This autumn is remarkably colourless. Brown tones dominate and it is difficult to find any other fine autumn colours like yellow en red. The reason for this might be that we have not had enough rain over the past half year. Therefore, in the woods, everything is much too dry.
The Mountain Ash is one of the few trees that does show some variation in colours.
During a walk in the woods, we suddenly become aware of the big patch of Funnel Chanterelles we are standing in. Normally, the hats of these mushrooms do not pop up before late autumn. But this year, everything is early, this delicacy included.
The Funnel Chanterelle - which has a funnel like dark brown cap and a hollow yellow stem - is an excellent food mushroom. I like it at least as much as the Golden Chanterelle. It tastes great - fried (with eggs), in a stew and in soups. Yellowfoots - as they are also called - can easily be conserved by drying them. Soak them in water an hour or so and they are ready to be used. Bon appetit!
Yesterday night, Jack Frost awoke. He stretched out his arms and reached with ease to Lilla Laggåsen, delivering the first serious night frost. A thick layer of ripe covered the grass, the car windows were frozen and my morning walk with Jeanny resulted in - beside some beautiful nature impressions - very cold ears. It is time to get my cap out of the wardrobe.
Yesterday evening, a heavy thunderstorm came over Lilla Laggåsen. Luckily it did not last very long. The thunderstorm was followed by almost an hour of massive rainfall. Shortly before it stopped raining, two rainbows painted the sky. The end of the inner one must have touched the ground only a few yards behind the first row of trees you can see on the picture below. I did not go out to check, but I am still wondering what was waiting there.
This year, we did not have much of a vegetable garden. Because we knew we would have a lot to do, we started the year making some choices. And the vegetable garden ended somewhere near the end of the list, getting no priority at all.
At this point in time, we are not only glad that we did make choices, but also pleased with the choices we made. That being said, we have to confess that shortly after the beginning of summer, we sinned and planted a few old potatoes just to experiment a little. A few weeks later, little potato plants came above ground and after that they continued growing slowly but surely.
Last Sunday, we decided it was time to harvest. We started digging and got up some real nice potatoes. Although they were not big, there was quite a number of them. And after having been cleaned, their skins proved to be soft and smooth. All together the experiment was a success and next year we will be planting potatoes for real.
On our way home, we spent a couple of days in Härjedalen. Last year, we have been there, too, and we like it there very much.
We spent a lot of time outdoors making long hikes. Together with Jeanny, we have all the time in the world to play with water - which means an obligatory stop at every pool and puddle - and to pick blueberries, that being something our dog is crazy about, too.
On one of our hikes we walk through a small piece of primeval forest. For nearly 400 years, no trees have been logged in or removed from this now protected area. The result is a forest of great beauty: a mix of tree ages, huge snags, giant dead trees decaying on the ground and several rare mushrooms and mosses. It is so beautiful! And it is a shame that there is only so little old-growth forest left.
Marks from the most recent forest fire - more than 200 years ago.
We arrive in Vilhelmina and reach the end of the Vildmarksväg. There we decide to continue our journey north. Via Storuman and Sorsele, we drive to Arjeplog.
There we admire this pretty pink church.
At this signpost - distances measured as the crow flies - we contemplate in which direction to continue. For a few moments, we are tempted to drive to the North Cape, but because by road the distance is at least the double, we decide that this will have to wait. Instead we head north-west to make a tour which via Norway (Storjord and Mo i Rana) will lead us back to Sweden and south again.
On our way to the Norwegian border, we pass the Arctic Circle. Never before have we been this far north.
It does not take long before we come to the conclusion that it is this route that should bear the name Vildmarksväg - Wilderness Road - instead of the official holder of that name. No doubt about that! Enormous lakes, falls, rapids, vast forests, bare plateaus and rough mountains constantly dominate the view.
Of course we are not driving all day long. Every now and then, we park the car to make a walk and enjoy the fresh mountain air.
From Gäddede we head due north and it does not take long before we drive into Lappland.
Soon we reach the highest point of the Vildmarksväg: Stekenjokk. This part of the route lies 876 metres above sea level and is one of Sweden's highest roads.
Defying a heavy gale, we take a hike on the bare plateau. And of course we allow Jeanny to play in the water. That it is ice-cold, does not bother her at all.
The Trappstegsforsar - Stair Rapids - provide the next fine picture along the route.
Just a few kilometres further, we see a couple of Wood Grouse strolling by the road side.
To complete this post, I have to write some more about the lemmings. There are so many of them, that it is almost unbelievable. Everywhere we go, we see them running around. They do not seem shy at all. They only hide themselves in the grass or under a stone when we approach them really close. When driving the car, we see them running across the road constantly and we must be very cautious not to make any casualties. The huge amount of dead lemmings on the road, however, accounts for the fact that the kamikaze actions of these creatures often have a bad ending.
We visit Hällingsåfallet, which lies south of Gäddede in the northern part of Jämtland. With a 42 meter drop and an adjoining 800 meter canyon, Hällingsåfallet not only embodies a beautiful fall and Sweden's longest canyon, it is also one of the very few places in the whole country where such an impressive piece of nature has not been destroyed by building a dam and a hydro-electric power station.
During a walk with Jeanny, it turns out that there ís something here that we do not have in Värmland after all. The voles which we see running across the path, look - after closer examination - more like hamsters and there are an awful lot of them. The hairy creatures are - without exception - (orange)brown with all kinds of black spots and stripes. Simultaneously, Nicôle and I draw the same conclusion: it must be lemmings and - given the huge amount of these rodents we see - it must be a so called lemming year.
Later, we check our conclusion and it turns out to be right. Lemmings are herbivorous and, during a lemming year, the population of these little animals - which have a reproductive rate that makes rabbits envious - booms so explosively that you literally stumble over them everywhere.
Until last year, we had not been much further north in Sweden than Värmland, the province where we live. Then we decided to make a trip to Dalarna and Härjedalen, the parts of Sweden directly north of Värmland. If you are interested, you can see a picture report of that trip by clicking here.
This year, we are making a road trip to Jämtland and Lappland. We begin our report in Strömsund. This city lies approximately 100 kilometres north of Östersund, the most northern place we visited last year.
From Strömsund we follow the so called Vildmarksväg - Wilderness Road. This route, which via Gäddede and Stekenjokk will lead us to the city of Vilhelmina, is heavily promoted by the tourist offices and we are curious to find out whether it will live up to our expectations.
The first part of the route takes us through vast forests with - alas - lots of places where the forest industry has 'harvested' the trees, leaving nothing behind but a post apocalyptic landscape. We enjoy the ride, but do not see much more than we are used to in Värmland: hills, lakes and lots of trees.
After an hour or so, the only thing that remotely reminds us of wilderness, is the way our car is looking. Because of the combination of drizzle and gravel roads, it is solid grey everywhere.