The big adventure
Passing wild forests, beautiful bodies of water and bare peaks, photographer and adventurer Linda Akerberg traversed Sweden in 120 days. Read parts of her trave! diary, which is packed with inspiration and magical experiences.
9 JUNE, SKÅNE
Even though it's early summer, the water in Lake Immeln is almost warmer than the air and welcomes me as I wade out to climb into my kayak. I get comfortable, grab my paddle, wave goodbye to my friend on the beach and push off into the lake. I get a feel for my kayak with a few fumbling strokes but soon find my rhythm and enjoy the sensation that I am on my way.
I look at my map, which reads at the top "Lake Immeln - Lake District Sweden". It shows the whole lake and its more than one hundred uninhabited islands. The area around the lake has been called Sweden's most southerly wilderness, which I totally get. As I steer my kayak between the islands and find the leeward calm, I can feel it deep inside. Up in a tree I see a huge bird's nest, and soon majestic wings are soaring above me. An osprey pair lands in the nest and surveys the water. On another island I catch a glimpse of deer among the trees. It's truly an incredible feeling to glide by in a kayak; completely unlike speeding by in a boat.
My friend, whom I left behind on the beach, runs Immeln Kanotcenter, which rents not only kayaks and canoes but also equipment to stay in the southerly wilderness for several days. Just imagine - camping on your very own island! Today, though, I go ashore on the mainland, just on the other side of the border of Blekinge. I enjoy an evening on my own along the shoreline, with the lapping waves as my only company.
28 JULy, VÄRMLAND
It's not even 5 AM when my alarm goes off. Morning has just broken, and despite the early hour I open my eyes smiling. I stay in bed, savouring the feeling of a dream that will come true today I grew up in Värmland, and there is one thing that has been on my bucket list for a long time: timber rafting down Klarälven. At Stöllet and Klarälvens Camping, I get help from Vildmark i Värmland to build my own raft. The day before my trip I spent hours dragging the logs into place, tying them with the new technique l learned, and finally anchoring the completed raft to the beach, where it lies waiting for me.
The fogdances slowly across the water as I push off, but lifts as the sun rises. It's chilly in the shade. The river winds through a valley, and it takes a while before the sun peeks over the hills. Progress is slow, but rafting requires constant attention: I use a long stick to push away from the sand banks that have formed in the curves. Silence combined with a watchful eye is like mediation: the focus is on the here and now. Focused, but relaxed.
Several hours later I go ashore and take apart the raft, steering the logs into furrows so they can be picked up. It feels wonderful to have fulfilled a dream, but also to have experienced such an important tradition in Värmland's history. The river pumps through the province, and it was used for many years to transport logs.
28 AUGUST, ÅNGERMANLAND
It's strange how many things I managed to check off my bucket list with this trip. It's so easy when things are just around the corner. Today I am taking on the most difficult route on Skuleberget's Via Ferrata.
This mountain is one of many in the World Heritage High Coast region. lts craggy cliffs were formed hundreds of millions of years ago and then worn away and strengthened by the inland ice, in particular the most recent one that is said to have had its centre here and been over 3 km thick. The weight pushed the landmass down, and as the ice melted the land slowly rose again - and is still rising.
Via Ferrata is located on the mountain's east side, and its four routes are the largest in Europe. Cables have been bolted in place up the rock face. Climbers attach themselves with two lanyards and karabiners, which in turn are attached to a harness. While it's not ideal for those scared of heights, for me (who is a little scared of heights!) it teeters right at the limit of what I can handle. A little scary, but also incredibly fun!
The routes also have differing degrees of difficulty, which means there is even an option for first-time climbers. I have done them all except the black one. It starts with a 17 m vertical wall, and the butterflies are going crazy in my stomach as I click myself onto the cable. My friend Hanna, who works here, looks at me with trustful, calm eyes: "You can do this!" I smile and take a deep breath. I go up, up, up, fully focused on my body and the rock wall.
Along the way I stop to catch my breath, or rather calm my nervous gasps, rest my arins and reflect how far I have come. Then we continue upward, usig the pegs and footholds strategically placed along the route. The view is phenomenal. I've been here several times, but never ceases to amaze. The rolling peaks tower over the glittering Baltic Sea, which stretches until it melts together with the sky. Few places combine mountains with the sea, but this is one of them. That is probably why I keep coming back.
Photographer & adventurer
Family: Boyfriend and och three bonus daughters.
Next dream project: Right now my focus is on becoming a certified lnternational Mountain Leader (IM L).
Life motto: Only you can make your dreams come true - live your life here and now.
Best tips for others seeking adventure: lf there is an adventure you are dreaming of, don't think so much about the if, when and how. Just put it on the calendar. Then you can focus on getting everything you might need to do it, for example knowledge, equipment, etc.
24 SEPTEMBER, LAPPLAND
It's my last day on the Kungsleden trail, and the morning is cool. Today I am walking from the cabins at Alesjaure to Abisko, in total almost 37 km. But after almost four months of adventure, my body is strong - and this leg is also mainly flat or downhill.
I starts low and enjoy the hike. It's late in the season, and the trail, which is usually the most popular, is empty. This time I hiked from Vakkotavare, but the Kungsleden trail stretches all the way to Hemavan, 450 km south of Abisko.
Morning gives way to day as I tramp along the lake at Alesjaure, which is just as blue as the sky above, surrounded by the ancient mountains. This Swedish mountain chain is one of the world's oldest at almost 400 million years. That is why our Swedish mountains are so low and rounded - they have been polished by the weather gods over the years. But it's said they were more than 8,000 m high when they were formed! It feels like the area is completely cut off from civilization, but just on the other side of the lake is a camp that belongs to the Laevas Sami village. The land has been used for thousands of years.
I head below the tree line, enter Abisko National Park and eat my lunch next to Abiskojaure's inlet. Then I continue along the creek to my final destination for this leg of the trip: Abisko Fjällstation and a three-course dinner. A birch archway welcomes me to the station, and I get the feeling it won't be the last time I walk under it. But that is a story for another time.