(Camp site co-ordinates at Nytebodaskogen, Sweden: 56.334084,14.390979)
There are lots of old legends and tales of trolls, faeries and other mystical creatures from the swedish forests of old. Nowadays there's very little old growth forest left in the country, so your chances of seeing them are very slim. I found a stretch of forest which is the only old-growth forest left in the southern half of the country. Being a biology student I had extra interest in it, and I was all over it and told my friend Jimbo we were going for a hang.
Luckily, this forest is strictly protected and there are more restrictions than there would be anywhere else i.e no fishing and no fires allowed. This also meant that it was very clean and many areas hadn't seen human activity at all for a long time. And THAT is definately a sight for sore eyes. There are not a lot of human-free areas in sweden but we definately found a gem here. You could really forget the world around you.
Anyway, we set off by car at around 10 in the morning and stopped for lunch at Olofström- the last real outpost before heading into the forest. Energized and pepped up we looked forward to two days of prime camping. That's when the skies open up. Someone seemed to have upset Thor and he was letting us know...
We reached the entrance of the forest just as the worst rain subsided, and headed off. The road soon turned into a trail which then just ended. It was bushwacking from then on.
Being an old forest, the trees were HUGE! Much taller than anything I've ever seen. Nothing like a redwood of course, but they still made you feel tiny. Even the ferns were huge. And the ground was a green sea of moss everywhere you looked.
We've had a couple of storms here which had taken bad tolls on some areas, but I thought climbing over fallen trees was great fun- it was too far to walk around most, because they were so big.
Jimbo is a big guy so I helped him out in the worst areas.
After climbing over a stone wall, which looked to be 400 years old in the middle of the thickest part of the forest, we found a pine with copious amounts of resin running down it. We quickly dubbed it "the candle tree".
After another while we stopped to catch our breath and wipe the sweat from our brows. And right beside us there was a boulder which definately looked like an ugly troll. Didn't think of getting a pic of that though, sorry! But it started me thinking of what an eerie place the dark forest can be around dusk.
We set our sights (gps) on a small lake which had a little peninsula going out into it. That would make a wicked camp site, and after reaching it we soon found out we were very right. It was a very isolated place and there wasn't a trace of civilisation anywhere near. Just enough room between the trees for a hammock, hardly any (wet) underbrush, and a rock just by the lakeside, naturally shaped to seat two. The perfect spot.
I set up my mosquito, and Jimbo set up his crazy orange tent. I got him to try the hammock though, and he liked it a lot
As the sun was setting we cooked our brought along food with some chantarelles we found on the way. And they were just as tasty as they look
We were pretty damp from walking through the wet underbrush but had no time to dry our clothes in the sun before it set, and weren't allowed to make a fire (all wood was wet anyway) so I sat up in the hammock and put on all my extra clothes for the night. I had half my tarp swung over the other side, but then it slipped down and droplets of water collected on it ran into the hammock and soaked my bee-hind.
I worked for a while to try to dry the hammock out and got most of it, but it already felt cold to the touch and I started to get worried for the night...
We sat for a while by the lakeside and and had a few laughs, then it was time to sleep. I was cold, wet and uncomfortable from the get-go and there was no way I was going to fall asleep that night. Being awake burns more calories than being asleep so most of my next-day ration was consumed just to keep my temperature up.
I have chronic insomnia so being awake for an entire night is not really a biggie to me, but I do hate being cold. I got up at around 5 in the morning and then I was glad I wasn't asleep...:
The mist in this dead quiet setting was really magical. And with Jimbo sound asleep (despite the screaming color of his tent), I had a moment alone with the faeries dancing across the water, and snapped a few pics. (You can barely make them out in the last pic above ) The silence was almost deafening apart from a raven which flew high above the trees.
The mist was so dense that I could barely see across the lake, and when the sun sent its first rays over the horizon the entire atmosphere changed from bleak gray to blazing orange.
By then I didn't mind being cold or deprived of sleep. Even though we had some mishaps and bad luck, that moment in the morning made it all worth it. We were both really tired and with the food gone we made coffee in the warming sunrise and then headed straight for the car.
My first sleep in a hammock will wait for another time, but WOW what a great camp it was.