Our second day along the Swedish Wilderness Road took us from Klimpfjäll to Gäddede. This is the section that passes by the highest paved road in Sweden at the mountain pass at Stekenjokk. The views from this day are some of the most memorable from our whole road trip and something we still dream back to.
The Swedish Wilderness Road
The Swedish Wilderness Road, Vildmarksvägen, is especially famous for one of its attributes. It is the highest located paved road in Sweden. The road connects with the main inland road (E45) in Vilhelmina and Strömsund, from where the road heads west until it turns around at the mountain pass at Stekenjokk.
After leaving Klimpfjäll we soon reached the main attraction of the Wilderness Road. The mountain pass at Stekenjokk is the paved road with the highest altitude in Sweden. It is also the reason for which the road is closed most of the year and only allows traffic during the summer months. The snow depth can reach up to 6 meters here during the winter and the snow walls remain long after the road opening in June.
We made two stops around Stekenjokk. The first stop took place at one of the main parking lots. This is after all a protected area and it is common that visitors are not allowed to walk outside the paved roads. When we visited it was hatching season for the birds, which meant that there was a ban on any exploration outside the marked stops. So we made sure to stay within the allowed areas and we still were able to get some amazing views of the large plateau. The snow still covered most of the ground at this time.
Our second stop was to have a look at how much snow was still left. Most Swedes have probably seen on the news when they clear the road of snow for the opening. The road at that time looks more like a deep ditch. Walking up the the snow wall really put this into perspective. The wall still reached more than 2 meters, even though it was melting quite fast in the sunshine. It would have been interesting to see these snow walls the day the road opened for the summer.
Shortly after Stekenjokk we reached the first waterfall. Gaustafallet is one of the larger waterfalls we encountered along our trip. The roaring sound of the water is impressive. It was also really easy to reach as the parking spots where just a short distance from the waterfall itself. However, it was still hidden enough to get some privacy as many cars just drove by.
As Little A had fallen asleep, I explored the second waterfall by myself. It was an exploration in two parts. Brakkåfallet is a waterfall that is a short hike into the forest and can be viewed from the assigned viewing points. Reaching these viewing points can, however, be quite challenging.
The first part of the journey was to reach the bottom of the waterfall. It required a steep decline on a muddy path. If you go, make sure to give enough space and time to the people around you. Once I had reached the cliffs next to the stream, the lower part of the falls were in great view. The flow of water might be lower than some of the other waterfalls, but the height of Brakkåfallet is what makes it more impressive.
Once I had seen the lower part of the falls, I had to get a better view of the other part. So I climbed back up the ravine and started the hike further into the forest along the edge of the ravine. The path required the crossing of a few smaller streams. Luckily it was easy to jump across these, but it was a rush, knowing that they were flowing over the cliff edge, down into the ravine, just a few meters away. The upper part of the falls were as beautiful as the lower parts. The main difference is that the size looked smaller and it was not possible to get as close. Brakkåfallet turned out to be the last stop of the day before we reached our destination for this part of the trip.
We had booked a small camping cabin for the night at Gäddede Camping. It was still a bit too cold to stay a night in our tent and we got a simple cabin for a very good price. It might have been the least equipped and the standard was low. But considering the price it was expected. We had some interesting neighbours as well as many hikers apparently stay in these cabins.
Even the facilities had probably seen better days, we expect that many people staying here do so with their RVs and don’t really mind. We did, however, really appreciate the friendly staff. The restaurant also gave us a possibility to end the day with a glass of wine in a cosy setting.
Before it was time for a glass of wine and close the day we still had to explore what Gäddede had to offer. We started with the local pizzeria and were disappointed. Chaotic would be a good description and the welcoming was far from as friendly as the one we received at the camping. Well, the lunch options were limited, even the grocery store had closed early. The ongoing pandemic had meant that the border with Norway was closed for many and the grocery store was probably missing out on many of the Norwegian customers. A pizza later we had some energy to walk along the mostly empty streets.
What can you see in Gäddede? We still wonder. It could be considered cosy, but it is the nature around the locality that is the attraction. The main attraction otherwise seems to be the world’s largest snowmobile, which is a sculpture close to the main road. Well, we really looked forward to that glass of wine and planning where to head next.
Our eyes for the next stop had for a long time been focused on Östersund. Our challenge now was to find some affordable accommodation. We were eventually able to find a bed & breakfast of our liking in the city centre. It did, of course, come with another issue. Where to park our car? Well, problems are to be solved. A few questions to a local friend later and we were set to go. The parking belonging to my friend was available during our stay as he was away. Even better, it was only 3 blocks away from our accommodation. It was time to sleep to be ready for the new adventures.
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