Balesudden. The high rocky promontory that stretches out into the Baltic Sea just south of Örnsköldsvik. Throughout my upbringing, I saw the cape from afar from the balcony of our house and heard the stories. Stories of the magical Balestjärnen, where waves mysteriously roll over the clear lake on windless days. Stories about nursing homes that throughout the ages burned on the high cliff to warn the inhabitants of the area about war and other dangers. I don't know how many of the stories were made up by my dad, but regardless, the place has always been a bit magical to me. So close, yet so far away. It may sound almost unbelievable, but this summer I actually hiked to Balesudden for the first time.
The Höga Kusten trail stretches almost 13 kilometers along the southern coast of Norrland. From Hornöberget in the south to Örnsköldsvik in the north, you can hike over mountains and through deep forests, dark lakes, rocky archipelagos and over fine beaches. The hiking trail is divided into 13 stages, of which we previously hiked stages 8-10 through Skuleskogen and Slåttdalsskrevan. Balesudden is located along stage 11 of the Höga Kusten trail.
The Balesudden nature reserve was established in 1985 to protect the area's outcrop landscape with thick spruce forest and gnarled aspen and alder. In the spring, the slopes are filled with bluebells and during the summer you will find the fragile night violet here. In the forest, you can meet both grouse and grouse, and if you're incredibly lucky, you can even catch a glimpse of a sea eagle in the sky.
We start our hike at Sandlågan, where there are a handful of parking spaces and an information sign. The first section goes through a forest area with bushes, berries and coniferous forest, near a summer cottage area with nice beaches. A flat hike that takes you along the edge of Bäckfjärden, past a well-maintained windbreak before you enter the Balesudden nature reserve itself.
After we have hiked the flat stretch by Bäckfjärden, a hilly hike begins up and down to Balesudden. According to the Höga Kusten-leden's information page, stage 11 is classified as a "demanding" stretch, I would guess that it is because the trail is rarely flat.
The forest becomes denser and very much resembles the primeval forest in Skuleskogen, with large light-absorbing firs, showy ferns and moss. We pass a fresh overnight cabin at Bodviken with both outdoor deck and picnic table. The Höga Kusten trail is generally very well organized, with plenty of rest areas along the trail.
We hike up and down over heather-clad rocks and over wood shavings. Next to anthills and blueberry rice. Even though it is the peak season for picking berries, there are a lot of berries left on the bushes. In and of itself, there aren't very many people out and about hiking on this part of the Höga Kusten trail either. It is liberating people's land.
The Höga Kusten trail does not go all the way up to Balestjärnen, at Sör-Balesviken we turn off the well-marked trail and continue up the cliff on a slightly smaller path. IN viken lie several leisure boats and dinghies, firmly moored to the rocks. Many who visit Balestjärnen take the boat here and only hike the last stretch up the mountain, but viken is also a cozy bay to camp in and there is a dry toilet for anyone who needs a technical break.
From South Balesviken now carry it uphill. 300 meters of uphill before we reach our goal - Balestjärnen.
At Balestjärnen, despite the lonely walk, we are no longer alone. Two families with children swim and snorkel in the lake's green-blue water. And I understand why they made it all the way here. This is a strange place. Once upon a time, Balestjärnen was a bay, filled with blue mussels. Höga Kusten's land uplift has, however, in 10 years lifted the lake to the place where it is today. The mussel shells at the bottom of the lake continue to leach lime even today, which is one of the reasons for the clear water of the pond.
When I sat down and took out the coffee thermos and I can really look out over the clear water of the lake. Up on top of a large cliff, surrounded by Nordingrå granite and forest, lies this inaccessible lake. The water is so clear that I can see fish swimming around in the middle of the lake and the old preserved tree skeletons on the bottom of the lake almost form a reef. This is no ordinary pond, but something very unique.
Although I am not a fan of swimming, I am struck by the fact that I would have liked to see the lake from below the surface of the water. I have probably never done swimming in a lake with drinkable fresh water. I am struck by the fact that there are plenty of fish in the lake, even though I can't see any vegetation. One more thing I would like to know more about this place.
There are no picnic areas by the lake, but the gnarled roots of the spruces work well as temporary stools. After all the ups and downs, it's nice to rest your legs in the sun for a bit. There is almost no wind and the sun is warm. I find myself thinking about the story of the waves on the lake from when I was younger. There are actually unexpectedly many waves on this small lake on this calm day. Maybe my dad didn't make that story up?
We stop at Balestjärnen for half an hour and just enjoy. Sipping on some coffee. Watching the fishes. And marvel a little more at how I have managed to live so close to this place and yet have never been here before.
The way back to the car went both faster than expected and felt less difficult. It could possibly be because we didn't get lost on the way back (read more about this below). Everything becomes a little easier when you stay on the path. Old jungle saying.
We stop at the beaches of Middle Balesviken and at Sandlågan on the way back. The fine-grained white sand quickly fills our shoes and we have to stop and empty them sometimes. A real luxury problem in the context of a lovely half-day hike with empty white sandy beaches and sparkling seas.
How do I get to Balesudden and Balestjärnen?
The Balesudden nature reserve is located in Ångermanland approximately one mile (as the crow flies) south of Örnsköldsvik. The easiest way to get here is by boat, but hiking here from Sandlågan is a lovely half-day excursion.
The very largest part of the hiking trail is excellent, but despite that, we manage to make a serious mistake on the way out to Balestjärnen from Sandlågan. You could say we got lost, although in practice it shouldn't be possible to get lost out on a narrow headland. During part of the stretch that crosses old seabed over a barren mountain range, the painted markings on the rocks disappeared. We ended up wading through knee-high berry rice and scrambling down steep cliffs before finding our way back to the trail. However, there was no problem finding the path when we hiked back from the pond, so I guess the markings were better visible from that direction.
Where can I read more about the High Coast Trail and Balesudden?
- Read about my hike along the Höga Kusten trail through Slåttdalsskrevan
- A brochure from the nature reserve Balesudden can be found here.
- The brochure The Archipelago Guide from Örnsköldsvik municipality can be found here.
- Information about stage 11 of the Höga Kusten trail can be found here.
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