Thursday, 28 June 2018

Our Scandinavian Tour - Day 49 - 51

Tuesday 26th June 2018  🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞 Very Hot.
Mileage today 185 from Skuleberget Havscamping to Stromsund
Parking Co-ordinates 63.84919, 15.55472

Today was going to be a long drive day so I really didn't think I'd have much to say - but if you keep your eyes open (and make notes along the way so you don't forget things) it's quite easy to have a few lines to jot down πŸ˜‚ - and hopefully, at least some of it might be interesting!!

Our first stop was after only about 20 miles down the road at the town of Ornskoldsvik - and we choose there because John told me it would be the last Lidl in Sweden so a bit more stocking up was required before we need to take out a mortgage to do our shopping in Norway!

Then once we got going again it has to be said that our journey was initially a bit boring with mile after mile of road that was closely lined with tightly packed fir and broad leaf trees interspersed with huge log piles and log loading stations.  Also our way was mostly deserted because even though we were travelling at about 60 mph we managed very long periods without seeing any other vehicles, and at that stage even Mrs Snoopy was mostly quiet.

Eventually however, a pretty lunch stop presented itself for a very welcome break right beside 2 big lakes, but we couldn't dawdle for too long because at that stage we'd still got a long way to go.  And it was just after we set off again that we had our first sighting of several Moose - one on the road and a group hiding in the trees, but they were a lot quicker than me because by the time I'd snatched up my camera they'd already scarpered.  Then sad to say, the second one we saw was dead in a ditch!

Later, about half way through our journey we passed back over into the province of Jamtland and then with only about 50 miles left we were required to do a bit of off-roading!!

Our road ahead was closed and the diversion directed us onto an unmade road which upset Mrs Snoopy no end - she binged and bonged and screeched 'turn around when possible' on numerous occasions!!  However, after John had checked on a 'real map' continuing forwards was our only option!  So poor T4rdis2 and us had to endure being shaken nearly to death for another  6 very bumpy miles on a narrow unmade dirt track - and it was a wonder that the milk we'd purchased earlier wasn't churned to butter!  But really, we were quite lucky because in all that distance we only had one close butt clenching seat clinging encounter when a van came heading towards us at a rapid rate of knots!!

Unfortunately, our little joy ride did add several more miles to our already long journey but we eventually arrived safely in Stromsund and parked in a free Camper Stop for the night, and tomorrow we're heading further North on a road called 'The Wilderness Road' so more adventures and animal encounters may be on the cards!!

Wednesday 27th June 2018  🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞 - another hot one!
Mileage today 130 from Stromsund to the summit of the Wilderness Road
Parking Co-ordinates 65.022, 14.312

This morning found us parked in our free camper stop near the massive Lake Stroms Vattudal and our plan hadn't changed - we were still going to drive part of the 225 mile long  Wilderness Road, and with a bit of luck, wild camp somewhere near the top.  However, before we set off we had a bit of a mission - and that was to restock our diminishing wine cellar before we cross over the border into Norway where said beverages will be very expensive.  Now in Sweden (and Norway) they only sell alcohol above 3.5% proof at Systembolaget shops so that was where we were headed, but on the way we paused to have a look at the lake and also the Stromsund Bridge which is 346 metres long and has pylons that are 30 metres tall.

Apparently it was the first cable stayed bridge to be built in Sweden and one of the first of it's kind in the world when it was constructed in 1954.

After that, and with our mission complete, it didn't take us long to get  underway onto the Wilderness route which starts from the town of Stromsund. In Sweden it's called the Vildmarksvagen and it's one of Sweden's highest roads, that at it's summit, crosses the Stekenjokk plateau between Jamtland and Lapland.  It's also said that this route provides one of the very few places in Sweden where you have the opportunity to go hiking on wheels - therefore, it seemed an ideal place for us to go!  However, it's only possible to do so between June and October because during the winter it's always closed due to the huge amounts of snow that accumulate there, and apparently, even when it does first open it's not unusual to see a snow depth of up to 6 metres in places.

Having said all that, initially we were quite disappointed with what we saw because it was just mile after mile of more dense forest, huge lakes, and pretty wild flowers, but it certainly didn't match up to the picture we'd developed in our mind's eye!  So when we stopped for lunch we were a bit despondent, and this was added to when we started to notice lots of 'chipping' lorries - and they weren't of the potato kind!  We also spotted tankers full of tar and several heavy duty road making machines, so from that we deduced that the job of resurfacing the road looked as if it was scheduled to start tomorrow!  And we were just saying how glad we were to have missed that almighty mess when we realised we'd spoken to soon cos all of a sudden we were halted in our tracks by traffic lights that held us back for about 15 mins! Then a convoy van appeared to lead us through a very long section that had already been chipped, and as you would imagine that didn't add to our joy of being where we were especially when we were almost eating the dust that was being kicked up our leader.

However, at that point in our journey the terrain began to change - the trees gave way to barren tundra and the hills started to ramp up and present quite big patches of deep snow on their slopes - and then around the next corner a massive herd of reindeer were gathered on the hillside!

These are only a very few of the individuals we saw!
Also at that stage of our journey, and just before the summit of the Wilderness Road, an ideal wild camp place presented itself so that was us sorted for the night!

(this was taken the next morning after a long night of rain)
At this point we were only 3 miles from the Norwegian Border but John
calculated that we'd still got 542 miles to go before we'd be crossing it by road!
However, what we hadn't anticipated was that the deer would come down off the hillside, cross the road and come right into T4rdis2's parking area before heading off in a Westerly direction.  Unfortunately, as well as reindeer there were also huge numbers of mosquitoes which made it impossible to stand outside to watch the spectacle, and thus we were quite quickly forced to retreat to the safer interior of T4rdis2!  But this was possibly an advantage because it was almost as if we were in a hide as the deer surrounded us and went about the business of grazing as they wandered by.

It was truly a magnificent site with the group including bulls, cows and calves, who  took about 40 mins to pass by - but that wasn't the last we saw of them!  At about 10pm we had the pleasure of their company again - John thought it was the same group but I said it couldn't be because I didn't recognise any of them!

In the end we decided the numbers of deer we'd seen  must have been many hundreds if not thousands, and as every single animal is owned it must be a very complicated business to sort them all out at round up time!  

Thursday 28th June 2018  πŸŒ§️🌧️🌧️🌧️🌧️ more or less all day!
Mileage 132 from the summit of the Wilderness Road to just outside the town of Storuman

Well, that was a bad night in our lonely isolated LOVELY spot!  The rain hammered on T4rdis2's roof, the deer returned intermittently and 'barked' to each other, and John woke and told me of his thoughts of getting stuck on our sandy and slightly muddy parking space - thus for both of us sleep was quite elusive!!!  But 'hey ho' it's only sleep and I'm sure we'll soon catch up!  

This morning we set off at about 10am in the still pouring rain but our hopes of seeing more animals - particularly moose or brown bears were still high.  However, if the bears knew what was coming they'd be sensible to stay hidden!  Apparently up to 100 will be killed following a decision from the Council in Jamtland who aim to minimise damage caused by bears to reindeer.  The article we read stated that the bear population increases by about 10% year on year mostly because they have no natural predators, and now the present population is estimated to be about 200 more than that set by conservationists so a cull will occur between August and October!

At this stage of our journey we didn't spot any more animals, not even deer, but we did see plenty of other wild campers in both motor homes and caravans, and some of them were definitely in places far off the road that looked slightly dangerous!  I say that because we had neither phone or internet signals up there and if you got stuck it could have been disastrous! 

From our starting position we didn't have far to go before we passed over the summit of the Wilderness Road which stands at 876 metres, and then as we started to trickle down the other side we officially entered Swedish Lapland which we will be exploring a little more thoroughly  over the next few days.

Then as we descended the terrain changed once more - we soon left the barren slopes behind and once again entered into areas where forestation and gigantic lakes provided the scenery.  And by then I think we'd more or less given up on seeing any more animals, but that was probably inevitable because the vastness of the area provides loads of places for them to hide far away from where humans are likely to tread!  However, I did wonder about the lakes and what they might hide in their murky deep waters!  Many of them had been formed by glacial erosion in the last ice age and the many miles that their waters covered would have made it very easy for creatures or even monsters to have hidden there over the millennia!

So, to sum up!  Did we enjoy the Wilderness Road taking into account it's boring bits, the road chipping and the miserable weather of today?  If someone had told us we'd drive 236 miles just to see some reindeer crossing the road I think we'd have told them to get lost!  But the experience was a wondrous and magical experience and one we wouldn't have missed for anything, and I'm sure it will be  remembered for many years to come!

Anyway, that's about all for another episode, and I think next time we chat we'll be well up in the Arctic Circle!
Take Care πŸ˜™πŸ˜™

Click here to see our Swedish camping spots