” Then, when things are worst and nothing helps the tree’s buds break as in rejoicing, then, when no fear holds back any longer, down in glitter go the twig’s drops plunging, forget that they were frightened by the new, forget their fear before the flight unfurled –feel for a second their greatest safety, rest in that trust that creates the world.” (translation by David McDuff)
She knows what she is talking about, the poet Karin Boye. The quote above is the final verse of her poem Yes, of course it hurts. I can feel this way whatever the season, but never more so than at this time of the year. Everything is getting lighter, warmer and brighter. It is easier to get outside. It is a great feeling to know that you are in reasonably good shape, that you can embrace nature and enjoy the effort involved in going out. To step outside in running shorts and a short-sleeved t-shirt feels amazing. To fill the hydration belt with fresh water and run out into the great outdoors is incredible. I love trails – each and every one of them!
From tired to alert
Once on a trail, I would call myself a ‘lumberer’. I see this as the Scandinavian version of a ‘walkabout’, where you leave your watch and mobile at home and venture out into unchartered territory. Once there, there is nothing better than listening to the silence. Places where this is possible this are hard to find, but they do exist. Sydkoster is one such place. Just below the highest point of the island, the sounds of nature and birdsong are in focus. The view from Valfjäll down onto the car-free roads is magnificent!
There are different ways to get around. Sometimes I run too fast and get wonderfully out of breath and full of lactic acid. Sometimes I jog slowly, enjoying the natural landscape and listening to my own thoughts. Sometimes I simply stop and sit down on a tree stump in an opening in the forest. No matter how tired, stressed or worn out I feel, one thing I have learnt is that I simply have to make myself go outside, irrespective of the conditions. Sometimes I regret my decision for almost fifteen minutes and curse myself for going out, but after a while it always feels ok. The feeling of ‘I really don’t want to go for a run’ never strikes me in the spring. Especially not here in West Sweden – my all-time favourites Änggårdsbergen, Delsjöarna and the southern parts of the Bohusleden Trail are always attractive.
Bohuslän’s open landscape
My absolute favourite run is Soteleden – a trail system of about 70 kilometres at the heart of Bohuslän. The trails cross ancient spruce forests and meadows, and takes in the beautiful local granite rocks. I spend a couple of weekends here each spring and early summer – and I return in the autumn, because that is when the IcebugXperience takes place – a walking and running event that covers 74 kilometres, three days, and three stages in a varied landscape. The Nordens Ark animal park and the trails around it are extra special – it feels as if you are out in the proper wilderness. Another place I can recommend is Ramsviks Holiday Village & Campsite, with its smorgasbord of local trails. Both establishments offer Walking Packages that can be pre-booked.
If you want to stay in a fishing village and combine walking with shellfish safari and good food, Smögens Hafvsbad is a good choice.
As I write this, I realise that it is not really appropriate to talk about favourites. The reason is that I have far too many – it seems almost unfair to recommend some and exclude others. The Wilderness Trail between Hindås and Gothenburg is another old friend. Other interesting parts of West Sweden are the wilderness in Dalsland, Kinnekulle and the trails in Skaraborg, the trails in the Sjuhärad Area, the Coastal Path along the shores of Bohuslän, then we are back on Sydkoster, where I started this text. To put it briefly – I love trails!
Text: Johan Engström
Photo: Göran Assner, Jonas Jörneberg