Day 8: August 4

We decided in the last couple days that we were going to spend only one night in Hede and then hike and head to Östersund all in one day. The train we were going to take to Umeå has to take a detour these days, adding several hours to the trip, so that's been out since before we left the US. There was talk of taking a bus from Östersund, but since the Avis guy in Stockholm said it wouldn't be a problem for us to drop the car off in Umeå instead, we decided to skip the bus as well.

So we checked out and headed for the park. Snag #1: I hate to speak ill of the hotel owner in Hede, but I think he gave us bad directions. I'd been planning on going to the east entrance to the park via a road from Hedeviken, just a few kilometers away, or possibly the west side of the park. He strongly recommended the east side and said, I think, that the road to it was all the way down by Sveg, at least half an hour away. We trusted him and headed out that way, but in looking at a map about halfway to Sveg, we decided that this didn't make any sense. We stopped a few minutes north of Sveg at a gas station and asked some of the locals, and they also seemed to think that Hedeviken was the way. So we went back up to Hedeviken, took the well-marked road to the park, and got where I originally figured we'd get by going that way.

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After driving down a long, dusty, rocky road, we got to the parking area at the park entrance. At the trailhead, there were all kinds of smaller cows and maybe other grazing livestock all over—watch your step. We saw signs pointing toward the park and giving distances, which seemed a little odd. But we picked one and headed out. It was very rocky and rugged and all that, winding through thick woods. This didn't seem quite right, so we asked some people we'd run into and looked at their map, but it didn't help much other than to let us know that everything this side of the parking area was in the park. We tried another trail and stuck with that a little longer, but it was much the same. Eventually we again decided that enough was enough and went back to the car for some lunch. On the way, I noticed at one sign post that there were two signs pointing "toward the park" and that the one I hadn't seen seemed to be pointing toward a real trail. D'oh. While I was checking out the first few paces of it, Mom talked to a guy who had come out of one of the cabins. He led her into an information hut, another thing we'd failed to see/recognise (figured it was just another private cabin, I guess), with maps and stuff. Double d'oh.

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OK, let's try this again. I ate half my lunch, and we went up the real trail. By this time, it had started thundering and raining, but I was in no mood to give up after all the earlier horse-hockey. So we pressed on. After a while, all the hiking was starting to catch up with Mom, so she sent me on ahead at my own pace. It was an ideal climb, just steep enough to be sufficiently challenging but not so much so that it was overly difficult or dangerous. After a few minutes, the rain quit (and/or I had hiked out of it), though the thunder did not. Didn't see any lightning, though, so I was relatively unconcerned. I got up above the tree line and up to the lower peak, Lillfjället ("little mountain"). I took roughly five billion pictures on the way up, mainly because I could see columns of rainfall at a distance, and that just plain looked cool. The ground up there was carpeted with loose rocks, many of which had been stacked into cairns by previous hikers. I took a good, long look at the trail to the main peak and thought about going the rest of the way, but I knew we didn't really have time for that. And Lillfjället was pretty cool on its own. So I ate my other sandwich and headed back down.

Right about at the tree line and just below the steepest part of the trail, Mom was waiting. Wow, never would have guessed that she'd come that far up. We went the rest of the way down through a little more rain and spent a more substantial amount of time in the information hut. Then it was back to the car and on to Östersund.

The drive was fairly rainy. Mom wanted to stop at a grocery store in Klövsjö, and while she was inside, I saw several motorcycles drive by, and right after that, a motorcycle cop went by with his flasher on but no siren. I'm guessing the MC cop was unrelated to the bikes ahead of him, because next I heard and then saw a helicopter overhead, and then a whole bunch of bicyclists came flying down the road in a race. Would've been cool to have had the camera ready for that.

More rainy driving, and then we got to Östersund, checked in, and went to the Lilla Siam restaurant a few blocks from the hotel. There must be a considerable Thai population in the area, because Östersund isn't the kind of place I'd expect to have any Thai restaurants, let alone two on the same block as there were (though the other one, the Thai Paviljong, was closed for renovations or something). We also saw a few "take away Thai" places as we neared the city. Anyway, Lilla Siam wasn't great but was plenty good enough. I had a tofu something-or-other so that I could take a much-needed break from eating meat with every single meal. Points off the restaurant's atmosphere score, though, for the toddler who was running around and shrieking very loudly (in play)—apparently a child of an employee or owner. Very slow service, too, especially given that there were only a couple other tables occupied. So when I went to pay up, I wasn't at all bothered that the waiter didn't give me a chance to change the total to add a tip. We took a walk down to the waterfront/marina afterwards, looked around a bit, and went back up to the hotel.

[Post-trip note: yes, lots of Thai here, and many get seasonal work picking berries.]

Kind of funny, there's a train track across the marina entrance, and we saw two trains. Not only were neither of them electric, in spite of the overhead wires that seemed to be there for the express purpose of powering trains, but the gates at the crossing closed well in advance of the arriving train, as in there was no train even in sight either time the gates closed.

Even with the silly morning, today was pretty well worth it. I'll have to get back there to finish the mountain sometime.

Previous: August 3
Next: August 5

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Jeff Blank <jfb@mr-happy.com>