Traveling to Jamtland, Sweden, takes willpower and plenty of time. Pushing westward from the regional capital of Ostersund to Funasdallen adds over 200k on the rental’s odometer. And then, once you’ve completed a winding, rolling drive, what’s worth the effort?
Jon & Mia
Jon and Mia Wagenius. Two people on a mission to embed guests in the local environment and win visitors over with their culinary training – all in humble lodgings that command a view of the forests, mountains and rivers that is more akin to a vista possible only from a helicopter window.
In our experience, few hosts enable such direct connections with the natural environment, regional history and heart-pumping activities as Jon and Mia. Right down to the birchbark coffee pouch, nothing breaks the spell as the aroma transports expectant diners to a time long ago, all in a primitive shelter on a windy day.
Plenty of modes of transport put guests into the mix on ancient and well-maintained trails and riverways. All guided by Jon who, no surprise, carries wilderness leadership credentials that stretch from basecamp to glaciers then beyond to the storm-pulsed summits looming above.
Start on foot, warming up with a twisting walk down to the cluster of wood buildings down by the river bridge. Then get fitted for a mountain bike and board a shuttle to the nearby village before weaving and jumping down forested trails returning you to Fjallbacka.
This area has also become the launching point for Nordic ski racers each season, with enough elevation to spur and hold snow in late fall, and with deep, beveled indentations in the snow that spell early season advantages for athletes.
Back at the lodge, Jon’s culinary skills turn reindeer, moose and a host of forest-gathered plants into an open-fired, flat-skillet feast that was unrivalled in two weeks of dining across Jamtland (and even back in Stockholm).
Kindled quickly to a firepit inferno, the flickering light inside the shelter brought each of us inching forward in expectation while the pair moves around the kitchen with energy and focus that mirror those of top chefs. And high altitude wilderness guides.
Now populated by moose, reindeer, beaver, bear, grouse and lynx, Funasdalen is no stranger to the wild. Nor do the tales of struggling miners and elite ski racers ease the grittiness of such a remote wilderness region, one found only a few hours down the road from a major airport.
As a trout dinner is served amid flickering candles and beside a stone hearth, there is little more to say. Coming all the way from the Rockies in the United States, it was easy to expect simply another, parallel realm of rugged and untamed terrain. But that was before we met Jon and Mia.