My main target for the trip was the Storulvån mountain station. It has a good reputation and it’s suitable for day hikers like me because the place is surrounded by mountains. The prices are a bit on the high side for something that’s part of the Youth Hostel chain, however let’s not forget that we’re almost up at the tree line. Another important thing to remember is that you get your money’s worth – I love that place! Since I’m partial to big breakfasts, I also invested in their morning feast. What can I say – breakfast for champions for sure. I was happy looking around the restaurant while eating – for once I felt at home as hiking pants and fleece sweaters were the norm, not the exception. Bliss.
But it was raining. A lot. I decided to make a brief trip to a suspension bridge over the Handölan river to feel out the conditions. It is relatively warm (no worries about snow then) but oh the rain; if there was anything good I could say about the weather, then at least the clouds weren’t very low as the mountains immediately around were visible. The bridge then, it was a bit of a disappointment, I expected wood planks and ropes but it was all metal. I crossed it over and came back and it has to be said that the metal constructions was a bit more reassuring than wood and ropes, even if one of the side support cables was worn cut.
Back in the hostel, I had to make some adjustments to my clothing because of the rain and warm temperature. There is something to be said for functional clothing – it really works and keeps you comfortable no matter what the conditions are. Out here the looks really don’t matter. Another good investment is contact lenses; I really hate it when you lose visibility because the water is running down the glasses.
So I climbed up the rather easy trail to the tree line and continued towards Sylarna. No Sylarna visible though – rain and clouds you know. At one point the rain got really heavy, so heavy that with the gusting wind, the rain drops felt almost like needles on my face and the sound they were making on my hood was deafening. I was lucky to have a crop off birches just off the trail so I found what little protection there was, but now I was starting to feel the effects of the conditions and all my rain guarding started to feel inadequate. I was not just a little worried to see that my rucksack was soaked – the camera was in there. When the worst rain dissipated, I went back on the trail and saw something move on the opposide side of the valley. Had to stop for a moment to see if it really was a person or a reindeer, and sure enough it was someone else braving the elements. He more than me, actually – he was hiking between the mountain cabins, I was just making small excursions. My short hikes in the rain and the wind might earn me bragging rights in the office, but out here I’m the novice.
By now I decided that it simply wasn’t worth the trouble anymore as Sylarna wouldn’t be visible anyway, so I turned back. I was definitely feeling less comfortable now. I was getting a bit cold, the rain somehow beat my face on my way back in like it had been walking out, and I definitely did not need the jacket side ventilation zips open anymore as I surmised that they had let in not only air, but also rain. Back in the hostel I unpacked the camera with some trepidation but was relieved to notice that although the bag was definitely not as waterproof as it should’ve been, the gear was dry – protected by the plastic bag and pack towel I had wrapped around it.
It was still only early afternoon and I hoped that the weather would turn at least a little bit so I could go out some more. But it just kept raining. A lot. And the wind was hard; the kind of wind that beats stormy waves in the surface of the smallest of puddles. Nope, just gotta hope for better weather tomorrow.
Despite all the discomforts and the slight disappointment of not having any photo ops, the day hasn’t been wasted. It does’t matter if the wind is so hard it almost knocks you off a bridge. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining so hard it cuts through your waterproof clothing. It doesn’t matter if the trail becomes a river of water and mud; what matters is that I’m out here and if only for a brief moment, I feel alive!