Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cesar's Guide to Bohusleden: Stage 20


This post covers Stage 20, Holmen-Vaktarekullen, of the official guide to the trail.

You can also check out my report on the section before this one (going southbound), Stage 21.

If you have not already read the introduction to this trail guide, you can check it out by clicking here.  It has a list of reports on other sections I have hiked plus other important/useful background information in general--so please read the introduction first before reading my reports.

Make sure you are well rested and ready for a long and beautiful section of trail that has many changes in elevation along the way, ending on top of a small mountain.  In addition to the many climbs up and down, a central feature of this area is water and bridges.  I lost count of the number of bridges I crossed, and each seemed to have its own unique flair.

I will have to respectfully disagree with the official guide in classifying this section as "easy" regarding the degree of difficulty.  I am not entirely sure how they measure how difficult a section of trail is, but I would consider this stretch moderately difficult because of three factors.  One is that it is a fairly long section of 17.5km, and another is that as mentioned there are lots of changes in elevation that have you hiking up and down on many occasions.  And last is the fact that many parts of this section are either wet or prone to be wet/flood, which means a nearly certain chance that hiking through here will leave you with soaked feet.  

The section is well marked and there are not really any overt hazards, which is why I think it is considered "easy," but for someone doing a thru or section hike, completing this section I'd say is more than an easy challenge.

Because this happens to be one of my favorite sections of the trail, I took more pictures than usual, so let's get down to them :)

Close to starting point shelter.

Bridge to the large lake island Flötemarksön, the first of many bridges to come.

View from the bridge facing west.

Remember how I said you'll get your feet wet?  Not far on the trail, shortly after getting off the road and back in the woods, and this is what I had to wade through, ankle deep.  There are several other such patches like the below in this stage that I didn't bother to take pictures of as well:

The trail follows close to the lake, which soon turns into a river.  Made me wish I had a packraft, but it's a very nice walk, and of course you would miss out on a cool but kinda woobley bridge to cross:

On the bridge (see below) looking south by southwest.

After crossing the river back onto the mainland, you continue to follow the water, and the trail climbs up onto some hills/cliffs that will eventually take you back down to another river, this time with rapids that you will hear from far off:

After the rapids there is a nice bit of dark troll woods, and of course another bridge:

On the bridge (see above) looking north by northeast.

After you cross this more robust bridge, there is a not bad shelter that is not marked on the map, around the area marked Roslund.  

I stayed in this shelter back in April doing a loop hike of section 21 and half of this section and it was nice but colder than I thought it would be at night/morning.  Being close to the water is both a good and bad thing.  While it is convenient for gathering drinking water and to wash up and such, this shelter is not as high up as many other shelters (the whole area around the shelter is quite flat), which are usually on a hill or small cliff above water if they are close to it--and because of this it was colder here.  Also keep in mind that the river wraps around this area to west, north, and east, which creates a larger cold air trap.

After you pass this shelter there are a few small private cabins, some farmland, and then you run into the road again.  There are several options here if you want to explore other parts of the area.  For example, I chose to get off trail and follow some dirt roads because I noticed that the trail soon goes into a big marshy area around the lake Trantjärn.  

You can hike east and then south towards the area marked Hagen on the map, and around there you can pick up the trail again at several different places.  After walking past a very lovely dirt road that goes right next to the lake Husevattnet, I joined back up with the trail and was soon at the shelter where I would stay the night:

This is another amazing shelter, both the location and the shelter itself.  There was firewood stacked behind it, lucky for me, but you can't count on there always being firewood of course.  When there is wood, and the weather is nice, it's really one of life's great treats.  The grill was especially nice, with a big metal cover to turn the grill into a stove, plus good logs to sit on, where you can enjoy the view of the lake Sjökarrssjön:

It rained that night and there were no leaks and I slept quite well here.  This is roughly the halfway point of this section, and it took me a little over three hours to get here going at a moderate pace and taking several short breaks.  The next day it was raining, but I was still excited to finish this fantastic section.  Not that far after the shelter, there are more bridges in store as you go around the lake, followed by more hills going around yet another lake--and why not have a floating bridge thrown in the mix while we are at it:

After the floating bridge there are more hills to climb while you follow along the large lake St. Holmevatten, and past the lake you climb higher again as you make your way up to the highest point in the area, the shelter on top of Kynnefjäll mountain:

The endpoint of this section has not just a shelter, but an actual cabin with many wonderful things to use like a wood stove and mini-kitchen.  I will write more on the cabin in my next report, though unfortunately I only had lunch there before reluctantly moving on.  I will note that you don't need reservations or anything to stay there, though there is a sign that ask that you only stay one night (though who's checking?).

From the mid-point shelter to the end cabin took me around another three hours (again at a moderate pace with a few breaks), which puts my total hiking time at about 6.5 hours.  

As you can probably tell by all the pictures (the most to date in my guide), I really love this section.  I would not mind spending several days just exploring this section and taking advantage of its many shelters--at least 6 total by my count, including the cabin at the end.  But as I wrote at the beginning of this report, the beauty comes with a cost of putting your endurance to the test and probably having wet feet for nearly the entire section, though I say this is a small price to pay and very much worth it.

Continue on to Section 19.