Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cesar's Guide to the E1 Trails in Sweden: Bergslagsleden Part 6


This is Part 6 of my 6 part series of trail guides for Bergslagsleden.  Please read my introduction and epilogue to this trail here if you haven't done so yet.  This entire trail is also a part of the E1 trail system, and you can read more about that in my E1 trail guides here.  Please keep in mind it is still a work in progress.  And you can find the official trail website here if you haven't already.

This report covers stages 2-1, or from roughly the town of Kopparberg to the end/start point of the trail in the village of Kloten.  These stages combined are only 38km.

Stage 2 goes right past/through Kopparberg to the west, and the town offers limited but good resources for hikers, such as restaurants, supermarkets, hotels/BBs, public transportation, etc.  Kloten has a hostel and is on the 233 highway, but that's about it.  North of Kloten the closest town is Smedjebacken, which is roughly 35km away.  However there are some issues with the E1 trail that I will address in a trail guide to come, but in short it is not exactly easy, straightforward, or perhaps entirely pleasant getting to Smedjebacken.

Hiking southbound on the E1 you continue on Bergslagsleden, and you can check out my previous guide from stages 4-3 here.  Hiking northbound you continue onto two different trails going north towards Smedjebacken, and you can read my report on the first trail from Kloten to Björsjö here.

Now on with the show!


I arrived by train once again to the town of Kopparberg in early April.  The weather was nice--sunny and about 7C during the day--and I was looking forward to finishing up Bergslagsleden on this trip.  I gave snow little thought, because I thought that most of it would be gone.  Not all of it, of course, and I saw plenty of patches of snow in the woods on the train ride up.  But surely there wouldn't be any knee-high snow on the trail or waist-high snow drifts.  As you can probably guess, I was of course very wrong.  So snow would once again pose a big hindrance to my travels, but in the end I didn't allow it to slow me down.  More on this later.

To find the trail from Kopparberg there are many options, as it's fairly close to town.  You could even hike south down the highway that goes through town and go to the very beginning of stage 2 (if you're going northbound), or just pick a dirt road just outside of the tiny town center and walk west, which is what I did.  Shortly after arriving, I was back on the trail again, and very much enjoyed the path that goes past the big lake Ljusnaren.  The trail passes a beach and swimming area, a few dirt roads, but is mostly nice, woodsy trail until it reaches the shelter on the shores of lake Olovsjön.

The shelter is not bad, though its location near the water makes for a colder and windier place to make camp.  But I was prepared, with a warm sleeping bag, bivy, and tarp--the tarp got turned into a front door for the shelter to block wind.  At the campsite is a trash can and an outhouse as well.

The next day I woke up to more sunny skies, which was nice, and I broke camp and continued.  Close to the shelter are train tracks, which the trail follows.  It occurred to me that I had no trouble sleeping in the shelter due to any sounds of trains passing by, but perhaps more sensitive sleepers might want to keep this in mind.  The trail passes the train tracks, then a highway, and then goes up in elevation towards the end of stage 2.  I was surprised how much snow was still around, and several times when I broke through the top layer of hardened snow, it came up to my knees.  The official guide mentions that snow in this area says around for a long time, and they were not exaggerating, I can attest to that.  

The trailhead of stage 2/1 is right next to a restaurant/indoor swimming pool/golf course/campground.  There are bathrooms that you can use, access to tap water, trash cans, and there are some benches and a fire ring too.  After cooking and eating my lunch at the benches outside I continued on the snowy trail, still shaking my head in annoyance and disbelief at all the snow in April.  There is more elevation, and a closed look-out tower on top of one of the mountains, but even without it there are some nice views.  Shortly after the tower the snow continued to be difficult for me to hike though without any snow shoes or skis, and because the sun was out the top layer was much weaker and caused me to break through constantly.  I've really had enough of stomping through deep snow.

You can call me a cheater, or a sissy, or whatever you like--I don't care.  Some might call me resourceful, perhaps.  But I didn't have the time, patience, or energy to wade through the snow.  Especially considering that this was Easter weekend, and I had promised my family I would be home for dinner on Easter Sunday.  It took me nearly 3 hours to hike about 4km, so by the time I got to the then snow covered lake Holmsjön, I decided to jump off trail and find an alternate route to Kloten.  Not to mention that after studying the map several times since, it doesn't look like I've missed that much with the rest of stage 1 anyhow.

Just past this lake there is a dirt road that I followed south to the small highway 233, where I turned east and hiked towards Kloten.  I figured I would have to knuckle down and hike all the way there via asphalt rather than woods, and I was bummed out by this of course.  But such are the trials and tribulations of a section hiker.  If I would have had the time, I would have soldiered on and just spent an extra day finishing this section.

As I hiked on the paved road, I noticed there was hardly any traffic; so I figured that hitchhiking would not be an option, but stuck my thumb out when cars passed anyhow.  However lucky for me, after about an hour of hiking on the road, only about 3 or 4 cars passed by, but the last one was nice enough to pick me up.  And as it turned out, it was a family that happened to be on its way to the village of Kloten.  Very nice people, and this put me in good spirits again.  I was soon at Kloten, and could continue my E1 adventure past Bergslagsleden with more time and energy to spare, rather than slogging through wet snow, hill top after hill top.

And so ends my trek of Bergslagsleden.  It felt a bit surreal getting to the final trailhead by car, but I can't say that I felt bad or guilty about it.  This is definitely a trail I'd like to do again, and when I do it will most likely be a thru-hike (and definitely in the summer).  It's a trail that has somewhat mediocre or even forgettable beginning and end points, both in the north and the south.  However the meat and potatoes of the trail, say all the rest in between the first few and last few stages, range from good to outstanding.  In short, it's one of the very best trails I've ever hiked.