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Published: November 19th 2020
"The hills are alive with the sound of music"
At the top of Åreskutan we started thinking of Sound of Music
Viking ships (that don't float), waterfall (without water), winter ski resort (in summer), a gun (you can't shoot with)
That this blog entry turned out to be filled with contradictions was completely unintentional. Further down we will explain each one of them and, if you care to read it to the end, we hope you'll find it interesting. Åre
We'll begin with the winter ski resort. It is called Åre, it is in Jämtland District and is very much a typical ski resort. Tourists have come to Åre for skiing and for enjoying the nature and the fresh air for 140 years or so. Supposedly it is a great place to visit if you are into alpine skiing and other winter sports. We wouldn't know because, as you know, we went there in summer. Also, winter sports is not for us so we wouldn't be able to tell a good ski resort from a bad one anyway. Åre has successfully been able to attract visitors in all seasons. In summer, just like in winter, outdoor activities are popular. Those activities include hiking and downhill biking. When we went to a restaurant with some friends
The café at Åreskutan
The peak of Åreskutan is at 1400 meters above sea level. It is easily accessible via a cable car followed by a short climb. At the top there is a small café. We can recommend their waffles with cloudberry jam.
we were worried that they wouldn't allow us in because we were dirty and sweaty. Our friends happily answered that it's absolutely no problem. "You are in Åre. Everybody here is dirty and sweaty." So is a winter resort really worth visiting in summer? Yes, absolutely. Here comes a short summery of what we did.
=> Waterfalls - There are several great waterfalls near Åre. Two of them, Ristafallet and Tännforsen, rank among the best waterfalls in Sweden.
=> Åre town - Åre has been a resort town since the late 19th century. This historical past has led to there being plenty to see in town. We can recommend the self guided tour.
=> Åreskutan - Åreskutan
is the name of the mountain towering above Åre. The peak is at 1400 meters above sea level (we have quite low mountains in Sweden) and is easily accessible via a cable car followed by a short climb. At the top there is a small café. We can recommend their waffles with cloudberry jam.
=> Ottsjön - a picturesque lake half an hour drive away from Åre. We camped one night by this
Reindeer chasing Emma
Reindeers are not dangerous animals. But they are wild and like all wild animals they prefer to hang with their likes rather than with humans. This reindeer probably wanted to tell Emma to back off a little
=> Vålådalen and Östra Blanktjärnen- Östra Blanktjärnen is a small lake with unusually green water. The lake is one of the highlights in Vålådalen Nature Reserve. There are several excellent hiking trails in the nature reserve.
=> WWII bunkers - Sweden managed to stay out of World War II. But the war was just around the corner from Åre. Norway was occupied by Nazi Germany and the border to Norway is no more than 45 kilometres away. Just outside Åre there is a reminder from this time in resent history in the form of a few bunkers and anti-tank obstacles.
=> Henrik and Joel Lundqvist's gun - Henrik
and Joel Lundqvist
are twins, they are ice hockey players and they were born in Åre. A few years ago they were asked to design a Non-Violence
sculpture. The Non-Violence sculpture is a gun with a knot on the barrel. Copies of this sculpture can be seen in many places in the world. For almost a decade now we have tracked down these sculptures in the places we have visited. We actually have an entire blog entry dedicated
to photos of Non-Violence sculptures. So Henrik and Joel Lundqvist's gun you
Reindeer standing on a patch of snow that in August still hadn't melted from last winter
can't shoot with because it is a sculpture. Their sculpture is on display in the local supermarket. Of course we went there and took photos of it. Döda Fallet
In the previous blog entry
we wrote about the timber industry and log driving. Döda Fallet, which means the Dead Waterfall, is a remnant from this industry. One of the main rivers in this region is Vindelälven. It was very useful for bringing timber from the vast forests down to the coast. There was one problem though, Storforsen or the Great Waterfall. This was in the 18th century one of the mightiest waterfalls in all of Sweden and it was very difficult to get the timber past it. A few attempts were made to find ways to get the timber past the Great Waterfall but none of them had worked. In the late 18th century a businessman named Magnus Huss came up with an idea he wanted to try. He had a possible solution to the problem that nobody else had thought of. He wanted to dig a narrow canal a few hundred meters south of the waterfall. He presented the idea to the leading sawmill owners and they
This grotto is sort of a gate to Åre
agreed to pay him if he succeeded with the plan.
Now we are going to stop the narrative of this story to explain a little about why there was a waterfall there in the first place. During the last ice age Scandiavia was covered by a gigantic glacier. 12,000 years ago this glacier melted away and gradually got smaller. In this process stone, sand, rocks and rubble that was trapped in the ice was left behind. Even though the climate in the northern hemisphere got warmer and warmer there were also periods of cold weather that caused the glacier to grow. The ice then pushed the rocks, sand and rubble in front of it like a gigantic grader creating large walls. One such wall blocked the valley where Indalsälven runs creating a huge dam with a lake behind it. The water in the lake found its way not through the valley but across an escarpment just north of the valley where it created the Great Waterfall.
Back to Magnus Huss and his project. He had noticed that there was mostly sand, loose rocks and rubble near the waterfall and that it should be possible
Hotel in Åre
Åre has been a resort town since the late 19th century. This is one of the oldest hotels in town
to dig a canal though this. He had no idea that he was actually digging through a natural dam. After many months of hard work he succeeded to dig a canal that could be used as a log driving chute. The problem was that once water started running in this canal it pulled the sand, rocks and rubble with it. The canal quickly got wider and deeper. More water could then pass though the canal pulling more sand with it. The dam busted and the large lake behind it emptied in only four hours. This created a flood wave downstream. As far as it is known nobody died in this flood wave but it destroyed houses, industries, forests and a lot more all the way down to the coast.
Magnus Huss' project ended in disaster but at least he succeeded with one thing. The timber could now be brought along Vindelälven without getting destroyed in the Great Waterfall. Simply because the Great Waterfall was now dry, a waterfall without water in it. From then on it is known as the Dead Waterfall. Nämforsen Rock Engravings
One of the largest collections of rock engravings
In Åre they have a funicular which has been in use since 1910
in Sweden can be found at Nämforsen waterfall. The waterfall itself is quite uninteresting as there is a power station there and often there is no water in it. The only reason to go there is to see the rock engravings. There are at least 2500 of them and there are pictures of animals, people and Viking ships (that don't float since they are engraved in rock). The King Chulalongkorn Memorial Building
In the end of the 19th century King Chulalongkorn of Thailand came on an official visit to this rural part of Sweden. This was such an unusual visit that people talked about it for generations. In 1998, 101 years after the visit by the king, a Thai pavilion was inaugurated in the village Utanede as a kind of memorial of this event.
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