Welcome to Middle Earth–The Stockby Trail
I’m still pinching myself. Did I just walk onto the set of Lord of the Rings? Is Frodo behind that gigantic fern? Pictures from my iphone will never do justice to this expanse of flora and fauna along the Stockby Trail. Next to our temporary house, just 10 feet or so, the trail begins as a long gravel path cutting through fields and forests then branching into dozens of smaller trails that wind their way around the island past horse farms and lakes until eventually, no matter where you start, you’ll find the ocean.
For someone like myself, who is prone to getting lost, it is something of a comfort to realize you can never be truly lost on an island; there are limits as to how far a field you can go:) And there are plenty of landmarks too—the pasture filled with horses, the lake of geese and swans, the hilly rock with fat sheep soaking in the morning sun and the Nordic gym. What the heck…a gym? Yes, in the middle of all this outdoor beauty is a gym in the forest, somewhat crude and made out of wood; I’m certain you have to be part Viking to use it. The wood planks for sit-ups are set at 90 degree angles, there is a row of pull-up bars and a sequence of hurdles to jump followed by logs stationed at varying heights to leap across—I assume to test your balance.
As for myself, I keep to the trail, trying to maintain my anaerobic heart rate, but it’s impossible not to stop and stare at the butterflies on the wild flowers or the noisy woodpeckers in the pines or the pop-up yellow camping tent plopped in the middle of nowhere with a Swedish flag stuck in the ground. Seriously? This is no Occupy Wall-Streeter; this is a Swede exercising his national right to camp anywhere, Allmansrätten, or “Every Man’s Right,” so long as he/she is not within view of a residence. Camping anywhere on public grounds is permitted and for the past three days I’ve seen this tent along the trail, heard the person inside coughing so I know someone is in there. Whoever it is, they’ve got a great spot, some cover of trees, flat ground with a gorgeous carpeting of grass. Swedes are experts at this stuff and with 30,000 islands (according to statistics) to camp on they have a lot of places to choose from, not to mention 2-3 weeks vacation a year in which to camp. And if this camper gets hungry, along the trail there’s a restaurant too, in what looks like a remodeled barn. It’s straight out of a fairytale, Middle-Earth; makes me think I just might need a “second breakfast.”