WILDERNESS ACTIVITY. Sweden’s Nest 6 held a wilderness camping trip featuring physical challenges and views of the northern lights.
On Saturday 26 March members and activists from Nest 6 defied the cold to spend the night in the forest. A couple of the participants brought their children, who would attempt to spend the night in a tent during winter for the first time.
The goal for the trip was to enter Snöberget Nature Reserve and reach the top of its eponymous mountain. The group brought two sledges containing a large military tent, a stove and lots of firewood. As the sledges had to be pulled by hand, mostly uphill, there were tough challenges in store for those who had to act as draught horses and pull the sledges for the entire hike.
Another trial facing the whole party was the amount of snow, which was relatively low compared to previous years but which still severely limited the mobility and choice of route. To rub salt in the wound, the forces of nature decreed there would be highly changeable weather conditions, with a biting wind being the most recurring phenomenon. Even so, none of this affected the good humour among the comrades, who persevered and trudged through the frozen landscape in high spirits.
As none of the participants had previously visited the area, they were forced to rely on maps to navigate towards their goal. They also had to hike along snowmobile tracks, as walking in deep snow with children in tow while pulling heavy sledges was a practical impossibility. The group found out the area was popular with visitors in the winter and that tracks had already been made in the snow. As such, they believed the mountain could be reached relatively easily; however, this proved to be far from the case.
After locating and hiking along the snowmobile tracks that were believed to lead to the mountain a little way ahead, the participants were faced with lengthy detours and a muddle of disorientating bends that appeared endless. A path would split in two, a direction was chosen and followed for a bit, only for it to become apparent it was a dead end. The group then had to turn on their heels and trudge back the way they had come. When the comrades thought the track was about to lead closer to the mountain, they would crest the next ridge and realise they had been going in completely the wrong direction. This took a heavy toll on the party, but they defiantly continued to walk on until it finally became untenable to continue towards the original destination. A hike that would have been much easier in the summer became a stressful and hopeless task, and a reminder of the power nature has over us.
In the end, a decision was made to camp at a suitable site with some open space, something that was difficult to find in the otherwise dense forest. Now began the next major task of forging paths through the deep snow, followed by hauling the heavy sledges across ditches and through the forest towards the campsite.
Upon their arrival, the comrades started a campfire and filled their empty stomachs with the food they had brought with them. Fed and content, the participants were delegated various tasks. Some had to shovel the snow from the spot where the tent would be raised, while the rest were entrusted with gathering fir twigs to use as insulation against the cold underneath the tent. By the time this was complete, it had already begun to get dark, so the group used the last of their strength to put up the tent and light a fire in the stove, with everyone gathering around it before going to bed.
The temperature dropped drastically during the evening, so the decision was taken to have guards tending to the fire in the stove throughout the night. A schedule was drawn up that divided the responsibility between all the adults. Despite this and despite the stove being refilled with wood the whole night, the cold still intruded, and many lay shivering until the morning.
As a consolation, those watching the fire could go outside the tent and witness one of nature’s most beautiful phenomena in the form of a magnificent display of the northern lights, which danced in green flames across the entire sky and made the night far more tolerable.
In the early morning, the campers got up and made breakfast, which was enjoyed together with pleasant conversations. Shortly thereafter the camp was dismantled and nature was restored to its original state, before the group hiked back to their parked cars. Once there, they said a friendly goodbye to one another, satisfied at having completed a challenge and being richer for the experience.