Published Aug 18. 2017 - 1 month ago
Updated or edited Aug 18. 2017

Not Everyone’s cup of tea

South African Korrie Broos experiences the Swedish "summer" fishing.

The parking lot
Fossegrim
Starting out
Korrie Broos

Tea, Rooibos, Ceylon, Earl Grey, English breakfast tea, herbal tea and fruit-infused teas are available in many different tastes, strengths and packings. Each of us has personal preferences. Some like to try new types and like their tea strong and others very weak.
The same applies to our fly fishing trips. Some like the comfort of a five star lodge, with guides and ghillies looking after their needs, tying on flies, waiters serving breakfasts, dinners cooked by sous chefs to round off the day, sipping brandy or enjoying a cigar in front of a roaring fire. For others, a shack on a beach or a tent next to a river and their own cooking. Just as we like to share a cuppa with a friend, we like to share our fishing trips with friends and fellow fly fishers many of whom are as much a part of our lives as a trusted cup of tea.

Blazing fire
The tarp up
Cooking in the tent
Dry and warm
The tarp
Korrie Broos

Peter Sandblom from Sweden

has been a fly fishing friend for many years after we met via a fly fishing forum. He was on his way from Sweden for a holiday in the Cape and wanted to know where to fish in the Cape. I volunteered to take him out for a day on the Cape Streams. He loved Cape Town so much that he brought his family on their annual holiday to the Cape, to escape the Swedish winters and our yearly fishing trips have become an institution, some involving 2 or 3 day fishing and camping trips, as far from civilization as possible.
Peter kept on asking me to visit him in Sweden and join his annual fly fishing trip with his Swedish fly fishing friends. Each year, they choose a new isolated location. Some of the trips involved long distance hiking carrying food and equipment for a couple of days away from cell phones, clients and even the family. As luck would have it, I needed to inspect a Swedish machine for my company, during the Swedish summer months - what a coincidence.

For his part, when he heard of my impending trip, Peter ‘s response was "What a coincidence, you are so lucky, you can join us on our annual fly fishing trip". The fishing gods and good karma sometimes do throw the right dice. The planning started months in advance. We created an email loop with his 2 friends. This year the destination was Fälpfjället, Jämtland close to the Southern border of Lapland. It is a wilderness area, with no roads and few hiking trails. Once you are in the wilderness area, one can choose any direction to hike in. The parking lots are on the edge of the wilderness area and from the parking area, there are a couple of foot paths that start out, but very quickly vanish so each hiker or group must find his own route.

The emails started off slowly,

but Peter’s two fly fishers I’d not met before, quickly became very good email friends as we exchanged information and friendly fly fishing banter. One thing about a first world country like Sweden is they have websites for everything with all the information about anything. We watched the weather daily for 2 months before our trip. For a South African, it was frightening with daily temperatures of minus 10 to 20 degrees C, snow, wind, rain. Every now and again, the temperature would rise to minus 5 or even to ZERO and then dropped again. As the end of June approached, I became increasingly worried about freezing to death in Southern Lapland. There is even a website in Sweden that tells everyone when Summer is due to arrive in one’s area. The Swedish definition of Summer’s arrival is "SUMMER is when there are 5 days of continuous temps above 10 degrees C." 5 days of temperature above 10 degrees? That would be a freezing time in South African terms, but for the Swedes it’s a glorious momentous date. Summer has arrived! Daily checks a month before the trip indicated that we would not be doing a summer fishing trip.
A week before the trip, a weather station an hour’s drive north recorded 62 centimeters of snow. I was starting to have serious doubts about this trip and how to avoid hypothermia plus frostbite.

The dense rings
Campfire
Not a happy trooper
The drying rack
Fire
Korrie Broos

Meanwhile emails crisscrossed the equator

with dietary requirements the menu for 4 days, packing lists and recommend flies. Every night I sat and tied flies. A couple of hundred was required as one cannot hike into a wilderness tundra area appropriately-equipped – that could stuff up the whole trip. I started laying out the fishing gear – 3 rods, 1 for the lakes, 1 for the rivers and a back up, should anything untoward happen – waders, wading boots, wading jacket, beanie, 2 sets of clothes, thermals, extra fleece top for the cold, 4 pairs of thick woollen socks, quick wicking pants, leaders tied up, tippet material. Oh and 2 sets of business attire for the business part of the trip.
The detailed map showed WATER WATER EVERYWHERE. I had no idea how we were going to hike the area.
As the departure date approached, I "mentioned" the trip to one or 2 of my fly fishing friends. I showed information about the trip to one or 2, or maybe it was a lot more. Actually showed, is a mild understatement; I was bragging and boasting about it.

On the map...

A number of my friends

became sick on seeing all the maps and information. That is sick with jealousy and green with envy. I made some enemies, who begrudged my luck And threatened to come in the middle of the night to steal all my fly fishing equipment.
Or to break the rods, and leave them in the rod tubes, so that I would only discover the damage when I opened them to assemble the rods in the wilderness.
I even received a website that shows the exact amount of sunshine that each location in Sweden gets every day of the year. The spot where we will be going, the sun will not shine for 3,08 minutes each night. Or as they say, "we will have darkness" Just south of the Polar circle. The sun did not worry me, the sub zero temperatures worried me, as we watched the www.yr.no weather site predictions for Fälpfjället.

Via the emails,

we looked at the topographical map, studying the various routes, around hills, or around lakes. Trying to decide which route is the best, the longer flatter route or the shorter, but more hilly route. Eventually we decided on the straighter and shorter route with a bit more hills.
Hills are a misnomer as it was mostly rocky outcrops amongst the ponds.

As the departure date drew closer, my excitement levels grew, but I have to admit, I had concerns about the weather, as the weather station had predicted a maximum temp of only 3 degrees for 1 or 2 days in the week prior to my planned departure. Furthermore, the 3 degrees accompanied by strong wind and rain. I was worried whether I would be able to cope with that. We departed South Africa and arrived in Stockholm to a cool summer’s day of about 12 degrees, but still worried about conditions much further north in Southern Lapland. Really worried.

I completed my 3 days of business appointments and then we arrived at Peter’s house. We did the normal formalities of "How are you, etc." before we got started getting ready for the trip. We checked everything again, the camping equipment that was his responsibility; we checked my gear, my fishing gear and the minimal camping gear I had to bring.

Frozen olive oil
Instant meals
Rain-go-away dance
Camp life
Korrie Broos

The plan was

that we will leave Peter’s house at 21:00, up the other 2 guys, Calle Forsstrom and Tobias Davidsson, at their homes and by 22:00 we should hit the road, traveling thru the night, 6 hours north and then another 2 hours, north west, until we reached the parking lot the next morning at 06:00. Each drove for 2 hours. After 4 hours, the back seat passengers moved to the front and so on.
Checking and repacking the gear at Peter’s house went according to schedule. We left Stockholm on the dot of 22:00 easing along the main road north along the Baltic sea. The fog coming off the Baltic sea was very thick at times ensuring that we stayed within the speed limits that are strictly enforced in Sweden. After 6 hours of driving we turned North-West at Sundsvall, away from the Baltic coast, heading inland to Fälpfjället.

Fälpfjället is a remote weather station on a mountain top, almost on the border of Sweden and Norway. The roads in Sweden are very good and as we headed inland the fog disappeared and the population also decreased, allowing us to drive a bit faster as the chances of encountering traffic officers were less. Two hours later we stopped where the road ended in a small parking area, at the edge of the wilderness area. Excitement levels peaked, the lack of sleep during the night was forgotten. We were ready for the fly fishing adventure of a lifetime. We unpacked all the backpacks and the extra goods Calle and Tobias had been responsible for and distributed them evenly between us. The last item in the back of the vehicle was a groundsheet of about 3 by 4 meters. One of the Swedes asked who will take this? A second time, "will we need this?" A third time "Will we take the groundsheet?" No one answered as nobody wanted to carry any extra weight to the camping spot about 12 kilometers away as the crow flies. Eventually, I volunteered, with great reluctance, I have to add. This groundsheet would eventually turn out to be one of the best things we carried along, but more of that later.

The extra 1.5 kilos was strapped to the already full back pack. We thought, 12 kilometers, not a problem, it should take us 3 or 4 hours and then we’d start fishing. Well, how wrong we were. The footpaths start from the parking area and then diverge in as many directions as destinations in the wilderness area. We had a compass, a GPS and a map and with the GPS as the main direction giver we started the hike. We very quickly realised that this was not a quick 3 or 4 hour hike as we’d anticipated and joked about who would have the first fish before 11:00.

A very content South African
Tobias Davidsson
Calle Forsstrom
Faces
Korrie Broos

With all thawed snow

and lots of, everything was saturated, the trees were dripping, the soil was more marsh to moor than easy hiking terrain. Between the few rocky outcrops was a soggy, marshy, muddy type of substrate. Every now and again one sank to one's ankles and even knees in the mud.
Every 40 to 60 minutes we stopped for 10 to 15 minutes to catch our breath and to enjoy the beauty of the place. Little ponds were everywhere, there was snow on the mountains, and green tips to the plants everywhere, as spring started to push the cold out. After 4 hours of hiking, we stopped to make lunch and replenish the energy. Next to the area where we stopped, was a pond with rising fish. I rigged a rod and went to give it a try while lunch was cooking, but ended up sinking up to my thighs in the marsh. I tried to cast but after about a couple of minutes I was called to a late brunch. We packed up after 40 minutes and carried on, as straight as an arrow, to our destination. Oh, brown bears occur in the wilderness, and we came across a couple of scats. To warn the bears of our presence, we kept on saying very loudly "Hej hej" (Swedish for hello), clapping our hands, and I taught them a sing-song I learnt in Alaska "Bear, bear, where are you, bear, bear, where are you?" This carried on for the whole hike with the frequent scats providing a continuous reminder. I must admit, I really hoped to see a bear in the wild. But our verbal efforts made sure, our paths did not cross.

A South African fishing in Sweden
Fish on
Fishing together
Fishing
Korrie Broos

9 hours later,

what with rest stops and lunch, the 12 kilometers hiking ordeal ended at the chosen campsite. It was between 2 lakes, next to the connecting river. As my Swedish friends are experienced outdoors men, they chose the spot for the camp, relatively close to the water, so the noise of the water would mask our sounds, and not too close to some patches of trees, where the bears would most likely be.

We were very lucky, the rain stayed away for the whole hike in and whilst we pitched the tents, the sun even showed itself in short bursts for the next hour. As soon as the tents were up, I got into my waders and rigged up my nymphing rod. Within a minute or two, the first brown came out to a gold bead GRHE nymph. I was very happy, my first Lapland trout. My Swedish friends joined me on the water and it was not long before we were all into fish. We had dinner, the normal hikers’ food for the first night, we were tired. Very tired, I have to admit, after the strenuous hike in and limited sleep the previous night, the excitement burnt off all the energy and adrenaline, we were in bed by 21:00 as the clouds started to build menacingly. It probably took us 30 seconds to be in a deep sleep. As I got into the sleeping bag, I thought I must do my diary… zzzzzzzzzzzz...
The next morning rain on the tent woke us up and lasted for the next 3 days.

Joy
The catch
Grayling
Small fish
Another grayling
Catches
Korrie Broos
The dorsal fin
Caddis
Mayfly
Fish and insects
Korrie Broos

Peter is a qualified chef,

and he had a very detailed menu planned for us, with the finest ingredients that we’d carried; bacon and eggs for breakfast, the lunches were normal dehydrated trail food and dinners a real treat. Dry aged steaks, fresh young potatoes, Falukorv sausage (a very big traditional Swedish sausage) to name a few of the ingredients, and freshly caught perch for the one night. With the driving rain and howling wind, the first morning’s breakfast was cooked on a small gas stove in the front section of the one tent. Very cramped, I must admit. Sitting in a small 2 man tent, with waders and wading boots, with layers of clothing and a rain jacket on, is not the easiest. But we ate breakfast and started fishing in the rain. But nothing beats a dry wader, layers of clothing, a beanie, a good rain jacket, tons of enthusiasm and lots of excitement. In spite of cold water that made one’s hands ache, we were as snug as a bug in a rug. We caught brown trout, grayling and the odd perch in the stream section.
After 4 hours we went back to the tent and lunch was again cooked in the front section of the tent, very cramped, but lucky for us, there was a brief break in the rain when the food was ready and we managed to eat outside, sitting on rocks, enjoying the wilderness.
And then the rain came again.

Dry aged steaks
Perch
Dinner
Korrie Broos

But we were well dressed

for the cold and the rain - and fish don’t mind. After 3 hours of fishing we called time out, to help Peter with the dinner. And it rained some more. Tobias said, "we have the groundsheet, why don’t we put it up against the rain". He had some spare rope in his back pack and we pitched the groundsheet with a back section, to stop the driving rain and act as a wind shield and a roof section. And then even more rain came down, almost on cue, just as the groundsheet was in position. We looked at each other and a smile formed on all our faces and I was glad, very glad that I’d offered to carry the groundsheet. To get dry wood is not an easy task when it has been raining and snowing for months, but Calle and Tobias started looking around and very quickly, they showed me how dry wood looks. We took a couple of dry branches back to camp. After packing a few stones in a circle, we lit a small camp and cooking fire, under our groundsheet cover; what a difference a little fire made to the morale of 4 fly fishers in Southern Lapland. Peter took the 3 week, dry-aged steaks out and whilst the young potatoes were cooking on the gas stove, he grilled the steaks.
At 22:00 we went fishing again. In spite of the dark clouds and the time of night, it was still light enough to change a #18 dry fly without a torch. We worked our way down the river to where it tailed out in the bottom lake. Fishing with streamers we landed a couple of bigger perch, and trout, but no pike, which also occur in the system. At about 02:00 we decided to call it a day and headed back to the tents. Again, as I got myself ready in the sleeping bag, I thought that I should be making notezzzzzzzz for the article. But that lasted about 10 z’s before I was out for the count.

A good sized brown trout
The Spots of a wild brown trout
Brown trout
Korrie Broos

The next morning,

the rain on the tent woke me again; at 09:00. If there had been any wind, rain or snoring during the night, no one noticed. Out of the sleeping bag, into the waders and under our makeshift shelter. The wood was running low and Calle joined me to look for some dry branches on the wooded ridge about 400 meters away. As we walked to the ridge, the "Hej Hej" and "Bear, bear where are you" was sung in chorus. But it was probably more the non-musical abilities that drove the bears away than our singing.
The trees in Africa are different to the trees from Southern Lapland. Calle also mentioned that the Swedes say a tree warms you three times. Once when you chop it down, once when you cut it up and you carry the wood in and finally, when the fire starts. He pointed out that the best wood was birch, which of the solid pieces of pine would be good for the fire and what was useless and not worth carrying 400 meters back to the camp. As we returned with the wood, the smell of bacon and eggs was in the air, late breakfast, or early brunch, was served. After breakfast we made our way upstream to the top lake. On our way, the reindeer of the local Sami, who use this area for summer grazing, watched us walking by and Calle said, he was sure there might be an antler laying around. Sure enough, 5 minutes later, he handed me an antler and said "Here is a souvenir for you."

The box
An antler
Flies and antlers
Korrie Broos

I stuffed the antler in the back of my fly vest and we carried on to the tail section of the top lake. With all the rain and high water, the fish were eager to eat our nymphs. We fished this section for about 3 hours before hunger started calling and a late trail lunch became the order of the day. With the almost eternal daylight, and the overcast conditions, one’s body was not sure what time of the day it was, unless one checked one’s watch or reacted to the gnawing of the stomach.
Back at the camp, the antler became a very convenient place to hang our rain jackets and waders. As the fire wood was getting low, it was time of the second tree warming and I accompanied Tobias; he showed me the tiny annual rings in some of the branches we collected, reflecting the very slow growth rate of the trees this far north and the very short time the trees have available for growth each year. We collected some juniper bushes, which he explained, are great fire starters and burn very well, even when wet, as they have a very high resin content. The Viking bloodline still runs strong in modern day Swedes but, as an ex parabat medic, he’d had good training from the Swedish military. It was great to exchange some experiences from my own army days and how we differed. Lunch was ready when we got back to camp and we sat under our cover and ate our lunch. As we were getting accustomed to the area, we decided to venture a bit further down the shore of the bottom lake.
Peter Sandblom placed his order for the day. In the last hour of fishing, we must keep 4 good-sized Perch for dinner to make sure it is a fresh as possible. We did not disappoint the chef, and the 4 fresh-cleaned Perch were duly delivered to the chef. I ended up cooking them for him as he prepared the rest of the meal. By now the tiredness of the walk in and the lack of sleep had left our bodies and sitting under the groundsheet with a little fire, sipping whisky out of plastic hiking cups, amongst fly fishing friends in the Swedish wilderness was as close to heaven as I could get.
We decided on an early night and just before 24:00 we went to bed, with the wind and the rain rocking us to instant deep sleep.

The four intrepid fly fishers
The four intrepid fly fishers
Korrie Broos

A soft drizzle woke me up

the next morning. Not sure if anyone else was awake, I heard nothing and slowly I turned in my sleeping, only to see Peter opening his eyes; it was almost 9 o'clock. Calle and Tobias mumbled "Hej hej" to each other in the other tent. Waking up time was well coordinated. I offered to make the coffee, which was eagerly accepted. But first I had to get the fire going, which was not difficult using the Juniper bush trick that Tobias had showed me, and in no time I had the coffee ready. Whilst Peter got another gourmet breakfast ready, we went to collect some wood in a squall. The welcoming smell of the breakfast greeted us on our return. You start to appreciate the value of a good quality wader and rain jacket when you have spent the previous 2 days in driving rain and wind whilst wading in close to freezing water.
By now, we had fished the river up and downstream of our camp and some sections of the upper and lower lakes. By then we’d found favourite spots and as we ambled along to the most productive spots, the rain came down in buckets with a driving wind.
Up to then, we had not seen a single rising fish, with all the fish being taken on nymphs, but all of a sudden, the odd rise was visible. Peter tied on a variation of a Klinkhåmer and started to cast to the odd rising fish. It did not take too long before the first brown ate his dry fly. Then it did not take long before we all had dry flies on because, after 2 solid days of nymphing, one wanted fishing change, even the most die-hard of nymphomaniacs like me. The most effective patterns where emerger style dry flies, with a section below the surface. It is not easy to keep a dry fly dry in intense rain, but Peter was willing to share some of his magic flies with us. The secret of his Klinkhåmer style fly was that the thorax section was tied with a closed cell foam section which guaranteed a floating fly no matter how wet the hackle or wing material became. After fishing for another 3 or 4 hours, lunch time was called; we had a Chicken Teriyaki trail mix, just add hot water lunch, under the groundsheet – even an executive camp chef has to have a bit of time off.
The groundsheet cover was the saving grace of the trip. We could stand upright and walk around, even if it was in a very small space. This was much better than sitting fully-kitted in a 2 man tent. When we returned from the fishing sessions, we could also hang rain jackets and wet clothes to air and dry out a bit under a cover. At night, we aired our waders under the shelter. We had a place to socialize, to sit and drink coffee or to cook out of the driving rain and wind. The smoke of the fire did at times swirl a lot and made us stand on the side to escape it, or at times a slight change in the wind direction, blew some rain into or under the shelter. Would I have enjoyed this trip so much, if we’d had to spend 90% of our free time in a 2 man tent?, Probably not. Actually, definitely not.
With the swirling smoke under the shelter, all our clothing acquired a very distinctive aromatic smokey fragrance that lasted well after the trip as a beautiful reminder of a wonderful time.

The camp
The Campsite basking in the sun
The camp in the sun
Korrie Broos

After lunch,

the driving rain subsided to more of a soft rain mixed at times with drizzle. The wind speed dropped and most of the time, it was a gentle breeze. We did another trip upstream to the top lake’s outlet and had mixed results on dry flies and nymphs. With the softer rain, the level of the river sections started dropping and the river developed a different character. On our way down to the river section below the camp site where we’d the best fishing, stopping for a cup of tea along the way, we noticed how the areas we had crossed before were showing more exposed rocks and the force of the water was less.
Calle and Tobias used their phones as cameras, for this trip, as they are small, easy to carry and recharged with a battery bank. While I put the kettle on to boil, Tobias was looking for photos of some of the fish he caught, on his smartphone. He clicked on the wrong file and some of his Techno/House music started playing. This led Peter and Tobias to start an impromptu Anti-Rain dance to persuade the Rain gods to give us a bit of sunshine. Looking at two Swedes doing rhythmic moves with outstretched arms, in waders to a "doef-doef" beat in the Swedish wilderness is not something you will see every day. After the song and anti-rain dance and tea we carried on downstream. The rain continued.
Peter again put his trusted foam thorax Klinkhåmer-style fly on and was into the fish in no time. We followed his example and had dry and dry dropper setups. It was strange how the fish were taking the dry flies, but without any visible dry fly action. We fished till late; one cannot say till dark, as it does not get dark here. But hunger pains forced us back to the camp and Peter cooked up traditional Falukorv Swedish sausage for us. Falukorv is a thick sausage, about the diameter of an average person’s wrist and normally in the shape of a horse shoe, with a culinary history going back to 16th century.
After dinner we sat around the fire under the groundsheet, exchanging fishing stories, with soft rain falling. We eventually went to bed for the last night in the Swedish wilderness. With the 2 little tents next to each other, we chatted about the trip and I said to the guys "This type of fishing trip, might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this is the best fishing trip I have ever had, and probably ever will have". And with those words, I dozed off.

I cannot recall,

who was the first person out the next morning, but what I can remember was the shout "Come check this out, you will not believe this" As I poked my head out of the tent, I realised that Peter and Tobias’s Techno/house music, anti-rain dance had done its job. A bright sun with almost no clouds in the sky and not a breath of wind. How different everything looked! The grass had an almost chartreuse colour with emerald shade. The sprinkling of leaves on the trees was brighter. The snow on the hills was pure white. Life was beautiful. With the sun and no wind, the insects and mosquitoes started to emerge, along with our anti-mosquito creams. A light breakfast was served quickly as this was our last morning and we wanted to enjoy a good last fishing session before lunch and the arduous task of packing up and walking back. I went upstream to the tail-out section of the top lake.
Rising fish greeted me as I cast my eye over the water, First I tried the Klinkhåmer variant, NOTHING. Change fly to a caddis pattern, as I had had a caddis come and sit on my hand. Two casts later I was into a fish; a further two fish and then nothing, no takes, but rising fish everywhere. I dried the fly with dry fly powder, nothing. Then I noticed a mayfly, changed to a mayfly pattern and was into the fish again; after another 2 fish, nothing. Then I noticed a stonefly, changed to a stonefly pattern and was into the fish again. This lasted for about two hours, as the hatches kept changing every 15 minutes or so. On my way back to the others, I saw a beaver on the river bank, scurrying for safety. What a treat to see on the last day. Sweden was really showing her best colors on the last day of the trip. The other guys also had a bumper session on the dry fly.

Beautiful water
Korrie Broos

We discussed the modus operandi

for the rest of the day and proceeded with the plans.
Lunch comprised leftovers; even Peter’s well-planned menu had some left over ingredients that made a flavourful lunch.
Then the tents were opened up to dry, the sleeping backs were hung in the sun to get rid of some of the accumulated dampness. Pots, pans, cups, plates and cutlery was washed and the groundsheet was taken down. Everything was distributed evenly and we packed our backpacks. As we were busy with breaking down the tents, folding up all the sleeping bags and groundsheet, I noticed the faintest of tracks. It had probably something to do with the sunlight on the grass and that we were spending a bit more time around the campsite, now that the rain was gone. I pointed the tracks out to the guys and Calle and Tobias said that the Sami, who are the only people allowed motorised vehicles in the wilderness area, probably use them to check on their reindeer with an All-Terrain Vehicle.

Lots of space
Sunshine!
Sun
Korrie Broos
Wild strawberry flower
Wild flowers
Flowers
Korrie Broos

Having spent a fair amount

of time in the African bush on foot and on vehicles one gets to know something about paths. Paths are there for a reason and are formed over millennia in certain areas, by elephants, following the easiest route to traverse; such tracks can become the main routes for people travelling in and out of areas. So, I reasoned that the Samis’ knowledge and wisdom, passed down thru ages probably chose the best route in and out of this area as well. After some serious debate, I managed to convince the others that we should at least try the tracks, which looked like they were going in the right general direction towards the Fälpfjället peak.
At 16:00 we were ready with our backpacks on for a last photo at the site: the camera timer blinked and we hit the road, like the proverbial cow dung. On our way in, we had tried to travel as straight as possible or as a pigeon would fly but these tracks S’ed and snaked and meandered and sometimes even went 90 degrees in the wrong direction, around rocky outcrops, shallow ponds and marshy areas. But they always ended in the right general direction. On the way back, we did walk further but the walking was much faster and easier. About three quarters of the way back we realised that the tracks were going completely in the wrong direction and, checking the lie of the land, did not look like they would be turning back to our desired line. So, we took our map, compass and GPS and plotted a straight line for the last 3 or 4 kilometers. Hiking in this terrain, with a heavy back pack, you burn a lot of calories. At 21:00 we stopped for a good break after 5 hours of hiking and made the last dinner. The Swedes had their boots off to dry their feet, Peter was busy on the little stove and we all applied more anti bug cream. At 22:00 we had the backpacks on again and were ready for the last stretch.

Getting ready for the hike back
Skinny dipping
Around the swamp
The sun almost never sets
Rest and Recovery
Leaving
Korrie Broos

After 45 minutes of hiking

we started to see familiar landmarks as we approached the car park from almost the same angle as we’d left 4 days earlier. Just after 23:00 we reached the car. An hour and a half faster than the hike in, probably a bit further as well, but all thanks to the Sami track. I have to admit, I was very happy to see the car. We packed the car, had a drink and took the last photo of the 4 of us at 23:42. And we were on our way. Peter driving and Calle the co-driver. He sat with the map and looked at all possible routes out. He saw there was a "smaller road" that was a little longer and asked if we should take that route. Nobody was eager to take a longer route, we were tired and wanted to get home. But Calle was very enthusiastic about the smaller road that might be better, as not many people would travel it. I think we all eventually gave in if only not to dampen Calle’s enthusiasm. Out of the parking lot, 1 kilometer down the road and we turned left onto the longer route; I think each one of us, had probably a little extra weight on our hearts, except Calle. He showed the map to us, explained the new route etc. and as he looks to the front he says "STOP! What is that?" Peter was not going fast, probably 30 or 40 kilometers per hour and he managed to stop very quickly. 30 meters in front of us, on the edge of the road, a brown bear is walking towards us, with it effortless, metronomic steps. We could not believe our eyes, at first we froze, then someone said "Cameras". Calle had his phone camera out first and managed to get 4 or 5 photos of the bear, before the bear went past Peter’s door, turned 90 degrees and disappeared into the woods.
Now Calle was our hero; we all complimented him on convincing us to take the longer, less travelled route where we saw our first wild bear. The perfect ending to a perfect fishing trip.

As we got closer to Stockholm,

we chatted about how lucky we were to see the bear and we asked Calle if we could have another look at the photos. Calle looked for his phone/camera. First in his shirt pockets, then the pockets in the pants, the side panels of the car, under the seats, we looked everywhere and then realised that the phone mush have fallen out at one of the driver changeover stops. But which one? And to drive back the previous 6 hours, we would probably not find it in any case. So the perfect ending for the perfect fishing trip was slightly tarnished.
You can replace your phone, you can replace your contacts on the phone, but you cannot replace those photos of a wild bear. We dropped Calle and Tobias off at their homes with wives and children very happy to see them. We turned the wheels of the car in the direction of Peter’s house to meet up with our wives and Peter’s children and a cup of tea, to tell them the stories of the past 4 days.

Comments

Totally awesome...

Great story Korrie! Reminds me a lot of rain non-stop rain I experienced in Alaska during the summer. Your descriptions of the moments of sun are spot on and I couldn't help to laugh at your South African wit. You must be related to Trevor Noah?


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