Lukewarm forest lakes, wild berries and long evenings with beautiful sunlight. That’s what I associate the most with Swedish summers. Even if we tend to be a bit cynical and joke that a Swedish summer days is 10 degrees and rain I only experienced the first during last weeks ride on Sörmlandleden just south of Stockholm, a hiking trail established about 50 years ago. I connected two pieces of it a get a nice 4 day loop. For the first two days, Anton from Stockholm joined me before he took the commuter train back home.
Sörmlandsleden is the longest low-land hiking trail in Sweden. At just over 1000 km it was constructed about 50 years ago in an attempt to provide a true nature experience close to the capital. The trail builders certainly succeed, just a couple kilometers away from the start it dives straight into true wilderness and even though your are never that far away from society it still feels like you really are out there.
The trails really are constructed for hiking with frequent hike-a-bike sections, they are never too long because of the lack of mountains around this part of Sweden but with plenty of rocks and roots the riding is seldom easy. Often you both have to stand up and apply brute force to push through but at the same time be precise and technical to maneuver the bike around.
With the higher speed of a bikepacking trip compared to hiking, we often touched upon the outskirts of civilization. Designed to be more of section hiked trail than a thru hiked trail resupply can still be a bit tricky at times, but with two days worth of food in the framebag, I never had to give it a second thought.
A play ground for grown ups that have yet to discover real fun, like climbing or mountain biking gave us a few minutes of laughter and fooling around
Slow-worm, a family of lizards that have lost their legs and instead move like a snake
Although the water in Sweden in general is quite clean and we don’t have any problem with giardia it’s often best to ride a few kilometers extra in some cases before filling up
During the summer, wild berries and mushrooms is at times abundant and free to pick. Many natural springs, “Källa”, in Swedish is found along the trail and well marked to make sure that you never have to carry a lot of water with you.
Once away from the big city its clear that some sections of the trail is more used than others.
Go tubeless and never look back. This guy did it wrong. Douche…
Although a bit overgrown at times the trail is always marked with orange spray paint on trees or stickers on road signs and is never hard to follow. Unless you are blasting down a super fun downhill section and don’t think about the fact that you are 20 times faster than a hiker. Then you have to push back up again.
Just after Anton left I rode through and area with old iron mines just east of the small city Järna. Ironically iron in Swedish is järn but the name Järna doesn’t have anything at all to do with iron or the mines. Instead it an almost thousand year old name coming from an ancient Swedish word, garn, meaning shallow bay or strait.
Most very filled with water but a few gave the opportunity for some exploration
Sometimes I can feel that we take this safety thing to far but in this case I can only applaud those who built the safety net. High nets where they are needed but still keeping it possible to explore, interact and discover
That evening was beautiful, I arrived at this small forest lake just as the sun was about to set. I quickly pitched my tent, took a swim and then sat and listened for mroe than an hour to the few sounds the forest produced as darkness settled
In the morning, I felt lazy and didn’t get up until the sun turned my tent into an sauna
Shortly after I left Sörmlandsleden and headed south an some old forest roads and small trails that conected them
This is one of the things I love the msot about bikepacking, sitting at home studying maps, plotting possible lines and then getting out into the anture and see what it looks like, not really knowing if it will go or not. Sometimes I have to turn back, other times I don’t. This road was a bit of a gamle. It existed on some maps but not on others and was really a key piece. If it was to overgrown, destroyed or in some other way not possible to ride I would have to take a long and asphalt covered car road around this forest. Luckily, my gamble payed of. This time…
But was almost thwarted half an hour alter when I stumbled upon this “Private” sign. Luckily, a small trail, probably crafted by locals, lead me around this farm and I could continue my journey.
An old rune stone, probably more than a thousand years old. These were often raised by the children or other relatives of wealthy people in their honor to tell the tale of their life after they passed away.
Some parts was ridable, others were liftable
The Golden Nugget, originally erected during the second World War as a small house for a few troops to live in on the top of this small mountain where they were stationed to scout for enemy aircraft
The cows in the distant gave me a bit of a scare. When I approached them on the trail going through their pasture they all got op, shielding the calves and looking angry. I took the road right next to the pasture instead which calmed them down considerably
Then it was time for a short ferry ride across Skanssundet. A place that I used to visit with my grandmother when I was a kid to fish herring
When I came across another heard of cows I quickly jumped over the fence.
I always go for a swim when possible at the end of the day. Going to sleep without all the stickiness for the sweat is just so much nicer. Even if it means washing of in a glacier fed zero degree creek when its raining.
Coffee. Black. Always black.
The route i rode totaled a 190 km and took me pretty much exactly three days to ride but with a start in the afternoon I was actually out for 4 days. I rode my On-One Inbred hardtail 29er but I would fully encourage anyone else thinking of riding it to take a full-suspension bike. There are a lot of roots and rocks and a full-suspension bike would make it a lot more comfortable. There are shelters and springs along the route, some of these are on opencyclemap but I’d recommend getting some maps from either the official site for the trail, or getting one of the books published.