WHERE: Sälenfjällen – Dalarna, Sweden.
OBJECTIVE: Recharge, enjoy the scenery and spend time with family.
DISTANCE: Day 1 = Källfjället ca 17 km. Day 2 = Storfjället ca 8 km.
For the second year running now, my parents and I have made the six-hour drive north to Sälenfjällen for the extended weekend of midsummer. So since we have done it twice now, and have every intention of doing it again next year, I will call it a tradition. A nice and relaxing tradition, with spectacular views and time for quiet recharging. New for this year was that Nova the cat also got to come as there was no one left at home to look after her. Thankfully she travels really well.
Sälen [sæːlen] is located in Dalarna County about a third of the way up in Sweden geographically speaking. About in line with Lillehammer in Norway for those of you who remember the Olympics of 1994 or the unofficial Sopranos spinoff show with (almost) the same name. Well, back to Sälen. It is the largest alpine skiing area in northern Europe and it is a very popular winter destination. But it is just as beautiful to visit in the summer, although it is very sleepy this time of year because very few do even though I enjoy skiing too I actually prefer this nice and quiet season. My family owns a lovely log cabin here so it is easy to come up and stay for an extended weekend, or more.
The landscape here is different due to the altitude and is what we call a fjäll in Swedish, or fell in English… a landscape featuring barren mountain ranges or moor-covered hills above the alpine treeline perhaps more readily associated with Northern England or Scotland. I love this type of landscape. These particular mountains reach around 900 meters above sea level and you can see for miles on miles and feel like your thoughts have room to roam free, not bouncing back at you.
This year we decided to do two hikes, one on each side of the main valley. The first one went up Källfjället, an amazing 17 km hike with the very varied terrain. From stunning fell with 360-degree endless views of crisp heather moor and lush blueberry forest. We did not meet a single soul all day! Truly amazing! We had packed a nice lunch and spent the whole day out together. Nice to spend some quality time with my parents and also some quiet time with my own thoughts. Just what I had hoped for. Putting some distance in the legs in preparation for the long-distance hike later on this summer did not hurt either, but more on this to come soon.
The next day we hiked up Storfjället starting with a steep climb up the main ski slope in front of Högfjällshotellet. Once up on the top there were more stunning views in the opposite direction. We met a few scattered hikers and one very nice guy on a mountain bike, but other than that we had the mountain to ourselves save a few ptarmigans (birds in the grouse subfamily). Oh, and I say very nice about the guy on the bike for a good reason. My dad had lost his hat earlier that day on the trail and the biker promised to keep an eye out for it on his way down. Believe it or not, he actually found it and went out of his way to leave it for us to pick up at the hotel reception at the base of the mountain. Such a nice thing to do! The hat did have some sentimental value over the material value so it was a welcome reunion.
Midsummer celebration was a nice and quiet affair with good food, drink, and music. So cool that The Beatles are on Spotify now, some common musical ground we could all enjoy. I look forward to next year already!