When I was 15, my mother forced me to participate in a confirmation camp in the small town Saxnäs located in Marsfjällen in Västerbotten. It was a very interesting experience. It made me discover that I have a very hard time accepting authority when the authority is obviously wrong. This discovery resulted in the important knowledge of how to tell a 80 year old priest to go to hell (I was entitled). AND that, if you are serious enough, you can actually make that priest accept being told to do just that. I also got to know what it feels like to hike for two days with blisters on my feet and with blood pouring between my legs, and how stupid it is to use a double set up of menstrual diapers (what the heck is that called in english??). It doesnt work at all, the only thing that happens is that you get a rash between your legs in addition to that bloody hell down there. Finally, I discovered that if you eat 6 sandwishes for breakfast, a whole lot of lunch and dinner, 6 sandwishes as a night snack and a substantial amount of chocolate inbetween, even a hungry hen can get full, and gain weight. I gained 6 kg in 1 month.. :). I can’t say that the experience made me love the mountains though. Took me quite a number of years without some stupid authority by my side to realize that being in the mountains makes me the happiest hen in the world. And so, it took me over 10 years to return to Marsfjällen.
Marsfjällen and the valley beneith it, Kultsjödalen, are in my view, some of the most beautiful places we have in Sweden. There are no big (in Swedish terms, that is, miniscule in international terms) ski resorts in the area. Just lakes, rapids, reindeers and mountains. During quite a few years, I had the fortune to hang out in those mountains, since my ex owned a cabin in the small village Grundfors. I still remember the first time I came there, standing on the shore of Gikan and looking across at the mountain ridge of Gemon. I immediately fell in love with the place, and that love has never since rusted.
In the winter, Gemon offers some of the best tree skiing there is in Sweden, and in the summer , the mountains are extraordinary to hike. However, until now, I had never biked in the area.
I’ve been thinking a whole lot about that lately: biking the Mars mountains. So when that mountain itch started to get to annoying to ignore again, I convinced Martin that we should go up and bike Mars. Hrm, convince schovins, not sure that is the right way of phrasing it when it comes to Martin. He was of course more or less already on his way when I asked.
The weather report had promised great weather, but when we woke up in the morning (after an excellent premier sleep in Ralf) in Fatmomakke, the clouds were hanging low over the mountains and rain was hangin in the air.
Not really perfect conditions to do a 1000 m climb, but could we do? We decided to go as far as we could.
The trail up to Marsfjällskåtan from the old missionary/samik village (can anyone explain that connection to me, please?) is 7 km long but not steep at all, so it is possible to pedal up quite a lot of the distance. However, it is sufficiently technical to give you the satisfaction to sweat substantial amounts.
When we got up in alpine terrain, the clouds were still hanging so low that we couldn’t even see Marsfjället, but we could see some small patches of lighter areas within all that grayness so we decided to head on.
The first 5 or so km are easy to bike. Then, the carrying starts. It is rocky, to say the least. And loose. I quite soon decided that I was better off leaving my bike, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to bike down those rock gardens anyway. Martin persisted though. Of course he did.
Damnit how I wish that I wasn’t such a whimp! Seeing him go down that trail later on made me want to crack my head against those rocks in envy. But we’re not there yet, first I have to say something about the top. Because, as we got higher, the clouds got thinner. And precisely when we got to the top, we popped through the clouds and into the sun. The view into the next valley was just as beautiful as I remembered it.
Going down looked scary as shit and fun as hell. I would not have been able to ride half of it (Martin of course rode all), but I think that I could have biked more than enough to make it worth carrying the bike to the top. When I picked up my bike, I discovered that the slope of the mountain, along with the shape and the position of the rocks actually makes the trail much more rideable than it looks.
After what must be the longest rock garden in Västerbotten, one of what must be the most flowy sections in Västerbotten takes you almost all the way back to Marsfjällskåtan. I laughed out loud more than once. No breaks, just jump and play.
And then, you just have to use your last energy to get back down to Fatmomakke. That is not just a walk in the park. Since the trail is so flat, the rocks and roots will make you work like a horse to get down.
I was a total wreck when we reached the trail head. But the mountain is definitely worth it. I HAVE to go back and get that darn mountain.
We celebrated our 28 km ride by skinny dipping in a very (VERY) cold lake, steeling some fire wood and throwing ourselves the perfect afterbike party in the sunset.