Sunday, October 18, 2015

Return to Bohusleden: Section Hike of Parts of Stages 9-7 Plus Side Trails

There I lay in bed daydreaming in the middle of the week of what to do with the coming free weekend, as I often do.  Various brainstorms cross my mind, all of them having to do in one way or another getting outside into the woods.  I'm leaning towards a more bushwhacking type trip that is more focused on picking wild edible mushrooms, seeing that it's supposed to be high season for a lot of yummy mushrooms (though this year has been rather so-so thus far).  But then again, there are several stages on trails that are not too far away from where I live that have been beckoning me to return.  I couldn't make up my mind, but I did decide to call my good friend Tomas, who is one of my more reliable friends when it comes to getting out into the wild.

I go back to thinking about other things I have to do during the week, when several minutes later, what do you know--Tomas calls me.  And he immediately suggests we go backpacking this weekend without me having to say anything.  I love moments like this.  So we debate the various options, until we reach a complication: hunting season.  Moose season began recently, and that kind of killed (no pun intended) the idea of going on any type of bushwhacking or off-trail type trip in the woods where there is hunting going on.  One does not want to get shot picking mushrooms, after all.  Tomas has an insightful observation, however: no hunting allowed on nature reserves.  This pretty much made up my mind of where to go, and I told Tomas to trust me, I know a great place to go then.

Hence my return to Stage 9-7 of Bohusleden, which goes through/past one of my favorite nature reserves in all of Sweden that I have been to.  One of the reasons I like it so much is its dynamic kind of accessibility.  It is easy for more seasoned backpackers and/or thru-hikers to get to and hike through/around, as it is relatively close to pubic transportation on different parts of each of these three stages.  However there is somewhat challenging terrain in the nature reserve and on the trails that weave through it, which tends to discourage the area from getting flooded with people, especially certain kinds of campers that have less respect for nature.  

If you are reading this, you probably know the kind I am referring to.  The weekend warrior car camper crew of destructive douches that dump their cooler full of piss-beer and shit-sausages at the nearest, easily accessible campsite.  The kinds of people that throw their bottles of beer in the lake and leave the campsite full of litter, then take selfies of themselves around a bonfire to put on social media with tags of glamping or YOLO or some other bullshit.  Thankfully these horrid people are the minority of campers out there.  There is a shift, at least it seems to me, where over the years I have seen less of these types of campers and heard less people express acceptance of this type of behavior.  So perhaps there is hope.

But these problems still persist, as Tomas and I soon found out after getting off the bus close to the trail head of Stage 9 and making our way to the campsite at the northern end of the stage.  The plan was to head southbound as I had done before, but to explore the side trails more once we got into the nature reserve.  But when we stopped for lunch at the campsite, the trail shelter that I had in mind to sit and enjoy our lunch was completely gone.  All that remained was the fire pit and several burnt logs and a lot of ashes.  I'm not exactly sure what happened to the shelter, but I do recall it being decent.  Good enough even that I thought about spending the night there, which I reflected upon in my trail guide on this stage years ago.

I hope that I'm wrong and that they tore the shelter down to build a newer, nicer one.  But a few friends that get outdoors a lot here have reported that assholes have burnt down some of their favorite trail shelters, which of course is a shame.  I too have noticed at times that there was fire damage to parts of shelters that I have slept in.  But I don't know what happened to the shelter at the north tip of Stage 9, but I have made sure to update my trail guide to point out that it's no longer there.

Shortly after Tomas and I got into the heart of Svartedalens nature reserve and we explored the side trails, I came to love this area all the more.  So I encourage those of you that plan on going through here, section hikers and thru-hikers alike, I highly recommend you explore the area.  Maybe even spend a few extra days there.  If you are hiking the entire Bohusleden and are worried about time, I would strongly suggest that you skip over the boring road hiking stages I mention in my full report of the trail, and replace the time you would have spent there in Svartedalen.

On to pictures, of course!  The first picture at the beginning of this post, and the video below, are at the lovely viewpoint in Stage 9 above lake Härsvatten, and we had some luck with the weather:

At the southern end of this lake, there is a nice little peninsula just off the trail where I had slept at last time I was there.  I noticed on the map my first time there that there were several dirt roads and side trails that I could connect to if I were continue around the southern end of the lake.  So I made a mental note of this, and this time around we did just that, and after a nice little hike up the southern cliffs of the lake, in no time we were on a dirt road that you can follow further into the nature reserve.  

Tomas happened to have a map of the area that he bought before, and I had the maps I used from before that I found online (like this one for Stage 9 for example).  Our maps had some conflicting information, but we were still able to navigate just find around the side trails--especially considering there are signs up with other maps of the area (see: picture above).

For instance, on Tomas' map it says there is a trails shelter on the northern shores of lake St. Äggdalssjön, but there was no such symbol on my map.  We arrived and looked all over there and found no shelter, though there was a fire pit, so perhaps there used to be a shelter there, much like that last campsite?  We both brought our own shelters knowing that we may have to just pick a random spot in the woods to make camp, which is fine by us, so we marched on.  

However we noticed there was supposedly another trail shelter on the eastern shore of lake Korsvatten.  While there was no symbol for a shelter there on my map for this lake either, the local sign posts with maps we passed did note a shelter there, so we made this trail shelter and lake our goal to spend the night.  After a nice little hike, we discovered the trail shelter, and it was a good one.  It's solid and fairly roomy.  You could probably fit 5-6 people in there, there is a tarp front door, a fire pit, and it is right near the water.  There was no outhouse, and in spite of seeing electric towers and cables on the other side of the lake, there was no cell phone reception.

We had a great night talking by the fire, and after it was dark for a while, we had more luck with the weather.  There was not a cloud in the sky, and the stars lit up above us.  We even saw faint traces of the Milky Way trailing across the sky, and a few falling stars, before we slept.  

The next day was a big mix of jumping from one side trail (blue, green, yellow, red, orange) to the next along with off trail and bushwhacking.  There are several cute little waterfalls, and an old stone hut (Stenstugan) that is closed off, and lots of varied terrain.  It made for excellent hiking, and we even found a cave on the banks of one of the lakes we passed.  The cave is marked on the local maps on the signposts (see: above) that are posted at intersections throughout the area.  The hike to and from the cave themselves are worth going there.

Finally we looped back to Bohusleden towards the end of Stage 8 and hiked on to roughly the middle of Stage 7 to the village of Diseröd.  We ate some good falafel and drank coffee and ate chocolate as we waited for out bus back home, and noticed that we even got a bit sun burnt on our faces.  Ah, to be a bit sun burnt in mid October in Sweden.