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Family Bike Tour in Sweden and Norway

Karl Brodowsky, cycled 1994, written 1994, translated 1998

Part 2

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Highway N 240 led us through an almost unpopulated area, apart from one village. We passed a few big lakes, from where we even took the water for drinking. The highway was quite hilly, even though they had tried hard to cut it into the rocks in order to reduce the slope a little bit. With my 180 kg and with me as cyclist it proved to be slow when the highway went up. 3 km/h to 5 km/h were the usual speed. This cannot be changed, especially pushing such a heavy construction would not have been fun. Maybe Bernhard could have helped me or at least saved me from pushing his weight, but we never did that. Because of the many mountains and the few villages it became unclear whether or not we could buy milk or if we had to consume part of our milk powder. But some gas station near Uddeholm gave us water (free), milk and even bread. So we could go on and look for a nice place to pitch our tent in the woods. We were lucky again, because the first dust road into the wood really lead to some place that could not be seen from the national highway and that offered enough space. Only some mosquitos and a small dog in the morning found us.

We followed highway N 62 till Ekshärad, where we had originally planned to spend the night. Instead we had a nice break near the Klarälven river. When we continued through the Klarälven valley on highway N 62, the valley became narrower and the mountains on both sides higher, at least high enough to justify calling them mountains. Because we remained in the valley that was no problem for us, apart from the fact that once in a while the highway did climb up a little bit on one side or the other. The valley still serves for transport of wood. But since 1991 the wood is no longer floated in the river but rather transported in trucks having a size that cannot be found elsewhere in Europe. Fortunately for us wood grows very slowly, so that this did not cause much traffic. Small floats where still in use, but they where really small and served well paying tourists for whom it was fun to spend part of their holiday by transporting a small amount of wood in the traditional way. Others rented canoes, usually one way rent, and went down the river. We almost envied those people for having so much water around themselves. But soon our opinion changed, when we saw water coming down and flashes and thunder on both sides. When paddling this has to be tolerated, because paddling is a water sport. But we were no paddlers and we remained dry. We only realized that it rained nearby.

In the evening we went to a small camp ground in Stöllet. Because of a curve of the river it was situated on a small peninsula. We stayed again for two nights because we liked it and because the children could run around on the camp ground since we were able to watch all the cars that could be found there. Around midnight time some people who did not know Swedish had to be persuaded not to be too noisy. They had old fashioned tents that required thick wood pieces to be driven into the ground to fix everything. But once I had explained this it was no problem anymore. On the next day we found out that they were a group of scouts with traditional black tents, which they shared with a handicapped child who could otherwise not go on such a nice vacation. By the way, they had really got wet by the rain.

During the day our children could bath in the river and play near its bank which was unusually wide because of the dry summer. We could also get our clothes washed and Bernhard and I went on a small shopping trip to the village of Stöllet. Even though only very few highways exist in this thinly populated area we could do a cyclic trip and return on another highway. The old predecessor of highway N 45 was still available and paved and led us to the new highway N 45 which intersects highway N 62 near the camp ground. Coming down from some altitude we had a nice view of the valley.

From Stöllet we could have continued on highway N 45 into Dalarna. But somehow we did not feel like leaving the nice river and thus we decided not to make a right turn here but to continue till the next possibility to turn to the right. In an area with very few highways and roads this means quite a lot, because it took us several days till we reached the next possibility to turn to the right. Even though the north of Värmland, where we where cycling now, is thinly populated, if not almost unpopulated, we still came through some villages, but the distance between them grew larger while we went north.

Höljes is such a place with maybe 200 or 300 inhabitants, but it had a lot of infrastructure: A post office, a bank, a play ground, a gas station, a hotel, a youth hostel, a camp ground, an open air museum, a shop, a bus stop served by big busses with few seats whose rear part is like a truck, a tourist information, a swimming pool, and even a power plant. By the way there were also two bridges across the Klarälven and a partly paved racing track for cars. So much cannot be found very often in that area, even though we where happy enough with the camp ground for staying over night and we where rather regretting the pool because the power plant had to built it to compensate for the fact that swimming in the river was no longer possible.

We spent three nights in Höljes, enough to visit the power plant and to go on some walks, where we used the trailer for Ulrich as a stroller. The power plant was not in the village itself, but rather a few kilometers apart and the road to get there was not even good. We met some people who told us, that there would be no water, no operation of the power plant and no way to visit the plant. But we wanted to check it out ourselves. On top of the dam we could see the invitation to visits in the plant again. They would really start at 15:00 (3:00 pm) and we were quite punctual. But nobody else was there, because meeting point was in the hotel in Höljes, in favor of those people who would not be able to find the plant by themselves. Some 15 minutes later they did really arrive and start guiding us. By the way the dam was not built of concrete, but rather some heap of rocks and sand, which is told to contain some kind of insulation inside. Below the dam we did not see any water. Rather it goes through a long tunnel in order to take advantage of the difference in altitude between the lower side of the dam and Höljes. The former river was still there and it is only used for surplus water.

On the camp ground we met people who complained about the fact, that they could not keep milk for a long time because of the high temperatures. Fortunately we did not have problems with this, even though we needed milk every day, because we did not have to store it in a hot car. The summer was really hot.

On the camp ground we saw two mobile homes, which had been constructed from regular full size busses. One of them appeared after we had been there for two days and this one seemed to belong to the car racing track. Maybe that would become very noisy, but we did not hear anything of it, because we continued northbound in the next morning, leaving Höljes and heading for the really unpopulated wilderness. Only the village Langflån at the border and Norway were in front of us. The lake of the power plant could be seen once in a while on the right hand side.

Unfortunately the children slept at times when we could have had a chance to swim in the lake and they where hungry at a time when the highway was quite a bit apart from the lake. But the break was still nice and we had a great view of the lake. From there it was no longer far to the Norwegian border. Swedish highway N 62 ends there and continues as Norwegian highway N 26. Immediately the pavement of the highway was better, even though Swedish highways are in general good, and the weather was no longer so good. It is known that Norway is quite rainy. But we did get a chance to have a nice break without rain near the Trysilelv which is the Norwegian name of Klarälven. After the break we had to close the trailer against rain for the second time during this trip and the rain did not really have a tendency to stop.

The village Trysil which gave its name to the river and which could be seen even on the signs of highway N 62 in Sweden almost 300 km south of Trysil. We had been told that there would be a camp ground a few kilometers before Trysil which could be found between the highway and the river. That looked quite simple. From my 1987 bicycle tour I knew that the river has to be crossed in Nybergsund and that it would be pretty close from there to Trysil. After having crossed the river we found a very good high speed highway on which maximum speed of 90 km/h was permitted, which is normal in Sweden, but 10 km/h more than usual in Norway. The distance to Trysil was posted as 7 km, so we assumed 5 km to the camp ground. But no camp ground could be found and when asking at a gas station we where told that the camp ground would be on the other side of the river. We had to go to Trysil, through the village, across the river and back to the south on the old highway to Nybergsund. 2 km from Trysil we found the camp ground. It was situated in a very beautiful location, offering nice opportunities for swimming in the river and a great view on the mountains with its snowy and icy tops.

[continue with part 3]

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