3 days trailrunning in Jämtland
Fjällöpning i Jämtland
Last year we ran along Jämtlandstriangeln for 47 kilometres and enjoyed it so much that we decided to do it again. Only this time we wanted to challenge ourselves with a longer distance and be out running for several days in a row. This time we were also lucky that some friends decided to join us and we really had a great time running with backpacks weighing some 3-5 kilos each and sleeping at mountain lodges with full board. We also wanted to add some elevation so one goal along the way was to climb up to the summit of Helags in Härjedalen, Sweden.
Looking at the weather forecast a few days before our adventure was not very encouraging. Rain all day long during at least the first two days. That was not exactly the kind of adventure we had been looking forward to. Nevertheless, we had our bookings at mountain lodges and it was not possible to change the dates so we decided to give it a try anyway.
Our plan was the following
Day 1: Storulvån-Blåhammaren-Sylarna, stay overnight at Sylarna mountain lodge
Day 2: Sylarna-Helags-Helags summit, stay overnight at Helags mountain lodge
Day 3: Helags-Storulvån
Storulvån mountain lodge
30-39 kilometres each day
5-8 hours a day
Water on the way
Shoes to choose
While planning the whole thing we all agreed on that this was adventure running purely for fun and not any race running. We were doing this together and also wanted to enjoy it all together. Since all of us don´t run at the same pace we had to have some kind of plan to cope with that.
Since there is a lot of elevation along the way we agreed on that if someone preferred running uphill while some preferred walking that was just fine. We would meet again at the top. Also, if someone felt he or she got a great flow in his/her running it was perfectly ok to run a bit on one´s own as long as no one was left behind. And as a back-up, if someone felt he or she had not run enough during the day, there are plenty of summits around the lodges where we stayed giving lots of opportunities to run and climb as many times as one wants to.
Storulvån - Blåhammaren – Sylarna
Elevation +700 metres
On our first day we arrived from Åre so we had an hour´s drive to Storulvån mountain lodge. The temperature showed 20 degrees Celsius and no wind, quite a difference from the weather forecast a few days earlier! This was going to be a really good day. Some rain after lunch, around 3 p.m. was expected. It surely did not feel like that by now.
After some repacking, changing into shorts and t-shirts and once again going through the route we weighted the backpacks, 3-5 kilos each. Some of us brought an extra t-shirt and a lot of snacks.
The first part of the trail is super easy along a wooden bridge, but soon enough we reached a birch forest and the elevation kicked in.
After about 1 kilometre we reached a crossroads where you choose to go either to Sylarna or to Blåhammaren. Most people continue to Sylarna from here but we had decided to pass by Blåhammaren on the way. A detour for about 13 kilometres but we knew from before that it was very well worth the effort.
We had a lovely run all the way down to the delta-area by Storulvån, with a short break by some waterfalls along the trail. It had been a very dry summer so this time it was not muddy at all and we did not even have to take off our shoes crossing the stream Storulvån.
After about 2 hours we reached Blåhammaren mountain lodge where we took a rest including some coffee and cake that we bought at the lodge and enjoyed it on the terrace in the sun.
After climbing up to Blåhammaren we now knew that we had a really nice descent during the first part with lovely views on our way to Sylarna. You can see the Sylarna mountain ridge far away and we had a lot of time taking in the views while running down.
Halfway between the lodges we decided to have lunch. The forecast was still rain in an hour or so, but it was still sunny and blue sky so we took it easy.
After a while it got a little bit colder and windy and then it suddenly started to rain heavily. We were actually quite excited about testing out our equipment, super light rain jackets, and quickly put them on and continued running to Sylarna. We really did not mind the rain. Perhaps because we already had had such a nice weather during the day.
The last 3 kilometres to Sylarna mountain lodge comes with an elevation of about 200 metres so it is actually pretty hard after a full day out on the trails. Luckily we did not carry that much in our backpacks so it was pretty easy anyway. Our little group of four people divided in four, each one of us walking and running in one´s own thoughts.
Finally reaching Sylarna mountain lodge it was really nice to get into the warm lodge and to take a shower before dinner.
Dinner at Sylarna is served in a lovely dining room with large windows with views of the Sylarna mountain ridge. We did not see that much this time though because of the rain.
Sylarna mountain lodge is one of the larger lodges with lots of people staying overnight so it can feel pretty crowded. We did not mind it that much and had a late dinner around 7 p.m. before going through the map for the next day and then falling into sleep.
Sylarna - Helags - Helags summit
Elevation 1,400 metres
Our second day started out foggy but with no rain and about 10 degrees Celsius. After breakfast we took off around 10 a.m. wearing rain jackets, pants, gloves and buff.
From Sylarna you can choose between two trails, either one that is quite steep via the mountain Herrklumpen or one that takes you all the way around Herrklumpen. The latter one is about one kilometre longer but with less elevation. Most people seemed to choose the longer route. We chose the steeper and shorter one. It worked out just fine.
The route from Sylarna was a bit difficult in the beginning since there is no clear path. Nevertheless, the route for sure is marked all the way. You just have to pay some attention so you don´t walk in the wrong direction.
After coming down from Herrklumpen the trail is easy to find and it windles through a stunning beautiful landscape with lots and lots of reindeers. It was really lovely and our first time along this trail so we enjoyed it a lot.
We were more or less alone on the trails all day until we reached the Helags mountain lodge. Half way is a wind break cabin, Mieskentjakke, where we had lunch.
The last part of the trail follows the river Handölan and you also cross the border between Jämtland and Härjedalen, two regions of Sweden.
The weather forecast showed sun and clear skies for the evening so when we arrived at Helags mountain lodge we decided to climb up to the top of Helags at 1,797 metres. From the mountain lodge that was about 800 metres of elevation and 9 kilometres in total, there and back. But first we had some snacks and cofee. We also repacked our backpacks.
The first part of the hike to Helags summit is pretty flat crossing some streams where you might get wet feet unless you jump between the stones. After some 300 metres the elevation kicks in and from there it is up, up, up! The path is easy to find. There are acutally two different paths but they are the same in lenght and partly the same so one doesn´t really have to worry about taking the ”wrong” path.
After some 15-20 minutes we got a closer look of the Helags glacier ahead of us with Helags peak on the right side. The path however windled up on the left side of the ridge actually taking us all around and above the glacier.
Luckily there were no scary parts for some of us that are afraid of heights even though one of us challenged herself by looking down…
The hike was partly challenging where we have to cross some areas with blocks of stones but it was not very far and we took our time.
Approaching the top all of a sudden it was sunny with clear sky and magnificient views of the valley below and all the way to Norway.
Finally arriving at the top we were surprised by how large it is. There is plenty of room to sit down and admire the views.
Walking and running down we had sun all the way so now we could see Helags mountain lodge far below. It for sure is strange how quickly the weather can change!
At Helags we stayed in a room for four people and we had full board here as well. The dinner was great! We still talk about it, half a year later.
Helags – Gåsen – Storulvån
Elevation 900 metres
After a truly delicious breakfast we were ready for our third and last day. It was sunny, no wind but pretty cold, 8 degrees Celsius. We chose long pants and shirts.
Before setting off, we had to decide which route to take to Storulvån. We had one more easy option, that was going the same way back as we came the day before, passing by Gamla Sylen, a wind protection shelter some 3 kilometres from Sylarna mountain lodge and then continue to Storulvån.
The other option included a non-marked route so it would be to take a chance. The distance is the same for both routes, but the second one could turn out a lot longer depending on the vegetation and our orientation skills… That route also included a wade crossing Lill-Ulvån.
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We finally chose the latter one and we enjoyed it so much. The trail between Helags mountain lodge and Gåsen mountain hut is simply stunning! Such an amazing landscape with views of Helags and its glacier. The trail windled up and down crossing streams, passing meadows with lots of flowers.
It got warmer and warmer as we ran so we stopped a couple of times to change clothes along the way.
After a couple of hours we reached the mountain hut Gåsen. It is possible to stay there overnight but there is no service, only a self-catering kitchen and rooms with four beds in each. A great place to stay if you want to. Just remember to bring your own food for the evening and morning. Reaching Gåsen it was pretty cold again so we put more or less all the clothes we had brought with us on while having lunch there.
The last part up to Gåsen is a bit streneous and we later realized we could have skipped that and instead run along Handölan stream. On the other hand, the trail from Gåsen down back to the stream was a lovely trail to run along.
Again reaching Handölan there is another crossing where you choose to go either to Sylarna mountain lodge or to Storulvån mountain lodge. We continued on the trail in direction Storulvån. This was perhaps the most scenic part during our three days. A windling soft trail following Handölan with views of Sylarna mountain ridge and the peaks close to Storulvån, Getryggen and Snasarna.
We crossed a bridge over Tjallingån where we also had some snacks before arriving at Tjallingen. From there is a gravel road that used to be the summer route between Storulvån and Tjallingen, but that trail is now closed since the bridge close to Storulvån was destroyed a few years ago.
To pass Handölan, which here is pretty wide, instead you have to pass by the bridge at Tjallingen. The drawback is that there is no trail on the other side taking you to Storulvån mountain lodge.
With 8 kilometres unpaved trail ahead of us we did not know what to expect. The area turned out to be more or less a large mire so it was much harder to run than we had imagined. We followed the river Handölan on our right side all the way. Partly we could run and walk on the shores, but sometimes we had to return to the wet mire again.
With a few kilometres left we reached Lill-Ulvån which was our wade. We were really prepared and excited to wade across it but the summer had been so dry that there was almost no water left.
After Lill-Ulvån there was again a trail taking us all the way to Storulvån mountain lodge.
This third and last day also was the longest, 39 kilometres, so we for sure were a bit tired but not too bad. We probably would have been able to run the day after as well if we had planned that. It is simply amazing how the body adapts to the obstacles you meet along the way and we for sure were a bit high from our running adventure during the following days.
What did we think of this adventure running experience?
We absolutely loved it and are already planning for next year's adventure when we would like to be out for even more days. It is such an amazing thing to run through a landscape like this and also challenge one's self. We for sure did not feel like we rushed anything but took our time all the way covering more than 30 kilometres each day and some elevation on top of that.
Some practical information
We all had backpacks for 25 litres that weighted around 3-5 kilos each. I think it is really hard to get below 3 kilos but you can for sure bring a lot more than we did. We were really focused on keeping the weight down. This is what we brought with us for three nights and two overnight stays at mountain lodges. Some of us brought an extra t-shirt. The only things we did not use was the mosquito protection and, luckily, our first-aid-kit.
How to get to Storulvån
There are connecting buses if you arrive by train. Most people arrive by car and then there is a large parking by Storulvån mountain lodge. The parking can be paid by Swish or at the mountain lodge. It is really really cheap, SEK 150 for a week (parking to hike up to Trolltunga in Norway cost NOK 600 for 24 hours!).
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