Trip report by Natasza.
Going on a trip is fun. It means time off from work, beautiful nature, moments shared with someone you like or yourself. But the excitement of all this fun ahead is also linked to less fun steps like packing.
Packing is a bit of a chore for me… many choices to make about the gear, lot of thinking about the routes, many discussions about the food…. and the flat is a mess, floor is covered with gear and …oh wait! We forgot to buy batteries for our headlights!
It’s a necessary process so that you avoid getting into too much trouble once on the road. For every trip we take, we are getting more experienced and hopefully this process will shorten with time.
You can avoid trouble but you can’t avoid the unpredictable. And there’s always unpredictable things that are going to happen on a trip. I learned to take it in and deal with it and I have to say I’ve come to love that unpredictable part of the trip. We had our share on this trip but more on that later.
Finally, Jeremie and I were sitting on the train to Avesta-Kryllbo on that Sunday morning for a 3-day trip packrafting down Dalälven and we even remembered to buy batteries. The sun was shining and we were excited to try out our packrafts on a river. We made it to Avesta by noon and here comes the unpredictable, no bus or taxi to take us to the place where we wanted to start out. While talking to some locals, we were hesitating between walking (about 25 kms) or waiting 3 hours for a taxi that could take us there. And then, as it happens more than once in this beautiful country, this family we were talking to offers us a ride. Because we couldn’t fit all in the car, the mum and her 2 daughters stayed behind. How nice is that?
So Börje and Kiki drove us all the way to Tyttbo, which is even further than we were planning to start out (about 40 kms) because they thought that the rapids were too big for us.
While Kiki did a great job driving, Börje, who had been up until 5 a.m partying with some friends and still in a jolly mood, entertained us talking about the area, the many horses around there, his environmental friendly car and even his ”walking”app thanks to which he losts few kilos.
When we arrived, they went to look at the river with us and we said goodbye. As Börje put it ” it’s Sunday, we have time and now that we did a good deed we can go home and sin”. Thanks again to Börje, Kiki and his family.
Finally we were there and the magic happened. The forest and the river was so beautiful that time stops. You forget all the packing and thinking and you just just enjoy being there. I felt so lucky.
We went up the river a bit to start before the (very small) rapids. A quick lunch made of hardboiled eggs and bread and off we were on our rafts that we were eager to try. Going down on a river is pure bliss, you just glide along, admiring the edges and always hoping to catch a glimpse of an animal. We saw eagles and amazing beaverlodges on that trip.
After the river we hit the lake, a big lake, with strong winds and waves. We were aiming at a little island few hundreds meters away but the wind was facing us and as I was paddling against the waves, I could feel my strengh lessen. I don’t care so much for performance but I’m always up for a challenge. I tried but after a while I was screaming in frustration because I didn’t seem to move forwards. I wanted to be Jeremie and as strong as he was. But I wasn’t.
We had to change routes and ”surfed” the waves to land where we took a break (and where we saw bear poop!). We agreed on another route and went back on our rafts. For the remaining of our trip, we managed to have the wind with us so going forward was easy but keeping the raft in the right direction was not that easy. I’m a lighweight and had to struggle quite a bit to keep my raft perpendicular to the waves.
Practice is good and I learned a lesson. I don’t think I will packraft in the Stockholm archipelago with big boats around, winds and currents.
In the early evening, we hit Sandö where we stayed the night. It had amazing facilities, with windshelters and firepoints. We were alone on that paradise like island. We slept very well in the shelter, 10 solid hours!
Next day, we still had a bit of the lake to paddle through, with the wind and the waves pushing us in the right direction. We stopped for lunch and paddled away from the lake into the river that would lead us to Gysinge. The little channels we took through the swamps were absolutely gorgeous. It was a welcome break after the windy lake, so peaceful and beautiful.
By 4 p.m we could see the roofs of Gysinge. Our original plan was to depart the day after but we were so close to Gysinge that it would have been silly to stay one extra night so we took the bus to Gävle and the train to Stockholm.
We definitely want to explore more rivers around Sweden and get more experience with rapids. Lots of fun ahead!
NOTE TO ANYONE WHO WOULD LIKE TO PACKRAFT THIS AREA: Paddling on the lake with such a vessel was not easy and even dangerous at some stage, strong winds mean big waves! Be careful!