Solberget Vildmarksbyn


Yesterday I began working as a tourist guide at Solberget Vilmarksbyn as part of a work experience scheme with the local job centre.

Yesterday we took guests out on a ski tour around the local marshes.

We could not travel across the marshes because the ice was thin and there was water under the snow.

Water on skis freezes immediately and has to be removed.  Fortunately Dirk had a gas burner in his rucksack

We heard and found much evidence of Willow Grouse (Lagopus lagopus).  In the picture below they had been feeding on Birch buds

Willow Grouse have feathers on their feet so you cannot see toes in their tracks

In this picture a Willow Grouse has landed in the snow (you can see the wing pattern) and then run away.

We also saw many Red Squirrel tracks

After three hours, we returned to Solberget Wilderness Village

After the Reindeer had been fed this morning

we headed off into the forest on another ski tour to the top of Solberet (Sun Hill translated to English).

We skied uphill for about one hour until we reached a cabin and fire-watch tower

Once inside the cabin we made a fire

and had lunch

After lunch we returned to Solberget.

Training with skis

I’m still not that good on skis so I’ve been out in the forest training.

The weather and scenery are beautiful just now

The Birch trees are sheding their winter coat now and I am collecting the thin, pappery outer bark for teachingfirelighting later in te year.

Of course I made fire I cooked coffee.  I collected resin rich, standing dead wood to use for making fire

I used a thick layer of Pine as a base to build the fire on

It ignites easily and burns very well due to the resin

Soon the snow was melting

and coffe was made

Problem solved

I was invited out yesterday by my friends Dirk and Silka from Solberget, to do some tracking in the forest.  I was somewhat concerned about getting around in the forest on skis, but they assured me it would not be a problem.  They use Tegsnas forest skis, which are 95mm wide

and loaned me a pair to test.  It was a completely different experience traveling on these skis compared with the military skis that I have.  I was not sinking into the snow at all at it was very easy to move around.

We did not find so much spore while we were out, but we did find burrows in the snow where Capercaillie had spent the night

Apparently it can be quite a frightening experience if you ski over one of these burrows while the bird is still in it, as the snow erupts in front of you and  a Capercaillie busts out!

We also found Pine Marten tracks

Dirk has a kåta in the forest where he takes guests to stay and we stopped there for lunch

It is close to a beautiful area of marsh where there are many birds and animals during the summer.

Failed to reach my cabin!!

Unfortunately it proved too difficult to reach my cabin.  I was warned by the locals that traveling in the current conditions would not be easy, and they were right.

Many people have commented on how bad this particular winter is.  Apparently during a normal winter, temperatures from time to time will reach above freezing and at this time the surface of the snow melts and when the temperature drops again the surface freezes hard, providing ideal traveling conditions.  However, this winter the temperature has not gone above freezing since the middle of October and so the snow is very light and powdery, making it very difficult to walk and ski (I thought it was just my lack of experience).

With my pulka (I’ll be writing more about that next time)  packed with my equipment and food

I headed off on skis towards the cabin

Immediately it was obvious that traveling with skis was going to be difficult.  The skis were sinking into the snow so deep that I had snow up to my thighs.  I could not slide with the skis, but instead had to lift them out of the snow each time and step forward.  And in the deep snow the pulka was difficult to drag (pulling me back each time I tried to move forward) and was on its side most of the time having slipped into the deep ruts left by my skis.  After 45 minutes I have traveled about 150 metres.

Eventually I gave up and made my way slowly back to my car.

Let’s hope the temperature rises soon but I think it’s unlikely as this morning it’s -35!!!

Out and about skiing.

FIRSTLY……The sun is appearing above the horizon again!!!!

I have already tried walking in the forest with snowshoes, but I am still sinking in the snow up to my knees and in places up to my waist.

Because I cracked my ribs soon after I moved here last year I was not able to learn to ski properly, but now I’m starting to get out and practise on skis with some tuition from Emma.

We have been practising on the hard, compacted snow of snow scooter trails, but the other day I decided to head off into the forest on virgin snow to test out the skis.  Unfortunately my skis also sink down into the snow

and although not as deep as the snowshoes, it does mean that you have to lift up the skis out of the snow with every step.

I found a small timber building while out

On closer investigation I found that it has not windows and that the door and roof had been removed.

And next to the building I found this interesting feature

It has a thick concrete wall at the back and a metal framework in front with several pulley systems

After making some inquiries when I returned home, I found out that this was an old military shooting range and presumably the pulleys were used to raise and lower targets.

I continued on my way and later decided to stop for coffee.  I found a nice sheltered spot surrounded by trees to make a camp

I used my ski pole to excavate the snow

I gathered some materials and prepared to make fire

I have not had problems making fire for a long time but this time I had many problems.   The matches I carry with me would not ignite.  I carry my matches in a small sealed container.

and as you can see I have the heads of the matches at the top.  Possibly one reason I had problems to ignite them was that my fingers were sweating and so making the match heads wet when I removed them from the container.  So now I carry them with the heads down

It’s such a simple thing but something I had not considered before.  Another useful piece of simple advice I shall share is not to hold the end of a match between your teeth in extreme cold, while preparing your fire because as I found, your breath freezes over the working end of the match and so it will not ignite!!

There was no Birch in the area, so I could not use bark to get my fire going, but I had cotton wool with me but although the cotton wool would ignite, it went out immediately.   I carved small shavings of dead Pine and used to ignite the fire but once they had burn up, the fire went out.  I spent about an hour trying to make fire but never succeeded.  I think my audience found it entertaining though…

This experience shows that you should not become complacent and instead practise, practise, practise!!!!



Three days at the cabin with Teres

On Thursday evening as it was getting dark, myself and Teres left our car and walked to the can.  It was after dark when we arrived and even with a fire in the living room it was still a very cold evening.

I kept the fire going all night and by lunchtime on Friday the cabin was getting warm.  One of our first tasks was to clear away the snow

Here she is even clearing snow while talking on the mobile phone!

I purchased a child’s pulka from a local fuel station

so that I can pull my pack behind me when I’m skiing and it works well

but as I mentioned before I wanted to try and make a larger one of my own.

The base is a thin piece of plywood from the cabin and the sides I cut and brought with me

I knew it would be difficult to bend and shape the plywood for the front of the pulka, but I did not realise how difficult.  We tried using steam, weights and soaking the wood and using heat to bend it

but we could not bend the wood enough and unfortunately the plywood eventually cracked.

We spent some time out skiing but Teres’ feet were too small for the ski fitting so I had to improvise with loops of cord and a couple of webbing straps and fortunately they worked really well.

It was snowing most of the time and there was very little sun so it was not a good day for nice views

At Anki and Ingvar’s cabin we stopped to make coffee

before heading back to the cabin for the evening.

We are making use of the open fire now and utilising an old wire coat hanger I made a pot hanger over the fire for the kettle or coffee pot

it’s also nice to sit and grill sausage in the fire

and here I am baking Pinn Brod

The time went very quickly and too soon it was time for us to head home