CANOEING IN DALSLAND SWEDEN
Sat with a cup of tea in an open fronted wooden camping hut watching the sun go down over the pine forest the UK and work seemed a lifetime and a million miles away. It was hard to think that at the same time the previous day I was boarding a plane at Manchester Ringway bound for Gothenburg in Sweden. As the sun dropped slowly behind the trees across the lake it was time to put on a fleece and make another cup of tea.
It was the beginning of May but the day had been hot and sunny and the night temperature of 15C seemed cold when compared to 23C heat of the day. In front of the camping hut I had a roaring wood fire, the smoke from which occasionally blew into the hut to sting my eyes and pervade my clothing and sleeping bag with the scent of time spent out in the wilderness. This was true wilderness; it was sobering to think that there was only one other person in the world who knew where I was on the planet and he only had a rough idea of my itinerary. Bertil’s outfitters at Ed, Canodal, had supplied me with the kayak, suggested a route, camping stops and pick up point and then dropped me off. He left me by the lake and with a cheery wave from the Volvo he sped off home down the gravel track. As the cloud of dust settled I was enveloped by nature; the lapping of the waves on the shore, the sound of bird song and the smell of pine from the north woods; magic. It was time to pack and get organised.
The kayak that had been provided was new, plastic and imported from Norway. It was stable and could accommodate all my gear in two waterproof compartments front and back from my paddling position. The scenery is a mix of birch, Scots pine and Norway Spruce growing out of a thin soil over granite rocks and in some cases the trees appear to be just growing from the rock itself! Along with the views there are the smaller details such as the rock folding, quartz intrusions, individual trees and plants and the bird and animal life to look out for, as well as the complex navigation through the islands which dot the lakes on this area of Sweden. There was no other boat traffic and the only sign of any other human was the glimpse of the odd farm or summer house by the shore but apart from that I was alone. When travelling in the outdoors I am always especially careful as one small mishap can become very serious when so far from assistance. I was keenly aware that the water temperature was still very cold and although the boat was very stable a swim could have disastrous consequences. I kept close to shore so that in the event of a swim the trip to dry land would be short. The wind did get up towards evening as I approached the campsite and for safety sake I kept my paddles low and just kept plodding on towards my goal; the camping hut on the island.
Snug in my sleeping bag, a cup of tea in hand and with the fires last embers just a glow I studded the map to look at the next part of the journey. The whole area is littered with lakes and streams that are linked by short portages and there are camping huts a plenty. There is enough canoeing to keep you going for a day or even a month. As the sun set I planned routes that would keep me coming back to Dalsland for years.