I focus far ahead, the roots of a spruce stretch across the trail but the fat tyres of my bicycle swallow them up, making them barely noticeable. I’m on my way to today’s camping spot with guide, Håkan Hjort and Taiga Adventures.
I had an amazing start to the day. Deeply embedded in my sleeping bag I was aware of the aroma of coffee outside the tent and it was so alluring that I could hardly gather all my clothes, get out of the sleeping bag and dress quickly enough. As I put my feet in my slippers outside the tent, I swept my warm jacket around me and edged the last few steps up to the fire with the coffee pot hanging over it.
“Some coffee?” Håkan asked and he had already begun pouring the black beverage into my cup. Few things can compete with drinking a hot cup of coffee by a crackling fire out in the forest. If there were to be anything, it would be lying in a warm sleeping bag and listening to the sounds of nature. How nice to be able to combine the two.
The trail leads us out onto a gravel road. It is old, well-worn and winds through young forest, into real, old forest. The gravel road provides a nice bit of relaxation and light cycling after the constant need for focus on the trails. They haven’t exactly been difficult, the large tyres impressively iron out many of the uneven patches, but in the beginning, the weight of the bike was a bit of a challenge. We have secured our packing both up front on the handlebars and under/behind the saddle, of course the backpack adds some weight too. In the beginning, steering felt heavy and a bit tricky but I quickly got the hang of it and now whenever we hit the short stretches of gravel road, I’m almost surprised by how easy it is to cycle.
When we stop to drink we hear birds, Håkan imitates them and lures them closer.
I soon find that I like the trails best. They wind through quiet, green forests. It isn’t completely quiet of course, we scare an elk and are almost as scared ourselves. When we stop to drink we hear birds, Håkan imitates them and lures them closer. When it is time for lunch we gather firewood together and then we can just enjoy ourselves whilst waiting for Håkan to fry the suovas, the lightly smoked reindeer meat that provides a nice complement to our packed lunch. Our lunch break lasts a couple of hours, but who’s in a hurry anyway? A quick look at the map and some deliberation on timings and choices of routes – and then we fill our water bottles from the lake before pedalling on.
Trails and old gravel roads intermingle, we spot a cottage and suddenly a number of deserted houses. Buildings, here? It feels like we are on an adventure in the deepest of forests and yet someone decided to settle here, a long time ago.
Pedal, pedal! The mire that we are crossing is wet and not extensive but it sucks the bicycle in nonetheless. I gear down and pedal frantically to avoid having to put my feet down. I feel that I’m starting to get really good at this, choosing un-travelled roads and traversing them with my new friend, the fatbike.
We are in no hurry and I let my mind whir away looking at the dancing water before we cycle on.
We stop on the bridge over Flarkån, waters are always impressive and framed in autumn colours and this is a very picturesque location. A little bit further downstream lies Fällforsen, one of the day’s destinations. The last one, save for our camping spot a short way away. We are in no hurry and I let my mind whir away looking at the dancing water before we cycle on.
This has, of course, been an interesting cycling trip. We have cycled past Odjursberget (the Beast’s Mountain), been on the edge of Björnbergsmyran and paused at a number of scenic spots where I would love to spend more time, but this trip only has two overnight stops and it will soon be time for the last one.
We pitch our tents quickly and get our stuff inside. Now I know where I want everything. It is a good concept; tent, sleeping bag and all other outdoor equipment is included in the travel package and I know that the things we packed at the garage on the first night at the Northern Light Guesthouse, are things that work well and are suited to the task.
Morning greets us with a clear, high sky and it looks like a lovely day ahead. I walk around the tents and stretch my body to relieve some of the stiffness that comes with several days’ biking. I take a picture of a strikingly orange-red rowan tree that stands out amongst the green pines. We enjoy a calm breakfast before we pack up, strap everything onto the bicycles, fill our water bottles from a small brook and put on our backpacks. The last day, the last leg of the journey back to civilisation. I’m in no hurry.
Text: Annika Berggren
Photo: Håkan Hjort