Five different lakes in three days offers five different conditions. Ice and nature is amazing. From one day to another nothing is the same. When temperature varies over and below zero the most different phenomenas occur.
Nights are still long and days are short one week after the winter solstice. We woke up in the dark foggy morning eager to skate on a lake we never had investigated before. Lake Ölen is a rather small, oblong lake lying in a landscape scattered with boulders. We had hoped a sunny day to admire the scenery but what we experienced was a mysterious misty day with so many special impressions you never can get a sunny day
Minus 2 degrees below zero. The sun was struggling to get through the fog but the fog overcame the sun. We were both a bit doubtful about the ice conditions and this day we really had to use our ice poles a lot to be sure. There had been black ice, then snow and thaw…
Along the cracks water had been pressed up and “built” excellent skating roads. Sometimes we were in the middle of nowhere just skating around following the lake almost anti clock wise. By the north western part we observed some huge boulders – remainings since the last ice age.
Suddenly – there it was! The black ice, thick enough for skating (about 5 – 6 cm). What a joy. Before we realized we were back at the starting point after about 20 km. You really need to use all your senses while skating – especially in weather like this. We followed the map to know where to avoid inlets and outlets as the ice is thinner there. And of course we used our ears. To listen to the sounds of the ice to decide if it is thick enough. One of the most impressive moments was when we heard the sound from a waterfall in the distance.
On our way back home the weather cleared up and as we passed Lake Tysslingen – a famous bird lake – we couldn’t resist to meet the evening on skates with a wonderful view west over Mountain Kilsbergen. The whopees accompanied us in the sunset.
This year we experienced a very early start of the skating season in Värmland county. A long time of high pressure and cold air from the Arctic and Russia gave us exceptional good possibilities. When lakes freeze it happens gradually. The smallest and shallowest lakes with little water flow will freeze first. The land area of Värmland county is slightly smaller than half the size of the Netherlands. Värmland is the landscape of forests, rivers and lakes. There are about 10 000 lakes from small forest lakes to huge lake Vänern. Värmland is used to be called “the country of glittering lakes”. The south western part of the county is exceptional rich of small lake systems connected to each other by rivers and creeks – a wonderland for nordic skating.
It’s very interesting to follow “the succession of lakes freezing from small to big waters”. All possible parameters as local climate, topography (landscape above and below the water surface), altitude, wind, currents, snowy or not etc, affect the icing process. Ice is perishable, it differs in quality from day to day, even in a few hours. This is clearly visible on large windswept lakes.
Before the first snow fall we had a marvellous time to explore the small waters. Snow on ice is the worse case for a nordic skater.
Just before noon we found our first “possible” lake. A wonderful feeling walking out in the frozen marshland covered with rim and realize that the ice was thick enough. Black, transparent ice!!! About 6 – 7 cm.
The temperature was 8 degrees Celcius below zero, but as the sun was shining from a clear blue sky and almost no wind we had a wonderful lunch in the sunshine. The lake needed a few more days of cold to be frozen all over, so we skated round in a little part of it with joy for a while.
We decided to look for some new lakes. A little bay of a bigger lake was skatable. The sound of thin black ice with its different tones is just delightful music. Just before sunset we explored two tiny lakes situated on a higher altitude. The ice was over 10 cm thick.
New day, new experiences! The night had been really cold. Our plan was to investigate lake Sandsjön. By the shore the ice was only 1 cm and out there the lake “steamed”. A sign just before the ice sets. So – our plan didn’t work. BUT – we followed the road along the crevice that formed a smaller lake. And there we were lucky! After checking the thickness of the ice we were ready to skate.
A divine feeling heading the sun towards open water. A big moment of peacefulness and joy.
We skated north into a nature reserve. This area has been inhabited since stone age and you can find a lot of settlements and pitfalls. The reserve was established to preserve, nurture and restore fire affected forests in different successional stages. Brännan
So much to explore in total wilderness without any sounds of human activity.
A new gem by the road that we couldn’t resist – a woodland lake only a circuit of 3 km – well worth for a tour in the sunshine.
The end of these two skating days was more than we could wish. Another rime enveloped forest lake with black ice in the middle of nowhere.
Follow us in search of black ice in our wonderful Nordic Skating country!
For three days in the beginning of November we were fortunate to visit Lake Rogen Nature Reserve.
We skated in a landscape formed by the inland ice – a geologist’s dream. The Rogen moraine consists of stones and gravel in a network of ridges with lakes in between. The park ranger Per Roger Wiberg guided us through the magic landscape. He knows his landscape well and has a lot to tell about wild life, human life and nature in this region.
Our starting point was by lake Käringsjön, the childhood home of Per Roger, at the end of the road. The source of the longest river in Sweden is situated here.
Old twisted pine trees and abandoned rowing boats remind us of times gone by. Common Goldeneyes find their nests in holes of pine trees. Nest boxes made of old hollow pine trunks are still there showing us how the grandfather of Per Roger got eggs from birds arriving in spring.
Smooth skating in a foggy environment and walks over low ridges to find new exciting lakes.
The primeval forest, with pine trees that can be many hundred years old, is impressive and and the lichens light up the landscape. The yellow Wolf Lichen” – Letharia Vulpina – is found in very old forests and not common at all in Sweden nowadays.
The last day we were lucky to see the sun. Even if the temperature was a couple of degrees above zero the ice was skatable. The water on the ice gave gorgeous reflections in all different colours.
Nordic Skating is a wonderful way to experience new environments, nature and wildlife. We met some Capercailles, grouses, a frozen frog and found droppings of reindeer on the ice. Eventually – on our way home – we met hundreds of reindeers. What a start of this season!
Our collaboration with partners in Norway led us to Hotel Hurdalsjøen in splendid autumn colours. The hotel is situated on a cape, by the shore of Lake Hurdalsjøen, with high mountains around. The view is very spectacular, especially in autumn colours when the birches and aspen trees are glowing like fire among the conifers. If you want to experience the Scandinavian trend – nature, tranquility, outdoor activities and last but not least the Scandinavian kitchen – this is a perfect location. The atmosphere in the hotel is very welcoming with an open fire and a big lobby with stylish furniture. After a tasty lunch and a guided tour in and around the hotel we were ready to discover the northern part of the lake.
Almost always you wish sunny weather, but it is a very special feeling to paddle in mist lightened by autumn colours. Our goal was the inlet in the northern part of the lake. Finally we found our way in the estuary. There was almost no birdlife this evening, just some gulls and mallards. We saw signs of beavers but unfortunately no real ones.
The water level was very low, and after paddling about 5 km we had to turn around and head back again. The last kilometers we paddled in dark. It would have been nice with an evening sauna and a swim in the lake, but dinner was waiting!
We were treated a wonderful three-course dinner prepared from local ingredients.
After a good night’s sleep and a nice breakfast we explored the area around the lake before heading south. The hotel is situated only 25 minutes drive from airport Gardermoen, and a perfect place to start or end a visit in the borderland of Sweden and Norway.
Thank you Pål, Dag and Marianne for your hospitality! Besides perfect food and accommodation you had a lot to tell us about history and nature in your paradise. We will be back in wintertime for skating and skiing.
Another sunny August day – ideal for kayaking. All paddling starts on shore as beginners need a tutorial before taking off. The participants, a family group from Grenoble France, did a good exam in a short time. It convinced us to start our expedition very soon. The weather was wonderful with sunshine and a smooth breeze took us out to the outer archipelago. Our little group was gliding over shallow, crystal clear saltwater heading towards horizon. Below the water we could study the rich presence of Japanese oysters.
A little stop at the “entrance” to open sea. In the far distance we saw a stunning image from ancient time – an old sailing ship – a full-rigger that sailed slowly northwards. In the easing swells we moved silently along smooth, of the ice age shaped, cliffs. The Bohuslän archipelago is one of the few places in the world where you can see the effects, especially of the last ice age not covered with moraine.
Ancient beautiful pink colored granite rocks surrounded us in narrow passages.
What a cruising day! After a “taste” of the outer archipelago, it was time for a much needed break. With homemade bread, black currant muffins and other refreshing delights we had filled up energy.
Back to the kayaks again and out on open sea. We were paddling in perfect weather, now moving for a longer distance. After finding an interesting waterway among rocky islands we finally found a wonderful sandy beach for swimming and a nice rest. It was also a perfect place for snorkeling in the crystal clear water.
Turning back home we chose the inner archipelago. Here is a lot to see and discover -remnants and culture tracks from the ancient society, from times when a lot of people inhabited this archipelago. They where fishermen and shippers and also did some farming for the local household. Today all buildings are repossessed by summer residents. Our last stop was at the nature reserve Ulön Dannemark for a rest, late lunch and a nice walk on the island.
Many thanks for a nice paddling and good company to family Maffet !
Search, Explore and Discover the pearls of Bohuslän archipelago together with us!
Kayaking, archipelago, salt water, collecting and preparing your own sea food – is there a better mixture?
A sunny August day our French guests arrived to the boat houses at Heestrand, eager to experience the Mussel, Crab and Oyster Safari. We were as eager as they were.
Equipped with collecting bags, baskets, neopren shoes and life jackets we were ready for the departure. For comfort and safety we chose the three men kayak for our guests.
Sheltered by the islands from the strong west winds, we had a wonderful paddling over the mussel and oyster banks. In the crystal clear water we could observe the life under water. As blue shells are filterers, the poisonous plankton algaes sometimes can make the mussels inedible in summer season. As we didn’t want to take any risks we were just happy to watch them. We paddled out to admire the mighty waves. Refreshed by a snack pause we were ready to paddle to our harvesting bay.
Periwinkles are semi aquatic organisms and live their lives in the waterline. Wonderful and easy food to collect and prepare!
What a day to search food! The sun was shining and the water temperature was over 20 degrees Celsius. Periwinkles, a few seaweed shrimps and some wild herbs on land was the result.
Now to the next stage – a quick ride by motor boat to check our crab pots. It is always exciting. The crab pots lies on the stone bottom at a depth of around 15 metres. They are quite heavy to land. And look – some crabs and some whelks.
Back to the boathouses we prepared our food together. Periwinkles, mussels, whelks and crabs were boiled and the sauce for the crabs was prepared.
Starter – Periwinkles – quickly boiled with garlic, leeks, littorial herbs and white wine.
Second coarse – Blue shells à la Christine – white wine, parsley, onions, garlic. (These were bought at the fishmonger for safety reasons.)
Third coarse – Crabs with our special Swedish sauce – Hovmästarsås. The ingredients are sweet mustard, sugar, oil and loads of fresh dill.
Freshly baked bread was served to all the dishes. There are different ways to “attack” the seafood. For periwinkles you use toothpicks, the blue shells are eaten with your hands and the shell is perfect for the sauce. The best way to get the meat out of a crab is to use a spoon to crack the hard shell.
After a day like this you are happy with life. Nature, physical activity, taking part in nature’s gifts, wonderful food and not to forget meeting new people!
Go periwinkle with us!
The south eastern cape of Värmlandsnäs – near Säffle – is a perfect starting point for beginners of kayaking. We met up with an eager Norwegian family who wanted to experience the joy and freedom of being out in the archipelago with kayaks. As the children were 10 and 13 years old we decided to use a tandem kayak and a single kayak for the family. It made it flexible for all the four members of the family to practice their skills.
After an introduction by the shore and planning of the trip we launched our kayaks by the sandy beach by Åkershus with Kinnekulle in the background The oldest girl was the first brave kayaker in the single kayak!
Off we went with a nice head wind. The sun was shining and as we felt safe with the group we headed south towards Lurö archipelago with open horizon to the east. What a freedom!
You can’t be outdoors without pause for lunch and a swim! We found a sheltered little bay, and to our surprise we found a huge active beaver hut out in the big lake. Fresh birch twigs showed their favorite food last night. Our lunch pack was also delicious!
After a refreshing pause we paddled a bit south for another pause with a swim before we headed back in a gentle tail wind and also a bit of surf!
Revsand to Baggerud
It’s midsummer which means long days and short nights. The light is fabulous, specially evenings, nights and mornings. This part follows the east coast of lake Vänern, south of Kristinehamn. After a good night’s sleep – we were ready to start paddling from Revsand Camping. A bit headwind from southwest forced us to paddle harder. Wonderful sunshine – a really hot day on shore – but now we could feel the fresh breeze sweeping over the blue waves. In the distance a row of big and small islands appeared in the horizon. On mainland the shore was scattered with summerhouses and private areas. We hoped soon to reach the islands area that also is a part of a very big protected nature area named “Nature Reserve Värmland archipelago” – for wild life and outdoor recreation purposes. Soon we passed close to the big island St Marö – covered with conifers and deciduous forest. Out in west we noticed the island Lakholmen with its lighthouse. Next passage was the islands called Raholmarna. Here we had to find our way through reed vegetation. Easily we found our way in the traces of beaver territory. The islands kept a big population of comorants. They were busy training their offsprings fish hunting in a big group formation. We left Raholmarna admiring the fantastic boulders at the southern end.
Out on open water again for 5 kilometres paddling heading southwards in direction Furholmarna and then to Baggerud. After a pleasant paddling along Furholmarna a sandy beach appeared in the distance. A quarter of an hour later we were on steady ground again. Our little caravan offered a good night’s sleep.
Morning had broken when we departed from Baggerud Camping beach. A wonderful morning. The early hours are perfect for photo shooting. The lake was totally calm – like a mirror – and it reflected the sky and nature around in a fabulous way. Our first part was a long distance without any islands. A rocky coastline with boulders and pebbles spread out in the water for several hundred meters off shore. It’s very important to be aware of these circumstances. If strong winds are blowing from southwest, west or northwest it will build up big waves and troubled waters when it hits this shallow rocky bottom. You have to paddle further out in deep water to avoid this danger zone. Today we were very lucky that there was almost no wind at all.
It is really exciting to search, explore and discover “virgin areas”. After some kilometers of blue horizon, clear water and no traces of human settlements a little fishing port “Medhamn” suddenly appeared by a rocky beach. Its only protection against the powers of the weather was a cape protecting against strong southwest winds and a rock pier in the harbor. This port is the most vulnerable in lake Vänern. As this part of lake Vänern almost never freezes its a perfect location for boat fishing all year round!
After leaving “Medhamn” we paddled southwards for miles along deserted wooded beaches and an even desolate blue water and horizon in both west and southwest. Sometimes it was difficult to distinguish the sky and the “sea”. A wonderful calmness appeared in us. Silent sliding on a blue ocean we left miles after miles behind us towards infinity. Suddenly an island or a big mountain in the far south appeared. It seemed like a miracle floating on the water. The nearer we came it grew bigger and bigger and soon we realized that it was Kinnekulle mountain (306 m above sea level). You can observe this volcanic mountain profile from huge distances around lake Vänern – important for navigation etc.
After nice lunch and rest on a little island, we reached the end part of the day “Nötön-Åråsvikens” nature reserve with its vast reed area and a water landscape scattered with end moraines -remnants from the last ice edge. The moraines formed islands. This area has a lot of nesting birds. We saw sea eagle, marsh harrier and hobby.
We really got lost in the labyrints of reeds and end moraines. Thanks our Gps we finally and luckily reached our goal “Kolstrandsviken” after more than 30 km paddling.
Randviken to Stavik
The paddling continues and so the ideal paddling conditions. We decided to make a two day trip from nearby Karlstad to connect with Stavik, Värmlandsnäs, where we ended up last summer. The northern part of Värmlandssjön has the biggest cities in Värmland – Karlstad and Kristinehamn. As Värmland is a forest county two big forestry industries – Skoghall and Grums – are situated by the shore. Historically, and even now, lake Vänern has been of importance for transports of timber and wooden products.
We started in a lush bay, Randviken, and headed south to cross Kattfjorden. The head-wind was uplifting as we came out on open water. In the distance east we could see the enormous pulp mill, Skoghall. We already felt far away from civilization. Oyster catchers and common sandpipers were busy protecting their nests.
Our first stop after 5 km was a sandy, shallow sound where we easily could pass with our kayaks.
Towards south the windmills “Gässlingarna” (The Goslings) showed up. We enjoyed our paddling in the evening sun through nature reserve Segerstad and arrived to our goal of the day – Åsundasundet – in sunset, eager to continue next day.
New day, new horizons! The north and south winds were struggling towards each other which made our 7 km crossing over the bay Åsundafjorden very special. We did meet some loons and some cormorants – otherwise we were quite on our own. And no signs of boats or human beings. In the distance Värmlandsnäs was dimly seen. Water and sky – what a view!
Our first landfall was a little islet patrolled by a sea gull. An erratic block balancing on the rock showed traces from the last ice age. Wonder where it came from. All along our crossing we had observed the 7 m red and white lighthouse Åsnegrundet in the distance. It marks an underwater due and has been there since 1961.
Time for a break to stretch our legs and fill up with a little bit of extra water and energy. Boiled free range eggs are perfect food.
Energized we followed the coastline southbound passing stony beaches and ground gneiss rocks. The rocks with different colors in red, grey, black and white and different patterns are all great pieces of art. Two Canada goose families melted into the environment and followed us for a while. The sky turned grey and we wondered if our trip for today should end in thunder and lightening. In a peaceful rain we arrived at Stavikens fyr, one of the oldest lighthouses in lake Vänern.