There is a difference between here and there. Especially if “here” is defined as being Skellefteå’s forests, our alluring countryside and archipelago – and “there” referring to the big city buzz of Berlin or possibly London. If you don’t take our word for it, trust Anne and Doreen.VIDEO: DOREEN ON SKELLEFTEÅ
The mosquitoes are delighted. They buzz loudly. In ecstasy, probably. They frantically search for bare skin and if they find a gap in your clothing, they strike. Like ninjas on a mission. Ruthless. Saleta grins and throws Anne a stick of mosquito repellent.
“Put some on. It keeps them away.” Anne gracefully catches the stick, opens it and applies it on hands, neck, cheeks and forehead. Canoeing across the lake raised their body temperatures and made them convenient targets for the mosquitoes. “Save some for me too”, says Doreen, waving her arms in the air to shoo away the insects.
There is an explanation for fact that Saleta, Anne and Doreen are in the porch of an old log driver’s cabin on a peninsula, somewhere in the vicinity of the village of Kalvträsk.
Saleta has invited the other two to Skellefteå. Or, in her own words, “provided them sanctuary from the bustling life of the city.” For four days. “It’s a different world”, Saleta told them. “It will do you good, I promise.” Anne lives in Berlin and Doreen in London. And well, yes, most things there are different in comparison to here.
They have an ambitious plan. A journey from forest to coast. Canoeing, hiking, staying on islands and in the beautiful countryside. Footbridges and bilberry sprigs. Midnight light and sea breezes. But perhaps most importantly, Saleta has promised them that they will get to hang out with people who have no other place they would rather be, doing their own thing because they can. 100 metres ahead on the trail, Conny sits crouched, on a footbridge across the wetland. Cupping his hand, he drinks water straight from the cold spring. “Come and have a taste”, he calls.
Conny is one of all these people. He is a nature photographer. The small village of Kalvträsk is his base and he spends a large part of his life in the forests surrounding the Vitbergen nature reserve, in summer as well as in winter. For anyone familiar with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s hard not to think of Treebeard, the ent, when you see him.
The clock is about to strike midnight. The sun has just set but it is light as day, with a small difference, in that the light of the summer night is soft and magical. “Almost there”, says Conny. “We should be at the summit just in time for the sunrise.”
The first rays of sunlight cross the horizon. They are weak, but enough to illuminate the forest and lakes and to disperse the morning mist. The view from the forest fire lookout, towering 17 metres above the mountain peak, is awe inspiring. They sit in silence, all four of them, watching, listening. The mosquitoes haven’t found their way up here. “It is so tranquil”, says Doreen. A cuckoo calls somewhere in the distance. A Siberian jay, close by looking like it wonders whether it will get a snack. The sun rises in the sky. “This is how the world awakens”, says Anne.
By the campfire, down by the water, they have supper. Or breakfast, depending on how you look at it. Smoked perch from the neighbouring lake, served on ljusugnsbröd, crisp flatbread, with almond potatoes and Kalvträsk cheese. A much-needed energy boost after the hike up and down the hill. Saleta has lit the stove inside the log driver’s cabin as well, more for the cosy atmosphere than for the warmth. The morning brings a light wind. Soft waves nudge the canoes. Terns hunt across the water. There really is nothing to say other than it’s time for bed.
“The beds are made”, says Saleta. “It’s time to sleep.” Doreen sits on the edge of the pier, brushing her teeth. “You were right”, she says. “This really is something else.” “You know”, says Saleta, swatting a mosquito on her forehead, “this is just the beginning”.
During their visit, Anne and Doreen also hang out with Björn and Linnea and make a stop at Pär and Johanna’s place in Svedjan to try their cheese and fall in love with country life. They have lunch at the Kåge harbour café, afternoon fika at Lorens in Lillkågeträsk, a good night’s sleep at Stiftsgården and some island hopping in the Skellefteå archipelago together with Mats – and much, much more.
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See Anne and Doreen’s journey at www.visitskellefta.se/arctic-lifestyle