This is a six part series on Adirondack Hamlets to Huts Senior Advisor Jack Drury's trip to Norway and Sweden this past winter. A chapter will be posted each day for the coming week.
Chapter 1 - Origin
My cousin Edie Konesni, a retired PA (Physician Assistant) on Islesboro, Maine and her son Bennett a talented musician as well as garlic farmer living in Belfast, Maine visited us at Thanksgiving and planted the seeds of a possible trip to Norway. The idea was to attend a community festival and take in Norwegian folk music and dance, passions of Edie and Bennett, and then ski hut to hut for four or five days. The hut-to-hut experience would be great research for my work with Adirondack Hamlets to Huts in developing “hut-to-hut” routes in the Adirondack Park of New York. Round-trip flights looked very reasonable at well under $500. The challenge was to find dates that would work for us all and get me back in time for maple syrup season as I operate a small sugarbush and mother nature determines when the sap runs.
I felt the need to be back by the first of March and Edie and Bennett were willing to work around that date. Bennett was keen to attend the Rørosmartnan or market festival in the town of Røros, a small former copper mining community of 5,600 located midway up Norway along the border with Sweden. Bennett is a student of Norwegian folk fiddle music and hoped to find fellow fiddlers to play with. Edie is an accomplished folk dancer and was looking forward to finding opportunities to learn some Norwegian folk dances.
The trip to Røros came together quickly as the market festival started February 19 and we wanted to see the opening ceremonies. So we planned a February 17 departure date from New York with a day to travel from Oslo to Røros by train. We purchased one-way tickets and started researching hut-to-hut options in the area.
As we started our research it was clear that there were lots of “huts” in the area but a number of things emerged. We were early for the typical ski season because it was still usually pretty frigid until mid-March and second, many of the huts didn’t even open until then. A Swedish friend of Bennett’s suggested we look on the Swedish side of the border and all of a sudden more opportunities started to come into focus. I studied an online topo map of Sweden along with the location of fjällstations or mountain stations (lodgings) and after considerable study came up with a possible route. After all my research it turns out I had stumbled onto one of the most popular hiking routes in central Sweden called the Jämtland Triangle, Jämtland being the region or state we were traveling in. I also stumbled on to the Swedish Tourism Association’s website which I thought was a government agency. It wasn’t until we got to Sweden and stayed in their “huts” that I realized it was, as they described it, “An association of committed people who seek discoveries off the beaten track, deeper into the forests, and higher up the mountain.” They operate nearly 300 lodgings ranging from hotels, to hostels, mountain stations, and mountain cabins. Edie made reservations for us to stay at three different fjällstations including a night at the same one the first and last night of our trip and a layover day at the second lodging. We were set! There were some minor train connections to arrange but we had a good plan and were excited to have a trip that included a rich cultural/historical experience in Røros, Norway and an adventurous hut-to-hut cross-country ski experience in Jämtland, Sweden. Edie and I arranged to fly home from Östersund, Sweden via London to Boston where she would fly to Augusta, ME and I would fly to Saranac Lake, NY. Bennett was to stay in Sweden for further adventures.