Another great vacation is over: This time, we spent two weeks hiking in the area between the Norwegian city of Trondheim and the border to Sweden. We stayed in the tent almost exclusively, making good use of the Scandinavian “Allemannsretten” (or “every man’s right”), which basically allows you to put up your tent anywhere you want as long as you don’t disturb anyone (more details here). Our pretty loose itinerary is also the reason why I will deviate from my usual format and won’t describe every day in detail. Rather, I will touch on several points which might be interesting to people planning to hike in the same area.

Terrain & Hiking Paths

This is what the trail looked like for large parts of the hike. At some point, we got used to having water and mud up to our ankles.

Even during our planning phase, we knew we would be hiking through swamps for a good part of the trip. However, the situation turned out to be a little more difficult than expected. First of all, there was more mud and less prepared trails than anticipated. In Sweden, boggy trails are often laid out with planks, which of course facilitates walking quite a lot. This was hardly ever the case in Norway. Secondly, if our map showed “flat” terrain (i. e. a straight line running parallel to the contour lines), the actual trail went up and down constantly. As these ascents and descents were less than ten meters of difference in altitude, they didn’t show up on the map – but still slowed us down significantly. Ultimately, this led to us covering much less ground per day than we had planned.

There were also some river fords we had to manage. Generally, this wasn’t a big problem, as the marked trail led to good fords. Often there were large rocks in the river, which even made it possible to cross without getting your shoes (or feet) wet. Due to the heavy rains (see below) however, some rivers carried much more water than usually. In one case, this led to a situation where we weren’t able to cross the river at all. We bushwhacked both upstream and downstream for quite a bit, but couldn’t find an alternative crossing. Ultimately, we were trapped between two large rivers (a day’s hike apart) and had to wait for a night until the water level had decreased a little.

As we were hiking on the European Long Distance Trail E1 for quite a bit, the paths were mostly well-marked. We were still happy to have brought a GPS device. Sometimes the marking posts fall over in the mud or are overgrown by greenery, especially on less frequented trails. Sometimes, we would also find ourselves at a crossroads with no sign at all as to which path leads where. More than once, the GPS made sure we chose the right path.

Weather

View from our tent site: Some last bits of sun before the thunderstorm started. Minutes later, we weren’t able to see to the other side of the lake anymore.

We faced very unstable weather throughout our hike. It was very windy sometimes and it was raining almost every day. But we were able to enjoy some sunny and warm days (hours?) as well. However, we were happy to have brought additional guy lines to secure the tent against the wind. The constant rain led to the “river situation” described above and it made drying our shoes a goal kind of hard to achieve. The temperatures, at least, were perfect for hiking: mostly they ranged between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius.

Wildlife

Sheep were the only member of “wildlife” we managed to take a good picture of – and that was already quite difficult!

The most prominent representatives of “wildlife” were the mosquitoes and flies, as was to be expected from Scandinavia – and especially from an area with so many swamps and lakes. However – and this is a positive thing about the overcast weather – they were less annoying than anticipated. Wind and rain helped to shoo away the mosquitoes somewhat.

In addition to the insects, we were lucky enough to see some reindeer on our very first day of hiking. Later, when we were apparently camping next to a watering hole, there was even a group of reindeer standing just a few meters away from our tent. Also, we spotted a moose and her calf somewhere in the distance once. Lastly, sheep are omnipresent and can be heard from far away because of their bells.

Shops & Resupply

Cloudberries made for a good snack during the hike. The orange one on the right is ripe, the red ones aren’t yet.

The route we chose was quite wild and was thus far away from any supermarkets and other resupply points. However, we did pass little farms or hike along dirt roads quite frequently, so we could probably have hitchhiked if we needed to. Because of that, we relied almost exclusively on what we had brought from Germany, only stocking up on things like bread, cheese and fruit at local supermarket in Stjørdal. An additional (but minor) food supply were the wild cloudberries, which were ripe and growing almost everywhere. We picked them by the handfuls while hiking.

Another very important question if you arrive by plane is where to buy camping gas. We had some problems finding it in Stjørdal: The first store only had the wrong kind, the second didn’t have any camping gas at all. Luckily, we found some in a shop at the local shopping mall. However, we found out on the way home that you can easily buy camping gas directly at the airport, in the Hell Shopping Center (Hell is actually the name of a village there). The shopping center also houses a large supermarket.

Summary

On the high plateau – finally a little less mud to worry about.

All in all, it was a great vacation with beautiful hikes. I loved that I got to see both moose and reindeer, partly really close-up. I loved that we were able to eat wild cloudberries while hiking. I loved the remoteness of the area and the stunning nature. But in hindsight, I would’ve liked a little less of hiking in forests and swamps and a little more of mountainous and high plateau areas. As this was my first hiking trip to Scandinavia, I still believe I got to see a good mix of landscapes, though.

In addition, it was a very good decision to pack some extra food. After being trapped between the two rivers as described above, we decided to head back to the nearest road and then continued on to the next train station. The additional food had already supported us when we covered less ground than planned, but we decided we didn’t have enough backup to support another night (or more) to wait for the water level to decrease. This could have happened at any of the larger rivers on our way. Even though we didn’t finish our hike as planned (in Sweden), the extra food enabled us to hike for much longer and could have saved our lives in the “river situation”, had the water levels taken just a little longer to fall.

Go there if…

  • …you enjoy hiking in remote areas.
  • …you know what you’re doing – basic navigation skills and e. g. the ability to find a
    safe river ford are definitely needed here.
  • …you can trust your hiking boots with a little water (see picture above).

Don’t go there if…

  • …you don’t want to carry a heavy backpack. You will need quite some food to get
    through the wilderness. Restocking midway is not an option (if you don’t want to
    hitchhike).
  • …you have a tight schedule, as planning how much ground you cover exactly is
    difficult.
  • …you are easily annoyed by mosquitoes.

Route

I roughly plotted our initially planned route here. From Trondheim airport / Stjørdal, we took the train to Steinkjer and a short taxi ride brought us to our starting point. As mentioned, we didn’t make it all the way to Storlien in Sweden, but hiked to the train station in Meråker instead. It took us slightly less than two weeks to complete this route (including the detour and waiting time at the rivers). 

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