Summit of skiing
We finally arrived at a small wooden shelter with a heavy set wooden door. Inside roughly hewn planks served as seats and in the centre stood a little wooden stove, only about a foot wide, its black chimney punching up through the ceiling. We lit it and donned our snow shoes for the final assault on the summit.
The higher we went, the more the wind blew, sweeping aside the snow and leaving swaths of hard ice encrusted with the shrubs that lay below it. As we walked, the ice cracked in wide plates beneath our feet. Sliding and scrambling, we made our way to the top and looked out over the valleys below us.
The hut was toasty warm by the time we returned. Needing little maintenance, just a topping up of wood, it is a perfect retreat from the cold – unfussy and efficient in true Swedish style.
We made our way down, skirting the mountain to reach a frozen lake, its edges dotted with stranded boathouses buried in snow.
The light was dying as we slid out across it. The solid mass of water stretched out into the distance, the far bank but a thin line in a panorama of white.
We skied to the local hotel along a flood-lit track. And rewarded ourselves with a three-course meal of delicate carpaccio, local lamb and rich sheep’s yogurt dribbled in locally-made honey; all washed down with a local beer named Heaven.
Edåsdalen is a place to slow down; to spend time together without clutter, by open fires where people have the time to welcome you to their home.
How to get there: Scandinavian Airlines has frequent flights to Trondheim via Stockholm or Oslo ( flysas.com). From here you can catch a train to Undersåker and Josef will collect you from the station.
Where to eat:The evening meals in the Hotell Köjagården are spectacular, and the Vita Renen, a mountain hut you reach by your own steam or by skidoo, serves the best goulash I’ve ever tasted ( vitarenen.se).
Nordic versus ski touring:In Nordic skiing your heel is never clipped to the ski and you use light, long skis and soft boots. With ski touring, you use skins on your skis for uphill and solid ski boots that can be clipped into the ski for going downhill.
OTHER CROSS-COUNTRY DESTINATIONS
Scotland: If there’s snow, there are numerous trails throughout Scotland, such as below Cairngorms National Park ( cairngormmountain.org). If there isn’t any snow, Huntly Nordic and Outdoor Centre, in Aberdeenshire, is a purpose-built all-weather facility ( nordicski.co.uk/hnoc).
Italy: The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships begin on the 20th of February in Val di Fiemme, so this is the place to test your skills ( fiemme2013.com).
Austria: Why cycle to work? In Vienna they ski to work along the shores of the River Danube ( austria.info).
France/Switzerland: The ultimate Alpine cross-country challenge is the Haute Route, a high mountain ski touring trail from Chamonix to Zermatt. Wilderness Journeys run eight-day Haute Route trips ( wildernessjourneys.com).
Norway: If it all seems like too much work, you could get yourself a husky. Nature Travel runs a Nordic ski expedition on the Finnmark plateau in Arctic Norway with husky helpers ( naturetravels.co.uk).