What is “Gröna Banded” (The Green Ribbon)?
Gröna Bandet is a ca. 1350 km long trail through the Swedish (and partly Norwegian) “fjällen”. It’s not one fixed route, but rather a start (Grövlesjön, Sweden), a goal (Treriksröset, border between Norway, Sweden, and Finnland) and a mountain range for you to cover on your own two feet. Except for a few places that you should pass/pass west of, you are free to choose your own route. You are supposed to complete the journey unsupported, meaning you need to carry your gear and food yourself, and you are not allowed to use motorized vehicles for transport.
The Swedish “fjällen” refer to the mountain range/ Highlands that stretch along the Swedish-Norwegian border in the more northern parts of Sweden. Compared to e.g., the Alps, the mountains of the fjällen are softer, with rounded mountaintops and less dramatic drops in altitude. But just because the mountains are not as high doesn’t mean they are not spectacular. The gently rolling hills allow for vast, open views and “easy” access without the need for mountaineering equipment. Due to their northern latitude, you can get quickly up into the “kalfjäll”, i.e., above the treeline, where you will find vegetation typical for the arctic tundra, such as grasses, soft moss, and berries (lots of berries!). Animals include birds like the “ljungpipare” (whose evenly spaced “piiiep” calls sound like teh signal of a slowed-down melancholic radar) and of course you’ll find reindeer here.
Who came up with “Gröna Bandet” and how did you find out about it?
Gröna Bandet and its winter version, Vita Bandet (White Ribbon) were defined by Torkel and Annica Ideström, on their expedition throughout Sweden in 1997. I heard about it for the first time, when I saw Christine Hägglund give a talk at the Swedish Outdoor fair. She won the “Sweden’s adventurer of the year 2013” award for having run the trail on her own. I was very impressed and inspired by her accomplishments, but running 1300 km through the wilderness still felt a bit too big for me. Yet, it somehow got stuck in the “maybe someday” category somewhere in the back of my head. So I gradually increased my running distances, bought a -first small and then bigger- running backpack, ran my first Ultramarathon, and in 2017 set out for a long run (ca. 1000 km) along the northern route of the Camino de Santiago (Spain). Now I had some experience with running for multiple days in a row, and I was already familiar with camping from various rock climbing trips. Then, being in-between jobs this year (2018) provided a golden opportunity for my own Gröna Bandet adventure.
How do you define an adventure?
I like the definition by Erik Sander (who longboarded around Iceland and Sweden): “An adventure is when you try to realize a dream for which you don’t know whether you have the physical or mental capability of completing it.” Physically, I had serious doubts that my body would keep up with it (and my training was far from adequate), and mentally, well, honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into.
Sounds fun, where can I find out more about it?
This is the official website for the Green (and White) Ribbon: https://www.vitagronabandet.se/en-GB
A great and very informative blog by two former Gröna Bandare (in Swedish): http://letrek.se/grona-bandet-2013/
Blog by Ebbe Borg, Gröna Bandet in less than 22 days (in Swedish): https://vansterhoger.wordpress.com/
Blog of my friend Michael, who hiked Gröna Bandet solo (in German): https://gosimplegosologonow.blogspot.com/
Sounds awful, why did you do that?
I have always felt humbled by nature, I like the simplicity of traveling on my own two feet and I wanted a new perspective and a little adventure. 🙂