it’s thankfully easy hiking on ridges. I met a German woman and we talked a bit about the rocks before we continued in different directions. Late afternoon I reached the emergency shelter and toilet at Slagusjön and can finally relieve myself of the backpack and cook some dinner. There are several of us on site and I notice two companies trying to dry their boots by the stove. They all mentioned they would take the helicopter home the next day and instead make day trips from Grövelsjön. I instead tried a trip around the lake in the evening but had to turn halfway due to the moisture in the fields this year but still noticed that there is a nice sandy beach at the small peninsula on the west side of the lake. Here I would definitely like to take a dip on a slightly drier summer day!
Day two I continued towards Rogenstugan and started early. The three kilometers between Slagusjön and Storrödtjärnstugan offered really rocky hiking but also nice company of what I think was a heather piper. The bird seemed to circulate around me and the bird song came from all directions – a wonderful companion this early morning. The hike passed the lodge Storrödtjärnstugan which this July seemed completely deserted – or perhaps I was just a little too early. The trail is still very rocky but with some appreciated stretches on footbridges over bogs.
At the south end of Rogen, it was a good idea to have lunch and coffee to replenish the energy depots before the last sprint towards Rogenstugan. Not much distance left to Rogenstugan I thought. Between Storrödtjärnstugan and Rogenstugan it’s only 15 km and I had already walked for quite a long time. But now it started again. The kingdom of the stones, the hell of man, the nightmare of bad knees and weak ankles. The terrain was very rocky and difficult to hike with gradual and painful ascent. The stones were sometimes large fields with rocks the size of a person – it became important to really keep track of where I put my feet. I stared so hard at the ground I often forgot to look around. When I completely leave the tree line behind me, the short but quite intense ascent begins up on Tandsjövålen (993 masl). It’s me and some reindeer. The mountain is of the type that constantly tricks you – the next ridge must be the top, right? But no, there will be another. And another. Finally on top I’m so tired I sit down and think hard about why you do this. Of course, it doesn’t take many minutes of recovery before I am captivated by the view. In all directions, roadless country. No buildings, just wilderness. Without a trace of civilization. Here I am completely alone and Rogen’s impressive waters dominate the view to the northwest. And I can see today’s end goal – Rogenstugan.
Of course, the trail between the top of Tandsjövålen and Rogenstugan refused to be simple. It continued to be really hard with the uneven terrain and all the rocks – one or two mature cloudberries enlivened me, but most of all I just wanted to arrive at the destination. The last bit on the small peninsula on which the cottage is located felt like a whole day’s march and once I arrived, I pitched the tent at the specified location and fell asleep right away!
But Rogen then. What a place! After a couple of hours of sleep, I woke up to the sunset (!) And could not help but fall in love with the place. I probably don’t want to go there in the same way again but I want to come back for sure! Lonely, peaceful and an incredible lake. The beautiful, quiet evening and night kept me awake for a long time and all the hardships on the way there were (almost) forgotten.
I should have stayed longer but when I woke up I wanted to move on. So with packing and boots on, I decided to take a summer trail to Tännäs and if I had previously been relatively alone on the trail, I was now totally solo! The path first went to Kärringsjön and then 5 km on a small gravel road before it turned off again into the wilderness. In this part, the thumb had to crawl on the map – what was the (deficient) marked trail and what was the animal trail? Wet bogs were crossed, streams were waded and secluded summer pastures were visited. The hike was technically easy but navigationally a test. Not until the evening did I reach Tännäs and just had time to buy a chocolate biscuit in the only shop. But I still have to say that this trail was worth the hike. Not only for the pleasant tranquility but for the delicious primeval forest, the flowers of the cattle huts and the company of the reindeer.
After an overnight stay at Lake Lossen at Tännäs, I jumped on Dalatrafik’s bus 164 towards Sveg in the hope of getting a train ticket to Stockholm and my next adventure. But since more people than ever chose to holiday at home this year, all trains and buses were sold out for the next three days, ALL! I checked into the local campsite and decided to discover what Sveg has to offer. Should you ever be stranded in Sveg, I can recommend the excellent Café Cineast (cheap, tasty and super popular!), a walk around the city center with its straight streets and avenues and many old wooden houses, Mankellbron over the river Ljusnan which is one of only two remaining combined car and train bridges in Sweden, a secret statue of Greta Garbo in the middle of the forest outside Lillhärdal (a short journey but still within the Sveg area) and a memorial stone and replica of the first witch executions in Sweden in the 17th century. That’s what you’re discovering when you have to. And in fact, my time in Sveg became unexpectedly enjoyable. Not just because it was stone free.