E1: Västra Vätterleden – Mölltorp to Mullsjö

After 2 train rides and a bus trip I arrived at the outskirts of Mölltorp. I wandered down to the church, which is adjacent to the trail, it was warm and sunny and the Tilley was soon donned as was the sunscreen. Filling up my water bottles I turned southwards, and quickly left the village entering the forest along a well used road, which lead to the local speedway, thankfully the speedway was closed today. I followed the road for a while before climbing towards a view point, it was warm, but as always being out in the forests in the sunshine with the birds singing was therapeutic experience. Always nice to be made welcome Turning away from the view point I continued along the foot trail meandering through the forest, after which I came to a junction, which included a sign welcoming me to Karlsborg Kommune “It is always nice to be made feel welcome” I thought. From here I descended past the well hidden speedway through the heath covered slopes to the main road and continued my journey southwards After a short stretch along the road I left it for the final time and followed the well marked trail as it rose and descended before rising again, this pattern was repeated many times across the furrowed landscape. Knee high view of trail Along the way it was possible to catch glimpses of the large lake Vättern to the east. Vättern is the second largest lake in Sweden and has an area of 1912 square kilometres with a length of 129 km and width of 28 km. I had passed the lake on the train and was surprised by its size and its “sea like” presence. Ultimately after many ups and down I descended to the shelter at Röåsjön. Röåsjön Lillies I wandered down to the lake looking for a campsite but soon realised that the best sites were near the shelter. Having set up the Ultamid I returned to the lake, filtering the water with my Sawyer mini filter. Note as Cesar has indicated there is a sign suggesting that all water from the lake should be boiled which is very unusual in Sweden. Lily pad and tadpole It was a cool and quiet night, I slept well, until I was awoken at 3 am by the birds singing, having dealt with the problem, I went back to sleep. Awake for the second time, I set about the usual chores before packing up and descending to the lake to collect water. Sadly it was after the first half a litre that my Sawyer stopped working. I did not have a syringe to back flush it and began to wonder if I had used the nominal 378,540 litres it is guaranteed for, I thought not. When I got home I back flushed it and some dirt came out and it seems to be working normally. I always backflush the filter after each trip, but now it seems that I need to back flush everyday. Tablets are looking like a better option IMHO. Röåsjön in morning light With half a litre of water on a warm sunny morning I set off along the minor forestry roads. I was already impressed by the Västra Vätterleden as it either followed minor forestry trails or more often than not, foot trails. This section of the trail did not disappoint as passed through wide open forests providing a sense of openness. Stonewall In the warm sunshine walking was pleasant if not a bit warm and I was pleased to arrive at Skarpås a popular, and accessible by car, shelter adjacent to a small dam. There was ample camping space around the shelter but for me it was a lunch stop. I relaxed in the sunshine before refilling my water bottles and heading off. Skarpås Shelter By now it had warmed up considerably and walking along the roads with heat bouncing of the hard gravel soon had me sweating. But it would not last. Walled up door After following a road and then crossing a logged area by walking on top of the dead branches I turned towards Mullsjön, only to find that I was wading though calf deep water and long grass, with only the occasional trail marker. The swamp walking continued for a kilometre or so before I came out on the other side, I assumed the couple drinking coffee in their garden laughed at the guy wandering through the swamps. Finally, reaching dry land I followed the roads before arriving at the bird watching tower adjacent to Mullsjön where stopped to take in the sights. Mullsjön Leaving the tower I passed through the tiny hamlet of Stämmorna, with its summer houses, and the main activity for teh afternoon appeared to be mowing lawns in preparation for the Swedish National day. I passed the connecting trail to Hjo before continuing around the lake and climbing up into the hills.  By now I was getting weary and was looking forward to camping, however, as it happened on my last trip, the closer I got to my intended destination for the day I found myself in a outdoor recreation and ski area. It was a popular area including a small boy who stood on top of a dirt mound deciding what he could throw at me as I walked past. Fortunately pieces of bark do not fly very well and I just laughed and continued on my way. Ultimately I reached the shelter at Hedsmossen and began the fruitless search for a tentsite, finally relenting and setting up my bed in the shelter all the time hoping the mosquitoes would disappear as it cooled in the evening, they did not. It was warm muggy night, made warmer by the need to stay buried in my Astucas Quilt as a barrier against the mosquitoes. I was too warm and slept poorly. Packing up and trying to wake up the next morning, I set off towards the first obstacle of the day. Keep your feet dry challenge I then followed a series of trails and minor roads, as I approached Kärrabo follwoing a narrow ridge which provided views into the valley below. I was beginning to enjoy myself. When suddenly seemingly out of nowhere 2 large black dogs appeared making their presence known in no uncertain terms, they were quickly joined by a third dog, while the biggest approached at an alarming pace all the time barking in a threatening manner. I was somewhat concerned, when I finally heard a voice yelling at the dogs. I stopped and waited, the owner finally appeared with 2 leashes for 3 dogs. He asked me to wait and he retraced his foot steps to recover the third leash he dropped in panic. When he returned he apologised profusely saying that no one ever walked these trails. The trails looked pretty well used to me. He continued on his way as I did finally arriving at Kärrabo, I was glad to take a rest. Time for a rest Having dropped my pack, collected my water bottles and camera, I was ready to set off to the spring. I turned around to see 2 hares racing past me, they realised I was there and the hares panicked. with each hare bounding in the opposite direction to the other, I just laughed. I had my camera but did not even stop to consider using it, I guess I interrupted a romantic interlude. With the hares heading in opposite directions I descended to the spring and began the task of collecting fresh water, albeit slowly. Pink Cup Kärrabo By now I had relaxed, so I set off for the next adventure, one thing that struck me as I wandered through the forests, was the sense of solitude, there was very few houses in the area and very few people to be seen. Except for the yellow Swedish Post van, it seems wherever I go and no matter how remote it may feel there is always a Swedish post van delivering mail, and most often these vans are driven by women. The drivers are always friendly and slow down to pass, not something that I can always say about the locals. Trail marker, coffee not included Ultimately I arrived at Vitsjön, and as it was lunchtime and took the opportunity to relax. It was also apparent to me that as I headed southwards the quantity of graffiti on shelters increased but the quality decreased. Vitsjön, no fishing What is fascinating about Vistjön is that it is separated from Hyltesjön by a very narrow high ridge which provides views left and right along the trail. After lunch I climbed up from the lake to the trail and continued southwards. Vitsjön Passing by a border stone I entered Hökensås Nature Reserve. The area is fascinating  as it consists of open forest with a variety of trees, and other fauna as well as some challenging 20 metre drops followed by 20 metres climbs out of narrow valleys, there were several of these and I recognised they were getting worse when one included a rope as a handrail. Rope handrail equals steep It was here that I met the only other persons for the day, 2 mountain bikers, they quickly passed and I continued along the trail, contemplating camping options. Arriving at Store Grubben late in the afternoon I wandered away from the lake and found a spot to relax for the night. In the morning it was cool and overcast as well as windy, the weather had me donning my wind shirt as I headed off on what would be varied terrain which included lakes; Breezy morning on Store Grubben more lakes; Nordvattnet and sandy trails, with better sand than found on many beaches Open forest Hökensås Nature Reserve I stopped at Kroksjön for coffee and shortbread. The shelter has an idyllic location overlooking the lake, and is a popular fishing area. In the windy conditions the fisherman were having no luck, however, the advantage for fisherman is its accessibility by motor vehicle, one of which was parked adjacent to the shelter. Soon after setting off I reached Hornsjön admiring the unique nesting box. As an aside, I had passed a number of nesting boxes during the trip and I have always wondered whether they were used, and some, like this one, were in use. Unusal nesting box Setting off around the lake, I passed by a marked logging area with machinery parked nearby. At the southern end of the lake I located a campsite and settled in for the final night on the trail, it was windy but the clouds were dispersing. I had a very relaxing evening before retiring. Not long after retiring I heard a tree come crashing down a little distance away from me, I was not concerned, but when then the second hit the ground quickly followed by the third I began to wonder. Focussing my hearing I realised there was machinery going and then I realised that the lumberjacks had been sent out late on a Sunday night by the local Ikea store to get timber. It seemed strange that at 10 pm on a Sunday night the timber munching “one bite and your passed out on the ground” machines were out working. I was awoken by a cuckoo at 3 am only to realise that the machine was still happily felling trees. Fortunately I knew I was outside the taped area and furthermore I wanted an early start, but not 3 am in the morning. Finally succumbing to the incessant crashing of trees and the cuckoo who had not set his clock to summer time, I was on my way. Swan song The trail did not disappoint me as I wandered along a series of minor roads, and foot trails, admittedly, I was somewhat concerned when I clambered under fallen powerlines. I passed by the old cottage at Anderstorp, and arrived at Mullsjö. As I packed my gear for the trip home, I reflected on what had been a very enjoyable walk of 120 km with 6200 metres of ascent, which is more than I will do in Finnmark this summer.

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2 Responses to E1: Västra Vätterleden – Mölltorp to Mullsjö

  1. You had a bit of a bumpy, roller coaster ride there with the ascent and descent! We have something similar – maybe about 10% less, and it can be mentally taxing when you don’t know what might lay around the next corner, and the contour lines on the map aren’t less than 10 meters apart. That gap can hide a lot!
    I really enjoyed reading this and hope to meet you need month.

  2. Thanks Helen, as you say the map never tells it all, in many ways I prefer the 1 big climb to lots of little ups and downs. I suspect the scenery and forests are very similar to your area. Hopefully we will catch up.

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