Tuesday, November 4, 2014

5 Family Hikes in Vemdalen

Hi Friends. Happy November. Our bags are unpacked. The laundry is folded. The kids are back in school after last week's little adventure to "Who Valley." Yes, Dr. Seuss, were these Swedish mountains your source of inspiration? "Who Valley" is the translation for a mountain village in Sweden called, Vemdalen.

While we didn't discover clover patches with talking "Who's" or elephants in "Who Valley," we did meet reindeer and traversed blueberry patches.

Follow us below for a look and 5 hikes that I would recommend for families visiting the area.

Daily translations, interpretations or misinterpretations are constant companions when you live abroad, giving every, single, day, something extra, as well as humor and keeping me feeling very humble. At almost the same time that I grasped the translation of Vemdalen, I received a reply to an email that I had sent, written in Swedish, delicately addressing the fact that I had wished the receiver a "Happy Fall Leaf" not a "Happy Fall Break*," as I had intended.  She kindly added that this was a common foreign mistake, so if you, like me, are an ex-pat: remember that o's and ö's are not interchangeable!

While this won't be my last Swedish misstep, charting a new course, is often about taking unexpected leaps, such as jumping in the car and driving the open roads, 6 hours north, to try something new. This time it was traveling off-season to the Swedish Mountains.  In the words of the kids, "these were the best hikes ever!" (and they've seen some beauties this year: here | here | here.)

I'm not a camper or tough, wilderness, adventurer, but, off-season travel holds an allure to me. When it works well, I feel like I've uncovered and experienced something rare, special and singular. Doing this with my family only amplifies the intensity of the satisfaction that comes with a shared experience like this.  I've thought about another aspect, too: could it possibility be about managing expectations, having fewer controls and lacking expectations that force me to be open to what "could be" rather than was I had decided should be.  I know that many of our best family times come under these circumstances.

Traveling with a family to Vemdalen:

While traveling to this region in October and November is off-season, there are still things to do. High seasons is ski season here and since schools around Sweden are on their Fall Break the last two weeks of October, these are the two weeks during the Fall that I could recommend traveling if you want to be certain of extra activities and optimal store and restaurant hours. There were many hotels and areas advertising activities for kids such as things from a Halloween Ghost Disco to daily Icelandic Horse rides plus oodles of well, marked trails.  As we packed up to drive home,  I could see tents raising for a market where traditional northern Swedish items such as cloudberry jam, leather and silver jewellery and reindeer pelts were being sold.

Our weather apps showed predictions for snowfalls the week before our arrival and snow on the day we would leave, but, we had tremendous luck and experienced sweater weather with temperatures ranging from 2 - 15 C. (32 - 59 degree F.) We took a different, well-marked, trail and hike every day.  With such plentiful and well marked trails, we had so many options and could base each day's walks on our mood and the weather. It 's important to consider the shortening hours of daylight. Up at 64 Degree North, it rises late and sets early (7:48 AM - 3:48 PM.) The stars shone so bright that it almost didn't make sense to me when I realised that Orion and the moon, barely rose above the tree topped mountains at night. I've been here so many, many, years now and this far north sky still has the power to surprise me.

The first day, we headed straight up and followed the well marked trails along the bald mountain ridge of Vemdalsfjällen. We looked for the reindeer but only crossed paths with a hare.

Red signs, like these above,  were being re-painted and readied for the coming snow season and mark both hikes and cross-country paths. During ski season, warming huts will be opened along many of these paths that will serve up both fires to heat-yourself to and snacks, such a Waffles with jam and hot chocolate! These are will marked.

In this region, you can discover award winning breweries, farm dairies, bakeries and charming restaurants as well. We found a bakery with Swedish baked-goods and a stone fireplace for bread, just as we were leaving Vemdalen, called Bageriet Vemdalen (here) which we brought back with us and look forward to returning to.

Vemdalen sits at 62 degrees north and is still only 1/2 way up Sweden.
Above: Sonfjället:The highest mountain peak in the area is Helags, which has Sweden’s southernmost glacier and stands 1,797 metres above sea level.

If you are considering visiting Vemdalen, these were areas we'd recommend:

1. Vemdalsfjällen and grab a bite afterwards at Storhogna Hotel and Spa, with is located at the base.

2. Varggranstugan: A rocky hike that rounds a small mountain spring with a spell-binding view.

3. Fettjeåfallet is a waterfall with a 60 meter vertical drop. There is a well marked path that weaves through an Elsa Beskow woods until it edges closer to a the mountain stream which the kids loved. It's located 2 km from the parking and this are shelters and a picnic area near the falls. To get there, drive pass Klövsjöfjäll on a quiet gravel road.

4. Sångbäcksfallet: This softly sing waterfall is located along the road that leads to Storhogna.

5. Sonfjället: This is one that fills you with accomplishment because as you stand at the base looking at it, it feels impossible to imagine the full hike. Start the walk from Nyvallen and follow one of several well marked paths up to the summit. You can see all of the way to Norway from here.

- Dress in layers and be prepared for all weather.
- Wear high, water-proof, hiking foot wear. Read the weather reports.

- If you're you don't follow me on instagram, just click: here here + here to see a few more pictures of the area.

- More about the area: Click here for more information about the area.

Willowday Wishes! If you're traveling to Sweden, here are a few things we love:

Places to go with kids in Stockholm | click here
Kid's Stockholm: Where to eat with kids | click here
5 Family Friendly Restaurants in Stockholm

Something you might like:
Travel Journals
Luggage Tags
Skiing in Romme
Inspirational Road Trip to Dalarna:
Artipelag Museum and here

(* Fall Break = Höstlov | Fall Leaf = Höstlöv)

Something you might like:
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  1. HAPPY FALL LEAF TO YOU. Great pictures and it looks like a wonderful family time.

    1. Thank you for sharing the fun and humour!

  2. Thank you for sharing this 5 hikes with us. Wonderful pictures. The landscape is like a mix from the alpes and moors in england...blue-white signs...we've got yellow one's...3.40pm is way to early for a sunset. Zürich is 6pm now. Could be is always better than should be...an open mind...Happy Tuesday Evening wishes

    1. Natalie, I really appreciate hearing about Zurich and the Moors. I've never been out of London and so enjoyed seeing you beautiful photos, too! ... I agree: the darkness is really quite a phenomenon. I just marvel at the way it actually bends light!

  3. Beautiful, Gina! We went hiking in the neighboring area last summer, but was put off by the amount of mosquitoes. Looks like we should try it again during next Fall break!

    1. Thank you! Oh, dear. I hear about those northern mosquitoes that always scare me away from prioritising a visit in the summer, too! I felt that the hiking now was optimal. We've hiked one other time in June and had such such wet trails due to the amount of melting snow. Although, it felt warm in Stockholm, at that point; the fact that we were so much further north really hit home when we found ourselves in a valley up to our thighs in water! Thanks so much!

  4. This looks lovely—bookmarking for inspiration! And re: mosquitoes, when we mentioned to my mother-in-law that we'd like to see Kiruna in the spring/summer she said NOOOOOo the MOSQUITOOOESSSSS. So. Have added that (along with this!) to our fall/winter adventure folder :).

    1. Thanks so much. Great to hear from you and also, for passing the local news on! Yes... I've heard that the mosquitoes are also extremely tiny, sneaking in everywhere -- making this another reason for a Fall visit!

  5. Just catching up on this one! Looks like a beautiful outing with the family! loved see the photos of the kids and the beauty of Sweden! xo Cori

  6. Hej Gina
    I found you via Natalie (www.schaeresteipapier.ch) and now I see that you have made vacation at the same place as we did this year.
    We also made the same hikes and we saw the fall colors, the snow and a lot of reindeers - it was beautiful...
    I love your pictures - they are so wonderful!
    Ha en fin dag!

    1. Mama kram, Oh, this just makes my day! I 'm able to just quickly pop over to your post and see the familiar landscapes and beautiful photos. I'm just both so glad to meet "a friend of Natalie" and to share this experience. Isn't it just a breathtaking trip? There's so much I could add but, just have a minute and will be sure to come over to your blog now. Thank you so much for taking the time to say hello! Ha en fin dag! Gina


Thank you!