“The Triangle of Jämtland” (or Jämtlandstriangel) is the classic “entry” hike to the Swedish mountains. With its 47km distance between three different mountain stations it belongs to one of the ”signature hikes” of the Swedish Tourist Association recommended for all beginner-hikers since it is a relatively easy multiday hiking tour. The reason is simple. It is easily accessible with car, bus & train, has not long distances and elevations, is relatively easy to plan and will give you the first “wow-experience” of the Swedish mountain wilderness without the need to negotiate on the comfort of sleeping in mountain huts, having a shower and eating delicious ecological and locally sourced food.
When I was approached at the end of June by Katie that she would like to do some mountain escape to get out of the town, an amazing idea came to me. Since she is a passionate runner with some Iron Man and Swimrun competitions in her backpack, and never been in this area before, to combine running with couple of days in the mountains sounded like a perfect match. First weekend in September we have packed our tiny 16L running backpacks with only minimalistic things for the three days “on-the-go”, put on our trail run shoes and set off for new adventure.
The plan was simple – 47km in three days by running in easy tempo, two nights at mountain huts, enjoy the amazing nature around us as well as indulge in the local food prepared for us in the evenings, stop for beautiful views and pictures and mainly, have time for ourselves and experience the mountains around us.
DAY 1: Storulvån STF – Sylarna STF, Distance: 16 km, elevation meters: 500 ↑, 200 ↓
We arrived to Storulvån mountain station around 10am. Although the coffee in the restaurant smelled so good, we were too excited for our run to go inside and sit down. The weather was looking fabulous with blue sky and no wind. The forecast was however not as optimistic for the afternoon promising rain from 2 pm so we wanted to get the first leg done before the first raindrops come.
Today it was 16km on the agenda with cca 500 elevation meters up. A good start for the first day. If you run it, it is not a long distance to tackle and we have counted max three hours with all the rests and photo shootings (yes, taking pictures is part of the trip!).
Around 10.30 we made the last adjustments on our backpacks and clothes and set off for the journey. The first two km are sharper “warm-up” since you run just uphill in the forest with some wooden planks and lots of stones. Once you get above the tree line the mountains unfold in front of you and you have them in front of you like a big postcard for the rest of the run.
Running in this environment is different than an ordinary “keep-in-shape” run where you chase time or the right pulse level. The run is the expression of your joy of being outside, being free and in this fabulous environment, not the purpose to get better VO2 max or to complete your daily cardio pass to feel “good” that you are keeping in shape.
Regardless how tough it can get at some points you go with the flow and enjoy the nature around you as you progress. You carefully place your feet on the path choosing the best landing spot in every step. You plan ahead. You have a strategy and you evaluate and re-evaluate your run, speed, tempo, energy level and foot placement all the time. You are present in that moment and your head is united with your body giving the feet the right signals how to act in every second. Everything needs to work together, in harmony. You are part of the environment around you which you took in into your run. Trail run is more technical than running in the park. It is also more joyful and playful. Like a game in which you are the main character and the creator at the same time. It is your rules, your setting.
Although we didn´t have any rush, we were already at Sylarna mountain station at 12.30. The hut is located on 1035 elevation meters with majestic Sylarna Massive and Jämtlands region highest mountain in the backyard.
The last 3km uphill were testing my legs but coming to the mountain station so early, we were still full of energy and definitely up for something in the afternoon. Since we passed all the hikers, we were there almost alone. We checked in to our room, ate lunch and just chilled in the restaurant for a while.
The clouds were coming in but no signs of rain. Since we still had a whole afternoon in front of us, we decided to go out for a short walk to relieve our legs from the lactic acid and after that, we finished with our own yoga session. Stretching our bodies felt soooo good!
With the rain coming around 5pm, we went back to the restaurant waiting for our two course dinner. I am always so excited about the food in these mountain huts! Tonight, we got a vegetarian Indian lentil Dhal with hazelnuts. OMG! Sitting in the restaurant with raindrops bouncing against the window, enjoying the food and glass of wine was just the perfect evening which we were longing for!
After dinner it was time for a short planning for the next day. The weather didn´t look good at all. Rain the whole day. We were checking all the different weather apps hoping for some changes but nothing looked as we would wish for. Well, with rain for the whole day, we just might do less pictures and run as fast as we can. It will not be the most amazing experience being wet all the time but since the destination was another mountain hut with hot shower, it was not the end of the world.
We fall asleep quite early that evening, mentally ready for the rain challenge.
DAY 2: Sylarna STF – Blåhammaren STF, Distance: cca 19 km, elevation meters: 480 ↑, 440 ↓
Although we didn´t set any alarm, we woke up at 6.30 and could not sleep anymore. The first thing which I did was to open the curtains and realized that there is no rain outside! On the contrary – we woke up to a very nice morning with some sun rays fighting through the clouded sky. I quickly checked the weather forecast and found out that it changed completely. Now the rain shall come only in the afternoon! Yeeey! If we are lucky, we can manage dry to the next mountain hut! (if I do not consider the sweat) 😊
Super happy about the weather we ate quickly our breakfast, packed our super small backpacks and stood ready outside already at 8.30.
First part was a perfect warm-up before the long distance ahead of hilly terrain as you run down for about three km so the body has a chance to get warmer and get into the movements.
The second part of the distance is more technical with lots of wooden planks and stones on the path. After the night rain, the wooden planks were wet and slippery so it was important to run carefully and watch where we place our feet. The last four km were testing our endurance as it is only uphill. Somewhere there my legs went on strike and didn´t want to listen to my commands anymore. The last two km were pure mind will. My tights were like from a steel and calves even harder. On the MOHS scale I would give them 10. The combination of walk-run was my strategy how to tackle the last kilometer left. Katie was already there, welcoming me with the biggest smile on her face. In the instant moment I forgot how tired my legs actually were!
It was 12.00 when we arrived to Blåhammaren. Well, this I call time efficiency! We have done 19k in three and half hours and still have almost full day ahead.
Once in Blåhammaren, you have to try their traditional “Fruktsoppa” (Fruit soup) which they prepare according to the same receipt since 1913. It is very soothing, warm sweet fruit dish with cooked soft apples and other fruit, raisins, cinnamon and other warming herbs. A definitely an energy sugar kick which my legs needed after my morning performance!
After short break and energy re-fill I felt I need to have a short nap to regain my powers. It felt so good to lay down and relax for a while.
Since the weather was still good in the afternoon, and we had lots of time to relax, we went out for a short walk up to a hill above Blåhammaren from which you can see all the way down to Norway. It is actually not so far as you are almost at the swedish-norwegian boarder which goes through the mountain ranges. The minute we came back to the mountain hut, the rain broke out. Looking at the watch, the timing was just perfect for finding our table and get ready for a dinner.
Blåhammaren is well known for an amazing three course dinner. Many people only go here for the dinner itself, so our expectations were really high. The decoration in the restaurant and the presentation of the food is fabulous and not far from a Michelin star rating with the “outdoor” tweak. If you think that Blåhammaren is the Swedish highest situated mountain station on 1086 m above the sea level and they need to transport here everything via helicopter, it is quite impressive that they keep such a high standard.
When all our taste buds were saturated with the explosion of flavors, it was time for table games. Candles on the table, glass of wine, rain and darkness outside and memory game set it for the evening. Lot´s of fun and jokes followed before we fall asleep.
DAY 3: Blåhammaren STF – Storulvån STF, Distance: cca 12 km, elevation meters: 100 ↑, 460 ↓
Third and last day of our run started with fog and dramatic sky. Today it was “only” 12 km and mainly down to the valley back to Storulvån. The raising wind was a promise that the front is on the way.
With breakfast already at 7 am we were all set and ready for our run at 8 am sharp. When we were leaving the mountain hut, other people were only waking up. Well, we had no rush but when you have only minimum things with you, you do not need so much time to get ready. We refilled our water bottles, collected dried shoes in the dry room and set off for a new day on the trail. During the first km I felt my legs but then, all of sudden, the training pain was gone and the run felt so light. Jumping over the stones and playing on the trail finding the best running path between the stones, vegetation and wooden plans was like a small video game. I didn´t even realized and already at 10 am we were sitting at the mountain station at Storulvån sipping our second morning coffee and rewarding ourselves with a raw coconut balls reflecting over the amazing 72 hours.
This small tweak replacing hiking with trail running brought an extra sparkle to the whole trip. It was like a mission, a new way of doing this hike, a new challenge requiring different mental strength and preparations. New angle of looking at our packing list making it as slim as possible without jeopardizing the safety.
Running is a great way to progress faster in the mountains without taking away the time for enjoying the picturesque nature. It is very nice alternative to the classic mountain hiking as long as you have the stamina for it. It requires a good condition and training. To be able to enjoy it, you cannot underestimate the preparations. Therefore, running regularly before the trip is essential not only to be able to enjoy it but also to avoid injuries or excessive load to your joints, bones and muscles.
If you feel that trail run is something which is calling your name and/or you want to join us next time, keep an eye on our calendar for next year trail run day- or multi-days escapes. You can also always get in touch with us directly so we can keep you in the loop for coming events or tailor something exactly for you and according to your level. 😊
If you want to get more trail run inspiration or tips, I will write in another post about how to best prepare for a longer trail runs and what to take with you for multiple-days hut-to-hut run, where every gram in your backpack matters.
Written by Simona (firstname.lastname@example.org)
More information about Jämtlandstriangel can you find on Swedish Tourist Association sites: https://www.svenskaturistforeningen.se/guider-tips/leder/jamtlandstriangeln/