It’s about the journey not the destination right?
Every adventure needs a bit of unpredictability, and our trip to Holmön Island provided us with exactly that. My classmates and I decided to escape Umeå for a weekend late September to enjoy the last breaths of fall. We boarded a boat early one Saturday morning in Ivarsboda, and set sail on a submarine-yellow ferry to Holmöarna, a set of islands of the coast of northern Sweden.
To the island…
We cut across the choppy grey waters of the Norra Kvarken to Holmön, an island in the Bothnian Gulf. Holmön, known for its sunshine, abundant lingon berries and spruce forests. As we would soon discover, it is also known for its vast stretches of bogs as well…
We arrived in the port of Holmön as a thick blanket of heavy mist descended upon us. We stocked up on lunch foods at the local grocery store, and of course sampled the homemade fika from the shop owner as we received instructions on a short hike we could take. It began in the forest and would bring us along the coast line, producing wonderful views of the Bothnian Bay to the north. Little did we know what we were in for…
The beginning of the adventure.
We set out on the trail, a narrow one lane gravel road among wooded cabins, which quickly transitioned into a winding dirt path. It took us deep into the spruce forest, and then out again to gradual rocky bluff that spilled out into the ocean below us.
After about thirty minutes of trecking, we came upon a wooden shelter amongst a grove of birch trees that, even in the mist of the afternoon, were alight with color. Here we stopped to make a fire and prepare lunch and fika, before pushing onwards.
The real journey begins….
Because our mist had turned to heavy rain we decided we would hike through the spruce forest to take a short cut back to our cabin, rather than backtrack along the same trail. As we progressed farther and farther into the forest, our GPS vaguely guided our position. The spruce trees quickly dropped away, and the berry bushes at our feet were replaced with a mat of water logged grasses and moss. The earth beneath us became more and more saturated with icy cold water.
I hear a yell behind me; one of my classmates was up to their shins in water, and another was close behind, feet submerged. We had discovered the infamous bogs of Holmön.
The bog wins…
We hopped, sank and splashed our way through the next hour, checking our GPS every 10 minutes to correct course. Out of necessity, we quickly learned to circumnavigate the bogs, reading the tell-tale signs of treacherously deep water. We meandered in and out of the spruce trees, heading back into the forest as the bogs’ bright orange grasses mixed with dusty red mosses that crept into the forest floor.
It was growing dark, and the rain went on unabated. After a few hours of careful treading, and more than a few missteps that lead to cold dips and soaking shoes and pants, we emerged back onto the main trail thankfully. Exhausted and wet, a session in the cabin’s sauna was in order, followed by a much appreciated home cooked meal.
Next time we travel to Holmön I think we will all stick to the trail, though I have to say that it was the adventure of our journey that made this trip so memorable!