Hiking the Green Ribbon

On August 11 this year, me and my girlfriend Rebecka walked out on a metal pier by lake Golddajávri, in the far northwestern corner of Sweden and 300 kilometers north of the Arctic circle. At the end of that pier is the bright yellow Three-Country Cairn (Treriksröset), which stands at the point where the borders of Sweden, Norway and Finland meet. When I reached the cairn, I leaned forward and embraced it. It marked the completion of a 1 674 kilometer hike that started close to two months earlier in Grövelsjön, on the opposite side of the Swedish mountain chain.

That hike is called the Green Ribbon (Gröna Bandet in Swedish). During the summer of 2023, me and 64 other hikers set out to make their way between Grövelsjön and Treriksröset by foot. I spent over a year dreaming about my adventure and months planning the gear, route and supplies. That planning resulted in an oversized series of blog posts about the Green Ribbon and my preparations for it, so if you want to learn more about the Green Ribbon, it’s a good place to start.

During the summer, I posted daily updates from the trail on my Instagram account. This trail diary is based on those updates, and if you want to see more, you can find more images and videos from each day on the trail there. I’ve split the diary entries into five parts to make them a little easier to digest.

During my summer, I experienced worn out hiking shoes, lost gear, swarms of horseflies, wildlife encounters, a few borderline irresponsible river crossings, and a lot of kindness from strangers. I hope you find some value in my scribblings describing how it all happened.

Day 1
June 18 (30.7 km)

After touching the blue door of the Grövelsjön mountain station and officially starting my Green Ribbon, Rebecka and Taki joined me on a hike up to Jakobshöjden for breakfast with a view. Me and Rebecka take our breakfasts seriously, and this was to be our last one together for five weeks. Saying goodbye was tough. It helps a little bit that the next time we’ll see each other, 1 200 kilometers north of here in Abisko, we’re going to hike some of the prettiest fjäll in Sweden.

The highlight of the day was when I reached the Storrödtjärn cabin after about 20 km. Even though the Swedish Tourist Association (STF) cabins in this area haven’t opened for the season yet, getting within eyesight of one still put a smile on my face. I had planned to stop pretty close to the cabin to keep the day short, but I was in good spirits and decided to continue on to the lake Fisklöstjärnen (~ “Fishless lake”), just above the tree line on the other side of the valley. Two fun things happened on the way.

First, I entered Rogen nature reserve, which looks like it’s been landscaped by a giant with a fondness for tossing large rocks. Reaching Rogen also meant that I left the province Dalarna and entered Härjedalen. It felt extra special since me and Rebecka will move to Härjedalen in September.

Second, I met @wildmanwalle, who also started his Green Ribbon on the 18th. I stopped for a bit to chat with him and a friend who’s joining him for the start of the hike before I continued to Fisklöstjärnen.

It’s been a warm, sunny and very sweaty first day on the Green Ribbon. Good thing I put up my tent next to a lake.

Day 2
June 19 (33.8 km)

My tent site the previous night was just three kilometers away from the peak Tandjövålen, so I started day 2 by having my breakfast there. The view over the lake Rogen and the surrounding fjäll is stunning. Looking down at it from a great height is the best way to experience the Rogen nature reserve in summer.

Eventually, I had to get down from Tandsjövålen and into the rocky ankle sprain terrain that Rogen is famous for. The rest of the day, from Tandsjövålen to Käringsjön to the STF Skedbro cabin, is a bit of a blur. Me and Rebecka did a Käringsjön-Skedbro-Rogen-Käringsjön round trip here last summer, and although there’s a real sense of wilderness to Rogen that’s pretty unique, I’ll be happy not to hike here again for a few years. I met another hiker by Skedbrostugan who was of the same opinion.

I had hoped to reach a place called Myskelvadet that’s supposed to have beautiful tent sites, but four kilometers before I got there, the trail passed right next to a sandy beach that I couldn’t resist. If the temperatures stay the same, I’ll be happy to keep this swim streak going. Tomorrow: Hamra, Fjällnäs and my first resupply box.

Day 3
June 20 (32.4 km)

I woke up at five in the morning by the sound of heavy rain against my tent, thought “finally”, and fell asleep again. It’s been depressingly dry in the mountains so far. When I woke up again at seven and started hiking, the birch leaves were wet with rain and the fjäll smelled right again. At least for a few hours.

Early in the day, I left Rogen Nature Reserve and reached Rödfjället, where I soon had a 180 degree view from Funäsdalen to the Norwegian border. It felt good to be back on the moor above the tree line. I also had phone reception, which meant I could call Rebecka and wish her a happy birthday. It’s not as good as doing it in person, but better than doing it with a text from the satellite communicator.

My first resupply box was waiting for me in Rebecka’s family cabin in Fjällnäs, west of Tänndalen and Hamra, so I took a left at Rödfjället and enjoyed beautiful views over Svansjön and Tänndalen before I followed the service road for the Tänndalen Ski Resort down to the supermarket Hamra Livs. There, I met @wildmanvalle as well as the hiker I talked to at Skedbrostugan on day 2. All of us were very happy customers.

When I reached the cabin in Fjällnäs and opened the resupply box, I discovered that Rebecka had snuck in a licorice candy bar and a surprise greeting for me. Reading it was bittersweet, and I brought the envelope with me as a memento for the rest of the hike.

Day 4
June 21 (32.7 km)

After a night in the cabin in Fjällnäs, I felt rested and ready for a day with bigger elevation changes. Despite the extra weight from the resupply box, my steps felt light. I’ve never hiked in the mountains around Jämtlandstriangeln before, so I’m excited for the next couple of days.

The trail passes by the hunting cabin Långbrottstugan, built in 1918 and used by STF as a break cabin for a period starting in the 1930s. Now, it’s rapidly being reclaimed by nature and is most definitely haunted. A modern, presumably unhaunted break cabin has been built on the other side of Tännån.

As I reached the far end of Klasberget, next to Ramundberget, I got my first good look at the mountain Helags, 24 km away. I lost it during the descent down to the river Ljusnan and the old homestead Klinken, and spent the rest of the afternoon climbing the other side of the valley and hiking towards it.

I found my tent spot just before the two river crossings by Mittån, close to the STF Fältjägarstugan cabin. I was next to the river, sheltered from the wind and had a beautiful view towards Helags. It sets a high bar for the rest of Jämtlandsfjällen.

Day 5
June 22 (33 km)

I started the day with the two river crossings before Fältjägarstugan. Going from a warm, cosy sleeping bag to having freezing snowmelt halfway up your calves within 30 minutes wasn’t pleasant, but it woke me up.

The wind had picked up during the night, and it helped push me up towards Fältjägarstugan, which is the first open STF cabin I’ve passed on my Green Ribbon. I had a quick chat with the cabin host and added another cabin patch to the growing collection before I continued north towards Helags mountain station.

I collected 450 meters of elevation on my way to STF Helags, so when I got there, I was ready to treat myself. In addition to the beer and waffles I daydreamed about on the way there, I got an unexpected conversation with fellow Green Ribbon hiker @ogtsi. He also lent me some rubber glue for the upper of my right shoe, which is looking a bit loose on the right side. Fingers crossed it takes.

The forecast has promised more strong winds during the night, so I started to look for a sheltered tent site when I reached the Miesehketjahke break cabin halfway to STF Sylarna. I stopped to say hello to another hiker just exiting the cabin. We ended up spending half an hour talking about hikes and fjäll near and far. It’s a good thing a two month solo hike doesn’t mean you’re alone for two months straight.