Simple pleasures

Tag: hiking

Hiking the Swedish Nordic Fell in the Summer

by tableofcolors

I’ve had a  small hiatus from blogging, but am happier than ever to be back. Sometimes life hands little surprises and although they might be positive in nature, they have the tendency to stir the pot and mix everything up. The natural rythym of bedtimes and wake-up times have returned, even for the teenager, as school has now started. Although I love the freedom of summer vacation from school, by the end I am looking forward for to school to start and for that natural rythym to begin.

2015-07-21 09.20.15We made it back from our hiking trip to northern Sweden and Norway. To me it seems like almost every Finn I have talked to, have at some point in their life gone on an hiking expedition in the very north. Some hike trails and others rely on the compass and enter the wilderness where there is no visible sign of people nearby. We opted for the wilderness as my husband has a lot of experience trekking in unmarked territory and for him, hiking along trails is not quite the true wilderness experience. We drove to Arjeplog, Sweden and left our car on a patch of gravel, off the road and out of anyone’s way. The drive was about twelve hours from our house, and once arriving it was nice to get out and get some exercise. The weather was not real promising and at times we felt a few drops as we changed our clothes and gathered our gear.

wetlands and rivers swedish laplandI have been hiking in the Nordic Fell once before on a winter hunting trip, but this was completely different because there was no snow, or actually hardly any snow covering the landscape. The landscape from far looks like it is gently rolling as shrubs and trees cover the remains of the last ice age: large moss covered boulders and in between are the valleys full of wetlands that feel like a spongy waterbed to walk on.

snow in the summer

waterfalls in swedish laplandI was surprised to see so many waterfalls and hear bubbling and gurgling water at almost all times. The water is so clean that we would just take our kuksa, a cup carved out of wood, and scoop a cupful whenever we seemed thirsty. Usually the creeks and waterfalls might not be rushing at such full force in July, but as with the rest of Scandinavia, spring had arrived late this year and some of these waters were meltwaters from the previous winter.

fisherman and stern fairy


tunturipuri marsh creekSometimes in the middle of a marsh, connecting to a pond was a small creek. Mind your step, as the sides were steep and they can easily be a couple of meters deep of clear water.

bed of rocksI often wondered as we walked about the landscape of sound during the end of the ice age as the giant glaciers moved, moving huge amounts of boulders into one pile or how the top of the Nordic fell is gently littered with rocks, as if they had been just randomly dropped, one here and another there. Our original plan was to set up camp and climb to a peak of about 1800 meters with a lighter day pack. Since the weather did not quite favor us we shortened our hike a bit and carried all of our stuff and decided to climb to 1000+ meters instead.

climbing the nordic fellgnarled tree

In between the peaks and patches of rocky beds, there might be a meadow full of blooming flowers to be discovered. It seems as if nature is in a hurry in the very north as the summer is so very short, especially this summer.

meadow flowers in lapland

After a two day hike and one night in the Swedish wilderness, we decided to go see if the sun was shining on the other side of the Scandinavian mountains. And it was.

norwayThe flowers of the cloudberries had just withered and they were forming berries. Some years and with a warmer summer, we might have had cloudberries to pick and pop into our mouths as we hiked. The recipe below is for a berry smoothie, on top of which I sprinkled a few cloudberries I had in the freezer. If you might have cloudberries on hand, I would suggest to not blend them in the blender as they have a raspberry like seed, although a bit bigger and it is more pleasant to eat the berry whole rather than having a smoothie full of pieces of the shell of the seed.

smoothie collage

Berry smoothie with kale


1 dl/ 1/2 c strawberries
1/2 dl/ 1/4 c black currants
1 large leaf of kale with the steam removed and ripped into large pieces
juice of 1/2 lemon
2.5 dl/ 1 and 1/4 c plain yoghurt

If using fresh berries, add a few ice cubes into the blender to make the smoothie cold. Blend until smooth and serve in a glass. Garnish with cloudberries.
*for a dairy-free version replace the youghurt with orange juice. You may also substitute other berries that you might have on hand. We had ready-to-pick strawberries in our own patch and ripe black currants in the bush and so this time that is what ended up in the smoothie.

In my next post, I will bring you to Norway. As a preview and a little sample of what is to come, here is a video I put together of our trip.


Winter hikes and Chicken Wok with Avocado Pasta

by tableofcolors

outdoor fun
We have been having beautiful weather. The sun has been so bright and the sky cloudless. Nevermind that the temperature has hovered close to -30C/-22C. After a long stretch of gray winter colors and clouds, I could not resist. I put on snowshoes since my ski boots were being used by one of the kids and walked across the lake. No one else was out on the lake right then, and it was just me and the vast space and the tracks of a skiier from earlier in the morning.


Every once in a while I would spot the tracks of the hare and the fox and it made me think, did they cross paths last night in the moonlight?
tracks of the hare

Near the shore was a beautiful display of frozen ice crystals that bounced light like little diamonds.

With everyone hungry and rosy cheeked lunch needed to be quick. This avocado pasta with the chicken wok has many nutrients slipped in that the kids didn’t even notice.

chicken wok with avocado pasta 2

400 g/14 oz whole grain pasta
cooked according to directions on the package.

Chicken wok:
400 g/14 oz chicken breast cut into strips
1 large onion
1 clove of garlic minced
2 stalks of celery
1 head of broccoli cut into bite size pieces
1 head of cauliflower cut into bite size pieces
juice of one lemon
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tsp freshly ground chili pepper
freshly ground black pepper
0.8 dl/ 1/3 c sesame seeds
olive oil

Sautée the onions and celery in olive oil. Next add the chicken and after a few minutes add the soy sauce, lemon juice, black pepper and chili pepper.
When the chicken is done move it away from direct heat and add the cauliflower, broccoli and sesame seeds. Sautée for a few more minutes. Serve on top of the avocado pasta.

For the avocado pasta, mash 1-2 avocados and mix with a couple tablespoons of lemon juice and some salt and pepper to taste. Mix with the cooked pasta.

winter sparkles
I’m participating in the online adventure travel and photography magazine’s Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggersThis week’s Challenge is: People in Nature!

The Nordic fell in Northern Sweden

by tableofcolors

Last week was a first for me. I was able to participate on a hunting and a week long hiking trip with my husband and another couple that are close friends and two dogs. One the way up north we stopped at the Storforsen falls. I posted a picture of the falls(here) from one of my husband’s trips that took place in August. This photo is of the falls in the winter.

Storforsen falls

I have been along for shorter day trips and for a weekend but this is the first time that I was able see and explore the nordic fells. From afar they appear to be small rolling mountains. We saw many reindeer and each morning we saw moose on the road or in the forest nearby as we drove to our destination. I believe we had twenty-three moose sightings in the mornings. I saw moose tracks frequently when walking in the woods but maybe we were being too loud, I never saw a single one when actually walking in the forest. I’m not sure if I would have actually wanted to meet one up close and personal. They are large, majestic animals that seem to magically disappear into the forest when they take off in a sprint. We also saw many Willow Grouse outfitted in their snow white feathers that would quickly fly to a new location. They generally do not fly long distances and so we saw many tracks on the freshly fallen snow.

Moose on the road

The first day turned out to be a great work-out. We spent the day on a nordic fell. We were at about 800 meters above sea level and there was an abundance of snow. The snow came up to our knees and at times up to our waists. The weather rapidly changed throughout the day and times we got heavily snowed on with strong winds and at other times the sun came out for a bit. When the sun was behind the clouds the scenery was very black and white.

Black and white scenery

The pointing dog

A peek of sunshine

It turned out to be the completely relaxing vacation for the ladies. I think the gents were so happy to have us along that they pampered us the whole week. Every morning breakfast would appear on the table and when we returned to the cabin in the afternoon or early evening they would fix us dinner and heat the sauna for us. It was like having Mother’s day for a week.

We left the cabin a little after 8 am and by 9 we would be exploring the forest. Sometime between noon and one we would stop for a bonfire and lunch. Sometimes we roasted sausages or heated up ready made sandwiches over the bonfire or cooked up a piece of cured ham. For dessert there was coffee and chocolate. The chocolate tasted wonderful when you are burning up lots of energy. After lunch we continued until about 3 or 4 pm.


Enjoying life and roasting a sausage for a simple lunch

Part of the reason why the trip was so relaxing was that I knew that our kids were in good hands. Gramma had come for the week, and since she has many more years of experience with children than I do, I knew that they would do fine at home. In addition to taking care of the kids, the cupboards were cleaned, the fridge had been washed and all the laundry done when we arrived home. It was the perfect Christmas gift for me. Maybe now I won’t stress with the annual Christmas cleaning ordeal.

Road over the ice

The beautiful morning sun

So much to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!


by tableofcolors

Tikkupulla is a sweet bun dough flavored with cardamom that is wrapped around a stick and baked over an open bonfire. Languages portray the people and their culture, creating words to describe the things that are a part of life. I did not find a suitable word for it in English other than sweet-bun-on-a-stick. Tikkupulla is more concise. Tikkupullas are a version of the traditional Finnish pulla or sweet bun. It is a fun snack to take with when hiking for the day. If the hiking trip lasts for longer than a day, it is not as convenient since the small bucket it is packed in takes up space.

Our hiking trip consisted of two families with a total of four adults and eight children with oldest being 11 and the youngest at 1.5 years of age. The littelest ones were carried in carriers. Our destination was the Finnish National Park, Repovesi. We followed the “Ketunlenkki” or the “Fox trail” which measured at 4.76 km/2.95 miles. Most of the terrain was uneven and even our smallest hikers that hiked themselves (3.5 years of age) did not complain. One of the highlights for the kids was eating lunch outdoors at a little campsite. Food always tastes better outside than in. We were lucky to have perfect fall weather. A clear sky, the warm sun and a slight crisp breeze reminding of the changing seasons.

Sunlight in the forest

The children were excited and a little nervous crossing the suspension bridge.

Suspension bridge

We spotted a few blueberries


The kids played while the adults prepared lunch. We had potluck-style sausages, vegetables baked in foil over the fire, potatoes, apples and tikkupulla for dessert.


Whittling the sticks for the pulla.

Pulla dough on a stick


0,5 l/2,1 c warm water
50 g/1.8 oz fresh or 1 sachet/11 g dry yeast
1 tbsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. salt
200 g/2 dl/1 c sugar
150 g/5.3 oz butter, melted
1 egg
little over 16.5 dl/7 c flour

Pour the warm water in a bowl and add yeast. I usually have fresh yeast on hand in the freezer. I just place the frozen block of yeast in the warm water and allow it to thaw. I have found that the fresh yeast gives the dough a slightly softer texture. Mix in the sugar, salt and cardamom. This amount works great with a stand mixer (5 l/ 5.3 qt bowl). Add half of the flour and knead steadily. The key to this dough is that it has enough elasticity. The amount of flour is a little higher than in the standard pulla dough. If the dough remains too “loose” it will fall off the sticks. Work in the rest of the flour little by little, adding in the melted butter and egg when about 2/3rds of the flour has been used.
I let the stand mixer knead for about 15-20 minutes.

Pour into a small bucket with a lid. At the campsite, take small balls of dough and stretch them out and wrap around a whittled stick. Bake over open flames or alternatively in a fireplace. Make sure the pulla is not too close to the flames so it does not get much color at first. Once the dough has risen a bit and starts to get a little color move it closer to flames for a finishing touch.


Little lady in the forest

After lunch we continued on. There was even a small ferry to use to cross the water.

a forest from the storybooks


The ferry

And right as we were leaving we spotted this Amanita mushroom. It is a very familiar mushroom to the children. They call it the “myrkkysieni” or poisin mushroom. Although toxic it is quite picteresque bringing to mind childhood stories where little forest mice make their home in the mushroom.

Amanita mushroom